Family Law Reform Act 1987

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1987 c. 42


Family Law Reform Act 1987

1987 CHAPTER 42

An Act to reform the law relating to the consequences of birth outside marriage; to make further provision with respect to the rights and duties of parents and the determination of parentage; and for connected purposes.

[15th May 1987]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

I General Principle

Part I

General Principle

S-1 General principle.

1 General principle.

(1) In this Act and enactments passed and instruments made after the coming into force of this section, references (however expressed) to any relationship between two persons shall, unless the contrary intention appears, be construed without regard to whether or not the father and mother of either of them, or the father and mother of any person through whom the relationship is deduced, have or had been married to each other at any time.

(2) In this Act and enactments passed after the coming into force of this section, unless the contrary intention appears—

(a) references to a person whose father and mother were married to each other at the time of his birth include; and

(b) references to a person whose father and mother were not married to each other at the time of his birth do not include,

references to any person to whom subsection (3) below applies, and cognate references shall be construed accordingly.

(3) This subsection applies to any person who—

(a) is treated as legitimate by virtue of section 1 of the Legitimacy Act 1976 ;

(b) is a legitimated person within the meaning of section 10 of that Act;

(c) is an adopted child within the meaning of Part IV of the Adoption Act 1976 ; or

(d) is otherwise treated in law as legitimate.

(4) For the purpose of construing references falling within subsection (2) above, the time of a person's birth shall be taken to include any time during the period beginning with—

(a) the insemination resulting in his birth; or

(b) where there was no such insemination, his conception,

and (in either case) ending with his birth.

II Rights and Duties of Parents etc.

Part II

Rights and Duties of Parents etc.

Parental rights and duties: general

Parental rights and duties: general

S-2 Construction of enactments relating to parental rightsand duties.

2 Construction of enactments relating to parental rightsand duties.

(1) In the following enactments, namely—

(a) section 42(1) of the National Assistance Act 1948;

(b) section 6 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969;

(c) the Guardianship of Minors Act 1971 (in this Act referred to as ‘the 1971 Act’);

(d) Part I of the Guardianship Act 1973 (in this Act referred to as ‘the 1973 Act’);

(e) Part II of the Children Act 1975;

(f) the Child Care Act 1980 except Part I and sections 13, 24, 64 and 65;

(g) section 26(3) of the Social Security Act 1986,

references (however expressed) to any relationship between two persons shall be construed in accordance with section 1 above.

(2) In subsection (7) of section 1 of the 1973 Act (equality of parental rights) for the words from ‘or be taken’ to the end there shall be substituted the words ‘and nothing in subsection (1) above shall be taken as applying in relation to a child whose father and mother were not married to each other at the time of his birth’.

S-3 Agreements as to exercise of parental rights and duties.

3 Agreements as to exercise of parental rights and duties.

3. For subsection (2) of section 1 of the 1973 Act (agreements between parents to give up parental rights) there shall be substituted the following subsection—

(2) Notwithstanding anything in section 85(2) of the Children Act 1975, an agreement may be made between the father and mother of a child as to the exercise by either of them, during any period when they are not living with each other in the same household, of any of the parental rights and duties with respect to the child; but no such agreement shall be enforced by any court if the court is of opinion that it will not be for the benefit of the child to give effect to it.’

Parental rights and duties where parents not married

Parental rights and duties where parents not married

S-4 Parental rights and duties of father.

4 Parental rights and duties of father.

(1) Where the father and mother of a child were not married to each other at the time of his birth, the court may, on the application of the father, order that he shall have all the parental rights and duties with respect to the child.

(2) Where the father of a child is given all the parental rights and duties by an order under this section, he shall, subject to any order made by the court otherwise than under this section, have those rights and duties jointly with the mother of the child or, if the mother is dead, jointly with any guardian of the child appointed under the 1971 Act.

(3) An order under this section may be discharged by a subsequent order made on the application of the father or mother of the child or, if the mother is dead, any guardian of the child appointed under the 1971 Act.

(4) This section and the 1971 Act shall be construed as if this section were contained in that Act.

S-5 Exercise of parental rights and duties.

5 Exercise of parental rights and duties.

5. At the beginning of subsection (3) of section 1 of the 1973 Act (which enables application to be made for the direction of the court where parents disagree on a question affecting the child's welfare) there shall be inserted the words ‘Subject to subsection (3A) below’ and after that subsection there shall be inserted the following subsection—

(3A) Where a child's father and mother were not married to each other at the time of his birth, subsection (3) above does not apply unless—

(a) an order is in force under section 4 of the Family Law Reform Act 1987 giving the father all the parental rights and duties with respect to the child; or

(b) the father has a right to custody, legal or actual custody or care and control of the child by virtue of an order made under any other enactment.’

S-6 Appointment of guardians.

6 Appointment of guardians.

(1) At the end of section 3 of the 1971 Act (rights of surviving parent as to guardianship) there shall be added the following subsections—

(3) Where the father and mother of a child were not married to each other at the time of his birth, this section does not apply unless the father satisfies the requirements of subsection (4) of this section.

(4) The father of a child satisfies the requirements of this subsection if—

(a) an order is in force under section 4 of the Family Law Reform Act 1987 giving him all the parental rights and duties with respect to the child; or

(b) he has a right to custody, legal or actual custody or care and control of the child by virtue of an order made under any other enactment.’

(2) At the end of section 4 of that Act (power of father and mother to appoint testamentary guardians) there shall be added the following subsection—

(7) Where the father and mother of a child were not married to each other at the time of his birth—

(a) subsection (1) of this section does not apply, and subsection (3) of this section does not apply in relation to a guardian appointed by the mother, unless the father satisfies the requirements of section 3(4) of this Act; and

(b) any appointment under subsection (1) of this section shall be of no effect unless the father satisfies those requirements immediately before his death.’

(3) At the end of section 5 of that Act (power of court to appoint guardian for child having no parent etc.) there shall be added the following subsection—

(3) Where the father and mother of a child were not married to each other at the time of his birth, subsection (1) of this section shall have effect as if for the words 'no parent' there were substituted the words 'no mother, no father satisfying the requirements of section 3(4) of this Act'.’

S-7 Rights with respect to adoption.

7 Rights with respect to adoption.

(1) In section 18 of the Adoption Act 1976 (which relates to orders declaring a child free for adoption), for subsection (7) there shall be substituted the following subsection—

(7) Before making an order under this section in the case of a child whose father and mother were not married to each other at the time of his birth and whose father is not his guardian, the court shall satisfy itself in relation to any person claiming to be the father that either—

(a) he has no intention of making—

(i) an application under section 4 of the Family Law Reform Act 1987 for an order giving him all the parental rights and duties with respect to the child; or

(ii) an application under any other enactment for an order giving him a right to custody, legal or actual custody or care and control of the child; or

(b) if he did make such an application, the application would be likely to be refused.’

(2) In section 72(1) of that Act (interpretation), in the definition of ‘guardian’ for...

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