Parental Responsibility For A Father – Is An Order Necessary?
Posted on 22nd June 2020
If the parents are still in a relationship at the time of the child’s birth then they will normally register the birth together and the father will be named on the birth certificate. He will hold parental responsibility from that point.
If separation has occurred before the birth and the parties have managed to end the relationship amicably, particularly if they have simply accepted there is no future in a romantic/intimate relationship and they are more friends than anything else, then again the parents can arrange to register the birth together and the father will hold parental responsibility.
However, where the breakdown of the relationship has been difficult for whatever reason, emotions are likely to be running high and the mother may decide to register the birth alone and not name the father - whether this is out of anger or spite, or she feels she is protecting the child through the father not having parental responsibility.
In a lot of cases where the father is not named on the birth certificate the separated parents cannot agree on the time that their child should spend with each of them or the mother is of the view that the child should not spend any time at all with the father, and therefore an application for a Child Arrangements Order becomes necessary. A Parental Responsibility Order will normally be applied for at the same time.
However, in cases where the parents are able to put their emotions to one side and act in the best interests of the child, and there is no reason for the child not to be spending time with the father, they may feel that an application to Court is rather extreme and the father does not want to take the matter to Court.
So what other options are there? Your family law solicitors at MG Legal look at the alternatives.
Parental Responsibility Agreement
This document can be downloaded from gov.uk and can be found under the Children Act section - Form C (PRA1).
The form itself is very simple to complete. It will ask for the child’s full name, gender, date of birth and date of the child’s 18th birthday – as parental responsibility ends when a child legally becomes an adult.
Both parents then need to provide their full name and address, but it is essential that the form is not signed until they are asked to do so.
The parents, either together or separately, will need to attend their local Family Court where they will be asked to sign the form by a Justice of the Peace (ie a Magistrate), Justices’ Clerk (more commonly known as a Legal Advisor) or an Assistant to a Justices’ Clerk, or an officer of the Court (ie member of Court staff) authorised to administer oaths, who will then witness the signatures. In practice it will normally be someone from the Court office who attends to it. It is important to note that a solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths cannot witness the agreement.
The mother will also need to provide proof that she is the child’s mother and will need to take photographic ID which also includes her signature, such as passport, photo driving licence or other photocard, together with the child’s birth certificate. The document must be the originals as photocopies will not be accepted.
The father will need to provide identification showing a photograph and signature.
Once the form has been completed, signed and witnessed, the original plus two photocopies need to be sent to The Central Family Court, First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6NP. The Court will record the Agreement and keep the original form. The copies will be stamped and one sent back to each parent at the address they have provided on the Agreement. It should be noted that the Agreement will not take effect until it has been recorded at The Central Family Court.
Re-Registration of the Birth
Under Section 10 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 (as substituted by Family Law Reform Act 1987, a father cannot register the birth of his child alone and the registrar cannot enter the name of someone as the father of the child except where :-
(a) the parents attend together and both sign the register; or
(b) the mother asks for the amended to be made and she can produce a declaration in the prescribed form stating that the person to be entered on the register is the father of the child and she has a statutory declaration from the person to be entered stating that he is the father of the child; or
(c) the person who wishes his name to be entered produces a declaration in the prescribed form stating that he is the father of the child and also a statutory declaration by the mother stating that the person to be entered is indeed the father of the child; or
(d) either parent produces a Parental Responsibility Agreement sealed by The Central Family Court and a declaration by the person making the request stating that the Agreement complies with Section 4 of the Children Act 1989 and has not been ended by the Court
(e) either parent produces a certified copy of a Parental Responsibility Order and a declaration by the person making the request stating that the Order has not been discharged by the Court
There are two other circumstances which do not relate to the topic of this blog and will therefore not be mentioned.
The prescribed form as mentioned above is issued by HM Passport Office and has the reference GRO 185. It asks for confirmation as to who will be attending the Register Office, details of the original birth registration, details for the new birth registration, details of any marriage or civil partnership, information as to any Court involvement, contact details of the parents, and a declaration section that can be signed by one or both parents.
The form also carries a warning that if one of the parents is unwilling to co-operate with a re-registration application then one parent can apply to re-register using a Parental Responsibility Order or Parental Responsibility Agreement. This will be most useful in situations where the Court has had to order parental responsibility as the mother still objects to the father having it but there is no good reason for parental responsibility not being awarded.
One last thing that your local family law solicitors need to mention is the less common situation where the father acquires parental responsibility through marrying the child’s mother.
Up until 1st December 2003 an unmarried father would not have acquired parental responsibility even if he was named on the birth certificate but if he then married the mother, he would acquire it. Since that date, if the parents were still in a relationship at the date of the child’s birth, it would be assumed that the father will be named on the birth certificate and will automatically have parental responsibility. One way parental responsibility may still be obtained this way is where the parties separated before the child’s birth but then subsequently reconciled and later became husband and wife.
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