Worried about children law rights?
Many parents who are separating or getting divorced want to know if they have parental responsibility for their child and, if so, what that means. If a child is being brought up by grandparents or extended family then they will want to know how their caring role can be legally recognised. Our expert children law solicitors, led by partners Louise Halford and Robin Charrot, have the legal expertise to support and help you with all your children law and parental responsibility questions.
At Evolve Family Law our children law solicitors don’t just tell you what the law says. They take the time to explain how the law applies to your family circumstances and what your best children law options are. As North West specialist family law solicitors, our children law solicitors combine expertise and experience with empathy so you have the expert support you need at your side to listen and guide you.
Why choose the children law solicitors at Evolve Family Law
Partners, Louise Halford and Robin Charrot founded Evolve Family Law as a dedicated family and children law practice so families could get the children law expertise they need from friendly and approachable experts with specialist legal advice delivered with empathy.
Parental Responsibility – Your Questions Answered
After a separation or divorce, it can feel as if one parent has the power to make all the decisions for a child and the other parent has no authority or say in the parenting arrangements. That’s why it is important that parents understand who has parental responsibility for their child and what that means.
What is parental responsibility?
The law says most parents have parental responsibility for their children. If both parents have parental responsibility, they both have a say in how their child should be brought up and in making major parenting decisions. In addition, if a parent has parental responsibility, they have a right to receive certain information, such as school reports and copy medical records.
Even if a parent doesn’t have parental responsibility for their child, they will still be liable to pay child support or be able to make Court applications, for example, to apply for a Contact Order to see their child.
Who has parental responsibility by Court Order or by parental responsibility agreement?
A person has parental responsibility for a child if they are;
- The birth mother.
- The father of a child and the father is or was married to the child’s mother.
- The father of a child and although not married to the child’s mother the father is named on the child’s birth certificate as the father (provided the child was born after the 1 December 2003).
- The unmarried father of a child has signed a parental responsibility agreement with the child’s mother.
- The unmarried father of a child and the Court has made a Parental Responsibility Order.
- A person who is looking after a child under a Court Order which states the child lives with them.
- Parents who have had a child via a Surrogacy Arrangement and have obtained a parental Order.
- The adoptive parents of a child.
- A step-parent of a child who has parental responsibility by signing a parental responsibility agreement or Court Order.
What should I do if I don’t have parental responsibility?
If you are a parent who does not have parental responsibility you can obtain parental responsibility by:
- Signing a Parental Responsibility Agreement.
- Securing a Parental Responsibility Order.
If you are not the parent of a child but you are caring for the child you can apply for permission to apply for a Child Arrangement Order. Whilst the Order is in force you will have parental responsibility for the child and share it with any other people who hold parental responsibility for the child.
What decisions can you make with parental responsibility?
For most families, the concept of “parental responsibility” isn’t something that concerns them on a daily basis. Parental responsibility only becomes very important to parents when they can’t agree on what is best for their child, such as should the child:
- Move abroad with one parent.
- Move to a different area of the country with one parent.
- Change school
- Change surname
- Change religion.
If you are the only person with parental responsibility for a child you can make decisions for your child. If you share parental responsibility with others then the Court has the power to make decisions about what is in a child’s best interests if all of those with parental responsibility are not able to come to an agreement.
In most family circumstances it is helpful for parents to take early legal advice on parental responsibility and parental responsibility agreements. A child custody solicitor can help you understand your legal rights and obligations. If, for example, you can’t reach an agreement on the child’s schooling you can apply for a prohibited steps order or a specific issue order. If you can’t reach an agreement over whether a child should move overseas then one parent can apply for a relocation Order and the other parent can oppose it.
The child custody solicitors at Evolve help parents obtain parental responsibility agreements or Orders and provide expert help on resolving parental disagreements over what is in a child’s best interests.