Parental responsibility

Parental Responsibility

S3(1) Children Act 1989:  

‘Parental Responsibility means that all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property’

S2(7) Children Act 1989:

States that where there are two or more people with parental responsibility over a child each of them may act alone in fulfilling their duties and responsibilities.

Who has Parental responsibility?

Where the parents of a child are married, each parent has parental responsibility – S2(1) Children Act 1989 

Where civil partners are parents under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, Each of the partners to the civil partnership will have parental responsibility- S2(1A) Children Act 1989

Where the parents of a child are not married nor in a civil partnership with each other, The mother will have parental responsibility and the father or other female parent ( in relation to a civil partnership)  will have to take the necessary steps to acquire parental responsibility – s2(2) and S 2(2A) Children Act 1989. 

How can a father acquire Parental responsibility?

Under s4 (1) Children Act 1989 a father of a child can gain parental responsibility in three ways:

  1. By registering as the Child’s father on the Birth Certificate
  2. By means of a Parental Responsibility agreement with the child’s mother
  3. By applying for a Parental Responsibility order through the courts 

How can the ‘The other female parent’ acquire Parental responsibility?

The other female parent who is a partner in a civil partnership with the child’s mother can gain parental responsibility under s4ZA Children Act 1989: 

  • By registering as the Child’s ’other female parent’ on the Birth Certificate
  • By means of a Parental Responsibility agreement with the child’s mother
  • By applying for a Parental Responsibility order through the courts

How can a step parent acquire parental responsibility?

  • Under s4A Children Act 1989, a step parent can acquire parental responsibility by agreement with both parents who already have parental responsibility of the child in question or by a parental responsibility order granted by the courts. 
  • The holder of a residence order for the child will acquire parental responsibility as a direct result of the residence order being granted.
  • A local authority will also gain parental responsibility over a child when a care order is issued by the courts.

Child Autonomy

The United Nations Convention on the Rights to a Child 1989, Article 12 states that the parties with parental responsibility should assure that where a child is capable of forming their own opinion, then they should allow the child to express this opinion freely in any matters that will affect the child. This view should be taken in light of the age and maturity of the child.

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