Parental Responsibility

parentalresponsibility1

Being a parent brings with it many joys and rewards, though most parents would agree that with these rewards comes a lifetime of responsibility.  
It is the job of both parents of a child to ensure that this responsibility is taken seriously and exercised in the best interests of their children.
What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental Responsibility is a legal term which reflects the rights parents in Northern Ireland have to be involved in making decisions in the best interests of their children.

Parental Responsibility is defined in the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 as “all rights duties powers and responsibilities and authority which by law a parent has in relation to the child and his property”.

In practical terms what does Parental Responsibility mean?

In terms of education, for example, any parent with Parental Responsibility has the right to be involved in choosing their child’s school, to be notified of school events and to be sent copies of the child’s school reports. They may also provide consent with regards to what information is released about their child and having an input in regards to how their child is disciplined.

Parents with Parental Responsibility also have the right to give consent to medical treatment, to determine the child’s religion, to be involved in choosing their child’s name and to agree to any change of name.

In summary, Parental Responsibility provides you, as the child’s parent, with the right to make decisions in the following aspects of your child’s life:

  • providing a home for your child
  • protecting and maintaining your child
  • how your child is disciplined
  • choosing the school in which your child will be educate
  • determining the religious upbringing of your child
  • consenting to medical treatment of your child
  • providing or allowing any confidential information about your child which is requested to be disclosed

Having Parental Responsibility also includes the following: 

  • naming your child and agreeing to any change of your child’s name;
  • applying for a passport for your child;
  • accompanying your child outside of the UK and agreeing to your child’s emigration
  • being responsible for your child’s property, for instance if your child inherits property at an early age;
  • appointing a guardian for your child
Do all mothers have Parental Responsibility?

In Northern Ireland, every mother automatically has Parental Responsibility for their child.

Do all fathers have Parental Responsibility?

Fathers in Northern Ireland are often not aware that they do not necessarily have automatic Parental Responsibility over their child.

A father who is married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth will have automatic Parental Responsibility, as will a father who adopts a child.

How can I acquire Parental Responsibility for my child?

If you are a father who falls outside the above categories, you  can legally acquire Parental Responsibility after the birth of your child in a number of ways, for instance:

  • If your child was born after 1st December 2003, you acquire Parental Responsibility if your name has been put on your child’s birth certificate.
  • If you and the child’s mother enter a Parental Responsibility Agreement
  • If the Court makes a Parental Responsibility Orderin your favour

If the Court makes an order for the child to reside with the father, he will obtain Parental Responsibility by virtue of that order.

A stepfather may also acquire Parental Responsibility by applying to the Court for a Parental Responsibility Order.

What happens to Parental Responsibility if parents separate?

Both parents may continue to exercise Parental Responsibility following separation and are entitled to be involved in decisions about their children’s upbringing.

Sometimes parents with Parental Responsibility can disagree about how these rights are exercised.  If they cannot resolve this disagreement, they may apply to the Court which will decide the issue on the basis of what it considers to be the child’s best interests.

If you would like further information on Parental Responsibility, please feel free to email us here or leave your comments below

Parental Responsibility

parentBeing a parent brings with it many joys and rewards, though most parents would agree that with these rewards comes a lifetime of responsibility.  

It is the job of both parents of a child to ensure that this responsibility is taken seriously and exercised in the best interests of their children.

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental Responsibility is a legal term which reflects the rights parents in Northern Ireland have to be involved in making decisions in the best interests of their children.

Parental Responsibility is defined in the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 as “all rights duties powers and responsibilities and authority which by law a parent has in relation to the child and his property”.

In practical terms what does Parental Responsibility mean?

In terms of education, for example, any parent with Parental Responsibility has the right to be involved in choosing their child’s school, to be notified of school events and to be sent copies of the child’s school reports. They may also provide consent with regards to what information is released about their child and having an input in regards to how their child is disciplined.

Parents with Parental Responsibility also have the right to give consent to medical treatment, to determine the child’s religion, to be involved in choosing their child’s name and to agree to any change of name.

In summary, Parental Responsibility provides you, as the child’s parent, with the right to make decisions in the following aspects of your child’s life:

  • providing a home for your child
  • protecting and maintaining your child
  • how your child is disciplined
  • choosing the school in which your child will be educate
  • determining the religious upbringing of your child
  • consenting to medical treatment of your child
  • providing or allowing any confidential information about your child which is requested to be disclosed

Having Parental Responsibility also includes the following: 

  • naming your child and agreeing to any change of your child’s name;
  • applying for a passport for your child;
  • accompanying your child outside of the UK and agreeing to your child’s emigration
  • being responsible for your child’s property, for instance if your child inherits property at an early age;
  • appointing a guardian for your child
Do all mothers have Parental Responsibility?

