Parents who are convicted of killing their partner will automatically lose their rights over their children under a new proposed law. The groundbreaking legislation, called Jade’s Law, is to be brought into force following the death of Jade Ward, who was killed by her partner Russell Marsh in 2021.
Here, we look at the details of the new law and its potential impact on safeguarding children, along with explaining the concept of Parental Responsibility.
Jade’s Law: A New Legal Safeguard
Currently, parents who are convicted of killing their partners are able to maintain parental rights over their children unless a court order is granted to the contrary.
Jade’s Law, which is now expected to be introduced before Parliament by the end of the year, aims to automatically strip parents who kill their partners of Parental Responsibility over their children.
Parental Responsibility is a key concept in family law and comes with several important implications. It encompasses the right to make important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, education, and welfare. Those with Parental Responsibility have a number of legal rights, duties, powers, and responsibilities towards their children.
In the vast majority of instances, mothers automatically attain Parental Responsibility for their children upon their birth. This isn’t necessarily the case for fathers, however. It is important to note that fathers can acquire Parental Responsibility in various ways:
- Biological fathers: A child’s biological father automatically has Parental Responsibility if he is married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth.
- Unmarried fathers: If the parents are not married, the father can acquire Parental Responsibility by jointly registering the child’s birth with the mother or by obtaining a Parental Responsibility Agreement or Order from the court.
- Step-parents: In some cases, step-parents can acquire Parental Responsibility through a formal agreement or by obtaining a court order.
It is clear to see how issues may arise if parents convicted of their partners’ murder still maintain parental responsibility. Parents would still able to make decisions, request information and control certain aspects of their children’s life; even from prison.
By automatically removing parental rights from convicted individuals, Jade’s Law aims to provide a clearer legal framework that prioritises the best interests of the child.
Other family members, who have the child’s best interests at heart, will be able to apply to the court to assume Parental Responsibility and take over caring for and making decisions on behalf of the child/children.
Jade’s Law is an important step forward in ensuring Parents who are convicted of killing their partner no longer have the right to make important decisions regarding their child’s upbringing, such as their education, religion, medical treatment, and general welfare.
On a wider note, understanding Parental Responsibility and its implications is crucial for any parent. It ensures that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities towards your child.
If you have any further questions or require legal assistance in matters related to Parental Responsibility, our team of experienced family lawyers is here to help.