Parental Responsibility is a label given to the rights and duties which a parent has in respect of a child.
A person with Parental Responsibility does not have unilateral rights in relation to a child. If there are two parents with Parental Responsibility, then those two parents will need to agree on the bigger decisions. If they cannot agree then either parent can apply to the court to ask that a court order is made regarding the decision about the child which is not agreed.
A mother always has Parental Responsibility for her child.
A father has a responsibility:-
Most fathers now have parental responsibility for their child whether they were married to the mother or not if they are named as the father on the Birth Certificate.
It is possible for the parents of a child to enter into an agreement with a step-parent that gives that step-parent parental Responsibility. This is done by the parents and the stepparent singing a form and lodging this at the Central Family Court.
A father can apply to the Court to gain Parental Responsibility. In considering an application from a father, the Court will take the following into account:
The Court will then decide to accept or reject the application based on what it believes is in the child’s best interest.
Once an unmarried father has acquired Parental Responsibility for a child, he shall cease to have that responsibility:-
Parental Responsibility is not intended to restrict the day to day decisions that have to be taken nor does the Parental Responsibility dictate which parent the child should live with or what contact the child has with the other parent. The parent with day to daycare will naturally have to make them smaller and less significant day to day decisions for the child in their care.
If there is a dispute as to who is the father of the child, then the person who believes themselves to be the father can make an application to the court for the court to make a Declaration of Parentage for a child.
In the first instance, the court would usually expect the dispute to be resolved finally by DNA testing.
The person proved to be the father will obtain a court declaration that he is the father and there will be a direction for the Register of Births to be amended to show that that person is the father.
Parental Responsibility should also be conferred upon the father.
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