In Northern Ireland, every mother automatically has Parental Responsibility for their child.

Do all fathers have Parental Responsibility?

Fathers in Northern Ireland are often not aware that they do not necessarily have automatic Parental Responsibility over their child.

A father who is married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth will have automatic Parental Responsibility, as will a father who adopts a child.

How can I acquire Parental Responsibility for my child?

If you are a father who falls outside the above categories, you  can legally acquire Parental Responsibility after the birth of your child in a number of ways, for instance:

  • If your child was born after 1st December 2003, you acquire Parental Responsibility if your name has been put on your child’s birth certificate.
  • If you and the child’s mother enter a Parental Responsibility Agreement
  • If the Court makes a Parental Responsibility Orderin your favour

If the Court makes an order for the child to reside with the father, he will obtain Parental Responsibility by virtue of that order.

A stepfather may also acquire Parental Responsibility by applying to the Court for a Parental Responsibility Order.

What happens to Parental Responsibility if parents separate?

Both parents may continue to exercise Parental Responsibility following separation and are entitled to be involved in decisions about their children’s upbringing.

Sometimes parents with Parental Responsibility can disagree about how these rights are exercised.  If they cannot resolve this disagreement, they may apply to the Court which will decide the issue on the basis of what it considers to be the child’s best interests.

If you would like further information on Parental Responsibility, please feel free to email us here or leave your comments below

Having Contact with your Grandchildren

grandparentsToday marks the UK’s ‘National Grandparent’s Day

The bond between a grandparent and their grandchild is often regarded as one of the most precious relationships in life.

Grandparents are free of the stresses of parenting and can simply enjoy a fun and loving relationship with their grandchild.

Often this relationship can be of great benefit, not only to both grandparent and grandchild but also to busy parents who can have some valued time off from parenting.

But what happens to those grandparents for whom a relationship with their grandchild is impossible due to refusal by either or both parents to allow them to have contact time with their grandchildren? Often this can happen when the parents have separated and acrimony develops amongst the wider family.

I am not being allowed to see my grandchild – what can I do?

If you are a grandparent who is being refused contact with your grandchild, you can make an application to the Court for a Contact Order.

What is a Contact Order?

A Contact Order would allow you Court-ordered contact with your grandchild. This application would be made under the Children Order (NI) 1995.

What is the process for applying for a Contact Order?

At first instance, you must seek permission from the Court to bring an application for a Contact Order. Permission is normally sought at the same time as making the actual application and in all but exceptional circumstances this permission is granted. Once permission has been granted, the Court then considers in more general terms your application for contact.

Who would be involved in contact proceedings?

The Court then considers in more general terms the grandparent’s application for contact. Each parent would be a party in this application. They are entitled ask the Court to consider any objections which they may have in relation to contact.

What does the Court have to consider when making a Contact Order?

The Court would consider all the circumstances of the case and in particular the best interests of the grandchild involved. The Court may ask a Court appointed social worker, known as a Court Children’s Officer, to speak to your grandchild in order to establish what his/her views are in relation to having conatct with you. Your grandchild’s views will be taken into account however how much weight the Court places on their views will depend on their age and understanding – the Court is will consider the wishes and feelings of a 13 year old much more than they would of a 5 year old.

How much contact can I expect to get with my grandchild?

Whilst Courts are sympathetic to grandparent’s applications for contact and are aware of the importance of such a relationship, a grandparent would not generally expect as much contact as a parent who is living apart from his/her children.

In some exceptional circumstances a grandparent may apply for their grandchild to reside with them. This would generally be in cases where the parents are not providing adequate care for their child. In these cases, a grandparent could apply for a Residence Order. If a grandparent is awarded a Residence Order, they automatically acquire Parental Responsibility for the child for so long as the Order remains in place. this means that they can have a right to make decisions that are in their grandchild’s best interests.

It is of course of benefit to all concerned if contact arrangments can be agreed between parents and grandparents without having to go through the Courts. However, it is no doubt reassuring to many grandparents that they are able to exercise grandparent’s rights via the Court if they are being refused contact with their grandchild.

If you would like any further information on the issue of grandparent contact, please feel free to contact us directly here or on email at kconnolly@fhanna.co.uk or alternatively leave your comments confidentially below