Parental Responsibility – What does this mean?
When parents separate, there can be a lot of discussion about ‘parental rights’ and what that means.
Parental Responsibility (PR) is defined by law 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.” What does that mean for you?
Those with PR for a child have the obligation to safeguard and provide for that child, and the right to make and be involved in decisions about how they are raised. When parents separate, one does not lose PR. One parent’s PR does not become less valid than the other’s.
Parental Responsibility and decision-making
All those who hold PR for a child must make certain decisions jointly. Such decisions include those relating to medical treatment, education, religion, a child’s name, and with whom the child lives.
Of course there are times when parents need to make emergency decisions, such as emergency medical treatment. Here, the other parent must be informed as soon as practicable.
There are also day-to-day decisions to be made that do not involve agreement between all those with PR, such as bedtimes, playdates and the child’s day-to-day discipline. Communication over these issues can, however, be of enormous benefit to both the parents and child, and thus continuity for the child.
Decisions in favour of the child’s welfare
As all parents know, there is no one set of rules when it comes to raising children. When it comes to PR, the Court is clear – the child’s welfare, not the parents, must be the focus of decisions made.
If you are unable to come to an agreement regarding the arrangements for your child, it is sensible to obtain advice at an early stage to discuss your specific circumstances. Mediation can also be very helpful to parents trying to amicably resolve any issues regarding the arrangements for and care of their children.
For more information about parental responsibility or any other issues relating to children, please contact: