With the introduction of the Children & Families Act 2014 there are additional ways to obtain parental responsibility including the power to give parental responsibility to the child’s father or a second female partner, by virtue of section 43 of the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act 2008. It is also possible to grant parental responsibility to a person who is not the child’s parent or guardian in cases where a Child Arrangements Order provides for the child to spend time with or otherwise have contact with (but not live with) that person for the duration of the Child Arrangements Order.
Parental Responsibility is defined in the Children Act 1989 Section 3(1) as all the rights, powers, responsibilities and authority, which by law a parent of a child has, in relation to the child and its property.
It is often referred to as ‘PR’.
Mothers who give birth to the child automatically have parental responsibility. Fathers will automatically have parental responsibility in the following circumstances:
This is a formal Agreement. There are certain formalities to be complied with and it is registered at the Central Family Court in London. The form is relatively simple to complete but does require ID and has to be witnessed before a Justice of the Peace, a Justice Clerk, an Assistant to the Justice Clerk or a Court Official authorised by the Judge to administer Oaths.
The Parental Responsibility Agreement will automatically come to an end on the child’s 18th birthday and cannot be revoked by one person only. It can only be brought to an end before the child’s 18th birthday by an Order of the court.
A father or other person eligible to apply can make an application to the Family Court for a Parental Responsibility Order. There is a specific application form to complete and a fee to pay the court. The mother and any other person with parental responsibility will have to be served with the application and the court will give an initial hearing date for the case to be timetabled to a final hearing if the matter cannot be agreed.
In this instance, the court will apply the principle that the child’s welfare is the paramount consideration. For example, if a father was applying, the court will generally look at the motive behind the father’s application; the degree of commitment shown to the child by the father and the degree of attachment between the father and the child. There would usually have to be a good reason why the father should not obtain parental responsibility if he is playing a part in the child’s life.
The legal definition is not specific and there has therefore been litigation as to what it covers. PR would include authority to consent to medical treatment; decisions about education; the ability to appoint a guardian for the child and being involved automatically in court proceedings relating to the child, including adoption.
The family lawyers at Bray & Bray approach each parental responsibility case on a bespoke basis, coming up with solutions which suit a specific situation.
If you and your partner are struggling to come to an agreement about parental responsibility, our professional and caring family law team is best placed to help.
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