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Who has parental responsibility for a child?

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After a couple split up one parent can be left feeling that they have no rights or responsibilities for their child. The other parent can be left feeling that they are shouldering all the responsibility for the child whilst the other parent enjoys contact time with the child.

The law sets out who has parental responsibility for a child. Even if a parent does not have parental responsibility for their child, they will:

• Still be able to apply to court for custody and access orders; and

• Still be liable to pay child support.

How can OTS Solicitors help?

OTS Solicitors family law team can help you obtain parental responsibility by preparing a parental responsibility agreement or applying to court for a parental responsibility order. In most situations, a parent may also need help to resolve the day-to-day parenting arrangements and contact. For advice and help on any aspect of children law, call Jordana Adams on 0203 959 9123.

What does parental responsibility mean?

Parental responsibility means the obligations and responsibilities a parent has for a child. 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.

Who has parental responsibility for a child?

The mother

A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child. She only loses parental responsibility if the child is adopted.

The father

A father automatically has parental responsibility for his child if he:

• Is married to the child’s mother;

• Gets married to the child’s mother;

• Was married to the child’s mother;

• Is named on the child’s birth certificate as the child’s father, provided registration of the birth took place after 1 December 2003.

A father can get parental responsibility for his child if he:

• Is an unmarried father of a child and signs a parental responsibility agreement with the child’s mother; or

• Is an unmarried father of a child and the court makes a parental responsibility order.

Other people who can get parental responsibility for a child

Parental responsibility is not restricted to parents. Other people can get parental responsibility for a child, such as:

• Civil partners;

• Step parents;

• People looking after a child under a Residence Order;

• People who have had a child through a Surrogacy Arrangement and have a parental order;

• People who are looking after a child under a guardian order;

• A local authority that successfully applies for a care order for a child;

• The adoptive parents of a child.

In practical terms, what does parental responsibility mean?

Top family law solicitors find that parental responsibility is not something that concerns many parents on a daily basis.

It is only when parents cannot agree on what is best for their child, such as should the child:

• move abroad with one parent; or

• move to a different area of the country with one parent; or

• change school; or

• change surname; or

• Change religion.

that parents start to think about their parental responsibility and their rights.

What happens if parents cannot agree on how to parent their child?

The best family law solicitors only tend to be consulted when parents cannot agree on the arrangements for their child. The dispute can be as simple as whether the child should return at 4pm or 5pm. In other situations, the dispute can be a lot more serious, for example, whether the child should be allowed to go to live in the USA with her mother or stay in the UK.

The court and parental responsibility

If parents cannot agree on an important aspect of their child’s life, the court can make the decision on the parent’s behalf. For example, the parents may not agree on whether their child should be state educated or attend a private school.

The court has the power to make decisions about what is in a child’s best interests if parents are not able to come to an agreement. The court can make:

• Specific issue orders;

• Prohibited steps orders;

• Child arrangements orders, including who is the primary carer and the specific contact arrangements;

• Orders giving the child permission for the child to leave the UK.

In most family circumstances, it is helpful for parents to take early legal advice from the best London Family Solicitors on parental responsibility. An expert family law solicitor can advise on your rights, how to obtain parental responsibility and the orders the court could be asked to make.

Top London family law solicitors will not just consider your court options. They will also look at the options of sorting out parental responsibility disputes by mediation, family therapy or arbitration. That is because the best London Family Solicitors do not always see court proceedings as the best option for a family.

How can OTS Solicitors help you?

OTS Solicitors children team advice on all aspects of children law. We provide sensitive, caring advice. We are committed to excellent service. For a confidential discussion about your parental responsibility or children law concerns give children solicitor, Jordana Adams, a call on 0203 959 9123 .

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