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Child Support Law and Parental Responsibility

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 16 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Parental Responsibilities Law Child

Parental responsibility refers to the rights and privileges that unite the relationship between a parent and their child. This can also apply to any significant adult that plays an influential part in the child’s life.

EU Law And Parents

The European Union (EU) recognises the importance of Family Law and has rules on the jurisdiction of the enforcement of parental responsibility. This enforcement is recognised by uniform procedure that ensures the courts in the child’s resident state has the jurisdiction to rule on parental responsibility.

As part of the EU’s policies parental responsibility ensures the child has the right to maintain contact with both parents, regardless of where they live within the EU member states. The enforcement of access rights also seeks to prevent child abduction within the European Union.

Parental Responsibility In The UK

Under English law parents are responsible for upholding all the duties, powers, rights, authority and responsibilities in relation to their child. If the mother and father are married, at the time of the child’s birth, they share parental responsibility. However, if the parents are unmarried parental responsibility is given to the child’s mother, unless the child is the subject of an Adoption Order.

A civil partner can acquire parental responsibility, provided the other partner is in agreement with this arrangement. Parental responsibility must also be put in writing, in the case of a step-parent. A legal guardian may also be responsible along with someone who has a residence order stating that the child must live with them.

Parents And Child Support

Parental responsibility extends to providing a comfortable environment in which a child can be supported through childhood. Providing suitable shelter, clothing, food and educational items is also the parent’s duty.

In the case of families that are separated by divorce, legal separation or lone parents with absent fathers providing assistance, the form of a maintenance payment can help reduce the financial pressures of child-rearing.

Separated parents are legally duty bound to ensure their child, or children, are properly looked after. Parents with care, of the child, may experience difficulties in financially supporting the child on their own. Child support laws in the UK therefore obligate a non resident parent to pay a periodic amount of maintenance in order to provide financial assistance for the child in their home environment.

The Child Support Agency (CSA) and Child Maintenence Service (CMS) provides parents with care with a maintenance collection and distribution service that also assists with tracing absent parents.

In practice sharing parental responsibility means that adults must put the child’s interests first in any situation. A parental responsible person must do what is reasonable in any circumstance for the purpose of safeguarding the child’s welfare. This also means promoting and maintaining a safe, welcoming environment for the child to live in.

Shared Responsibilities

Sharing parental responsibilities requires that both parents consult on matters of importance that concern their child, regardless of their own relationship with each other. Understanding that the child’s welfare comes first is of paramount importance.

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Red.Head - Your Question:
Hi, I had my son wiv my ex partner in 2011,he was extremely violent whilst I was pregnant and after I had my son. I went to the police and had a non molestation order as the police advised. We had to go to court through this. Whilst at court my ex would turn on the water works and turn into a tiny mouse stating that I was using my son against him, I would not allow him to see my son due to him being a few weeks old and the violence from my ex being near misses to my son. My ex was given parental responsibility by the court but has not seen him since 2012, so 6 years, he has never paid towards him etc. My partner has been around since my son was 4months old(known eachother for 10years). We now have a child together. I would like to know if my ex's parental rights could be terminated due to him not seeing my son and if my partner is able to have any legal rights to my son? He has been the one who has been there, looked after him, fed him, taught him to walk/count etc. Advice appreciated

Our Response:
Unless the father of your child agrees to his child being adopted by your partner, his parental rights will not be terminated by the courts.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-May-18 @ 12:03 PM
Hi, I had my son wiv my ex partner in 2011,he was extremely violent whilst I was pregnant and after I had my son. I went to the police and had a non molestation order as the police advised. We had to go to court through this. Whilst at court my ex would turn on the water works and turn into a tiny mouse stating that I was using my son against him, I would not allow him to see my son due to him being a few weeks old and the violence from my ex being near misses to my son. My ex was given parental responsibility by the court but has not seen him since 2012, so 6 years, he has never paid towards him etc. My partner has been around since my son was 4months old(known eachother for 10years). We now have a child together. I would like to know if my ex's parental rights could be terminated due to him not seeing my son and if my partner is able to have any legal rights to my son? He has been the one who has been there, looked after him, fed him, taught him to walk/count etc. Advice appreciated
Red.Head - 16-May-18 @ 4:12 PM
dg - Your Question:
I continued to pay CMS directed monies throughout the full Appeals processHMCTS Tribunal (06/12/2017) Decision was that the case should have been "set aside" backdated to original CMS decision date of 06.12.2016 as that I should not be paying CMS monies in the first place, I have full shared care and provide "a home" for my children.Therefore I ended up paying 11 months of CMS Monies, tribunal deemed that I shouldn't have been, throughout the process.Am I entitled to this money back, as I have been advised by CMS via small claims court?

