The term 'parental responsibility' refers to the duties and responsibilities a parental figure has in relation to a child. Caring and capable grandparents can be awarded parental responsibility over that of the biological parent, foster parent, sibling or any other person with an interest in caring for the child. When a court is deciding who is awarded parental responsibility over a child, the most important factor in the decision making process is the safety and wellbeing of the child question.
In a recent case parental responsibility was awarded to the maternal grandparents of a 9 year old girl. The girl had been residing with her grandparents following the sudden death of the daughter's mother 18 months prior.
During this time, the girl continued to see her father on a regular basis and maintained a healthy relationship with him. The father challenged the grandparents for the girl to relocate to live with him.
Ultimately, although the court acknowledged that the father had a good relationship with the girl spending regular time with her, the court decided that it was in the best interest for her to continue living with her grandparents, as she would remain at the same school and be close to her best friend and community who had supported her during this tough and emotional time.
By allowing the child to remain with her grandparents the court prevented her from having to change schools, relocate to live with her father and his new blended family and be subjected to the father's ongoing treatment for mental illness.