Parental Responsibility - Do You Have It?

Coronation Street’s story line between Tyrone and Kirsty has highlighted the issue of Parental Responsibility.

Tyrone, led to desperate measures to protect himself and his daughter, tried to run away, however as the story highlighted, Tyrone does not have Parental Responsibility for his daughter, and this ultimately could have led to Tyrone being arrested for abduction.

How do you know whether you have Parental Responsibility?

So long as the child is under 18 years Parental Responsibility is shared jointly between all married parents, even after divorce, and this means all the rights and duties, powers and responsibilities which, by law, a parent of a child has in relation to that child.  Parental Responsibility gives a parent a right to have a say in major decisions affecting a child’s life such as education, religious upbringing, medical treatment, child’s surname, discipline.  It does not affect the day to day care and control of a child.

If the parents were not married to each other at the time of the child’s birth, Parental Responsibility automatically vests in the mother. As Tyrone and Kirsty are not married, Tyrone has not automatically acquired Parental Responsibility for his daughter. Tyrone may therefore acquire Parental Responsibility in one of three ways: -

  • By being registered as the father of the child on the child’s Birth Certificate if the registration is 1 December 2003 or later, but if he is not registered as the father on the Birth Certificate, which is the case in the Coronation Street story line then:
  • He and Kirsty could enter into a Parental Responsibility Agreement, or if Kirsty will not agree to this, which is likely, then:
  • He could make an application to the Court for a Parental Responsibility Order.

Providing Tyrone can show that: -

  • There has been a consistency in his commitment to the child; and
  • There is an attachment between him and the child; and
  • There is nothing untoward about his reasons for applying for such an order, it will then be likely that the Court will grant a Parental Responsibility Order.

The suggestion was made on Coronation Street that Tyrone has to marry Kirsty in order to make matters easier for him. As you can see above this is not the case, in fact he could be making things a lot harder for himself if he were to marry Kirsty. We would advise Tyrone to make an application to the Court for a Parental Responsibility Order, he has clearly shown his commitment and attachment to his daughter, and therefore it would be difficult for Kirsty to argue that Tyrone should not acquire Parental Responsibility for his daughter.

Upon acquiring Parental Responsibility, Tyrone would then be in a position to seek further Orders to protect his daughter, including a Residence Order and Prohibited Steps Order.

Should you be affected by this storyline and would like to discuss these, or other sensitive issues further, you can contact Lanyon Bowdler's Family Law team.