unmarried fathers and rights on birth

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This paper focuses on the Government’s announced intention to make it obligatory to include the name of an unmarried father on a child’s birth certificate (such registration is currently voluntary and, in the absence of a court order, requires the agreement of both mother and father).

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  • 1. Unmarried Fathers and Rights on Birth Gender and Parenting Culture: Intensive Fatherhood? Cambridge University, 3 April 2009 Sally Sheldon [email_address]
  • 2. Birth Registration the Current Law
    • Married Parents: share obligation to be registered. Birth can be registered by one parent alone.
    • Unmarried Parents: mother must register birth, father can only be named if both parents consent (and both must attend to register or father must sign a statutory declaration)
  • 3. The Problem
    • 43% children born in 2005, were born to unmarried parents.
    • The father is not named in 7% of all birth registrations (16% of non-marital births).
    • 45,000 children each year have no father named on their birth certificate.
  • 4. The Problem
    • Further, according to DWP (2008):
    • Children whose fathers are not actively involved in their upbringing are disadvantaged across a range of indicators.
    • Fathers who are named on the birth certificate are more likely to become actively involved with their children (as well as being more likely to pay maintenance).
    • Therefore, the Solution (or at least part of it): to encourage more joint birth registrations.
  • 5. Characteristics of SBRs?
    • Typically:
    • lone parents (89%)
    • little or no connection with the father
    • lower level of educational qualifications
    • younger (39% under 21, median age: 22)
    • strong link with social housing tenure
    • strong link with low income/receipt of benefits
    • strong link with unplanned and unwelcomed pregnancy
    • more likely to live in disadvantaged area
    • lower proportions receiving antenatal care
    • higher rates of smoking
    • lower rates of attempting to breastfeed children
    • ignorance of legal consequences of JBR.
    • Graham et al (2007) Sole and Joint Birth Registration (DWP, No 463).
  • 6. Proposed Reform: new S. 2B, Birth & Deaths Registration Act (1953)
    • Unmarried mother must provide information regarding the father, except where she makes a declaration that:
      • (a)child is legally fatherless (i.e. AID conception)
      • (b)father has died,
      • (c)fathers identity unknown,
      • (d)fathers whereabouts unknown,
      • (e)father lacks capacity (within the MCA 2005)
      • (f)she has reason to fear for her safety or that of the child if the father is contacted in relation to the registration of the birth ...
  • 7. Reasons for Reform?
    • At the heart of our reforms is a desire to promote child welfare and the right of every child to know who his or her parents are. In most cases, a childs right to be acknowledged and cared for by his or her father should not be dependent on the relationship between the parents. To support this right we will ensure that fathers who want to take responsibility for their children do not have to overcome unnecessary obstacles. We intend that JBR should play a key part in developing the Governments determination to develop a culture in which the welfare of children is paramount and people are clear that fatherhood as well as motherhood always comes with rights as well as responsibilities. (2008: para 6).
  • 8. Reasons for Reform?
    • At the heart of our reforms is a desire to promote child welfare and the right of every child to know who his or her parents are. In most cases, a childs right to be acknowledged and cared for by his or her father should not be dependent on the relationship between the parents. To support this right we will ensure that fathers who want to take responsibility for their children do not have to overcome unnecessary obstacles. We intend that JBR should play a key part in developing the Governments determination to develop a culture in which the welfare of children is paramount and people are clear that fatherhood as well as motherhood always comes with rights as well as responsibilities. (2008: para 6).
  • 9. Reasons for Reform?
    • At the heart of our reforms is a desire to promote child welfare and the right of every child to know who his or her parents are . In most cases, a childs right to be acknowledged and cared for by his or her father should not be dependent on the relationship between the parents. To support this right we will ensure that fathers who want to take responsibility for their children do not have to overcome unnecessary obstacles. We intend that JBR should play a key part in developing the Governments determination to develop a culture in which the welfare of children is paramount and people are clear that fatherhood as well as motherhood always comes with rights as well as responsibilities. (2008: para 6).
  • 10. Reasons for Reform?
    • At the heart of our reforms is a desire to promote child welfare and the right of every child to know who his or her parents are. In most cases, a childs right to be acknowledged and cared for by his or her father should not be dependent on the relationship between the parents. To support this right we will ensure that fathers who want to take responsibility for their children do not have to overcome unnecessary obstacles. We intend that JBR should play a key part in developing the Governments determination to develop a culture in which the welfare of children is paramount and people are clear that fatherhood as well as motherhood always comes with rights as well as responsibilities. (2008: para 6).
  • 11. Reasons for Reform?
    • At the heart of our reforms is a desire to promote child welfare and the right of every child to know who his or her parents are. In most cases, a childs right to be acknowledged and cared for by his or her father should not be dependent on the relationship between the parents. To support this right we will ensure that fathers who want to take responsibility for their children do not have to overcome unnecessary obstacles. We intend that JBR should play a key part in developing the Governments determination to develop a culture in which the welfare of children is paramount and people are clear that fatherhood as well as motherhood always comes with rights as well as responsibilities. (2008: para 6).
  • 12. Reasons for Reform?
    • At the heart of our reforms is a desire to promote child welfare and the right of every child to know who his or her parents are. In most cases , a childs right to be acknowledged and cared for by his or her father should not be dependent on the relationship between the parents . To support this right we will ensure that fathers who want to take responsibility for their children do not have to overcome unnecessary obstacles. We intend that JBR should play a key part in developing the Governments determination to develop a culture in which the welfare of children is paramount and people are clear that fatherhood as well as motherhood always comes with rights as well as responsibilities. (2008: para 6).
  • 13. Reasons for Reform?
    • At the heart of our reforms is a desire to promote child welfare and the right of every child to know who his or her parents are. In most cases, a childs right to be acknowledged and cared for by his or her father should not be dependent on the relationship between the parents. To support this right we will ensure that fathers who want to take responsibility for their children do not have to overcome unnecessary obstacles . We intend that JBR should play a key part in developing the Governments determination to develop a culture in which the welfare of children is paramount and people are clear that fatherhood as well as motherhood always comes with rights as well as responsibilities. (2008: para 6).
  • 14. Reasons for Reform?
    • At the heart of our reforms

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