Every parent wants to ensure that their children are safe and cared for at all times. It is important for a parent to safeguard their children against any possible risk of harm, even if that risk is from the child’s other parent.
On 3 October 2023, the Ministry of Justice announced that ‘Jade’s Law’ is to be introduced to provide increased protection to children. As a result, it is important to reflect on parental responsibility in respect of the family court.
What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental Responsibility (PR) is defined as all of the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which a parent has in relation to their child. Parents can have PR automatically, or they can acquire it. Broadly speaking:
- The child’s biological mother will automatically have PR
- If a father is married or in a civil partnership with the mother, then they will automatically have PR
- Fathers who are not married or in a civil partnership do not automatically have PR, but can obtain PR by having their name registered or re-registered on the child’s birth certificate, by agreement or by order of the court
- PR Agreements can be entered into
What is the background behind ‘Jade’s Law’?
In 2021, Jade Ward was brutally murdered by her former partner at the age of just 27 whilst their four children slept in their home. Even though the former partner received a life sentence, he continued to pester Jade’s grieving family through his legal representative. He was demanding photographs and school reports, which he was entitled to, as he continued to have PR. This meant that Jade’s family continued to have her ex-partner involved in their lives.
What is ‘Jade’s Law’ and when will it come into force?
‘Jade’s Law’ means that a parent who kills a partner or ex-partner with whom they share a child will automatically have their PR suspended upon sentencing. The suspension will apply to anyone who is convicted of murder or voluntary manslaughter. The victim must be the person with whom they shared PR with.
It is important to note that this legislation has not yet come into effect at the time of writing this article and further information will become available over time.
Why is Parental Responsibility important?
A person with PR has the right to make or be involved in important decisions about the upbringing of their child. It is also a requirement that all people with PR should reach an agreement on certain decisions about a child, including, but not limited to:
- Naming the child
- Choosing the child’s school
- Making decisions regarding the child’s medical treatment
- Giving consent for the child to go on holiday or leave the country
Jade’s Law is a positive step, which will result in greater protection for children. The circumstances where Jade’s Law will be relied upon should be rare. However, if you have any questions about parental responsibility, do contact E J Coombs Solicitors on 01883 343460, or by visiting our website.