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Importance of parental responsibility

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Parental responsibility is the legal right of adults to make decisions on behalf of a child in their care. When parents decide which school their child should attend or when a hospital asks them to sign a medical consent form prior to a procedure for their child, they are able to do this because they have parental responsibility. But couples in the Greater Manchester area should be aware that the legal responsibility for their child may change in the event of a divorce.

It is important that the person providing day-to-day care for a child has the legal right to make decisions on the child's behalf. A mother automatically receives parental responsibility when the child is born, but when the parent of a child remarries, the stepparent may also be entitled to this legal right. If all the parties who have parental responsibility agree, then the stepparent can also be given the responsibility. The other option is to request a Parental Responsibility Order from the court which will make its ruling based on what it considers is best for the child's welfare.

When a couple is married, fathers automatically receive parental responsibility upon the birth of a child, but when the parents are not married, then the father has three ways of gaining it. If his name is included on the child's birth certificate or, alternatively, if the child's mother agrees, then he can receive parental responsibility. The third option for the father is to request it from the court, which will review the situation and rule in the child's best interests.

Disputes over child custody may arise, especially if a number of parties with parental responsibility disagree over the every day care. A person involved in this situation may wish to consult with a solicitor well versed in family law for advice on the matter.