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30 JUL 2008

PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY: Re A (Joint Residence: Parental Responsibility) [2008] EWCA Civ 867

Re A (Joint Residence: Parental Responsibility) [2008] EWCA Civ 867 (Court of Appeal; Sir Mark Potter P, Scott Baker LJ and Sir Robin Auld; 30 July 2008)

The child had been brought up on the assumption that the man was the father. The man had been present at the birth, and lived with the child and the mother for 2 years before the relationship broke down. During proceedings in which the man sought parental responsibility, residence and contact, it emerged that he was not the biological father. The recorder eventually made a joint residence order, the only route whereby the man could obtain parental responsibility; in a supplementary order the recorder stated that the man was to be regarded for all purposes as the child's father, and described as such in the order.

Upholding the joint residence order, which was a legitimate means by which to confer parental responsibility on an individual who could not otherwise apply for it, the court, however, noted that the man was not the child's father, either in common parlance or under any statutory definition. He was a person who jointly, with the mother, enjoyed the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority of a parent in relation to the child, but he did not thereby become the father of the child. The recorder should have accepted the proposal that the man be referred to in the order as 'the applicant'.

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