Our Response:
You would have to speak to CMS directly. If CMS say no and you wish to make a claim, then you may have to go through the process again.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-May-18 @ 10:08 AM
I continued to pay CMS directed monies throughout the full Appeals process HMCTS Tribunal (06/12/2017) Decision was that the case should have been "set aside" backdated to original CMS decision date of 06.12.2016 as that I should notbe paying CMS monies in the first place, I have full shared care and provide "a home" for my children. Therefore I ended up paying 11 months of CMS Monies, tribunal deemed that I shouldn't have been, throughout the process. Am I entitled to this money back, as I have been advised by CMS via small claims court?
dg - 14-May-18 @ 11:10 AM
kaz - Your Question:
I am separated from my civil partner and we have two children although I have parental responsibility (as.we were civil.partnered at time of conception) I am not a legal.parent to.either of our girls ( both conceived before 1/4/2009 HFEA 2008) and have not adopted or on birth cert. am I financially liable for girls in any way as my ex expecting more than 50% of house equity??

Our Response:
Under the Child Support Act 1991, the Child Maintenance Service cannot make an order against a non-biological parent. However,if you are divorcing and you are a step-parent, you may be required to provide financial provision for the children if they are deemed to be part of the family. You may wish to seek legal advice regarding this.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-May-18 @ 10:09 AM
My daughter age 7 has zero contact with her biological father as he refuses even though he resides on the next street to my daughter how do i go about taking his parental responsibility away as he is named on her birth certificate and can I represent myself or can i apply for legal aid. Thanks
Looloo - 30-Apr-18 @ 7:09 PM
I am separated from my civil partner and we have two children although I have parental responsibility (as.we were civil.partnered at time of conception) I am not a legal.parent to.either of our girls ( both conceived before 1/4/2009 HFEA 2008) and have not adopted or on birth cert. am I financially liable for girls in any way as my ex expecting more than 50% of house equity??
kaz - 30-Apr-18 @ 5:03 PM
Pitbull - Your Question:
My partner does not even know where his child is through no fault of his own as mother won’t make contact, mediation was tried and she back out every time - can we remove parental responsibility as completely unfair that he pays for a child that he cannot see and is his something that can be stopped

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access are two different issues not to be confused. With regards to child maintenance, every non-resident parent by law has to pay to help support their child whether they see their child or not. If the mother prevents access or contact, then your partner has the option to apply to court to see his child. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. You can see more about child arrangement orders via the gov.uk link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Apr-18 @ 10:09 AM
My partner does not even know where his child is through no fault of his own as mother won’t make contact, mediation was tried and she back out every time - can we remove parental responsibility as completely unfair that he pays for a child that he cannot see and is his something that can be stopped
Pitbull - 11-Apr-18 @ 11:25 AM
Good afternoon. Does section 20 accommodation can be applied only within the county? Initially , with our wish , our boy was allocated outside county to keep him away from old neighbourhood environment, his troubled friends etc. After a month social services want to bring him back to city where his problems begun. Tomorrow we need to sign consent forms. Can we refuse to sign and insist he needs to stay outside county? Social services seem not to understand the risks + we don't want our boy to knock on our door everytime he feels to do so. Please reply swiftly if you can. Tomorrow I'm signing consent documents. Many thanks.
Stanley - 5-Apr-18 @ 2:10 PM
K - Your Question:
My daughter's dad hasn't seen her for 7 months my daughter is 9 nearly 10. Her father has no interest in her he's even getting married and hasn't let my daughter know. Where do I stand with parental responsibility? Changing her name? Getting her a passport etc?

