To the No1 Dads or 'Step Dads'

15th June 2018

To the No1 Dads or 'Step Dads'

Sunday is Father’s Day, a time to celebrate our appreciation for not just biological dads, but the very many different parents who make up today’s blended families.

Here a family law expert from Black Country firm Higgs & Sons explores how the rights of married and unmarried fathers are different when it comes to the law.

Richard Port a specialist family solicitor advises: “Child law states that when a child’s father and mother are married to each other at the time of birth, they each have what is known as ‘Parental Responsibility’ for the child.

“Parental responsibility is defined under the Children Act as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property’.

“However, where the biological father and mother were not married to each other at the time of birth, only the mother has this responsibility. It may seem unfair, but that is the reality in law.”

Richard continues: “An unmarried father can acquire Parental Responsibility in a number of ways. If the child was born after 1 December 2003 and the father is named on the birth certificate, then he will acquire Parental Responsibility. Marrying the mother of the child will also automatically give the father Parental Responsibility, as will entering into Parental Responsibility Agreement with the child’s mother.”

Where the mother and father disagree, then a court order can be applied for and whilst this is a last resort, Richard advises that without Parental Responsibility, fathers could find themselves in a position whereby they are unable to take part in important decisions regarding their child. 

“It is a myth that step-fathers automatically acquire legal status as child’s father when they marry the child’s mother. The only way that step-fathers can attain legal status as a father is to obtain an adoption order, a court order or a Parental Responsibility agreement signed by the parents.

“It is important that people finding themselves in a paternal role seek legal advice as regards to their rights and responsibilities to avoid a situation where the law does not support the role they have embraced.

“Father’s Day is a great celebration of family life, and fathers who have taken steps to ensure they have rights as a parent will be able to enjoy the day with their children even more.”

Should anyone require more information about Parental Responsibility or applying for a court order then contact the Higgs & Sons family team on 0345 111 5050.


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