Longridge: 01772 783314 | Garstang: 01995 602129 | Lancaster: 01524 581306 
 
Longridge: 01772 783 314 
Garstang: 01995 602 129 
Lancaster: 01524 581 306 
A parent holding their child's hand
Our family solicitors in Lancaster and Preston will explain how family law works. Section 3 of the Children Act merely states that parental responsibility is “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”. So, whilst we don’t have an acknowledged or agreed definition of Parental Responsibility, we do know what Parental Responsibility allows people to do. Parental Responsibility allows someone to make a decision about a child’s education, the medical attention a child receives or indeed whether the child goes abroad. To be clear Parental Responsibility is not in any way linked to how often someone can spend time with a child nor does it allow for someone with Parental Responsibility to interfere with the day to day decisions made by the parent that the child is living with. 
 
The general principle is that mothers and married fathers automatically have Parental Responsibility. Fathers who were not married to the child’s mother may not have Parental Responsibility if their name was not put on the Child’s Birth Certificate. You can be granted Parental Responsibility by the Court; you may adopt a child or you may be an unmarried father of the child who marries the mother of the child and the mother then agrees to you obtaining Parental Responsibility. 
A note on adoption, in most cases, an adoption order cuts all legal ties between an adopted child and their birth parents and creates a new legal relationship between the child and the adoptive parents. The exception is cases involving adopting a stepchild, where birth parents and the stepparent share parental responsibility. 
 
It is important for family lawyers to make it clear to their clients that Parental Responsibility cannot simply be passed on to someone else. Whilst step - parents can share the responsibility, a mother could not pass her responsibility on to a step- mother simply because she wishes to do so. It is possible to delegate the responsibility of looking after a child to a married or unmarried partner, child minder, teacher, friend or relative, but the person with Parental Responsibility is still liable and responsible to ensure that proper arrangements are made for the child. Temporary carers will not have Parental Responsibility but may do what is reasonable in all the circumstances for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the child’s welfare. 
 
A Parental Responsibility Agreement is an agreement made between the mother and the unmarried father to allow him to have Parental Responsibility. Both parents will have to agree to this. It the parents do not agree then an application must be made to the Court. MG Legal’s family law experts can assist in drafting a Parental Responsibility Agreement whether or not the matter is agreed, we can help you every step of the way so that you can care for your child. Contact the office on 01524 581 306 or email enquiries@mglegal.co.uk
 
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