If you have children, then one of your key planning priorities is ensuring that they are cared for and protected in case something happens to you.

As well as ensuring that there is financial provision in place, it’s important to ensure that there are plans in place regarding who will be responsible for them until they reach adulthood.

If you’re a parent, you might assume that you will simply gain responsibility for a child if your partner passes away. However, it may not be that simple, especially if you are not married to the child’s other parent.

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility gives you legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority relating to your child and your child’s property.

If you have parental responsibility for a child, you have the right to make decisions about their care and upbringing. This includes:

  • Where a child lives
  • How and where a child is educated
  • Decisions regarding medical treatment
  • Which (if any) religion the child should be brought up in
  • Deciding a child’s name and registering their birth
  • Giving consent for the child to leave the country

You also have to provide a home for the child and protect and maintain them (including financially).

Important decisions in a child’s life must be agreed with anyone else who has parental responsibility.

It’s important to remember that there are situations where, if you are a father, you may not have automatic parental responsibility if your unmarried partner dies.

The flowchart below assumes that the parent has not legally lost parental responsibility and doesn’t give details of parental responsibility rights for carers.

If the parents are not married, parental responsibility does not automatically pass to the natural father if the mother dies.

And, if you don’t have parental responsibility, you may not have any legal right to be involved in decisions regarding your child.

In cases where you don’t have parental responsibility, you may want to ensure that the mother grants parental rights to you in case anything happens to her. You can do this through a Parental Responsibility Agreement.

As a father, you can also apply to the court for parental responsibility. The court will consider factors such as how committed you are as a father, the attachment between you and your child and your reasons for applying for the order. If successful, the court will grant a Parental Responsibility Order.

If you’re the executor of a will, make sure your loved one makes a will and includes plans for children.

If you need advice regarding making financial and care provision for your children, please get in touch. Contact your usual HFMC Wealth contact or email mail@hfmcwealth.com if you require further information or any assistance.

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