Parental Responsibility & Right Disputes
Meeting a child’s needs is an important legal responsibility. In many cases it’s clear who has parental responsibility, but if there are parental disputes, it’s important to understand how it works in law. Understanding Parental Responsibility laws, who they affect, and the rights and duties involved can be difficult to process, but Hepburn Delaney’s Parental Responsibility Solicitors can guide you through the process.
What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental responsibility covers a range of rights and duties that a parent has regarding their child. A person with parental responsibility gets to the final say on things like:
- The child’s name
- Where they live
- Health and medical treatment
They are also responsible for:
- Providing a safe home for the child
- Keeping them healthy and safe
In most cases, parental responsibility lasts until the child is 18.
Who has Parental Responsibility?
Parental responsibility is a legal term, relating to the Children Act 1989. According to the Act, a child’s birth mother will automatically have legal parental responsibility. If the father is married to the biological mother, he also has automatic parental responsibility.
Fathers who are not married to the child’s mother will have automatic parental responsibility too, as long as they are named on their children’s birth certificate.
Family members or other adults who have a Child Arrangements Order which says that a child lives with them automatically have parental responsibility whilst the order remains in case.
Who can apply for Parental Responsibility?
The law recognises that families come in all shapes and sizes. So it’s possible for a person who isn’t the biological parent, or a biological father who isn’t married to the child’s mother, to apply for parental responsibility. It’s worth noting that more than two people can have parental responsibility for a child.
People or institutions applying for parental responsibility might include:
- Unmarried biological fathers
- Step parents and civil partners
- Same-sex and opposite-sex partners who are not married to the child’s parent
- Parents who have used a surrogate (who do not have automatic parental responsibility under English law)
- Family members or other adults who are applying for Special Guardianship
- Local authorities (if the child is taken into care)
Parental responsibility can be granted through a parental responsibility agreement, which needs to be signed by all parties and registered with the court. If the people involved can’t agree, it can also be granted through a court order known as a parental responsibility order.
Court Orders relating to Parental Responsibility
If you cannot agree on who has parental responsibility, there are a number of legal orders that can be obtained through the court. These will outline what must and must not happen in relation to the child.
Parental Responsibility Order
A parental responsibility order is a legal decision by the court, about who is granted parental responsibility.
Child Arrangements Order
The child arrangements order sets out where a child will live, who they will live with and what time they spend with other key adults, such as their other parent or family members. Contact arrangements can include face-to-face meetings, overnight stays, holidays and telephone calls.
Prohibited Steps Order
A prohibited steps order can stop (prohibit) a person from exercising their parental responsibility. For example, a separated parent might want to prevent their former spouse from relocating or moving their child out of the country.
Specific Issue Order
If there is a disagreement about a particular issue, such as where the child goes to school, a specific issue order can be obtained to resolve the dispute and make a final decision.
Get in touch with our team of parental responsibility solicitors today
We recommend that in the first instance you attend our initial fixed fee appointment when we can discuss your options in full.
You may also wish to try to resolve matters by mediation. We can provide you with the contact details of local mediators upon request.
To contact us, please:
Call us on 01442 218090
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Fill out our enquiry form and speak to one of our Specialist Parental Responsibility Solicitors today.
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