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The Law Of Parental Responsibility And The Welfare Principle Notes

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A more recent version of these The Law Of Parental Responsibility And The Welfare Principle notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.

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The Law of Parental Responsibility What is parental responsibility?

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The Children Act o S.3 states that "parental responsibility" means 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 o This doesn't really answer many questions.
? Law Com: Didn't want to make a determinative list, as this would vary from case to case and depend on the age and maturity of the child
? Lowe and Douglas:

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1. Bringing up the child

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2. Having contact with the child

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3. Protecting and disciplining the child

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4. Determining and ensuring the provision of child's education

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5. Consenting to child's medical treatment/marriage

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6. Agreeing to child adoption etc. o This is not a complete list, but shows the range of responsibilities
? Parentline Plus: Parental responsibility give a person performing a parental role "authority, stability and recognition"

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It also suggests that w/o parental responsibility, there are some important decisions about a child which a person cannot make o E.g. choice of school, religion, or surname o Herring: Rather than trying to list the issues over which parents can make decision about a child
? It may be more profitable to consider what limitations there are on the parental power of how to raise a child
? So the parent can make decisions about all areas of a child's life, subject to restriction:

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1. The Criminal law - cannot assault child

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2. Any requirement to consult or obtain the consent of others with parental responsibility - o e.g. s13 CA 1989 - cannot change child's surname unless w/o consent of anyone else w/ parental responsibility

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3. The power of the local authority to take a child into care o If a child is taken into care by a local authority,
? this effectively restricts the powers of parents to make decisions about their child's upbringing.

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4. Orders of the court

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5. The ability of a child who is sufficiently mature (Gillick competent child)

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Judicial understanding of parental responsibility o Unsurprisingly, the courts have not been consistent in their understanding or parental responsibility
? A stamp of approval?

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E.g. (A Minor) [1995] - parental responsibility marks the "status" which nature has bestowed on the father

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