What is Parental Responsibility and how can you get it?
As a grandparent you do not have Parental Responsibility (PR) for your grandchild. PR means ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and the authority which, by law, a parent has in relation to the child and his property.’ The child’s mother and most fathers would normally have PR as a parent and as a result are able to make the decisions about the day to day care and welfare of the child unless the Court makes an alternative order.
Important aspects of PR are a responsibility as regards:
- Providing a home for the child;
- Protecting and maintaining the child;
- Discipling 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 properly
Parents have a duty to ensure that their child is supported financially whether or not they have parental responsibility.
A mother automatically has PR for her child from birth.
A father usually has PR if he is either;
- Married to the child’s mother
- Listed on the birth certificate
An unmarried father can get PR for his child in 1 of 3 ways:
- Jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother (from 1.12.2003)
- Getting a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother
- Getting a Parental Responsibility Order from a Court
Same-sex partners will both have PR if they were civil partners at the time of the treatment, for example, donor insemination or fertility treatment.
For same-sex partners who are not civil partners, the 2nd partner can get PR by either:-
- Applying for PR if a Parental Agreement was made;
- Becoming a civil partner of the other parent and making a parental responsibility agreement ;or
- Jointly registering the birth
You can apply for PR if you do not automatically have it. You need to be connected to the child, for example, as their father, step-parent or 2nd female parent.
More than 2 people can have PR for the same child.
Sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement
If you are the father who wants PR and the mother agrees, a PR agreement can be completed. The agreement should then be taken to your local county court where you can both sign the agreement with your signature being witnessed by a court official. A solicitor cannot witness your signature. You will need to take your child’s birth certificate and proof of your identity, such as a passport or driving licence. 2 copies of the form should then be sent to the Principal Registry of the Family Division, First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn London WC1V 6NP.
If you want parental responsibility but cannot agree on arrangements with the child’s mother then you can apply for a court order.
How can grandparents get parental responsibility?
Grandparents can acquire PR for their grandchildren if a Child Arrangements Order is made in their favour. The person named in a Child Arrangements order shares PR with the parents and can make most important decision on behalf of the parents without needing the permission of the parents. It lasts until the child turns 18 unless the Court states otherwise.
In most cases, you have to attend a mediation, information and assessment meeting (MIAM) to assess whether mediation may be a suitable way of resolving your case before you can apply for a Child Arrangements order.
When the Court is deciding whether to grant a child arrangements order the child’s welfare is its primary consideration.
However, the process for grandparents differs from the process that parents undertake, as grandparents have the additional step of seeking leave (permission) of the Court first. This additional step is in place ‘to act as a filter to sift out those applications that are clearly not in the child’s best interests.’ The granting of leave does not raise any presumption that the application for a child arrangements order will succeed.
A grandparent may be automatically entitled to apply for a child arrangements order in a limited number of circumstances, for example, if the child has been living with the prospective applicant for at least 3 years or if they have the consent of each person with PR for the child.
The Court can determine an application for leave either at a hearing or, in certain circumstances, without a hearing. In considering such an application, the Court will consider:-
- The nature of the proposed application for the child arrangements order;
- The applicant’s connection with the child;
- Any risk there may be of that proposed application disrupting the child’s life to such an extent that the child would be harmed by it and
- Where the child is being looked after by the local authority, the authority’s plans for the child’s future and the wishes and feelings of the child’s parents
If leave is granted the grandparent can then go on to make a substantive application.
If you wish to discuss the matters raised here or wish to make an application to the Court then give RJT Solicitors a call on 01942 409154