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Parental Responsibility Solicitors

Parental responsibility refers to the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities a parent or other individual has in respect of a child. Someone with parental responsibility has the right to be involved in major decisions in a child’s life, including in respect of education, medical treatment and trips overseas.

It is a separate issue to child arrangements, but for parents, it is generally important to hold parental responsibility. Our family law team regularly deal with parental responsibility applications, providing those involved in the care of a child with the legal right to make decisions and be consulted over the child’s upbringing.

As family law specialists, we have an in-depth understanding of the complex area of child law. We can advise you of the strength of your case and the best course of action to secure the authority you need.

We will make sure that you have the advice and guidance you require throughout your case and that we are available to answer your questions as they arise.

Our parental responsibility services include:

  • Obtaining parental responsibility
  • Advice on the removal of parental responsibility

Speak to our parental responsibility solicitors in Bristol, Bath and Bradford on Avon

For expert legal advice on parental responsibility and other child law issues, please get in touch with our parental responsibility lawyers today.

To arrange an initial meeting, whether that is in person or remotely, please contact our local offices in Bristol, Bath and Bradford on Avon or use our simple online enquiry form to request a call back.

Our parental responsibility services

Obtaining parental responsibility

If you are caring for a child but do not have parental responsibility, we can provide advice and representation to apply for it. We will look at your overall situation and check that this is the best option for the outcome you would like to achieve.

Where necessary, we can also provide representation in other issues, such as child arrangements.

Advice on removal of parental responsibility

If you have concerns about someone else who has parental responsibility for your child, we can advise you of the options open to you. While removing parental responsibility is very rare, there are alternatives that can give your child protection in difficult circumstances.

We have many years of experience in helping parents to secure the court orders they need to keep their child safe and we will take immediate action where necessary.

Frequently asked questions about parental responsibility

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is defined in the Children Act 1989 as ‘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.’

This includes:

  • Providing a home and protection
  • Maintaining the child
  • Dealing with discipline
  • Choosing a school
  • Deciding what religion, if any, your child will follow
  • Agreeing to medical treatment
  • Deciding on your child’s name
  • Dealing with overseas travel

A child’s birth mother automatically has parental responsibility. Fathers who are married to the mother or not married but named on the birth certificate also automatically have parental responsibility.

Adoptive parents will be granted parental responsibility as part of the adoption process.

Parental responsibility can also be granted by the courts, including by the making of a parental responsibility order or a child arrangements order where the child will be living with the parent in question for some of the time.

When does parental responsibility end?

Parental responsibility ends when the child reaches 18, or earlier if stipulated in a court order.

How do I give up parental responsibility?

Even if a parent is not involved with a child’s life, giving up parental rights is rarely done. In fact, voluntary termination of parental rights is not usually a possibility. Parental responsibility can only be removed by the court, and this is generally only done in the case of adoption or when there are exceptional concerns over a parent’s behaviour or risks to the child.

What is a parental responsibility order?

A parental responsibility order is an order granting parental responsibility to an individual. This will usually be a child’s birth parent, but could also be a same-sex parent, step-parent or a relative who has taken on the care of the child.

In some cases, a local authority may be granted shared parental responsibility with a parent, for example, where care proceedings are underway.

How do I apply for parental responsibility?

A father can obtain parental responsibility if a child’s mother and anyone else with parental responsibility agrees to enter into a parental responsibility agreement. The family courts will process this.

Otherwise, an application can be made to the court. Those who may be granted parental responsibility include:

  • Step-parents
  • Same-sex partners who do not have parental responsibility through marriage or civil partnership
  • A relative of the child who is involved in their care

There is a detailed application to fill in, known as form C1. You will need to provide details of your situation, the child concerned and their care arrangements, information about other interested parties and an explanation of why you are applying.

How do you get sole parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is a different matter to child arrangements and it is normal for two parents to have parental responsibility, even if their child lives with only one of them. This means that the other parent still has a right to be consulted over major decisions.

How can a grandparent get parental responsibility?

A grandparent can apply to the court for parental responsibility, but it will only be granted in certain circumstances, where the court believes it is in the child’s best interests.

Examples include where:

  • A child is living with a grandparent, even if this is on a temporary basis
  • There is a disagreement over where a child should live
  • There are issues over the level of care being provided by a child’s parents, for example, where social services are involved, and the grandparent is dealing with some of the day-to-day care

If a grandparent is given the care of a child under a child arrangements order or special guardianship order, this will also give them parental responsibility for the duration of the order.

In some cases, a special guardianship order may be more appropriate for grandparents and you should speak to expert parental responsibility solicitors to discuss the best option.

How do I remove parental responsibility from my child’s father?

Removing parental responsibility is not commonly done. In the case of a birth mother, it will only be removed if a child is adopted.

In the case of anyone else, terminating parental rights only occurs in extreme circumstances where there is a serious risk to the child.

There are other potential methods of dealing with difficult situations however. For example, a child arrangements order will set out how much time a child will spend with each parent and can also include other details, such as how a child will stay in touch with their other parent and who else they can see.

A prohibited steps order can prevent someone from taking certain actions in respect of a child. For example, it could stop a parent from taking a child overseas.

Why choose Sharp Family Law for parental responsibility matters?

At Sharp Family Law, we specialise in family law and have one of the largest teams of experts in the Bath and Bristol area. We have an exceptional breadth of experience and an outstanding track record of securing the best possible results.

We also have a reputation for the excellent client care that we provide. We know how hard it is to deal with issues relating to children and relationship breakdown and we will provide the constructive advice and support you need to navigate this difficult period.

Our advice will be tailored to your unique circumstances and we will do all we can to secure the right outcome for you and your family.

Our family law expertise and accreditation includes:

  • We are ranked by leading legal directories the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners
  • Several of our family law team are members of Resolution – the professional family law network for lawyers committed to resolving disputes with minimal conflict
  • Senior partner Richard Sharp is a trained collaborative lawyer and family mediator in both the UK and the USA

For more information about the expertise of our lawyers, please take a look at our family law team.

Speak to our parental responsibility solicitors in Bristol, Bath and Bradford on Avon

For expert legal advice on parental responsibility and other child law matters, please get in touch with us today.

To arrange an initial meeting, whether that is in person or remotely, please contact our local offices in Bristol, Bath and Bradford on Avon or use our simple online enquiry form to request a call back.