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Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility is a fundamental concept that shapes the relationship between parents (or legal guardians) and their children. It encompasses the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority that by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property.

Dealing with Parental Responsibility

  • For Mothers: The law automatically grants mothers parental responsibility from the moment their child is born.
  • For Fathers: Fathers have parental responsibility if they are married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. Unmarried fathers also have parental responsibility if they are registered on the child’s birth certificate (applicable for births registered from December 1, 2003, in England and Wales, and for slightly varying later dates in Scotland and Northern Ireland).

Parental responsibility covers a broad range of roles aimed at caring for and ensuring the welfare of the child, including, but not limited to:

  • Providing a home and ensuring the child’s maintenance.
  • Protecting the child and ensuring their safety.
  • Making decisions about the child’s education and religious upbringing.
  • Consenting to medical treatment on behalf of the child.
  • Naming the child and agreeing to any changes to their name.
  • Managing the child’s property and financial affairs.
  • Deciding on the child’s residence, including travel and emigration abroad.

If you do not automatically have parental responsibility, there are principally two ways to acquire it:

  1. Parental Responsibility Agreement: This is a formal agreement made with the mother, which then needs to be lodged with the court.
  2. Parental Responsibility Order: Should an agreement not be possible, you can apply to the court for an order granting you parental responsibility.

When applying for a parental responsibility order, the court evaluates several factors to determine the best interests of the child, including:

  • The level of commitment the applicant has shown towards the child.
  • The attachment between the child and the applicant.
  • The reasons behind the application for parental responsibility.

It’s important to note that if there has been a significant period of no contact between you and the child, obtaining parental responsibility can be challenging. You’ll need to demonstrate convincingly that having parental responsibility is in the best interest of the child.

In all cases, the child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration, and decisions are made to reflect what is best for the child’s well-being and future development.

Navigating the waters of parental responsibility can be complex and often emotional. Our legal team at Williamsons Solicitors is dedicated to supporting fathers, new parents, and legal guardians through this process. From completing the necessary forms for a parental responsibility agreement to representing you in court to obtain a parental responsibility order, we are here to provide expert guidance and support every step of the way.

If you’re seeking parental responsibility, it’s essential to understand your rights and the legal avenues available to you. For personalised advice and assistance, reach out to Williamsons Solicitors on 01482 323 697, and let us help you solidify the legal foundation of your relationship with your child.

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Family & Childcare Team

Sarah
Clubley

DIRECTOR, SENIOR SOLICITOR
HEAD OF FAMILY & CHILDCARE

Paul
Kirby

SOLICITOR

Rebecca
Lovel

SOLICITOR

Judith
Knight

SOLICITOR

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