As a father you have the same rights and duties in relation to your children as their mother does, don't you?
Parental Responsibility means all the rights duties powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property. In practical terms this can mean such important matters as giving consent to medical treatment, changing a child's name, giving consent to their adoption, being provided with information about them including school reports and the rights you have to see them if you are no longer living with them.
So how will you know if you have Parental Responsibility?
You will have Parental Responsibility automatically in the following circumstances:-
All mothers on the other hand will automatically have Parental Responsibility upon their birth.
So what do you do to get Parental Responsibility?
There are four ways of obtaining Parental Responsibility. They are:-
If you intend to get married anyway then you will gain Parental Responsibility without any further documentation. But you may not wish to marry the child's mother, or your relationship with her may have broken down.
If so, then ask her whether she will sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement which is then registered at the Principle Registry in London.
But what do you do if the child's mother will not sign the Agreement? The only other option is to apply to the Court. You will need to attend at least one Court hearing and satisfy the Court that this should be granted. The Court regards the welfare of the child to be paramount when considering your application. The Court will also look at other factors such as your commitment to the child, the child's attachment to you and may consider the wishes and feelings of the child if they are old enough to express these.
A residence application is only sensible if you want a child to live with you permanently and you should take legal advice before proceeding with this.
First Published in Kings Hill Directory as two articles in August and September 2006