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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 34887
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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Please can you tell me the procedure, as a man currently in

Customer Question

Please can you tell me the procedure, as a man currently in relationship with a not yet divorced single mum with 2 children (both minors) for acquiring parental responsibility via a parental responsibility agreement?

My partner (to whom I am not currently married) has not yet finished divorcing her existing husband. However, when she does divorce, she and I intend to marry.

I wish to acquire parental responsibility to her two children all the while their biological father is stil alive.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

What do you mean by an agreement?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I am alluding to the specific legal document I believe is required to exist in a situation such as that I have described where the biological father of the aforesaid children is still alive (he's 47) and where I, as a would-be step father to the children of the said biolgical father wish to acquire equivalent rights/obligations as the biological father.

I believe such a document (the terms of which are binding) is called a "parent responsibility agreement" and it is entered into with the consent of the biological father.

I should say in passing that I do not wish to adopt the children in question unless, in order to acquire equivalent rights to the biological father, there is no alternative.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
To be clear, I am referring to a parental responsibility agreement.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
I will pass this onto our family specialist for you
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
My colleague has asked me to look at this for you
Is the father likely to be willing to agree to this?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
That would all rather depend upon what you meant, in this context, by the term: "willing".

I suspect he wouldn't be especially happy about me making an application for either a residence order or parental responsibility as he does feel that since I first started my relationship with his soon to be divorced wife and mother of his children, he has been usurped.

However, Rob (that's his name) is also a pragmatist and has, a consequence, conceded a great many things - not least of which is that his marriage has irretrievably broken down amd that now that both he and his wife are not working and are heavily on debt, I alone am supporting his children and his wife financially. The most significant manifestation of which is that I have saved the family home from repossession as a result of having paid of the arrears on an existing mortgage. Despite not being in any way liable for the said mortgage, I am currently paying it whilst also having no interest (other than monetary and possibly equitable) in the property as 'I'm not named on the deeds.

The bottom line is that despite his resentment, I suspect Rob would agree to this.

One question in passing: how significant is it that I'm NOT married to the mother of the children in question? I believe this means that at present, even though the children live with me, I care for them and am paying for all their needs, I am not legally classed as a "step father".

I plan to marry the children's mother soon after she completes her divorce. She is awaiting a decree nisi.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
May I ask why you feel the need to have Parental Responsibility for these children?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
That is a far from simple question to answer. However, I will try to do so as succinctly as possible.

Firstly, there is the practical question of how I can exercise care of the children as well as the preservation of the their welfare if I do not have parental responsibility and all concomitant rights that this would bestow. E.g. The children are with me and me alone and are involved in a serious accident such that they require medical attention. In such circumstances, I would not be in a position to request medical this or to consent to have it performed.

Secondly, in a much more general sense, if I were to have PR it would enable me to give both physical and practical form to my wishes and aspirations for the children. Indeed, it would be a physical record of such.

As the person who, in a practical sense, is responsible for providing for the children, I want to have a say that will be be given affect in such matters as the children's education, inculcation of values, healthcare and religious upbringing.

I want to have the right to decide upon where the children holiday, how they're educated, and what sorts of experiences they're going to be exposed to.

For practical purposes, I am the children's de facto father. They live with me and their mother but for an ad hoc arrangement with their father regarding visitation.

Their father is currently paying nothing to their mother by way of maintenance and appears to have little or no interest in asserting his rights vis a vis the children.

I wish to function as the children's father but at present I have no legal means of doing so.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
How old are the children?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
The boy Tom is 5 (DOB: 10/8/08)

The girl, Charlotte, is 3 (DOB: 19/05/10)
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I don't know this for certain (and I'd ask you to advise me on this point) but in practical terms, i believe that by having parental responsibility will, as a step-paren, allows me to be involved in decisions relating to the children's schooling, medical treatment, religion, and how the child is disciplined. Equally, the day-to-day considerations relating to medical treatment and how the children are disciplined.

Were the children to be involved in an accident, and need medical treatment, were their other parents unavailable, and in the absence of holding parental responsibility, i would not have the right to make decisions about how the children were treated.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
Once you have married your partner then you can both ask the father to sign Step Parental Responsibility Agreements in respect of the children - the forms are here
If he refuses then you can both apply to the Court for a Joint Residence Order or for Step parental Responsibility.
If you decide to do this then it would be sensible to wait until you have been married for at least a year as it will show that the marriage is stable
If you do that may I suggest that you do not mention that you wish to be able to discipline the children. It is an odd thing to mention given the ages of the children and you woudl have no more right to do so than you woudl in any event given that they live with you
Not will you have the right to decide anything - you would simply be one of three people who have the right to be consulted on such issues (or at least you will have so long as you remain married)
The form that you will need to make the application is a Form C100 available here
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details