Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility in the UK is defined by the Children Act 1989 as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child’. Whether married or unmarried couples - parental responsibility has the same affect. This means a parent has the responsibility to:

  • Choose a name for the child
  • Provide housing for the child
  • Maintain and protect the child
  • Make decisions about their education
  • Consent to any medical treatment for the child

Parental responsibility is automatically given to the mother, as she is always listed on the birth certificate, but the other parent often also has the same responsibility.

A father will have parental responsibility if:

  • He was married to the mother at the time of birth
  • He was listed on the birth certificate
  • Both parents or the father registered parental responsibility with the court

You may also have gained Parental Responsibility via a Parental Responsibility Agreement (which you will both have signed, and which has been registered) or via a Parental Responsibility Order made by the Court. This means that a step-parent, or a grandparent, for example, could have Parental Responsibility.

Parental responsibility can also apply to partners in same-sex couples.

Parental responsibility creates an equal playing field between both parents, meaning both have the right to provide the child with a home. That does not mean you cannot secure the return of your child from your ex-partner, but it will have a significant impact on how you go about doing it

If you are told your child will not be returned to you by their parent, a reasonable first thought is to call the police. However, you may find the police and other bodies such as the social services are unable to recover your child for you.

This is where whether your ex-partner has parental responsibility becomes so important. If they do not, the police can return a child to its mother, as she has sole responsibility. This would be classed as child abduction If, however, they do have parental responsibility, the police will not be able to recover the child, as they have a remit not to choose between parents.

In any situation where legal action needs to be taken quickly and effectively, it is important to speak to an expert solicitor. At Blanchards Law we can act urgently and quickly to assist in any action deemed necessary in any child abduction situation. Please call us on 0333 344 6302 or contact us through our enquiry form. All initial enquiries are free and without obligation.

While the police and social services may be unable to recover your child under normal circumstances, they do have additional powers if there is a real and immediate threat to your child’s safety.

In most cases, the return of your child from a parent requires an order from the court. The most common forms of orders you are likely to have are Child Arrangement Orders & Agreements and Prohibited Steps Orders.

If your child will not be returned to you by someone with parental responsibility, you can apply for a Child Arrangement Order to confirm they should live with you. Following an application to the court for the order, you will be given notice of a hearing along with your partner. This will give you both a chance to argue your case and allow the court to make an informed decision.

If you are concerned about the safety of your child, you can make a ‘without notice hearing’. This means your ex-partner will not be informed and the hearing will take place quicker. This can provide a court order for the return of your child quicker, though it is only a temporary solution. A full notice hearing will still need to take place, at which point the order may be overturned.

By applying to the court for one of the above orders, you can create a legal obligation for the return of your child and take important steps to ensure child abduction never happens again.

If you would like to find out more about parental responsibility in the UK for grandparents, please read our blog post here.

Can we help you? Please call us on 0333 344 6302 or contact us through our enquiry form. All initial enquiries are free and without obligation.

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