As well as being asked questions by fathers about whether they have parental responsibility and, if not, how they can get it we are also asked the question ’how do you remove parental responsibility from a father? In this blog we look at the topic of parental responsibility and how a father can lose it.
Who has parental responsibility for a child?
Many parents don’t know if they have parental responsibility for their child or not so before we look at whether a father can lose parental responsibility for their child it is best to first look at who has parental responsibility and what it means to share parental responsibility.
Mothers automatically have parental responsibility for their child. That means that if the child’s father also has parental responsibility then the responsibility has to be shared. With fathers it is a bit more complicated. The law says that a father has parental responsibility for his child if:
- The father is married to the child’s mother
- The father was married to the child’s mother but they are now separated, getting divorced or divorced
- If the parents are unmarried and the child was born after the 1 December 2003 and the father is named on the child’s birth certificate
- If the parents are unmarried and the mother has agreed to the father having parental responsibility for the child and they have signed a parental responsibility agreement
- If the parents are unmarried and the father has successfully applied for a parental responsibility order from the family court.
What does it mean to share parental responsibility with a father?
Understanding what parental responsibility means is vital before you can look at what is involved in sharing parental responsibility with your ex-partner.
Parental Responsibility is defined as the obligations and responsibilities a parent (or anyone else who has parental responsibility) has for a child. If you have parental responsibility for your child then you have:
- A say in major parenting decisions, such as, the choice of new school or whether your young child should follow a vegan diet or be brought up in a specific faith
- The right to receive certain information, such as school reports or copy medical records
- The ability to consent on behalf of your child, for example, consent to medical treatment for a child who isn’t old enough to give informed consent.
How do you share parental responsibility with a father?
It can be difficult to share parental responsibility for a child, particularly if:
- You are the one who carries out all the day to day care of the child
- The other parent is working but won’t provide financial maintenance or child support
- The other parent doesn’t want to see the child or only does so infrequently at times to suit them
- You and the other parent have different parenting styles and approaches to parenting
- You had an acrimonious separation or there was domestic violence within your relationship
- You think that your ex is only using their parental responsibility to try and control you or to annoy you and isn’t really interested in the child and what is in their best interests.
How do you remove parental responsibility from a mother?
The law says that a mother of a child can only lose parental responsibility for her child if the child is adopted. The law is different when it comes to fathers losing parental responsibility for their child.
How do you remove parental responsibility from a father?
If a father is or was married to the child’s mother then he has automatic parental responsibility for the child and the mother can’t apply to court to remove the father’s parental responsibility. However, the mother can apply to the family court for other orders such as a child arrangements order or a specific issue order or a prohibited steps order.
If an unmarried father has obtained parental responsibility for his child by signing a parental responsibility agreement or by a parental responsibility court order then an application can be made to court to remove his parental responsibility for his child.
The court won’t stop a father’s parental responsibility for his child just because of a parental separation or because the father has moved away with work or doesn’t see his child on a regular basis or has committed a criminal offence or isn’t paying child support.
The law says that a family law judge must only terminate a father’s parental responsibility for the child if:
- The circumstances are exceptional and
- The termination of parental responsibility is thought by the judge to be in the child’s best interests.
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Applying to court to remove a father’s parental responsibility
It is best to take specialist legal advice from a Cheshire children law solicitor before applying to court to remove a father’s parental responsibility because a court will only remove a father’s parental responsibility if the circumstances are exceptional. Whilst you may struggle to get an order to remove a father’s parental responsibility you may be successful in securing another type of children law order that will resolve the difficulties you are experiencing. Available orders include:
- A child arrangements order
- A specific issue order
- A prohibited steps order.
Although these children law orders do not remove a father’s parental responsibility for his child they can significantly limit the father’s involvement in the child’s upbringing provided that the court concludes that this type of order is best for the child. For example, a child arrangements order can stop direct contact between father and child or a prohibited steps order can stop a father attending a child’s school or nursery or an injunction order can stop the father coming to your home address.
An experienced children law solicitor will talk to you about whether a court application is in your best interests and your alternative options, such as a round table meeting or legal support during family mediation.
What behaviour by a father will terminate parental responsibility?
To terminate a father’s parental responsibility for his child you will need to make a court application and the judge will assess whether the father’s behaviour is exceptional and justifies the termination of his parental responsibility as the order is in your child’s best interests.
If you are worried about how your ex is using his parental responsibility then it is best to take legal advice so that you know where you stand and whether a court application to remove parental responsibility from the father is the best way forward for you.
We are Manchester and Cheshire children law solicitors
For advice about children law, parental responsibility, child custody or making a child arrangements order application call Evolve Family Law solicitors or complete our online enquiry form . We offer appointments at our offices in Holmes Chapel Cheshire and Whitefield North Manchester or we can set up a video call or telephone appointment for you.