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What is Parental Responsibility?

Write an essay on Parental Responsibility by taking into account the step to acquire?

This particular essay has emphasized on Parental Responsibility by taking into account the step to acquire.  Before getting into descriptive analysis regarding Parental Responsibility, it is necessary to know what exactly parental responsibility refers.

According to the Children Act, 1989, section 3(1), the term “parental responsibilities” exemplifies an important power to take decisions regarding the upbringing of a child which include – decide a name for the child, register it or change it if necessary, determining the religion of the child and where the child belongs to diverse cultural background, expose him/her to all options until the child attains the age to make his/her own decision, decide on the child’s education and the school, engagement of a guardian in case of the death of either parents, providing consent to medical treatments, Section 3(2) provides the person with parental responsibilities to have access to medical records of the child, representation on part of the child in legal proceedings, having rights, powers and responsibilities in relation to the child’s properties thereto.

But this does not constitute a right upon the parent having parental responsibility to- make contact with the child, as this is the obligation of the child and not of the parent in question and have information about the other people having parental responsibility as well as the whereabouts of the child. In other words, if the child is with one of the parents, then the other parent doesn’t have the right to know the address of the former one, and only through a court’s decision for disclosure can he know about it, though this order for disclosure falls under the purview of the court where it shall be granted provided that it is providing best results towards the child considered.

The term Parents defines the father and mother who have legal obligation as well as farm duties towards their children. Being a parent one should provide shelter for the child as well as save from harm and uphold the child’s interest. Births that are registered in Scotland, it states that as a father, parental responsibility, if he is married to the mother of the child when the child is already conceived, or married to her after the child is born that is conceived, then it is the responsibility of the father who is still unmarried, to provide a name for the child in the certificate of birth. This law came into force on May 4, 2006. Registered Births in Northern Island, stipulates that it is the responsibility of the father if he is married to the mother at the time of the birth of the child. In other words, the father gets the parental responsibility. If the father marries the mother after the birth of the child then the father has the parental responsibility, if the child stays in the Northern Ireland at the time of the marriage, responsibility lies with the father. If the father is unmarried at the time of the birth of the child, then child’s birth certificate shall carry the name of the father of the child. The law came into force on the 15th day of April, 2002. In cases of the births registered outside the United Kingdom, that is to say, if the child is born outside United Kingdom and later comes to stay in United Kingdom, parental responsibility depends on the parents living in the United Kingdom they are living in now. In case of Same - Sex Parents, in other words, parents who are of the same sex at the time of treatment will have equal parental responsibility. For Non-Civil Partners, that is, for those partners who are of the same sex but are not civil partners, the 2nd parent shall be liable to parental responsibility by - Applying the agreement if any existed at the time of parenting, and by making a parental agreement, or by becoming a civil partner, or by registering the birth.

Legal Rights and Duties of Parents

Again another factor in this regard is a right of a parent, falling under Art 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention). In the case of C v Finland (2006) at the European Court of Human Rights, the lower court observed to put exclusive weight, that utmost importance on the personal view of the child in question, in other words it acted in effectively recognizing and granting the children a completely unconditional power, same as the veto power. In furtherance, it did such an act without even holding an oral hearing and also did not invite any of the parties, that is, the parents of the child, while addressing the matter thereto or even consider about any further evidence or an opinion of an expert. The adjudication was held on the basis that there had been a violation of Art 8 of the Human Rights Convention.

The Children Act, 1989 was enacted keeping in mind the welfare and protection of children. The Act allocates certain duties to be followed by the courts, parents, local authorities and other agencies in England and Wales (Scotland has a different law in this field). This Act reflects certain safeguarding aspects as per United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which covers –

To provide protection from potential or imminent harm, respecting race, culture, ethnicity, parental responsibilities and duty to pay heed to a child’s wish and the child’s emotional response based upon their decision. The point of paramount importance is the welfare of the child. In the case between J v C (1970), it was held that the welfare of the child concerned was of utmost importance. The court, while addressing the welfare of a child shall consider certain particulars – understand with certainty, the wishes and feeling of the child, in accordance with the child’s age and understanding and the same was observed in the case of Re P (Minors) (Wardship: Care and Control) (1992). In this case it was held that the child’s view is to be considered but it should not carry more importance as the child grows. The same view was re-established in the matter of Re P-S (Children) (Family Proceedings Evidence) (2013);

