Parental Responsibility Solicitors
One aspect of UK family law your family solicitor should be well versed in is Parental Responsibility. A parent does not have a legal right to make important decisions about a child’s life just because they are the primary caregiver.
What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental Responsibility determines who has a legal say in how a child is raised. All of those with parental responsibility for a child have equal weight when it comes to decisions about a child’s health care or education, where they live, their name, and whether or not that child has the ability to leave the country either temporarily or permanently.
Who has Parental Responsibility?
Unless a court decides otherwise, parental responsibility is automatically given to:
- Biological mothers
- Fathers who were married to their child’s mother when the baby was born
- Fathers who later marry the mother of their child
- A mother’s civil partner (including a same-sex civil partner), and partners of mothers who have been registered as a parent on the child’s legal birth certificate
- Unmarried fathers of children who were born before 1 December 2003.
Unmarried fathers of children born on or after 1 December 2003 must formally apply for Parental Responsibility. An application can be made by both parents signing a C(PRA1) form and having it witnessed at a family court. Where a child’s mother is not in agreement, a father can apply to the Court for a Parental Responsibility order.
Step-parents do not automatically have Parental Responsibility, but they can apply for this by completing a C(PRA2) form which needs to be signed by all parties with Parental Responsibility and witnessed, or by applying to the Court.
Other people who may be granted Parental Responsibility include adoptive parents, legal guardians, and those named on a child arrangement order. Special guardians share Parental Responsibility with biological parents, however, they have the right to make a final decision if there are disagreements with the biological parent about issues to do with the child.
Parental Responsibility and Divorce
The Children’s Act 1989 sets out the law regarding Parental Responsibility, including that the non-resident parent has a right to contact with their children in the event the divorce or separate from the child’s other parent. The non-resident parent can apply for a Contact Order should their ex-partner try to prevent this, unless the Court has stated the should not have any contact for child welfare reasons.
As well as having rights regarding the upbringing of their child, those with Parental Responsibility have an obligation to contribute financially to their upbringing. Contributions can go through the Child Support Agency (CSA), the Child Maintenance Service for cases from November 2013, or through a private agreement with both parents.
Duration of Parental Responsibility
Parental Responsibility only ends when a child turns 18 and legally becomes an adult, or if Parental Responsibility was only granted on a temporary basis. The exception is unmarried fathers of children born from December 2003 onwards who applied retrospectively for Parental Responsibility. In these instances, it is possible for anyone else with parental responsibility for that child, or even the child themselves, to apply to a family court to have your parental responsibility removed.
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At The Family Law Experts, we work with specialist solicitors in all aspects of divorce, matrimonial, family and childcare law.
We offer an expert approach at a personal level for all our legal support. When dealing with family issues and family legal problems, our aim is to deal with each case in the least confrontational way possible, whilst still achieving the best results for our clients. We understand that when family issues arise and family relationships break down, real lives are affected, and the need for expert legal help and support is essential.