Q&As

Can a stepfather (who was married to the mother) enter into a parental responsibility agreement with biological father after the death of mother?

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Produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Published on LexisPSL on 20/03/2017

The following Family Q&A produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can a stepfather (who was married to the mother) enter into a parental responsibility agreement with biological father after the death of mother?

Parental responsibility (PR) is defined in section 3(1) of the Children Act 1989 (ChA 1989) 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’. ChA 1989, s 2 sets out the circumstances in which parents have PR. The mother of the child always has PR. ChA 1989, s 4 deals with acquisition of PR. The father of a child will acquire PR either by virtue of being married to the mother at the time of birth (ChA 1989, s 2(1)); by his registration as the child’s father (ChA 1989, s 4(1)(a)); or by a parental responsibility agreement (ChA 1989, s 4(1)(b)). Finally, the father shall acquire PR if the court on his application orders that he should have PR.

The phraseology used in ChA 1989, s 4(1)(b) is an agreement between ‘the father’ and ‘the child’s mother’. As a result it is not open to a stepfather married to the mother of the child prior to the death of the mother to enter into a PR agreement with the biological father (who may or may not himself have PR) un

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