Department for Work and Pensions
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Government calls for both parents to be named on birth registrations

Government calls for both parents to be named on birth registrations

DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS News Release (ReferenceHSC - 028) issued by The Government News Network on 26 June 2007

The Government today set out proposals to require unmarried parents to jointly register the birth of their children. The Green Paper Joint Birth Registration: promoting parental responsibility proposes that unmarried fathers may face penalties for refusing to be named on their child's birth certificate.

Currently, for unmarried parents, the responsibility to register a new baby lies solely with the mother, and it is only the mother who faces penalties if she does not comply.

As more and more parents choose not to marry, it is essential that the registration system supports the wider Government programme to encourage shared parental responsibility, good parenting and fatherhood.

Secretary for Work and Pensions, John Hutton said:

"More and more children are now born outside marriage but the current registration system does little to encourage the rights and responsibilities of parenthood for both mothers and fathers.

"We want to significantly reduce the numbers of children with no Dad on their birth certificate to help make sure that even when relationships break down, this fundamental responsibility remains as important as ever.

"We know that fathers involved from the birth of their child are more likely to stay in contact and be involved in their child's upbringing. However, for the few who try to avoid their responsibilities, being named on the birth certificate will make it easier to find him and claim the child maintenance he owes."

This Government is committed to reducing sole-registrations as research shows that it is linked to social exclusion. Mothers who register solely are likely to be younger and poorer, with lower levels of educational attainment than those who jointly register.

In 2006, seven per cent of births were registered to only one parent but nearly half of the fathers were still in regular contact with their child. In Australia a similar approach has coincided with a significant decrease in the level of sole birth registrations of approximately 20 per cent between 1994 and 2004.

The Green Paper makes a firm commitment that legislation will only be changed if such robust and effective safeguards can be put in place. The proposals contain a series of measures to protect vulnerable mothers and children, such as in cases of rape or abuse.

Notes to editors

1) Last year the Government set out its intention to make joint birth registration a legal requirement in the White Paper "A New System of Child Maintenance". The White Paper set out a new approach that would empower parents to take responsibility for making their own maintenance arrangements but provide radically strengthened enforcement powers to chase down those who fail to pay. The White Paper can be found at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/childmaintenance

2) Today's Green Paper The Green Paper Joint Birth Registration: promoting parental responsibility can be found at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/childmaintenance

3) The number of children born outside of marriage has quadrupled in the last forty years to 275,000. One in five of these children do not have a father named on their birth certificate.

4) Characteristics of Sole Registered births and the mothers who register them - ONS (2004) can be found at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/articles/population_trends/PT117CharacteristicsofSole.pdf

Website http://www.dwp.gov.uk

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