Parents that live away from their children due to separation can feel left out of the decisions taken in their children’s lives. Gaining parental responsibility is a key legal status that safeguards these rights. However, not all parents have this right automatically and they may need to negotiate or go to court to achieve it.
What Is Parental Responsibility?
Parents that live away from their children due to separation may have access rights which allow them to spend a defined amount of time with their children. However, access rights do not automatically allow parents to take responsibility in the day-to-day decisions that a live-in parent would make in areas such as health and education. In most cases, parental responsibility issues can be resolved by the parents coming to an agreement. However, in some cases there is disagreement, which may mean that a court order is necessary.
How Might Parental Responsibility Affect You?
Parental responsibility is automatic for married mothers and fathers and The Children Act 1989 is clear that if you had parental responsibility before a separation you will retain it after a break-up, even if your children do not live with you. However, this can often prove not to be the case, as in practice the resident parent can exclude the other party from decision-making. Fathers who did not marry the child’s mother are more likely to end up without parental responsibility in the event of a break-up. Not having parental responsibility can place very specific barriers in the way of caring for your children properly. Even if you have access rights, without parental responsibility you would be unable to discuss your children’s progress with their teacher or their health with your family doctor. In extreme cases, you would not be allowed to give parental consent for urgent medical treatment.
How Do You Obtain Parental Responsibility?
UK law is very clear that the first stage should be for the parents to work together to create a solution which places the children’s best interests at the core of any agreement. However, in the middle of an emotional break-up this process can be hard. In such cases, it is often worthwhile using the services of a family law specialist such as The Co-Operative. They can help by advising you about parental responsibility, whether you have it and how you can obtain it. In addition, such services can help to negotiate and draw up and register a parental responsibility agreement.
Will You Need to Go to Court?
Success in the process of negotiating parental responsibility relies on the consent and goodwill of all involved. However, sometimes animosity after a separation can make these negotiations impossible. In these circumstances, you may need to apply to a court for parental responsibility, which can be daunting. If this is the case, a family law service can help you complete your application and advise you about the court process. The specialist advisor can be instructed to correspond with the court on your behalf and if necessary represent you in any court proceedings.