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Guardianship – your questions answered

Appointing a guardian for your child is one of those things that you hope you will never have to use, but it can be hugely beneficial to have everything in place should the worst happen, to ensure that your wishes for your child are carried out. We’ve asked our private children law specialist, Carole Hack, to answer some of the most common questions relating to Guardians, single parents, and blended families.

Can I appoint a Guardian for my child/children in my will?

Yes, one of the ways you are able to appoint a single guardian or multiple guardians to take on parental responsibility for your child or children should you die is in your Will. However, this gets more complicated should you be a single parent or part of a blended family.

What if I’m a single parent?

You can appoint a guardian for your child/children in your Will, however if the other parent named on the birth certificate is still alive, then they will automatically have parental responsibility, and the appointed guardian will not. That is unless there is a child arrangements order in place that has your child/children live with you.  In those circumstances the guardian and the surviving parent will have parental responsibility jointly.

I’ve re-married and my children live with me and my new partner, who will have parental responsibility for my children when I die?

In many cases, a child’s parents will each have parental responsibility even if they are not living together and/or not married. With this in mind, a parental responsibility agreement can be drawn up to ensure that any married step-parents will acquire parental responsibility when you die, but this has to be agreed with any others who hold parental responsibility including the other biological parent.  If there is no such consent, then an order can be applied for during your lifetime to ensure that the step-parent will acquire parental responsibility when you die.

How about blended families / same sex couples?

It is possible to ensure that another person who has been jointly responsible for caring for your child/children at the time you die obtains parental responsibility for them. If you had in your lifetime obtained a child arrangements order that your child/children lived with you then you can appoint your partner/spouse as guardian.  Should you die, they would automatically obtain parental responsibility of them.


If you would like to learn more about Child Arrangement Orders and Parental Responsibility Agreements, please contact our Crystal Palace office on 020 771 5254, to book in a fixed fee meeting with Carole Hack so you know exactly where you and your family stand should the worst happen. Carole Hack can discuss all your options and explain what needs to be done – all this information will be given to you in writing as well, so that you can pass it onto your chosen guardian/s or even place a copy of it with your Will in storage.

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