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Parental Responsibility Parental responsibility is defined in law as being the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities a parent has to their child and the child’s property.

Applying for Parental Responsibility:

Who has parental responsibility?

o Degree of commitment shown by the father to his child

o The birth mother

A birth father can apply to court to gain parental responsibility and they will take into account the:

o The birth father, if he was married to the mother at the time of birth, or they got married after that date.

o Degree of attachment between father and child

o The birth father if both parents jointly registered the birth in person on or after 1st December 2003

The court will then decide to accept or reject the application based on what it believes is in the child's best interest.

o The birth father if both parents jointly reregistered the birth after 1st December 2003 o The birth father if he has been granted parental responsibility through a court order or through a prescribed form of agreement under the Children Act 89 o An adult who has been granted a residence or care order by the court o The child’s legally appointed guardian or adoptive parents o The local authority if the child is in care under an order Broadly, anyone with parental responsibility has rights of access to records, rights to reports, and rights to be involved with the child’s education, together with rights for admission purposes and to make representations about exclusions. In the event of a dispute, only those with parental responsibility for the child or young person have a right to make major decisions about the child. Version 5, September 2010

o Father's reasons for applying for the order

Contact by parents without parental responsibility: A parent with parental responsibility can restrict contact with the child by another parent without parental responsibility. Any parental requests for contact should only be accommodated if they are reasonable. Collecting children from an education setting: If only one parent has parental responsibility, they can say who should pick up the child. If both parents have parental responsibility, but there is a court order prescribing who should have residence and only limited contact for the other parent, then schools should normally respect the wishes of the parent who has residence. In the event of a dispute, the parents should be asked to take the matter back to court. www.safeguardingsheffieldchildren.org.uk


Changing a child’s name Parents can always ask for their child to be known by a different name. In these circumstances, schools should keep the original information on the admissions and attendance register, but amend it to include the new details. If both parents with parental responsibility disagree over the issue, then the status quo should be kept until a court order determines the issue. The child’s legal name on the register has to remain the same unless there is a court order or deed poll changing it, but the “known as” information can be maintained alongside it and the school can refer to the known name.

Consent for trips and other purposes

If someone new gets parental responsibility, do others lose it? Not necessarily, several people can have parental responsibility at the same time. Adoption and care proceedings are different.

Parental responsibility can be lost where: o The child is formally adopted o A person was given parental responsibility through a court order, and the order was later revoked by the court o A local authority has a care order and the order was later revoked by the court o A guardian is replaced in court by another guardian

Strictly, only a parent with parental responsibility can give a full and informed consent. However, any other person who has actual care of the child can do what is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the child’s welfare (Children Act 1989).

Useful web links/resources:

Consent should always be obtained, if possible, from someone with parental responsibility.

o DCSF: Parental Responsibility at: www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/parentalinvolv ement/pwp/parental_resp/

If both parents have parental responsibility and they disagree, then unless there is a court order in place regulating such decisions, if one parent does not give consent, then the school should treat this as lack of consent.

o Directgov – Parental Rights and Responsibility at: www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/ParentsRigh ts/DG_4002954

o Teachernet at: www.teachernet.gov.uk/management/atoz/ p/parentalresponsibility/

However, the court allocates a little more responsibility to the residential parent for the day to day running of the child’s life, and so, unless the dispute is major, that parent has slightly more “say”.

o Sheffield City Council – Parental Responsibility at: www.sheffield.gov.uk/education/informatio n-for-parentscarers/in-schoolissues/parental-rights/parentalresponsibility

Top Tips

o Parentlineplus at: www.parentlineplus.org.uk

Make sure you know who has parental responsibility

Do not get involved in disputes - these may need to be resolved by the court

In the event of a dispute, only those with parental responsibility have a right to make decisions

Version 5, September 2010

o Directgov - Registering and Naming Your Baby at: www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizens andrights/Registeringlifeevents/Birthandad optionrecords/Registeringorchangingabirth record/DG_175608

www.safeguardingsheffieldchildren.org.uk


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