Making Decisions When You Have Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility entails specific rights and responsibilities that individuals have towards a child. While typically held by parents, it can also be assigned to others under specific circumstances.

As a responsible individual with parental duties, ensuring that the child under your care has their requirements fulfilled is crucial. These encompass various aspects, such as:

  • Ensuring a secure and nurturing environment for the child
  • To ensure the well-being of the child and their safety
  • Ensuring the well-being of a child’s possessions
  • Making decisions on behalf of a child

Understanding Parental Responsibility

In terms of parental responsibility, it is important to note that the birth mother of a child has this responsibility automatically. Furthermore, married fathers at the time of birth, as well as unmarried fathers who are officially named on the birth certificate, also acquire parental responsibility.

If you lack parental responsibility, there is a possibility of obtaining it. In the event that the child’s mother consents, both parties can enter into a voluntary agreement regarding parental responsibility. However, if the child’s mother does not agree, it is possible to seek a parental responsibility order from the court.

If you happen to be the step-parents of a child or a parent within a same-sex relationship, you also have the opportunity to approach the court and request parental responsibility.

Essential Joint Decisions in Parental Responsibility

When multiple individuals share parental responsibility for a child, it is crucial that all parties come to a mutual agreement and inform each other when making decisions regarding certain matters. Some examples of these issues include:

  • Determining the residence of a child
  • Where a child will receive their education
  • The medical interventions that may be administered to a child may include the cessation of prescribed medication.
  • Changing the child’s name
  • The child’s choice of religion, if any,
  • Can the child travel abroad for vacation?
  • Relocation of the child

Notifying Individuals with Parental Responsibility

It is important to inform all individuals with parental responsibility about the following decisions:

  • Emergency medical treatment 
  • When you have custody of a child, it is important to consider how to handle vacation plans, which should align with any existing agreements or court orders regarding child arrangements.
  • Adjustments that may occur to the individuals residing within your household
  • When you are relocating to a new residence, especially if it entails switching schools or staying with different individuals, it is important to obtain the consent of all individuals who share parental responsibility.
  • Scheduled medical appointments.

A CAO remains in force until the child or children turn 16, and until then the parents are responsible for deciding certain aspects of the child’s life. They can help to deal with where a child lives and whom they spend time with, and CAO child protection can include grandparents spending time with their grandchildren. However, they can deal solely with parents’ or guardians’ child arrangements.

Decisions that Can Be Made Without Consulting Individuals with Parental Responsibility

As a person who has parental responsibility, you have the authority to make certain routine decisions without consulting the other parent of the child. This applies to matters concerning:

  • Daily activities
  • Basic discipline
  • Participating in parental conferences and additional educational events
  • Religious gatherings or occasions
  • Routine medical and dental check-ups

Dealing with Disputes

If you and the other parent of your child are unable to reach an agreement on specific matters or require assistance in establishing a parenting plan or child arrangement order, it is strongly advised that you seek legal counsel.

A solicitor can provide you with guidance regarding your rights and available options, as well as assist you in negotiating a resolution without resorting to a court hearing. In situations where these difficulties cannot be resolved through negotiation, your solicitor can provide guidance and representation during the mediation process to facilitate a resolution.

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