The 1989 Children Act aimed to clarify the law regarding rights and obligations regarding children. One of the main new concepts introduced by the Act was that of ‘Parental Responsibility’ (PR).
The list of responsibilities involved includes care and control of the child, discipline, protection and maintenance, secular education, religious upbringing, and medical treatment.
All married parents of children (whether born before or after the marriage and including adopted children) automatically acquire PR. An unmarried mother automatically has PR but an unmarried father does not. There are now a number of ways in which an unmarried man can acquire PR for his child. Until recently this could only be either by entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement or by the courts making a Parental Responsibility Order.
Parental Responsibility can also be granted to people who are not the natural parents of a child. Anybody whose care of a child is court approved by the making of a residence order automatically acquires PR. In addition, adopters and guardians are given PR and in some circumstances it is granted to local authorities or even the courts.
One problem area is whether one person with PR has to consult any other(s) about important decisions affecting a child’s life, such as changing schools or agreeing to medical treatment. The current view of the courts is that if there is any doubt or conflict it is probably advisable to apply for a court order.
Please contact us on 0208 974 7490 or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an initial consultation to discuss the best way forward for you and we will provide you with further and specific advice tailored to your circumstances.