Our Response:
If your daughter's dad has parental responsibility, then you still need to request consent to change her name and request a passport.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Mar-18 @ 3:42 PM
@Stanley - Anyone with parental responsibility can voluntarily allow the local authority to accommodate their child under section 20 of the Children Act 1989. Section 20 is voluntary accommodation and if you don't want your child back - the LA won't force you.
RachelN - 22-Mar-18 @ 12:25 PM
Good morning. I have a family of 4 , i live with my wife ,our daughter who is 11 and is blind , boy( my stepson)is 15. We've had very challenging last couple of years and our boy ,due to his behaviour at home and school and going missing episodes, had to be accomodated under section 20 . He has now been out of county and we as a family are trying to recover from what we have been through. How long can the sec.20 accommodation last ? We were told thatwithin 12 weeks Social services would try to put him back with us. Can we refuse to have him back and insist that the boy should stay under care of authorities for the sake of whole family? He doesn't want to live with us anyway and that caused a lot of arguments already and this is why he had missing episodes at least once a week. What are our rights and what are responsibilities of authorities in these circumstances. Many thanks
Stanley - 21-Mar-18 @ 12:34 PM
My daughter's dad hasn't seen her for 7 months my daughter is 9 nearly 10. Her father has no interest in her he's even getting married and hasn't let my daughter know. Where do I stand with parental responsibility? Changing her name? Getting her a passport etc?
K - 20-Mar-18 @ 3:33 PM
Ibe - Your Question:
I slept with a married woman who ended up getting pregnant. Her husband is not aware of this and now she has had the baby. He is also on the birth certificate. If in the future I did a dna test and I was the father, would I pay child support or would the husband? And do I have to give a dna test or can I refuse.

Our Response:
If the mother has registered her husband as the father on the birth certificate, then unless challenged he will be considered the natural father and therefore will be responsible for the financial upkeep of your child. If in the future, the mother declared you as the father, then you would be financially responsible for your child. If the mother named you as the biological father to CMS and you refused to take a DNA test, then you would be required to pay child maintenance until you could prove you were not the biological father.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Mar-18 @ 11:09 AM
I slept with a married woman who ended up getting pregnant. Her husband is not aware of this and now she has had the baby. He is also on the birth certificate. If in the future i did a dna test and i was the father, would i pay child support or would the husband? And do i have to give a dna test or can i refuse.
Ibe - 18-Mar-18 @ 2:29 PM
Deb - Your Question:
I’ve been separated from my partner for over 4 years. We wasn’t married on the birth of my daughter. He has shown no interest in my daughters life and I doubt he ever will. I dont and have never received child maintance from him, I solemnly support my daughters needs. I’m looking into changining her surname, he his registered on her birth certificate. What are my chances in doing this, do I have the right to do this? I don’t know where my ex is or where he is living. Thank you

Our Response:
You can see all you need to know via the link here , to help answer your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Mar-18 @ 11:10 AM
I’ve been separated from my partner for over 4 years. We wasn’t married on the birth of my daughter. He has shown no interest in my daughters life and I doubt he ever will. I dont and have never received child maintance from him, I solemnly support my daughters needs. I’m looking into changining her surname, he his registered on her birth certificate. What are my chances in doing this, do I have the right to do this? I don’t know where my ex is or where he is living. Thank you
Deb - 7-Mar-18 @ 11:00 AM
@Leigh - The law doesn't favour the mother or father, it's aim is to decide upon what it thinks is in the best interests of the children (always putting them first) when making any decision. Therefore, it looks as though the mother is favoured. But it's just because the mother is usually the one that looks after the kids mostly. The courts are trying to move to shared care for parents, so that there is better equality. But things like child benefit and tax credits are only weighted towards one parent, so they are lagging behind.
MattFG - 6-Mar-18 @ 2:54 PM
If you actually read all the things regarding government legislation regarding fathers and mothers you can clearly see a lot of gender inequality. Basically there are no rights for fathers at all and the government is empowering, incentivising mothers to deliberately sabotage relationships for full control over children. I think the U.K. Has an awful skewed approach towards fathers and only supports malicious mothers.
Leigh - 6-Mar-18 @ 9:52 AM
Arthur - Your Question:
Since the definition, by law, of parental responsibility is the care and protection of your child, while child neglect (abuse) is the failure to provide for your child in terms of basic care, stability, safety and health, (which all involve financial input). Isn't a parent who is failing to provide for their child, even most basically, by not paying a maintenance fee, breaking the law, and in fact committing abuse through neglect? Not 'only' are they exploiting the other parent's care of the child, they are exploiting the child. As they deny their legal responsibility to their child's basic rights and needs, abusing the child's very rights to protection, and to thrive, thus also making it even more challenging for the other parent, (the one who is heroically upholding all responsibilities) to provide sufficiently. They are creating a scenario ripe with potential for abuse through the threat of poverty, and all that entails. Shouldn't it be a matter for the law to uphold, in terms of child protection, and not a matter that requires the other parent to uphold, arrange and facilitate? Many such cases the parent who doesn't provide is an abusive ex partner, be it emotional abuse, physical, and always financially abusive. As child neglect is a matter of the law when the parent who neglects lives with the child, why not be required to uphold parental responsibility when living apart?

