Supreme Court judgment provides new legal remedy for parents without parental responsibility

Parents without parental responsibility – who are often unmarried fathers and non-biological parents – will have easier recourse to justice if their child is removed from the UK following a judgment from the Supreme Court.

The ruling follows a case involving a same sex couple in which the non-biological parent did not acquire parental responsibility for their daughter. The child was taken by her biological mother to Pakistan to live but the other parent has successfully pursued an application in the English Court in relation to the care of the child.

The previous legal position would be that the child had lost ‘habitual residence’ in England when the other parent removed her and so an application could not be made in this country.

Eileen Macqueen, an expert in family law at Devonshires Solicitors said: “This case provides some comfort to parents without parental responsibility who fear that their child may be taken away from them.

“All biological mothers automatically have parental responsibility but it is only acquired by biological fathers and non-biological parents if specific steps are taken, such as being married to the mother at the time of the birth or being named on the birth certificate, if the child was born on or after 1 December 2003.

“If a parent doesn’t have parental responsibility, it can be more difficult to bring a claim under the usual child abduction laws if their child is moved to another country. This judgment changes that, providing a new way for parents to get their case heard in the English Court and to have a say in how their child is cared for.

“A claim is only likely to be successful if the applicant can prove that the child’s new residence was yet to be established at the time of the application, for example because they are still in temporary accommodation or are yet to register with a school. Timing is therefore key for any parent that wants to pursue such a claim.”

Share this post

Related categories



The latest news from Devonshires, sent to you direct.

Join our mailing list and find out what we’re up to and what we think about recent events and future possibilities.

Join our Mailing List