Parental responsibility

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Parental responsibility

Parental responsibility is defined under Section 3 (1) of the Children Act 1989 as meaning all the duties, rights, powers, responsibilities and authority which parents have with respect to their children and their children’s property. Under Section 2 of the Children Act 1989, parental responsibility falls upon:

• all mothers and fathers who were married to each other at the time of the child’s birth (including those who have since separated or divorced)

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  • mothers who were not married to the father at the time of the child’s birth, and
  • fathers who were not married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, but who have obtained parental responsibility either by agreement with the child’s mother or through a court orderUnder Section 12 of the Children Act 1989, where a court makes a residence order in favour of any person who is not the parent or guardian of the child, that person has parental responsibility for the child while the residence order remains in force.

    Under section 33 (3) of the Children Act 1989, while a care order is in force with respect to a child, the social services department designated by the order will have parental responsibility for that child, and will have the power (subject to certain provisions) to determine the extent to which a parent or guardian of the child may meet his or her parental responsibility for the child. The social services department cannot have parental responsibility for a child unless that child is the subject of a care order, except for very limited purposes where an emergency protection order is in force under Section 44 of the Children Act 1989.

Definition from SEND Code of Practice April 2015

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