Parental responsibility is the legal right to make important decisions about a child’s upbringing including issues such as education, medical treatment, change of a child’s name and removal of the child from the jurisdiction (England and Wales).
It does not however give any right to interfere with the day to day decisions affecting a child’s life that should be made by the parent with primary care of the child at the time.
A mother will always have parental responsibility.
A Father will have parental responsibility if his name is on the birth certificate (after 1st December 2003) or if he is married to the mother.
This can be achieved in the following ways:-
This can be achieved by:-
It is an agreement made between the mother and the unmarried parent, to allow the other parent joint parental responsibility for the child.
The Parental Responsibility Agreement must be signed and witnessed by a justices’ clerk or court officer and it must be filed at the Principal Registry of the Family Division in order to make it legal.
An order under the Children Act 1989, which unmarried parents can apply for in circumstances when the mother does not allow that parent to be registered on the birth certificate or refuses to sign a parental responsibility agreement with him/her.
The process involves an application to court for the court to decide whether or not they should allow the other to have Parental Responsibility.
The court will consider a number of factors including that person's commitment, attachment and reasons for applying.
The court will make the decision based upon the best interests of the child but in reality will normally make the order.
The legal issue of parental responsibility in same sex relationships is complex and is determined by the manner in which the child is conceived. Same sex couples considering having a child should always obtain legal advice so that parents are clear in respect if the legal position and their legal rights in relation to that child.
Female parents who are civil partners:
If you are caring for the child of a relative or friend on a long term or permanent basis it is advisable to seek legal advice in respect of applying to court to obtain a Child Arrangement Order or a Special Guardianship Order because if either of these orders are granted you will obtain Parental Responsibility. Legal aid may still be available to you in certain circumstances.
If you would like an informal chat about acquiring parental responsibility or in relation to the exercise of parental responsibility please call 03300 245750 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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