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether the non-resident parent is eligible to pay child maintenance. Every NRP, by law has to pay child maintenance in order to support their child (where the resident parent makes a claim). However, not all non-resident parents are deemed financially eligible, for instance if they are claiming benefits. Where the parent is financially eligible and tries to avert paying, then CMS will do all it can to try to extract child maintenance.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Mar-18 @ 10:56 AM
Since the definition, by law, of parental responsibility is the care and protection of your child, while child neglect (abuse)is the failure to provide for your child in terms of basic care,stability, safety and health, (which all involve financial input). Isn't a parent who is failing to provide for their child,even most basically,by not paying a maintenance fee, breaking the law, and in fact committing abuse through neglect? Not 'only'are they exploiting the other parent's care of the child, they are exploiting the child. As they deny their legal responsibility to their child's basic rights and needs, abusing the child's very rights to protection, and to thrive, thus also making it even more challenging for the other parent, (the one who is heroically upholding all responsibilities)to provide sufficiently.They are creating a scenario ripe with potential for abuse through the threat of poverty, and allthat entails. Shouldn't it be a matter for the law to uphold, in terms of child protection, and not a matter that requires the other parent to uphold,arrange and facilitate? Many such cases the parent who doesn't provide is an abusive ex partner, be it emotional abuse, physical,and always financially abusive.As child neglect is a matter of the law when the parent who neglects lives with the child, why not be required to uphold parental responsibility when living apart?
Arthur - 28-Feb-18 @ 7:37 AM
My partner left my baby daughter and me 4months ago where we were living in Scotland and he now lives in Wales. I have tried to formalise arrangements for access but he is insisting that he wants to take the baby to Wales at regular times throughout the year for, a week at a time so nothing has been agreed. I have evidence of a lot of irresponsible behaviour in the past and therefore have genuine concerns about the safety and wellbeing of my daughter, not to mention the fact that he barely knows her due to his decision to leave. I am unaware of his address in Wales or if he is working, I know he has parental responsibility, but, when we haven't formalised an agreement, surely he doesn't have equal rights e.g. he couldn't just take her from the house without my permission - could he?
Scooby Sue - 21-Feb-18 @ 8:49 PM
Bee- Your Question:
Hiya just a bit of back ground info. I have 2 boys 11 and 9 and have recently separated from their father. However we continue to live in the same home, with him taking little or no responsibility for them financially,practically or any other way tbh. I was wondering if I stand any ground on a legal basis here although I do find it highly unlikely as iam aware we are still legally married. He is being difficult about divorce proceedings atm. Difficult about everything!

Our Response:
Speak to CMS, you may be able to claim child maintenance from him even if you are still living together. Therefore, you may wish to speak to CMS directly. Alternatively, if you cannot see eye-to-eye, perhaps you should suggest mediation to him as a way of deciding how you wish to move forward both practically and financially. Trying to resolve things amicably is always the best approach to take. However, I appreciate it is not always easy if the other parent refuses to compromise. If they don't then court is always seen as a last resort to solve a dispute. Hopefully, it will not get to that point. I think the message you need to relay to your ex, is that you are happy to discuss these matters rationally and come to a working arrangement between you. But if he refuses to deal with the issues facing you, then you will take a more official route.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Feb-18 @ 12:32 PM
LS - Your Question:
Could you please give me adviceMy partner would like to adopt my two children,aged 11 & 13, do we need my ex husbands permission?My children's biological father has not made any attempt to see or contact my children in 5 years. He seen them briefly for around 2 months in 2013 & it came to an abrupt end when I didn't feel he had my children's best interests at heart.For example taking my children to school late, telling my daughter that his step daughter had more right to be in his home,my daughter coming home with bite marks and scratches on her body from his younger child,my son cutting his back open after falling on machinery left laying around and sending my son to school with shoes on that were completely split. Before this 2 month period he had not had contact with my children since around 2009.My children's home and life is now with myself and my partner. My partner provides financially for the children and is a solid part of their every day life,doing school runs,looking after them if poorly, taking them to their social events and out of school clubs. Providing them with food, clothing and a roof over their heads.Although my ex husband has no interest or contact with my children he would still try and put a stop to my now partner adopting my children. If anything ever happened to myself I want peace of mind that my children's lives would not be turned upside down and they would be allowed to stay where they are happy and in the care of the person who they look upon as their dad. What can I do to ensure my children's step father can legally have parental responsibility if their biological father will not agree to it?

