What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental Responsibility is all the rights, duties and responsibilities that a parent has for their child.

When you are very young your parents make your decisions for you but as you get older and more mature you develop the capacity to make your own decisions.  Parental Responsibility for a small baby is very different from Parental Responsibility for a 16 year-old.

By the age of 16 a young person is able to make most decisions for themselves including things like leaving home, leaving school and getting a job. Although parents will still have a say in decisions it is more like advice and guidance to help you make good decisions.

How much contact can I expect to have with a parent or my brother(s) and sister(s)?

There are no specific rules on this and each family has its own particular circumstances but it should allow you to have a meaningful relationship with all your family. It is usually a matter for you and your parents to decide.

If you do not feel you are seeing enough of one of your parents or your brothers and sisters, or you don’t feel that people are listening to what you want, then you could go to court for a Contact Order which will set out the amount of contact you should have.

I don’t have contact with my parent/family members. How do I get to see them?

When parents and children live apart, family contact is usually arranged by parents but you are entitled to have regular contact with all your family. 

Your wishes and feelings are very important and you have a right to have a say about contact. If you and the adults involved in decisions cannot agree on contact arrangements then you could go to mediation to help resolve any disagreement, or you could go to court for a Contact Order in order to see your parent/brothers and sisters.

If my parents separate, can I choose who I live with?

When parents separate it can be a very difficult time for everyone in the family. Parents should always do what is best for their children and this includes deciding which parent the children should live with and maintaining good relations between children and the parent they don’t live with.

Your wishes and feelings should be considered when these decisions are being made. As a teenager your wishes and feelings should carry a lot of weight and if parents can’t agree on things and a court is asked to decide, the court will always have your wishes and feelings as the first thing they consider.

Older teenagers should be able to decide for themselves which parent they live with and how much they see of the other parent. It’s important that children maintain a meaningful relationship with both their parents.

Will the school tell my parents that I have been suspended?

When you are suspended, the Principal must write to your parents/carers immediately. They must also write to the Education Authority and the Chairperson of the Board of Governors, or if it is a Catholic Council Maintained School (CCMS), the local diocesan office, and give reasons for your suspension.

The Principal should also invite your parents/carers to the school to discuss the suspension.

If the Principal decides to extend your suspension they must again write to your parents/carers.