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Parental Responsibility is a legal term, defined as “all the rights, duties and responsibilities which a parent owes to a child”. It includes the right to be involved in making decisions about important matters such as giving permission for medical treatment, change of a child’s name etc. Parental Responsibility continues until a child reaches the age of eighteen.
Do I have Parental Responsibility?
You will automatically have Parental Responsibility if:
you are the child’s mother
you are the child’s father and are married to (or later marry) the mother
you are an unmarried father but you are included on the birth certificate (this applies only to those births registered after 1 December 2003), or
the child is adopted by you
Why do I need Parental Responsibility?
Parental Responsibility is formal recognition of your status and responsibilities as a parent. It also carries some requirements such as the fact that you must be consulted about some things such as your child’s welfare, changing his/her name or one of you taking the child to live abroad. Ideally, you will as parents discuss what is in your child’s best interests in any event, but having Parental Responsibility formalises the position.
Parental Responsibility is important for other reasons as it gives you the ability to give consent for medical treatment where those who have Parental Responsibility cannot be contacted.
In reality as a natural father you do not need to have Parental Responsibility to be heard by the court on major decisions affecting your child, but it does make it more likely that you will be consulted on these issues at an early stage.
I am the father but don’t have Parental Responsibility, how can I get this?
As the biological father you can act jointly with the mother to reregister the birth to include your details on the birth certificate (see www.direct.gov.uk), or
As the biological father you can jointly apply with the mother for a Parental Responsibility agreement
If you are the biological father and the mother refuses to sign a Parental Responsibility agreement you can apply to the court for a Parental Responsibility Order
If a formal application needs to be made to the court for Parental Responsibility, the court will generally be in favour of making the order unless there is a cogent reason why it is not in the child’s best interests to do so.
I am the step parent of a child, can I have Parental Responsibility?
A step-parent, even if married to the parent of a child does not automatically acquire Parental Responsibility. However, since 5th December 2005 the position of step parents has been improved and if you are the married partner of the biological parent of a child and your husband/wife’s child lives with you, you can also apply for Parental Responsibility in the following ways:
you can ask the court to make a Residence Order
you can apply for a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the consent of the child’s parents
you can apply to the court for a Parental Responsibility Order
you can apply to the court for a Special Guardianship Order or an Adoption Order
We can advise you about whether any of these are appropriate to your circumstances
I am a civil partner, can I have Parental Responsibility for my partner’s children?
Yes since the Civil Partnership Act of 2004 which came into force on the 5th December 2005 same-sex civil partners can acquire parental responsibility by a formal written Parental Responsibility Agreement with the consent of all those with Parental Responsibility or benefit of a Court Order. The court when considering the making of an order will consider the nature of the relationship between the child and civil-partner, including the attachment and commitment between them and the reasons for making the application.
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Raworths LLP Solicitors
Eton House, 89 Station Parade,
Harrogate, HG1 1HF T: 01423 566666 F: 01423 504572
Raworths LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales no. OC317670 - VAT regn. no. 169 0313 69. We use the word 'partner' to refer to a member of the LLP, or an employee or consultant who is a lawyer with equivalent standing and qualifications. A list of members of the LLP is displayed at the above address, together with a list of those non-members who are designated as partners. Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority ID:439478
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