Rights of Father & Recent Changes
There is a large misconception in society around parental obligations between mothers and fathers. The Minister for Justice has just signed off a statutory instrument making amendments to the Child and Family Relationships Act 2015. This should ensure that the myth is no more.
Parental responsibility as defined in the Children’s Act 1989 s3 as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.” If the child’s parents are married both have parental responsibility; however as the modern family changes, there was a need for change in legislation.
All mothers, whether married or unmarried, automatically have parental responsibility for any child born to them. Originally the father of a child, who was not married to the mother at the time of birth could apply to the courts for parental responsibility, or this could be registered with the principal registry.
The new provision sets out how parentage is to be assigned in cases of assisted reproduction; enables civil partnered or cohabiting couples to be eligible jointly to adopt a child and enables members of the wider family to apply for contact to the child. Developments also see changes in relation to the Guardianship of Infants Act, generally employed in bringing applications before the district court.
The legislation is a huge victory for men supporting the “Father’s Rights Movement” asserting the discrimination as a result of the gender bias in family law. More importantly, it means legislation has firmly caught up with the realities of modern family life.
Kristian is an LLB Candidate at the University of Leeds and has been with Ridley & Hall for his work experience placement.