Registering a Birth during the coronavirus Pandemic
9 July 2020 by Kate Crossman
The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty in many aspects of our lives. For many new parents, this has been an especially daunting and worrying time.
One concern new parents have is how can they register their baby’s birth during the lockdown period.
Local Authorities have confirmed that registrations of births are being deferred until further notice. This means that parents cannot register their baby’s birth at this time. The Government have indicated that parents can still make a claim for child benefit or universal credit before the registration of the birth.
It is important that, once Local Authorities have indicated that births can be registered again, parents ensure they make an appointment to register the birth as soon as possible. There is currently no online system in England to register births.
What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental responsibility is all of the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent, such as looking after a child, choosing a place of education for a child, and arranging medical treatment.
Where the parents of a child are married when the child is born, or if they’ve jointly adopted a child, both parents share parental responsibility. This parental responsibility is kept if the parents later divorce.
In relation to unmarried parents, a mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth. An unmarried father can acquire parental responsibility by being named on the birth certificate at the time of registering the birth. It is therefore important that when birth registrations recommence unmarried parents ensure that both parents attend the registration appointment if it is the intention for both parents to have parental responsibility.
If a father is not named on the birth certificate, he can apply to the Court for an order for parental responsibility or they can enter into a parental responsibility agreement.
Same-sex partners and step-parents can also acquire parental responsibility, this can be a little more complex and the family team would be happy to advise you on these issues.
Update on registering births – July 2020
Throughout the lockdown period, new parents have been unable to register the birth of their baby. This service was temporarily put on hold due to the virus pandemic.
Many Local Authorities, including Essex County Council, have now confirmed that they are restarting birth registrations for babies born up to and including 30th May 2020. Exact arrangements may change depending on the Local Authority.
As there is a backlog of birth registrations since March, there is a high level of demand to register births at present. There is an online booking system showing appointment availability.
Currently, Essex County Council are not taking appointments for babies born after 30th May 2020.
The virus pandemic continues, but it is positive that many of our services are beginning to resume.
Here at FJG, we have set up a Coronavirus Legal Advice hub with information on the legal issues that have arisen as a result of COVID-19.