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What is parental responsibility

what is parental responsibility

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Most parents understand that they have direct responsibility for their child. What is parental responsibility? It is actually a legal term that concerns who has overall responsibility for a child’s upbringing and welfare. It’s important to know whether or not you automatically have responsibility as a parent and if not how you can achieve this.

What does parental responsibility mean?

If you have parental responsibility you have to ensure that the child has a home and that they are protected. You also need to take action to disciple them appropriately, take care of their education, provide consent for any necessary medical treatment, give them a name or approve any name change and take care of their property.

Regardless of your rights in terms of parental responsibility, you still need to make sure any children have adequate financial support.

Automatic parental responsibility

Whether or not you live with your child, all mothers and the majority of fathers automatically have parental responsibility. This doesn’t guarantee you can have contact with your child, but it does mean that the parent providing the day to day care must let you know how they’re doing.

For mothers, parental responsibility is automatically assumed at birth. Fathers will also gain this right if they and the mother are married at the time of birth or he’s named on the birth certificate (if the child was born after 1st December 2003). This responsibility is maintained regardless of future events, such as divorce.

In England and Wales, if a child’s father isn’t married to their mother and not on the birth certificate, they will have to come to a parental responsibility agreement alongside the child’s mother. If this isn’t possible, they can go through the courts to gain a parental responsibility order.

In cases of adoption, if the parents adopt the child together they will both have parental responsibility. Where a surrogate has been used, both parents will need to apply for a parental order to gain legal rights from the child’s birth mother.

For same sex partners, both can have parental responsibility for a child if they are in a civil partnership when any treatment takes place. If they weren’t in a civil partnership, then the second parent can apply to have parental responsibility. To do so they will need to have a parental responsibility agreement, or become civil parents and have an agreement or register the birth together.

Gaining parental responsibility

what is parental responsibilityParental responsibility isn’t limited to two people and anyone can apply for parental responsibility, as long as they have some connection with the child. This can be as a biological parent, a step parent or second parent in a same sex relationship.

In order to apply for parental responsibility you need to complete a parental responsibility agreement along with the child’s mother. This then needs to be taken to a local court for it to be witnessed and signed. You will also need to provide proof of identity for yourself, along with their birth certificate.

In cases where you can’t come to an agreement with the child’s mother, you can get a court order. There is a cost attached to this and it’s generally only used as a last resort.

For the majority of families, parental responsibility is automatically gained. However, with the nature of modern families this isn’t always the case and it’s an important factor enabling you to make decisions regarding the upbringing of your child.



About Catherine Stern

About Catherine Stern

Catherine Stern is a freelance writer with a background in marketing and PR. She currently writes web content on a range of subjects, from finance and business to travel and home improvements. As a working single mum of two young boys she understands the pressures that today’s working parents face and the topics they want to read about.

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