Collyer Bristow

Guardianship — who will look after your child if you can’t?

Many parents fail to consider who would take care of their children if they were not able to. The topic can be emotionally charged and often sparks disagreement between parents. New legislation that came in to force this April seeks to address some of the thorny issues that can arise. This article discusses the options available and how the law is evolving.

Many parents find the discussion about who would look after their children in the event of death or another form of incapacity starts with whom they would not want as long-term carers. Once they have agreed on the way forward, parents can name a testamentary guardian in their will. Provided there is no other living parent with what’s known as parental responsibility, the named testamentary guardian is presumed to be the carer for the child. However, choosing such a guardian does not confer parental responsibility and any guardian would be strongly advised to acquire that responsibility.

Parental responsibility is defined as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that, by law, a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property’. Acquisition of this responsibility is crucial in acquiring the legal right to make decisions in a child’s life…

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