What is Guardianship?
Guardianship is the collection of rights and duties that a parent (or non-parent – see below) may have in respect of a child. For example, a guardian has a duty to maintain and properly care for the child and has the right to make decisions in the major areas of the child’s life e.g. religion, school, adoption, consent to medical treatment, passports and decisions about taking the child out of the country, where the child lives and other matters affecting the welfare of the child.
Who Are a Child’s Guardians?
Married parents of a child are joint guardians and have equal rights in relation to their child or children.
Unmarried parents do not automatically have equal rights. For children born outside of marriage, only the mother has automatic rights to guardianship.
Even if a father’s name is registered on the child’s birth certificate, this does not give him any guardianship rights in respect of his child.