Parental Responsibility During Covid-19

In any set of circumstances Parental Responsibility forms the core rights and responsibilities of a Parent or Guardian of a child. These are substantive decisions that should be agreed and if there is significant discord, such decisions may need to be mediated upon, and should they not be resolved, an application made to the Family Court. In an emergency situation and urgent application to the Family Court may be required.

In essence, Parental Responsibility confers upon the children’s parents the right to make some of the following important decisions, or to be consulted on the following:

1. To be consulted over any medical treatment that the child may undergo.

2. To be provided notice if a child is to be taken out of the jurisdiction.

3. To be consulted in respect of the child’s educational needs and schooling.

4. To be consulted in respect of the child’s welfare and development.

5. To be consulted if a child’s surname is to be changed.

6. To be consulted upon a child’s religious upbringing

The above list is not exhaustive. Importantly, if you have/share Parental Responsibility in respect of your children you are legally recognised as the parent of the children. Parental Responsibility confers rights over most of the strategic decisions that may be made in respect of the children’s welfare. This does not mean that parents who share Parental Responsibility must always discuss the day to day needs of the children or vice versa.

As we come to the Government easing COVID19 restrictions, the difficult decision as to children attending school and other location comes into focus. Unfortunately, as the scientific research upon COVID19 is still in it’s infancy, the approach forward when considering the health of our children is fraught with difficulty. Of even greater concern to parents and carers are the arrangements that are being put into place to achieve the very difficult task of ensuring children are social distancing and other measures to keep them safe, and whether these arrangements are satisfactory.

As a major decision in relation to children, this is an issue which can involve the exercise of Parental Responsibility. If there is conflict between those that share Parental Responsibility, usually the parents, and should mediation not resolve the matter, then an application may need to be made to the Family Court for the issue to be resolved.

In making these important decisions the best interests of the children must be considered and at this difficult time this will mean considering Government guidance as to COVID19 restrictions, the guidance of the Department of Education, the particular safeguards put in place by your child’s place of education as well as the further proposals being made by either parent.

All relevant issues will need to be considered in order to ensure an outcome that is in the best interests of your children. We are happy to assist in advising upon your particular circumstances to allow you to navigate forward during this difficult time for families.

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