What Is Parental Responsibility

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What Is Parental Responsibility

If you are wanting to know what parental responsibilities you have, or perhaps you are wondering what this term means, then you have come to the right place.

This article today will discuss who legally has parental responsibility if it can be passed on to someone else and under what conditions - and also what happens if parents disagree on the upbringing of their child. Keep reading for all of the information you need to know on this.


What Is Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility is the legal term for rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that parents have for their children and this law is under the Children Act 1989. A parent is responsible for ensuring that the child is cared for, protected and maintained.

A parent is also responsible for choosing what school they go to, getting the right medical treatment and also disciplining the child. This parental responsibility comes to an end once the child reaches the age of 18.


Do Mothers And Fathers Have Equal Responsibility?

Mothers who give birth automatically have parental responsibility for that child and yes, fathers also automatically have parental responsibility for the child but only if the mother and father are married at the time of the birth, or if they are named as the father on the birth certificate - if the birth was registered after 1st December 2003.

If the mother and father of the child are not married and the father is not named on the birth certificate, then the father does not have parental responsibility for the child.

If the mother agrees with the father who wants parental responsibility then they can fill in a parental responsibility agreement, whilst there is a different agreement for step-parents.


Can Parental Responsibility Be Granted?

You can apply for parental responsibility if you are not granted it automatically. To be granted access you can either enter into a voluntary agreement with the mother of the child - this is called a ‘Parental Responsibility Agreement’.

Another option is to make an application to the Court to obtain a Parental Responsibility Order, this can be done through an Adoption Order, Child Arrangements Order for residence or Special Guardianship Order.

You need to be connected to the child in some way to apply for parental responsibility through the courts, for example as the child's father, step-parent or 2nd female parent.

It is worth noting that more than two people can have parental responsibility for the same child, whilst Scotland follows its own set of rules.

It is possible to delegate the responsibility of looking after a child to a partner, childminder, teacher, friend or relation but the person with parental responsibility is still liable for the child and the arrangements.


What About Separated Parents?

If you have children with a previous partner you have now separated from this does not mean your rights and responsibilities are taken away.

Just because your child or children are not living with you, you still have parental responsibility, it does not disappear if you are not living with your children and therefore cannot care for them as you would if you were living in the same household.

If you are not living with your children under 18, you still have a responsibility to make sure that your children are properly cared for and looked after, have appropriate living arrangements and are overall properly maintained.

This is why ‘child maintenance’ exists, it also means you still have the right to know what is going on in your child's life especially when it comes to education and healthcare.

You are entitled to contact your child's school to ask them for any updates or reports on your child, just as much as the parent living with your child.


What Is Child Maintenance?

Child maintenance - often referred to also as ‘child support - is the money paid to help with a child’s living costs.

It is usually paid when parents have separated and by the parent that is not living with the child to the parent who has most day-to-day care of the child - usually the one that lives with them.

Child maintenance is a financial arrangement between two parents or by those that hold parental responsibility. Arrangements to see the child will happen separately from the child support arrangements.

Child maintenance must be paid if your child is under 16 or under 20 if the child is still in full-time education and it is both parents that are responsible for the cost of raising their children - even if they do not see them.


Arranging Child Maintenance

Child maintenance can be arranged privately between parents if both parents agree or through the Child Maintenance Service.

This Child Maintenance Service can work out an amount to pay and arrange payments and take action if a parent does not pay, whilst sorting out any disagreements between parents and the service can even try and find the other parent if you don’t know where they are.

You can even use the Child Maintenance Service to arrange child maintenance if you do not want the other parent to know your personal information or your location - this is suitable in instances such as having experienced domestic abuse or controlling behaviour.

Your child maintenance payments will not affect the benefits that both you and your children may get and you will not have to pay tax on them.


What If Parents Cannot Agree On A Decision

If parents cannot agree on a decision concerning the upbringing of their child, they should try and resolve any disputes amicably whilst coming to an agreement through family mediation.

Mediation is a structured process where an impartial mediator assists the disputing parties in resolving conflict and coming to a conclusion and compromise - sometimes a family law solicitor or representative is present for mediation.

If an agreement cannot be reached, either parent can apply to the court, the parent who applies does not have to have parental responsibility to be able to do this.

This process will ask the court to make a decision on behalf of the parents and the decision will be based on what the court thinks is in the child's best interests.

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