It is of course, just as important to appoint guardians for your children if you are separated, divorced, in another relationship, widowed or re-married. I cannot think of any circumstances where appointing a guardian can be considered un-necessary or a waste of time.
I am often asked about parental responsibility and what it means if the mother and father are split up. PR is defined as ‘the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law the parent of the child has in relation to the child and his property’.
The natural biological mother always has PR for her children and can appoint a guardian for her children under 18. Most likely, the natural biological father of the child has PR, but it is not always the case.
If the mother dies, and the child’s father is still alive and has legal PR, he is bound by law to look after the child. This does not stop the mother appointing a guardian in her Will, it just means that the guardian can only take over if there are no surviving parents.
But what if the child does not want to live with their biological father, or the father does not accept PR. This is a difficult situation and an area that requires specialist advise.
However, whatever the circumstances, whether current or future, it is a ‘no brainer’ that for the sake of your children, your Will should appoint a guardian with a substitute in the event of a tragedy. At the very least it makes your wishes and those of the children very clear.