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Can a Father Lose Parental Responsibility?

The basic definition of parental responsibility is that it is a list of legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority, which you have in relation to your child or children and their property. If you already have parental responsibility, you will be entitled to voice your opinions in all crucial matters affecting a child’s upbringing. For example, this could encompass making decisions on a child’s medical treatment, education, and whether or not a child can be removed from the jurisdiction.  

Please note that parental responsibility is different from the decisions about who the child spends time with and where the child lives.

 

Automatic Parental Responsibility

A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth. The other parent will only automatically have parental responsibility if:

  • The father and mother were married at the time of the child’s birth.
  • The father subsequently marries the mother or from 2nd December 2019 entering into a civil partnership with the mother at the time of the child’s birth.
  • The father was not married to the child’s mother and the child was born after 1st December 2003 and the father is listed on the child’s birth certificate. 

Therefore, if a father falls within the above categories, he can only lose parental responsibility in exceptional circumstances. These include:

  • If a Court orders that the child be placed under adoption.
  • If it is proven that he is not the biological father of the child.
  • If a father applies for an order ending his parental responsibility, such application can only be made if he has parental responsibility.

It should be noted there is no provision in Child Act 1989 that gives the court jurisdiction to revoke a father’s parental responsibility where it was acquired by virtue of marriage at the time of the child’s birth. The Court can however restrict a parent’s exercise of parental responsibility.

 

Obtaining Parental Responsibility

If you do not have automatic parental responsibility, Kew Law can help you to achieve this objective.

This could include:

  • An agreement between you and the child’s mother in relation to the joint parental responsibility for your child.
  • Obtaining a Court Order regarding the child’s arrangements (who the child will spend time with or live with) or a parental responsibility order.
  • Being approved as the child’s guardian.

In addition, if there are doubts about whether you are the father of the child, we can ask the Court to order genetic tests by comparing DNA samples between you and your child.

Please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 987 8156 and one of our solicitors will be happy to discuss your matter with you.

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