Rights & Responsibilities

The Law

Until you are 18 you are not seen as an adult in terms of the law. You may need to know the following facts:

  • If you are under 16, although you may be a parent, you cannot receive any benefits or live independently with your child

  • If you are over 16 and old enough to get married (with parental consent) and join the army, you can only get your own benefits under special circumstances and by law you can't hold your own tenancy (your own flat)

  • If you and your partner are under eighteen and want to get married, your parents will need to give you permission, although if they do not, you can apply to the magistrates or county court

  • If you and your partner are under eighteen then both your parents will need to give consent if you want to live together. If they dont agree and you decide to live together anyway they can take legal action against you. i -

  • There is no minimum age for putting your name on the birth certificate of your child.

  • If you are under eighteen you cannot make an application to a court (for example Parental Responsibility), but someone can on your behalf, it is called 'next friend".

Parental Responsibility

What is parental responsibility?

A person with parental responsibility (PR) for a child has the right, together with any other person with PR, to make important decisions about the upbringing and care of a child.

The following are examples of the kind of decisions involved:

  • Where a child lives
  • Whether or not a child receives medical treatment
  • How and where a child is to be educated
  • Which, if any, religion a child follows
  • Deciding on the child's surname and forenames and registering their birth
  • Giving permission or not for a child to go out of the country
  • Applying for a passport for a child
  • Giving consent or not to any marriage or civil partnership by a child under 1 8
  • Looking after any property the child is entitled to
  • Giving consent or not to the adoption of a child.

Who automatically has parental responsibility?

  • Mothers, including young mothers under 18
  • The father, as long as the mother and father were married to each other at the time of the child's birth. You keep PR when you separate or divorce
  • Unmarried fathers, if their details are included as the child's father at the registration of the child's birth and the registration
  • A person who is granted a residence order (a court order that states where the child is to live) automatically has PR for the duration of the residence order
  • A local council if it has a care order or emergency protection order for the child, for as long as the order lasts
  • A guardian appointed under the terms of a will or by the court.
  • A person who has a special guardianship order (this order may be made where the child does not live with a parent but adoption is not suitable)

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