PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY (PR)
With the implementation of the Children Act 1989 came a shift from the concept of custody to the recognition that both parents welcome their child into the world with responsibilities for that child which continue until he/she attains 18. Those responsibilities will not be diminished by any relationship break down between the parents which means even in the event of the parents living separately they still need to consult with each other in respect of major welfare issues such as schooling/education, medical treatment, religious matters, removal from the jurisdiction and the like.
Since December 2003 if the father's name is recorded on the birth certificate but the parents are not married the father will automatically acquire parental responsibility. The father of a child born before this date whose name is on the birth certificate but who is not married to the mother will not have Parental Responsibility though can acquire PR either by agreement or by Court Order.
Fathers whose names are not recorded on the birth certificate will not have PR and would have to seek the mother's agreement or apply to the court.
While PR cannot be taken away from the biological parents of a child it can be diminished through the intervention of the local authority if a care order were to be made. In such circumstances the PR is shared with the Local Authority and generally local authorities' decisions on major issues will take precedence. Sometimes other family members such as grandparents may be granted an order defining that the child should live them and as long as that order stays in place they will share PR with the biological parents.
Contact Spectrum Family Law for more information and advice if you have encountered difficulties in managing your separated parenting.
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