Birth Summary tables released by the Office for National Statistics show that the percentage of births to couples who were neither married nor in a civil partnership rose to 47.5 % in 2012.
In 2011 the percentage was 47.2%. The trend can be demonstrated by the percentages for 2002: 40.6%, for 1992: 31.2%, and for 1982: 14.4%.
It’s important that parents know their rights and responsibilities when Children are born outside marriage. Mothers automatically have Parental Responsibility from the moment of the child’s birth. An unmarried father will automatically have Parental Responsibility (PR), if he is named on the birth certificate. If he is not named on the birth certificate then he can obtain it by agreement with the mother or by a Court order.
A person with PR is entitled to a say in all important matters affecting the child’s upbringing. Examples of issues where a person with PR is entitled to be involved in decision making include whether the child should undergo medical treatment, where and how a child is educated, and the more important issues involved in a child’s upbringing. Although having PR gives a parent certain rights, there is an obligation to exercise those rights for the benefit of the child.
With an increasing number of children being born outside marriage, it’s important to both mother and father to understand their respective legal positions, especially in the event of a Separation.
By Family Law Solicitor Lorraine Harvey