Pay heed to the child’s emotional, physical, and educational requirement. In May v May (1986), both the parents were divorced and given joint custody of their children, but the care and control of the children was awarded to the mother. The father’s appeal failed as the judge observed that the capacity of the parents in disciplining and providing educational motivation should also be taken into consideration. In the case B v United Kingdom the applicant was decided to be called as natural parent of the child in concerned case when he provided all the sperms which created the child. However, the case also stated that not all natural parents are the legal parents the same can be decided only after considering whether the parents have parental responsibility.

Factors to Consider for the Welfare and Protection of Children

In this part of the essay we shall discuss who may acquire the parental responsibilities. A mother is an automatic choice for parental responsibilities since the birth time of the child. In this context, the section 2(1) of the Children Act, 1989, mentions that if the parents are married to each other at the time of the child’s birth, then the parental responsibility shall fall upon both of them. Again Section 2(1A) lies down that if a child has a parent in accordance with Section 42 or Section 43 of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act, 2008, the mother and the other person being the parent shall have parental responsibilities of the child. Section 2(2) provides that if the father and the mother of the child were not married when the child was born, then the mother shall have parental responsibility of the said child. Section 2(2A) provides that if a person other than the mother does not fall under the purview of Section 1(3) of the Family Law Reform Act, 1987, then the parental responsibility shall be allowed to the mother. Section 2(4) specifically mentions that a father is the natural guardian relating to rule of law stands abolished. Section 2(5) states that a child may have multiple parents having parental responsibilities.

Section 4 of the Children Act, 1989 describes when a father can get hold of parental responsibility. Section 4(1) states that if the mother and father were unmarried at the time of the birth of the child, then the father shall have parental responsibility if he satisfies certain conditions like – he registers himself as the father of the child under any of the ratifications as specifically provided in Section 4(1A), he and the mother make a parental accountability agreement as per Section 4(1)(b), he can get hold of a parental responsibility order from the court as per Section 4(1)(c). In the case R v Parental Responsibility Agreement: Children in Care, it was held that the local authorities are not permitted to stop a mother from entering into an agreement with the father in relation to the parental responsibility.

Section 4ZA provides provisions about how a second female parent can get hold of parental accountability. Subsection (1) states that if a child has a parent as per Section 43 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, but Section 1(3) of the Family Law Reform Act, 1987 doesn’t apply to her, she can still gain parental responsibility if she – she registers herself in accordance with the enactments provided in subsection (2), she comes to an agreement with the mother for the same or she is granted a court order enabling her to have parental responsibility.

Who May Acquire Parental Responsibility?

Section 4A describes the provisions required by a step-parent to require parental responsibility. If a child is growing up under the care of kinship, that is if grandparents, aunts or uncles are providing care, then they can apply for parental responsibility through the court, by way of a residence order or an order of special guardianship. Such parental responsibility stays effective till the original court order stays in force. Subsections (1), (2), (3) and (4) lays down that the parents can make an agreement, or apply for a court order, even the child can apply if the court is satisfied that the child has sufficient knowledge about the application thus made.

