Parental Responsibility (PR) is a term used to define the rights and duties parents have in relation to their children. It generally refers to duties regarding the general protection and maintenance of the child and responsibilities in relation to their education, religious upbringing, medical treatment, surname and removal from the country – you are unable to remove a child who is a UK resident from the UK without the other parent’s permission if they also have PR. In terms of your responsibility to the other parent, you have a duty to consult with them about the big decisions, such as major medical treatment, schooling, change of name etc.
Who has PR?
- All mothers have PR
- Fathers have PR if they are married
- Unmarried fathers have PR if their child was born after 1st December 2003 and they are registered as the father
- Unmarried fathers can obtain PR if their child was born prior to this date by completing a formal agreement with the mother, or by applying to the court
Family Law in England favours shared Parental Responsibility and continued contact between children and both parents following separation. Although there is a presumption of contact, it is extremely important that you keep your child safe. If there are any issues around domestic or child abuse you should take legal advice or consult Children’s Services so proper consideration can be given to these issues.
The courts do not usually become involved in arrangements for children unless there is a dispute between the parents. It is therefore open for you to come to a suitable arrangement in relation to your children. If you are unable to agree upon arrangements then it may help to attend family Mediation. Mediation is an alternative to Court proceedings, and is available to parents participating in our Moving Forward scheme. For more information please click here.
Ultimately, however, if no agreement can be reached in relation to issues involving the children, such as where they should live, the amount of time to be spent with each parent, which school they should attend, medical matters or even whether they should leave the UK, then it will be necessary to refer the matter to the Court.