Any day now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge aka “Wills and Kate” will be expecting the arrival of their third child who is predicted to arrive sometime in April.
At time same time, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are planning their wedding, which is due to take place on 19th May 2018. Whilst they don’t have any children yet, would there be a difference between William’s and Harry’s rights towards their child(ren) if hypothetically Harry and Meghan decided to have a baby and the baby was born before they got married?
When parents ask a family lawyer what “rights” they have in relation to their children, we advise about “parental responsibility” (PR). We steer clear of trying to create the impression that parents have only “rights” over their children as actually the term means that they have rights, duties, responsibilities and obligations towards their children. It means that when both parents share PR, they both have a say in the important decisions in their child’s life such as education, medical decisions and religion.
The “rights” extend to having the right to make an application to Court to resolve an issue in relation to their children if an agreement cannot be reached with the other parent over who the child should live with and how much time they should spend with the other parent if the parents later separate for example. There are other orders that parents have the right to apply for and they can be found on our website by clicking the link here.
Do I automatically have parental responsibility when my child is born?
The mother automatically has parental responsibility after the child is born so in the Royals scenario, both Kate and Meghan would have PR. A father does not automatically have PR but they can acquire it in one of the following ways:-
- If the father is married to the mother at the time of the birth (or later on) – so in the Royal’s case William would automatically have PR as he is already married to Kate but if Meghan and Harry had children before they got married then Harry wouldn’t have PR straight away.
- If the father is named on the child’s birth certificate and the birth is registered after 1st December 2003 – so in the above scenario, Harry could have PR if he is named on the birth certificate before he marries Meghan or he could just wait to marry her and would acquire PR.
- If the mother and father sign a parental responsibility agreement – usually used in cases where the parents don’t ever marry and the father has not been named on the birth certificate.
- If the father has a parental responsibly order from the court – usually obtained in cases where the above 3 points don’t apply.
For further advice in relation to parental responsibility and children matters after separation or divorce, please contact one of our Associate Solicitors, Kirsten Tomlinson on 01625 544 650 or email Kirsten.Tomlinson@family-law.co.uk.
Maguire Family Law is a highly recommended niche practise specialising in family law matters. We have a large team and can offer advice at any of our locations as follows:-
Wilmslow 01625 544650
Knutsford 01565 648228
London 0207 9474219
Manchester 0161 8048441