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Parental Responsibility

Parental Responsibility


Duncan Lewis children lawyers can advise parents on issues surrounding Parental Responsibility – including preparing applications for a court order and advising on disputes involving Parental Responsibility.


Who can have Parental Responsibility?
  • The mother of a child has Parental Responsibility from birth.
  • The father will also have Parental Responsibility if he is married to the child’s mother or if he is listed on the birth certificate and the child was born after 1 December 2003 – or if he signs a Parental Responsibility agreement with the mother.
  • In cases of adoption, both parents have Parental Responsibility.
  • In cases of same-sex partners who were civil partners at the time of IVF treatment, both partners will have Parental Responsibility.
  • In cases where a couple may have separated, divorced or dissolved a civil partnership, one parent is usually the resident parent with Parental Responsibility and the legal right to make day-to-day decisions over the care of their child; while the non-resident parent has Parental Responsibly allowing them contact with their children and the right to have a say in how their children are brought up.
  • Parental Responsibility can also be assigned under the law – as in cases where a surrogate mother carries a child and the intended parents go to court to apply for Parental Responsibility.
Acquiring Parental Responsibility


Unmarried fathers can acquire Parental Responsibility by:

  • jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother
  • making a Parental Responsibility agreement with the mother
  • obtaining a Parental Responsibility order from a court.
Non-civil partners and Parental Responsibility


For same-sex partners who are not civil partners, the second parent can acquire Parental Responsibility by either becoming a civil partner or jointly registering the birth.


Non-civil partners can also apply for Parental Responsibility if a couple made a Parental Agreement.


Non-civil partners, like unmarried fathers, can also apply for Parental Responsibility if they are not named on the child’s birth certificate.


Parental Responsibility – Duties under the Law


Parents have basic duties under the law, including:

  • providing a home for the child
  • protecting and maintaining the child
  • disciplining the child
  • choosing and providing for the child’s education
  • agreeing to the child’s medical treatment
  • naming the child and agreeing to any change of name
  • looking after the child’s property.

In some cases, a non-resident parent may not have the right to have contact with a child, but the resident parent may still have to keep them informed about the child’s development and welfare. This might be the case if domestic violence or child abuse has occurred – or the non-resident parent is not able to care for the child on their own because of a mental health condition or other circumstances.


Whether or not a parent has Parental Responsibility, parents have a financial responsibility towards their children.


Applying for Parental Responsibility


Applying for Parental Responsibility involves completing the relevant court forms and submitting these to the court with the appropriate fees.


If parents cannot agree on issues of Parental Responsibility, it is possible to obtain a court order to formalise arrangements between the mother or resident parent and a non-resident parent or individual with Parental Responsibility or resolves disputes over Parental Responsibility arrangements.


Duncan Lewis Family Mediation – Parental Responsibility


In cases where agreement cannot be reached between a couple, Duncan Lewis can also arrange Family Mediation to help both parties work through the issues and reach a solution, without recourse to the courts.


The courts will always take into account the welfare of the child so working through any differences within lawyer supported Family Mediation can help avoid traumatic court action.


Both parents can appoint their own Duncan Lewis child care lawyer to give independent legal advice at every stage of the mediation process – Duncan Lewis’ own Mediators include Resolution qualified Professional Practice Consultants.


Duncan Lewis is ranked by the Legal 500 2014 for its Family & Matrimonial work – and the Duncan Lewis team includes Advanced Members of the Law Society’s Family Panel, and members of the Law Society Children Panel – so our team is well placed to help you with any Parental Responsibility matters.


Duncan Lewis Children Lawyers – Fixed Fees – Parental Responsibility


Duncan Lewis children lawyers offer a fixed fee for an initial client interview and assessment of a Parental Responsibility matter.


After a case has been assessed, it is usually possible for a fixed fee arrangement to be put in place – and Duncan Lewis will always advise clients of the costs in advance.


Duncan Lewis is also one of the UK’s largest providers of Legal Aid family law services – including child care law – and in some cases may be able to offer Legal Aid funding for child care cases, including help with the costs of applying for court orders if a client is on benefits or has a low income.


Duncan Lewis children lawyers always advise clients who are seeking help with child care matters – or who are in dispute over Parental Responsibility arrangements – to get in touch as soon as possible before the situation escalates.


Once you have contacted Duncan Lewis, we can act swiftly in any child care matter and put in place measures to help resolve the issues and prevent further dispute and/or legal costs mounting up.


For expert legal advice on all child care matters – including Parental Responsibility – contact Duncan Lewis Children Lawyers on 020 7923 4020.

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