What are the rights of unmarried parents?
16 November 2020 by Guest Author
Many unmarried couples have children together. But who automatically has parental responsibility? And what can unmarried parents do to make sure their rights and their children are protected? Following on from last week’s Law Society Solicitor Chat on this topic, the FJG Family Law team have provided some answers to a few frequently asked questions on the rights of unmarried parents
How do the rights of married and unmarried parents differ?
A mother always has parental responsibility for the child that she gives birth to. A married father shares the same legal rights on birth. An unmarried father does not have the same automatic legal rights.
How can an unmarried father obtain parental responsibility for their children?
An unmarried father will acquire parental responsibility if they are named on the child’s birth certificate. If this does not happen they can acquire those rights by either entering into a parental responsibility agreement, marrying the mother, or securing a parental responsibility order.
What issues can arise if unmarried parents don’t have the correct legal documents in place?
If an unmarried parent does not have parental responsibility then this can impact on their ability to make important legal decisions in relation to the child’s health, welfare, and education.
Common-law marriage does not exist. How can a cohabitation agreement and an updated will help to protect unmarried parents?
A cohabitation agreement is an agreement that unmarried couples can enter into to set out how they share finances while living together or what happens if one of them becomes ill, dies or they split up. For an agreement to be valid, both parties need to enter into it freely and voluntarily. Likewise, having an up to date Will is important to make sure that adequate financial provision is available for the other parent should one of you pass away.
What key considerations should unmarried parents make when making a cohabitation agreement or updating their will?
It is important to keep your child’s best interests in mind at all times, making sure that their primary carers has adequate financial provision, should you separate or either one of you passes away.