What is Parental Responsibility?
If your child was born after 1st December 2003, you weren’t married to your ex and he’s not on the birth certificate, he can apply to the court for Parental Responsibility.
Legally defined parental responsibility (PR) means, “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.” I found out during my own case that in reality, it’s not as scary as it sounds.
Your ex being granted parental responsibility gives him the right to have his say on the important stuff. This could be changing your child’s surname, medical treatment, moving abroad or what school they should attend.
No need to worry…
Parental responsibility doesn’t mean that you have to consult with your ex over every little thing. It doesn’t mean that your ex can tell you how to be a mum. By law, the day-to-day parenting decisions are made by the resident parent without interference from the non-resident parent.
Parental Responsibility and your case
In most cases there is no good reason for a father to be denied parental responsibility. Therefore if you really feel strongly about your ex not having PR, you will need to make your valid reasons known to the court. You will need to explain why you have refused parental responsibility, if you have. You will also need to convince the magistrates that they should not go against you by granting PR.
Though it’s rare for the courts to refuse a father parental responsibility, there have been exceptions. For example:
- (Re H (Parental Responsibility)) – In this case the father displayed cruel behaviour towards his child and injured the child.
- (Re P (Parental Responsibility))– The father in this case was found with obscene photographs of children.
- (Re M (Contact: Parental Responsibility)) – In this case the courts felt that granting PR would undermine the mother’s ability to care for her disabled child and thus cause unnecessary stress.
You can see from the above examples that the reasons the courts had for not granting PR were all extremely valid. Your own reasons would need to be equally as valid if your desired outcome is for the courts to not grant PR. For more information on convincing the magistrates, take a look at Persuading with Proof makes a Convincing Case
Think about what your ex having parental responsibility really means in practical terms. It doesn’t mean that you need your ex’s consent for every school trip. It does mean that he will be able to get school reports sent directly to him, is that so bad? Remember that parental responsibility is not a bat to beat you with. Day-to-day parenting is handled by the resident parent. Rational thinking can be difficult as a litigant. Let Emotion & Reason – 5 Steps to Creating a Balanced Argument show you the wood through the trees.
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