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here and Family Lives link here, which should help answer your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Feb-18 @ 10:13 AM
Hiya just a bit of back ground info. I have 2 boys 11 and 9 and have recently separated from their father. However we continue to live in the same home, with him taking little or no responsibility for them financially,practically or any other way tbh. I was wondering if I stand any ground on a legal basis here although I do find it highly unlikely as iam aware we are still legally married. He is being difficult about divorce proceedings atm. Difficult about everything!
Bee - 18-Feb-18 @ 7:47 PM
Could you please give me advice My partner would like to adopt my two children,aged 11 & 13, do we need my ex husbands permission? My children's biological father has not made any attempt to see or contact my children in 5 years. He seen them briefly foraround 2 months in 2013 & it came to an abrupt end when I didn't feel he had my children's best interests at heart...For example taking my children to school late, telling my daughter that his step daughter had more right to be in his home,my daughter coming home with bite marks and scratches on her body from his younger child,my son cutting his back open after falling on machinery left laying around and sending my son to school with shoes on that were completely split. Before this 2 month period he had not had contact with my children since around 2009. My children's home and life is now with myself and my partner. My partner provides financially for the children and is a solid part of their every day life,doing school runs,looking after them if poorly, taking them to their social events and out of school clubs. Providing them with food, clothing and a roof over their heads. Although my ex husband has no interest or contact with my children he would still try and put a stop to my now partner adopting my children. If anything ever happened to myself I want peace of mind that my children's lives would not be turned upside down and they would be allowed to stay where they are happy and in the care of the person who they look upon as their dad. What can I do to ensure my children's step father can legally have parental responsibility if their biological father will not agree to it?
LS - 18-Feb-18 @ 12:57 AM
K - Your Question:
After 4 years of my ex being absent from my children's lives I changed their surname to the same same as me and my husbands. He has now been absent from the youngest life for 12 years and I've just applied for his first passport they have said that I need my exs consent of name change my daughter has asked him as she has recently got back in contact with him and he's saying he won't give consent he has been absent for 12 years and owes 32 thousand in child maintenance. Does he still have the right to say no.?

Our Response:
Firstly, the fact your ex owes maintenance is a completely different issue to the one you are writing about and has no bearing. The issue here is that you changed your child's name without your ex's consent (if your ex has parental responsibility, you should have requested his consent). Likewise, he is refusing to authorise the passport application for your daughter. Your only recourse (if your ex refuses to attend mediation) is to apply to court, to ask the court to override his refusal. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. With regards to the change in name, your ex can choose to make this an issue or not. However, again, this would have to be carried out through court.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Feb-18 @ 2:02 PM
After 4 years of my ex being absent from my children's lives I changed their surname to the same same as me and my husbands. He has now been absent from the youngest life for 12 years and I've just applied for his first passport they have said that I need my exs consent of name change my daughter has asked him as she has recently got back in contact with him and he's saying he won't give consent he has been absent for 12 years and owes 32 thousand in child maintenance. Does he still have the right to say no.?
K - 12-Feb-18 @ 7:12 AM
Pondy - Your Question:
My husbands son who’s 17years old has changed his surname by de poll and he hasn’t had no contact with him for about 3 years due to his ex being very difficult, will he still need to pay his ex child maintenance??

Our Response:
Yes, a name change makes no difference to child maintenance payments. Your husband still has a biological son he is responsible for helping to financially support, regardless of what name the son chooses to be known as.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Feb-18 @ 2:25 PM
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