Parental Responsibility

This means term describes the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities a parent has towards their child. In addition to the parent having responsibility for making all the important decisions in their child’s life, it enables the parent to make the day to day decisions also.
Married parents have joint responsibility however if the child’s parents are not married only the mother has parental responsibility. This does not mean however that an unmarried father cannot acquire parental responsibility. This can be done in one of six ways, namely:

  • Following 1 December 2003, by being registered as a father on the child’s birth certificate (with the consent of the mother);
  • By entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother (this is on a prescribed form);
  • By applying to the court for a parental responsibility order;
  • By being appointed a guardian either by the mother or by the court. This will take effect only on the death of the mother;
  • By obtaining a child living arrangement order from the court;
  • By marrying the mother.

There is no limit to the number of people who can have parental responsibility at any one time and no one will lose parental responsibility just because another person acquires it.

There are three situations where parents will lose parental responsibility:

  • The parent’s death;
  • The child’s adoption;
  • An order of the court if the unmarried father obtained parental responsibility through an order, agreement or registration on birth certificate.

We can advise you in relation to parental responsibility, if you so require.

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