When you’re in the Armed Forces you are likely to have unpredictable work hours and patterns, and that you are required to work overseas. This may lead to concerns about your child’s future and being kept informed of the big decisions in their life.
Parental responsibility (PR) gives you rights to have information about your children regardless of your working hours, patterns and whether you spend significant periods of time overseas.
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.’
Who has parental responsibility?
- A child’s mother
- A father who is married to the mother when the child was born (PR is not lost on divorce)
- A father who marries the mother after the child has been born (as he can acquire parental responsibility)
- The father named on the birth certificate (provided the child was born after 1 December 2003) *
How long do you have parental responsibility?
Your parental responsibility will last until your child reaches the age of 18, unless they marry between the ages of 16 and 18. In that situation you lose parental responsibility.
What is the benefit of parental responsibility
Parental responsibility gives you the right to be kept informed and have your say in all the major decisions in your child’s life.
Whilst they are living with their other parent, you cannot interfere in the minutiae of your child’s day to day activities and decisions – such as what clothes they wear or what television programmes they watch.
However, having parental responsibility means you should be kept informed and have your opinion listened to on bigger decision. These include where your child will live, which school they will go to, what religion they will be taught to practice, what name they should have, the giving or withholding of medical treatment and dealing with their money and property.
What happens if you see your child infrequently?
If you are posted overseas, or see your child on an ad hoc, infrequent basis due to your working life, this does not mean that you can be shut out of such decisions.
If you are concerned about your parental responsibility status or decisions being made for your children please do not hesitate to contact The Family Law Company.
*If you are the father of a child born before 1 December 2003 (and you are not married and have never been married to the mother of that child) you may not have parental responsibility. You can, however, acquire this by agreement with the child’s mother or with a Court order.