Parental Responsibility Order

Parental responsibility gives parents the legal rights, duties, powers and responsibilities for there child/children and there property. By having parental responsibility it is essential that you provide a home and maintenance for the child. You are also able to exercise power to make decisions for that child providing it is in there best interests.

These can be from day to day decisions such as about the child’s care and lifestyle to long term decision about the child’s health and education. The term Parental Responsibility attempts to focus on the parent’s duties towards their child rather than the parent’s rights over their child.

Parental Responsibility provides the power to make important decisions in relation to a child until they reach the age where they are able to consent for themselves at 16. This can include:

  • Religious beliefs the child should be brought up with
  • The child’s education and where the child goes to school.
  • Choosing, registering or changing the child’s name.
  • Consenting to a child’s operation or certain medical treatment.
  • Consenting to taking the child abroad for holidays or extended stays.
  • Representing the child in legal proceedings.

Parental responsibility agreement

Any person including fathers that are not married to the child’s mother can secure a parental responsibility agreement to share parental responsibility. A parental responsibility agreement may be the best option without going to court.  When both parties agree on a parental responsibility agreement it saves time and money and stress and ensures maintaining a good relationship between all parties involved thus having a positive impact on the child and there upbringing.

How to apply for parental responsibility without going to court

A parental responsibility form is available from your local court, obtained at www.gov.uk.  Both parents and step parents must sign the parental responsibility form at the court; this is so it is witnessed by a court officer.  A separate parental responsibility will have to be submitted for each child and proof of your child’s ID will be required, i.e. Birth Certificate.

How to apply for a parental responsibility order

If parties cannot come to an agreement regarding parental responsibility, then the next option would be to apply to the court for a parental responsibility order.

The court’s priority will be the child’s welfare in deciding on whether to grant parental responsibility and it is usually the case that an unmarried father will be granted parental responsibility. You should bear in mind that the Court has the power to make no order where the Court feels there would be no good reason to make an order.

Gaining parental responsibility; the court will consider the following when making a decision:

  • Commitment: The court will consider the parent’s commitment to the child to justify them parental responsibility.
  • Reason: What is the reason you want parental responsibility
  • Attachment: the court will consider the level of attachment between you and the child.

You can download an application for a parental responsibility order online.

How to apply for parental responsibility for a stepfather

Stepfathers are a common occurrence in a child’s life and are often significant in the upbringing of the child. Parental responsibility is about bringing up the child and all the duties and obligation’s to the child.

A step parent will not be granted parental responsibility for the child by marrying the mother. They must either adopt the child or obtain a parental responsibility order from the court.

When you decide to apply for parental responsibility for a stepfather, the court will consider all circumstances surrounding the child focusing on the best interests and wellbeing of the child when deciding on parental responsibility.

There are two conditions to a parental responsibility order:

  • Are you the child’s biological father?
  • Do you have the consent of the mother or everyone who has parental responsibility for the child?

The child’s parent must provide the child’s full birth certificate and the step parent must provide the marriage certificate.

The court will consider and decide on whether to grant parental responsibility taking into account the above factors.

Getting parental responsibility for a stepchild

One way of getting parental responsibility for a stepchild is by adoption; this can the most effective way depending on circumstances.

There are other options on getting parental responsibility for a stepchild, this can by a parental responsibility agreement or residence order.

The court will take into account all circumstances surrounding the wellbeing of the child in getting parental responsibility for a stepchild.

How to apply for a parental responsibility order for same sex couples?

The process for same sex couples who are in a civil partnership or marriage is the same as for stepfathers when gaining parental responsibility and again the court will consider all the information provided on the best interests and wellbeing of the child.

Can a parental responsibility order be removed?

Parental responsibility cannot be taken away from a parent who has it automatically except in the case of adoption.

It is rare for the court to remove a parental responsibility order which they have acquired through the court; however it may be appropriate in some extreme circumstances.

Your parental responsibility order cannot be removed or transferred (unless in extreme circumstances) however, another person can gain parental responsibility in the following circumstances:

  • Child being educated abroad
  • Child educated in England and parent loves abroad
  • Child educated in England and parental responsibility given to a grandparent or trusted family member.

How to apply for parental responsibility – why not contact a solicitor?

There is no doubt that gaining parental responsibility  can  complicated; however getting expert legal advice from a Family Lawyer can really help you to be clear where you stand and feel more in control of the situation. If you already have parental responsibility and are unable to gain access to your children, you may to consider securing a child arrangement order.

If you are looking for advice or assistance, speak to a solicitor for parental responsibility on 0330 053 7117 or let us call you back.

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