Contrary to what many people assume, parental responsibility is not automatically given to someone just because they’re the parent of the child. Nor does it mean that not having parental responsibility exempts you from your legal duties towards the child, such as financially supporting them.
While mothers may have parental responsibility from birth, the same does not apply for unmarried fathers and step-parents.
Not having parental responsibility doesn’t stop you being an active parent in a child’s life, but it does mean you may not have as much say in important matters as you believe a parent should.
Being granted parental responsibility essentially gives you both rights and responsibilities. These responsibilities can include protecting the child, providing a home for them, looking after their property, and making decisions on their education or medical treatment. The rights, meanwhile, mean that you’ll need to be consulted when any decisions on the above are made for your child.
While the thought of having no control over these important parts of a child’s upbringing may worry some, thankfully there is an answer.
Applying for Parental Responsibility
Those without parental responsibility may be able to acquire it in a number of ways. One of those ways is to apply to the courts for it to be granted, and a decision can be made in the applicant’s favour if they fulfil certain criteria.
Yet many feel unsure of how to proceed and worry about the consequence of making a mistake in their parental responsibility application. They fear their attempts to have an equal say in their child’s upbringing will go wrong and compromise their presence in the child’s life.
Our family law team at Robertsons Solicitors are experienced in parental responsibility matters and have the expertise to advise, assist and represent those looking to obtain parental responsibility. So whether it’s to find out whether you’re eligible for parental responsibility, getting help making a court application, or just for general advice about your position – we are here for you.