Parental Responsibility is defined in s 3(1) Children Act 1989 as being:
“all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property“.
Having parental responsibility over a child enables you to control what decisions and choices are made in respect of a child. In general, the only people that have automatic parental responsibility are biological mothers.
Who can apply for parental responsibility?
- Unmarried father of the child who is not named on the birth certificate
- Any connected person to the child e.g., a stepparent or 2nd parent
What can you do when you have parental responsibility?
- Access to a child’s school reports
- Access to a child’s medical records
- Registering a child with a school
- Taking the child on holiday in the UK and broad
- Deciding on the child’ religious belief system
Before filling an application for a parental responsibility order it is vital that you attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). The purpose of a MIAM is to establish whether the issues can be solved between the parties before any court action is taken.
In cases where mediation is successful then a Parental Responsibility Agreement may be drafted provided that both parents agree. However, is mediation has been attempted but due to a lack of engagement or willingness from the other party, it has not been successful then the mediator will provide you with a document to certify that mediation has been attempted but is unsuitable.
There may be other reasons why mediation is not suitable such as domestic abuse injunctions, distance or urgency. This will permit you to then make a formal application to the court for a parental responsibility order.
The court will consider a number of factors when deciding whether to make an order for Parental Responsibility such as:
- The reason for applying for Parental Responsibility
- The relationship between the child and parent
- The level of commitment that the parent has to the child
Can a non-parent apply for a parental responsibility order?
Yes, a non-parent can apply for a Parental Responsibility Order if:
- They have been appointed as the child’s guardian by the court; or
- The court have made a care order in favour of the Local Authority; or
- The court have made a freeing order in favour of an adoption agency; or
- Stepparents with the consent of others with Parental Responsibility or an order of the court.