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Who gets parental responsibility on the death of a parent

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In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of unmarried parents. This trend is evident in the UK, where nearly half of all children are now born outside of wedlock. As a result, we often receive enquiries regarding the rights of unmarried parents, particularly the parental rights of fathers. Here we try and provide you with some answers to the most common questions regarding the rights of unmarried parents and their children, including the rights of unmarried fathers.

Does an unmarried father have any rights?

To answer the question of whether an unmarried father has rights, the short answer is yes. An unmarried father can have the same level of parental responsibility as a father who is married to the mother of the child. According to section 3 of the Children Act 1989, parental responsibility includes all the legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority that a parent has in relation to their child and their property.

Does an unmarried father get automatic parental responsibility?

If the parents of a child are married at the time of the child's birth, both parents automatically have parental responsibility. However, if the parents are unmarried, the mother automatically has parental responsibility. The father can obtain parental responsibility through a court order or a written agreement with the mother that is filed in court. Alternatively, if the father jointly registered the birth with the mother and is named on the birth certificate, he will have parental responsibility. It's important to note that these rules only apply to births registered in England and Wales. If a father's name is on the birth certificate and the child was born on or after December 1, 2003, he will have parental responsibility.

What if the father is not names on the birth certificate?

In the UK, fathers who are not named on their child's birth certificate do not have any legal rights. However, there are two options available to them. They can either enter into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother, which grants them the same rights as the mother. Alternatively, they can apply to court for a Parental Responsibility Order. Parental responsibility lasts until the child is 18 years old or until they get married between 16 and 18 years old. A mother and a married father will always have parental responsibility until the child is 18 years old, unless an adoption order is made.

How long does parental responsibility last?

An unmarried father's parental responsibility can be terminated by a court order, adoption, or placement order. The same applies to any other individual who obtains parental responsibility via a Parental Responsibility Agreement or order. The child or any person with parental responsibility can request the termination of parental responsibility.

What does an unmarried father need to do to spend time with their child?

If an unmarried father wants to spend time with his child, he can request a Child Arrangements Order from the court. This order will specify when and where the child will spend time with or live with the father. The court believes that it is in the child's best interest to have contact with both parents unless there are extenuating circumstances. When deciding on matters concerning the child, the court will prioritize the child's welfare. The term "custody" is commonly used, but in legal terms, the court uses "live with" and "time with."

Can a father who is not married have their child live with them?

Yes, an unmarried father has the option to seek a 'live with' order from the court, which would allow the child to predominantly live with him. The welfare of the child is the most important factor for the court to consider. If the parents are unable to come to an agreement, the court will make an order to determine the future arrangements. It is important to note that the court may also grant an order that has not been specifically requested. Additionally, a father can also apply for a 'joint live with' order, which would allow the child to live with both parents.

If an unmarried father wants to become the primary caregiver for his child and have the child stay with him, he will need to file an application with the court. When it comes to taking the child abroad, an unmarried father must obtain permission from all individuals with Parental Responsibility or seek a court order. Failure to obtain permission before taking the child abroad is considered child abduction. The same rules apply to the child's mother. However, if a child arrangements order is in effect, and it states that the child lives with the father, he can take the child abroad for up to 28 days without permission, unless the court order prohibits it.

Is it legally possible for a father to take his child from the mother in the UK?

Well, it depends. In cases where a court order is in place that directs the child to live with the mother and spend time with the father, and if there are legitimate concerns about the child's safety or well-being when in the mother's custody, then the father can take the child away. However, it is imperative that the father files an emergency application with the court prior to removing the child from the mother's care. In situations where an unmarried father needs to prove his paternity, the court can demand DNA testing. If an application to the court is not urgent, the individual seeking the court's intervention must first attempt mediation.

Ben Bradshaw is a Family Law Solicitor at Stephen Rimmer LLP. In an area of law that can be very complicated, Ben is approachable and gives well-rounded advice, in clear, jargon-free language. Ben, and the rest of the family team, have experience with unmarried father's rights and custody rights for unmarried fathers.

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