When a mother gives birth to a child she automatically receives parental responsibility rights (PR) for the child.
Some fathers will not have automatic parental responsibility and will have to apply for this in order to have equal rights in the child’s upbringing.
If you need help and advice on any aspect of Child Law following divorce or relationship breakdown, the experienced team at George Ide and our family lawyers in West Sussex can act on your behalf in all children’s proceedings in English and Welsh family courts.
If the parents are married when a birth is registered in England and Wales, or if the baby has been jointly adopted, both parents will have PR. This is not affected by divorce.
When the parents are unmarried, in order to have parental responsibility alongside the mother, the father must jointly register the birth with the mother (applicable from 1-12-2003). Alternatively, he can obtain a parental responsibility agreement with the mother or he must apply to the family court for a parental responsibility order.
For same-sex parents who are civil partners at the time of birth registration, both parents will have PR. When same-sex parents are not in a civil-partnership they will either have to apply to the court for PR or become civil-partners and then register the birth or make a joint PR agreement together.
The most important aspects of PR are for the parent to:
If you have parental responsibility for a child, but you do not live with them (residence), perhaps after going through a divorce for instance, you do not have an automatic right to contact, but the other parent must keep you informed about their progress and well-being.
Those with parental responsibility for a child are also responsible for:
It is worthy of note that, by law, parents must support their children whether they have parental responsibility or not. So, an unmarried father who does not live with the child can still be pursued for child maintenance even if he does not have contact with the child in any form.
The family law team at George Ide LLP always offers a sensitive and understanding approach to children and parental issues. However, our solicitors will ultimately fight robustly for the rights of our clients and are fully prepared to commence litigation proceedings to ensure the rights of children are protected.
If you wish to speak to a family law solicitor about any legal aspect of relationship breakdown, children and divorce, please call our Chichester offices today or use the contact details provided in our solicitor profiles as featured on this page.