Parental responsibility is a legal term referring to a set of rights a carer can have for a child. This includes the right to make important decisions for the child including:
All mothers automatically have parental responsibility, and therefore have legal rights to make the above decisions. This is not the case for all fathers. A father can acquire parental responsibility in any of the following situations:
Appointing a guardian in your Will enables someone you trust to take care of your children if something should happen to you. It also confers important rights on that person to make key decisions in your child’s life. If both parents have parental responsibility, the guardianship will not take effect until the death of the surviving parent.
If you do not appoint a guardian in your Will, the court may appoint someone for you. This may not be the person you would prefer to look after your child on your death.
You can appoint more than one guardian and it should be a person or people you trust to care for your child. If your partner has also made a Will, it is wise to both appoint the same guardians as otherwise this can lead to conflict between the two guardians on the death of the surviving parent.
It is possible to appoint your executors in your Will as guardians, which means they can also look after any inheritance money for your children until they reach 18, or the age you specify in your Will. However, we usually advise against this as it can lead to financial conflicts of interest.
If you are a father of a child but are not married to the mother, and you are not on the birth certificate, it is likely you will not have parental responsibility. In which case you will be unable to name a guardian in your Will. If you are concerned that you may not have parental responsibility or would like more information on making a parental responsibility agreement, please contact
Alison Bradley on 0117 9292811.
If you require advice generally about cohabitation law, please contact Lucia Mills on 0117 9292811
If you are a parent with parental responsibility, but the other parent has been granted a residence order, there could be further complications. If this is the case please contact one of our
Family team who would be happy to provide you with further information.