What does parental care actually mean?

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Parental care is the term used to describe your legal duty to care for your children. If you are a mother, you will automatically be expected to provide care for your biological children. However, if you are a father, you will only usually be expected provide care for your children if you are married to their mother and/or listed on their birth certificates.

Your parental responsibilities

If you have a responsibility to provide parental care to your child, you must:

• Name your child.

• Provide a home for your child.

• Protect and maintain your child.

• Discipline your child.

• Choose and provide education for your child.

• Determine the religion of your child.

• Agree to provide your child with any necessary medical treatment.

• Accompany the child outside of the UK, and agree to the child’s emigration, should it be necessary for you to do so.

• Allow confidential information relating to your child to be disclosed, where necessary.

• Take responsibility for your child’s property.

• Appoint a legal guardian for your child, if necessary.

• You must also support your child financially.

If you have parental care over a child you do not reside with, you will not necessarily have a right to make contact with him or her. However, the other parent must keep you updated with regards to your child’s physical and emotional well-being and personal progress.

Applying for parental care

If you do not have parental responsibility over your child, you will need to apply to the court for parental care. To apply for parental care, you must have a connection to the child, for example, you must be the father, stepmother, stepfather or second female parent.

If you are a father or second female parent who desires to provide parental care, you must complete a parental responsibility agreement, while if you are a step-parent, you must complete a step-parent parental responsibility agreement. You must then take your agreement to your nearest county court or family proceedings court, along with the child’s birth certificate and formal proof of your identity.

Following visiting the court, you should send two copies of your agreement to the Principal Registry of the Family Division in London.

If you wish to provide parental care to your child, but the mother does not agree to your application, you will need to apply for a court order through your nearest county court or family proceedings court. When considering your application, the court will take into account factors such as your commitment and attachment to your child, alongside your reasons for applying for parental responsibility. The court will then accept or reject your application, based on the best interests of your child.

Terminating your provision of parental care

As your child grows older, your parental responsibilities will decrease. Although you will cease to have parental care over your child once he or she reaches 18 years of age, there may be some areas in which you will want to retain financial responsibility for your child, for example, when your child is applies for a university grant.

The legal framework for family law in the UK is complex and wide-ranging. Only by having the expert assistance of a family law solicitor at your disposal can you be sure that your interests are being represented effectively. Contact us today to see how Wiseman Lee can help you with your situation.

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