Do I have parental responsibility, and can I acquire it?Pepperells
‘Parental Responsibility’ is an umbrella term which encompasses various legal rights and responsibilities that a ‘parent’ has.
A gestational mother (the mother who gives birth to the child) will automatically have parental responsibility for that child. However, the situation for fathers is far less straight forward.
For a father to have parental responsibility, he must of course be the father of the child. A man who wishes to prove he is the father of a child must show one of the following:
• He is genetically related to the child; or
• An adoption order has been made in his favour; or
• A parental order has been made in his favour, which has successfully transferred parentage from a surrogate mother to the intended parent or parents; or
• One of the presumptions of paternity apply – these are as follows:
– If the woman who gives birth to the child is married, the law presumes her husband is the father to the child.
– If the child was born on or after 1st December 2003 and a male is named on the birth certificate, the law will presume that he is the father of the child and will therefore have parental responsibility for the child.
• Where a child was born before 1st December 2003, fathers who had not acquired parental responsibility by marrying the child’s mother and were not named on the child’s birth certificate would not automatically acquire parental responsibility.
Despite the above, the law acknowledges that some fathers may not be married to the mother of their child, nor are they on the child’s birth certificate. In such a situation, a father can enter into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother of the child which must be filed and approved by the Court. Alternatively, the father can make an application under Section 4 Children’s Act 1989 to ask the court to determine the implementation of parental responsibility.
In deciding whether to grant Parental Responsibility, the courts will consider the welfare of the child as established at S1(1) Children Act 1989, as the paramount consideration for the court. Alongside this, the court will consider the following factors as identified in Re H (Minors) (Local Authority: Parental Responsibility) (No3) 1991:
• The degree of commitment the father has shown towards the child; and
• The degree of attachment that exists between the father and child; and
• The reasons of the father for applying for the order.
Therefore, if you are considering applying for parental responsibility, you should ensure that the above points are fulfilled and that you have taken steps which demonstrate your commitment in acquiring parental responsibility for the child.
Pepperell’s Solicitors can provide advice and support in relation to a whole range of Children Matters. Our team of experts will ensure that the legalities involved with your Children Matters are dealt with professionally and efficiently. To obtain friendly advice about how parental responsibility can be acquired, or to have a discussion about any issues you are currently experiencing regarding the arrangements for your children, contact one of our team today!