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Parental Responsibility

Parental Responsibility (PR)

House of Commons Library publishes Research Briefing on Parental Responsibility (PR)

The House of Commons Library has recently published a Research Briefing dealing with:

1) What is parental responsibility?
2) How is parental responsibility acquired?
3) Surrogacy and proposed reform
4) How is parental responsibility lost?
5) Proposed reform: Jade’s Law

Parental responsibility (PR) is a collection of rights and responsibilities each parent has towards their children and towards each other as co-parents. There are certain decisions in a child’s life that can only be made by an adult who has parental responsibility for the child (for example, medical decisions such as surgery) and some which require the consent of all those with PR. For example, a child’s name cannot be changed without the written consent of every adult with PR for that child. If the child’s parents are separated and there is no formal court order dealing with child arrangements, every adult with PR for the child must also consent to the child being removed from the jurisdiction for any reason. Therefore if one parent wants to take the child abroad on holiday, they will need the consent of the other parent with PR.

A biological mother automatically has PR when she gives birth to her child. The biological father will have automatic PR for the child if he was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. For unmarried fathers, they can gain PR for a child if they are named on the child’s birth certificate or through a formal PR Agreement with the mother.  The father can also apply to the family court for a PR order if the mother is refusing to enter into a PR Agreement.

It is currently very difficult for PR to be removed from an adult. However, Jade’s Law looks to change this. In October 2023, the Government announced it intended to change the law so that parents convicted of killing their child’s other parent would have their PR suspended upon sentencing. The Government tabled amendments to the Victims and Prisoners Bill (PDF) (NC37) providing for this change. The Bill’s Commons Report Stage took place on 4 December 2023 and we now await the next stages of the process. The proposals followed a campaign by the family of Jade Ward, who was murdered by her ex-partner in August 2021. An e-petition on the issue received over 130,000 signatures and was debated in Westminster Hall in November 2022.

If you are a separated parent and are experiencing any issues with your former partner over the arrangements for your child or wish to discuss parental responsibility issues, contact our family law team in Ipswich on 01473 213311 or our family law team in Colchester on 01206 584584 for more information, alternatively you can email [email protected] or visit our website and click “Call Me Back” and a member of family law team at Kerseys Solicitors will be happy to contact you.

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