Law Step Parents 100971

Step-parents - Baby Farming - Infants Improperly Kept - Fireguards - Religion


With regard to the observance of these regulations, step-parents are placed in exactly the same position as the parent of the child, and the expression ' parent," when used in relation to a child, includes the guardian and every person who is by law liable to maintain the child.

Any person who is the parent of the child is presumed to have the custody of it, even including a man who has deserted his wife; any person to whose charge a child is committed by its parent is presumed to have the charge of it, and any other person having the actual possession or control of a child is presumed to have the care of it.

Baby Farming

A person who undertakes to nurse and maintain one or more infants under seven years of age apart from their parents, within forty-eight hours from the reception of such infant, must give written notice to the local authority, which may be the county council or the poor law guardians. On change of address, or the death or removal of the infant, notice must be given.

Inspectors and infant protection visitors of either sex are authorised to visit places where infants have been put out to nurse, and satisfy themselves that the children are being properly cared for, and give the necessary advice or directions as to their nursing. If they are refused admission, they may apply to a justice of the peace for a warrant authorising them to enter.

Infants Improperly Kept

The number of infants under the age of seven kept in any dwelling-house may be fixed by the local authority, and where the infant is kept in premises which are over-crowded, dangerous, or insanitary, or by persons who are unfit to have the care of it on account of their negligence, ignorance, immorality, insobriety, or criminal conduct, the visitor may apply for an order directing him to remove the infant to a place of safety.

Within twenty-four hours of the death of an infant out at nurse, notice must be given to the coroner in writing, and, in the absence of a doctor's certificate, it will be the duty of the coroner to inquire into the cause of death.

No person having the care of an infant under these circumstances is deemed to have an interest in the life of a child for the purpose of insuring its life, and any attempt to effect an insurance on the life of a child by such a person is a punishable offence.


The foregoing only applies to those who receive children for monetary considerations, and does not extend to any relatives, such as the grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts, or legal guardian of an infant who undertakes the nursing and maintenance of it, or to any person maintaining it under the poor law orders, or to hospitals, convalescent homes, or institutions established for the protection and care of infants, and conducted in good faith for religious or charitable purposes, or boarding-schools at which efficient elementary education is provided.


In every case where a child under seven years of age is allowed in a room containing an open firegrate, the latter must be screened by a fire-guard, and any person of sixteen and upwards who allows a child of tender years to be exposed to the danger of being burnt or scalded renders himself liable to a 'fine.

Search And Removal

If there is reason to suspect that a child or young person is being assaulted, ill-treated, or neglected, a warrant may be issued authorising a constable to search for the child or young person, and, if the officer finds that the child has been ill-treated, he may take it and remove it to a place of safety, or, in other words, to any workhouse, police-station, hospital, or other place, the occupier of which is willing temporarily to receive it.


The father has the right to have the children educated in his religion. The Court will not insist upon a child being brought up in its father's religion if his conduct has been such as to show that he has foregone his parental rights in favour of the child's mother or of some other guardian.

An ante-nuptial agreement that the children shall be brought up in a religion different to that of the father cannot be sustained; but the Court will take such an agreement into consideration when deciding whether the father had abandoned his right to educate the children in his own religion.

Mother's Religion

If, therefore, the father, in accordance with his promise, has allowed his children to be brought up in their mother's religion during his lifetime, upon his death the Court will be slow to direct that any surviving child shall be brought up in the religion of the father. In the absence of any express direction or instructions as to the religion in which his infant children are to be educated, the Court will generally assume that the father wished them to be educated in his own religion and will give directions to this effect.