Now, we may look into the matter of care orders. Care orders are basically court orders, allowing independent councils to take children into care. In other words, if a council has reasons to believe that a child is currently suffering, or is facing a risk of suffering harm, the council may apply to the court for a care order under Section 31 of the Children Act, 1989. Section 31(1) provides that such independent council could be any local authority or any authorized person. It further states that, the court may issue an order- to place the child concerned, under the care of an authorized and capable local authority who made such application for care, as per Section 31(1)(a) or under Section 31(1)(b), place the child under the supervision of a competent local authority who made such an application for a care order. But, Section 31(2) mentions that the court with whom the application for a care order is made, shall grant a care order or an order for supervision, only if it is satisfied that the child in question for whom such order is applied for in the first pace is really suffering from imminent or potential harm, that is to say that the child is in serious threat of suffering a harm, or is likely to suffer serious harm. It further stipulates that such harm or threat of receiving harm is in relation with – the care that is being given to the child, or is likely to be given to him/her, and only by way of the care order or supervising order can the child be able to be saved from the harm’s way. Even if the child is beyond the parent’s control, he can be placed under supervision, or a care of another competent authority or person. Section 31(3) mentions that if the child has attained the age of 17 years, then no care order or supervising order shall be passed. Section 31(8) describes local authority must be – an authority in whose area the child concerned lives that is ordinarily resides. If any circumstances arose in consequence of which the care or supervising order is made, the local authority of such area, where the circumstance first arose, shall be deemed as the local authority competent of application of a care order or supervising order. Section 31(9) defines authorized person as- the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, including any officers, any person who is authorized by any order issued by the Secretary of State to bring action under this Act, and any other person or officer of any authority, who is so authorized. Harm is defined as any type of ill-treatment, impairment or damage or any act which is detrimental to the child’s health and his/her development. Here development means overall development of the child including emotional, intellectual, social, physical and behavioral development. Ill-treatment includes sexual harm or abuse and all other forms of abuse which are not physical. The harm suffered by the child is significant or not to allow a care order shall be compared with the result of any other child in similar situation would have faced. The care order under this Section also includes an interim care order made under Section 38. Effect of a care order is considered as draconian so the local authority has to state strong reasons as to why they need a care order for the child. In Re T (Care Order)(2009), the authority’s application was granted as opposed to the one made by the parents.

The question of whether parental responsibility is a right or not can be answered in a simpler way, a right of a person cannot be taken away, that is to say that a right of any person is permanent. Parental responsibility under the Children Act, 1989 states that just being the mother or father is not enough to get parental responsibility as this is a court order which is granted only after considering various factors including welfare of the child whose parental responsibility is sought for. The parental responsibility gained through court order can also be terminated by another court order. Fathers and mothers who are also biological mothers and fathers can lose their parental responsibilities if the child for whom such responsibility is applied for is actually an adopted child. It may be further stated that parental responsibility ends when the child in question with whom the parental responsibility rests, attains majority, that is, when the child attains the age of 18 years, the parental responsibility of the parents regarding that child also ends.

References:

"EOV Editorial Board" (2015) 15 Parenting.

C v Finland (Application No 18249/02) [2006] 2 FCR 195

Douglas R. Powell, "Parenting Intervention Outcome Studies: Research Design Considerations" (2013) 13 Parenting.

Espejo R, Parenting (Greenhaven Press, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning 2013)

Foster Cline and Jim Fay,Parenting With Love And Logic(Piñon Press 2006).

J v C [1969] 1 All ER 788, [1970] AC 668, [1969] 2 WLR 540, HL

Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson, Growing Up Again(Hazelden 1998).

Joseph H. Pleck, "Integrating Father Involvement In Parenting Research" (2012) 12 Parenting.

Kari Adamsons and Cheryl Buehler, "Mothering Versus Fathering Versus Parenting: Measurement Equivalence In Parenting Measures" (2007) 7 Parenting.

Marc H. Bornstein, "Cultural Approaches To Parenting" (2012) 12 Parenting.

May v May [1986] 1 FLR 325, CA

Michael Popkin, Active Parenting (Perennial Library 1987).

Re P (Minors) (Wardship: Care and Control) [1992] 2 FCR 681, at 687, per Butler-Sloss LJ:

Re P-S (Children) (Family Proceedings Evidence) [2013] EWCA Civ. 223

Roman Espejo, Parenting(Greenhaven Press, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning 2013)

Stefan Ramaekers, The Claims Of Parenting (Springer 2012).

Michael Popkin, Active Parenting (Perennial Library 1987).

Larry C Jensen and Merrill Kingston, Parenting (Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1986).

V. Ben-David, "Are They Guilty Of Their Parental Behavior? Parenting Forms Constructed In Termination Of Parental Rights Court Cases" [2015] Qualitative Social Work.

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