Can parental responsibility ever be terminated?

Year Published: 2014

For several years now, if a father’s name is on a child’s birth certificate he is automatically granted parental responsibility. If for some reason, a father’s name is not included on the child’s birth certificate then an application can be made for the birth certificate to be amended, or alternatively, the parents can agree that the father be granted parental responsibility and a parental responsibility agreement be drafted. In the recent case of Re D (a child) [2013] the court upheld the decision of Mostyn J to terminate the parental responsibility of a father who had been sentenced to four years imprisonment for sexual offences against his step-daughters. The mother issued an application for his parental responsibility to be terminated and the application was granted.

When considering an application for parental responsibility, the court considers the welfare of the child to be the paramount consideration.

In this case the judge concluded that the child’s welfare would be imperilled if the father had any involvement at all in its life.

The court’s role

Evidently, the above facts show an extreme case. It is extremely unusual for a father not to be granted parental responsibility in the first instance or for parental responsibility to be discharged. On considering whether or not a father should be granted parental responsibility in relation to a child, the court considers the relationship between the father and child and the father’s commitment. It has to be said though that in 99% of cases, an application for parental responsibility would be granted.

If you require any advice on parental responsibility agreements or other family matters, please contact our Family team on 0161 475 7676.

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