It is a parent’s responsibility to make suitable decisions in the interest of their children. If a choice is made for your children without your consent, or you are looking to gain parental responsibilities for your child, you should seek legal advice from Lupton Fawcett.
Our specialist family law solicitors have assisted in many cases involving serious disagreements amongst parents. Disputes often arise from relationship breakdowns and fathers not being married to the mother of their child.
What are Parental Responsibilities?
It is difficult to determine exactly what parental responsibility is, but in simple terms, it is making choices for our children until they are old enough to make decisions by themselves. Examples include:
- Choosing a name
- Choosing where they will live
- Deciding how they will be brought up
- Deciding the schools they will attend
- Giving consent to medical treatment
- Choosing religious beliefs
These parental duties should be a joint effort between the mother and father, unless there is an emergency (for example, life-saving surgery) and a decision must be made quickly.
Mothers always have parental responsibility for their children and only adoption can take it away. Fathers automatically share parental responsibility if they are or have been married to the child’s mother or their name appears on the child’s birth certificate during registration or re-registration of the birth. However, in reality, the unmarried father will not be able to register his name without the consent of the mother.
As a child grows older, the extent of parental responsibility diminishes and there comes a point where children should be involved in decisions that affect them. Exactly when that point is reached and how it is done depends on the particular issues and the particular child.
Our expert solicitors are dedicated to providing one-on-one support during the process of applying for parental responsibility, including providing advice on parental responsibility agreements, registering on a birth certificate and child arrangements orders.
We will guide you through proceedings, offering guidance and support along the way to ensure you fully understand what’s happening, what your rights are and what the progress of your application is. We understand how important it is to be legally responsible for your child and will handle all matters with the care they deserve.
Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.
How Do I Get Parental Responsibilities?
In most cases, it is fathers not married to the mother of their child and step parents who request legal parental responsibility; however, a person who is not a parent of the child can also apply for parental responsibility.
Parental responsibility can be acquired in several ways, including:
- By the mother executing a parental responsibility agreement
- By being registered on the birth certificate as the father
- By the court making a parental responsibility order in the applicant’s favour following an application to the court
- By obtaining a child arrangements order in respect of the child naming the applicant as either:
- the person with whom the child is to live with;
- The person with whom the child is to spend time with
In the final case, the court must also make a separate parental responsibility order in the applicant’s favour, if they do not already have parental responsibility for the child.
How the Court Makes a Decision
When an application is made to the court, the following will be taken into consideration:
- The attachment between the child and the applicant
- The commitment of the applicant to the child
- The applicant’s motive for applying
The message from the courts is clear - an applicant whose motivation is genuine can expect to be granted parental responsibility but the courts will be slow to impute bad motives to an applicant.
Who Can Apply For Parental Responsibility?
Anyone who shows the court the above requirements can be considered for parental responsibility by making a parental responsibility agreement between the applicant and the persons who have responsibility for the child or by order of the court. Examples of people that can apply for parental responsibility includes:
- Biological fathers
- Step parents, including same-sex partners
- Other family members
More than one person may have parental responsibility for the same child at the same time as it is often shared. Furthermore, people sharing parental responsibility are expected to behave in a responsible way and consult with each other before making important decisions (except in an emergency) but if there is a serious disagreement, a court can be asked to decide the issues.
Contact Us for Help
Our Yorkshire-based family law team provides guidance on parental responsibilities from our offices in Leeds, York and Sheffield. For an initial discussion on the specific details of your case, or if you require assistance in applying for parental responsibility, contact our solicitors today using the details below.
Get in Touch
With Lupton Fawcett on your side, you're taking control. Contact us today.