Who gets Parental rights in a divorce?

When a couple goes through a divorce or separation, one of the crucial aspects to consider is parental responsibility. Parental responsibility refers to the rights, duties, and authority that parents have in relation to their child and their property. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of parental responsibility, who has it, and how it can be obtained. Understanding parental responsibility is essential for ensuring the well-being and best interests of the child.

What is Parental Responsibility?

According to the Children Act 1989, parental responsibility encompasses the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority that a parent has in relation to their child and their property. It allows parents to make major decisions about important aspects of the child’s life, such as residence, education, religion, name, medical treatment, and finances. However, it does not grant authority over day-to-day decisions like clothing choices, hobbies, or television programs.

How Long is Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility generally lasts until the child reaches the age of 18. However, there are circumstances where it may end earlier, such as through adoption or by court order in specific situations. Parental responsibility is often referred to as “PR.”

Who Has Parental Responsibility?

By default, a child’s mother automatically has parental responsibility and does not lose it if she and the child’s father separate, regardless of whether they were married. If the father is married to or in a civil partnership with the child’s mother when the child is born, he also automatically has parental responsibility. Additionally, a father can acquire parental responsibility by marrying the mother or entering into a civil partnership with her after the child’s birth. Parental responsibility is not lost during divorce.

For fathers of children born after December 1, 2003, who are not married to or in a civil partnership with the child’s mother, parental responsibility can be obtained by being named on the child’s birth certificate. However, fathers of children born before December 1, 2003, who were not married to the child’s mother may not automatically have parental responsibility. They can acquire it through agreement with the child’s mother or by court order.

It is important to note that certain court orders can confer parental responsibility on individuals who are not biological parents. These orders typically remain effective for the duration specified in the order.

How do I get Parental Responsibility?

For children born after December 1, 2003, where the parents were not married or in a civil partnership, the father’s name can be added to the birth certificate through a process known as re-registration. This requires the mother’s consent and must be done when no father has previously been named.

Parental responsibility can also be obtained through a written agreement between the father and the child’s mother. This agreement called a parental responsibility agreement, is a legal document that must be signed and witnessed by a court officer. It also needs to be filed at the Principal Registry of the Family Division in London. Additionally, step-parents can acquire parental responsibility through agreement.

If an agreement is not possible, a father can apply to court for a parental responsibility order. In such cases, the child’s mother can oppose the application and present her reasons for doing so. When considering whether to grant parental responsibility, the court evaluates the father’s commitment and attachment to the child, as well as the genuineness of his reasons for applying. Generally, courts tend to award parental responsibility unless there are concerns about the father posing a risk to the child or the mother.

Furthermore, successful applications for special guardianship orders or parental orders after surrogacy automatically grant parental responsibility. Parental responsibility may also be granted when the court issues a child arrangements order.

Final Thoughts

Parental responsibility is a fundamental aspect of divorce and separation cases involving children. Understanding who has parental responsibility and how it can be obtained is crucial for ensuring the well-being and best interests of the child. Parental responsibility ensures that both parents have a say in matters such as residence, education, religion, and medical treatment. By focusing on the child’s needs and best interests, parental responsibility helps create a supportive and stable environment for their growth and development.

If you require guidance or legal advice regarding parental responsibility or any other family mediation matters, our expert family team at Regan Peggs is here to help. We understand the sensitivity and importance of these issues, and we are committed to providing clear, practical, and compassionate assistance tailored to your specific circumstances.

Contact us today to learn more about our family law services and how we can support you and your family during this challenging time. Your child’s well-being is our priority, and we are dedicated to helping you navigate the complexities of parental rights in divorce and separation cases.

Regan Peggs
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