family law

Parental Responsibility

What is it?

Parental Responsibility is defined as ‘all the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities and authority which, by law, a parent has in relation to the child’.

This means the parents have responsibility for making all the important decisions in a child’s life such as education, religion and medical care, as well as day to day decisions, such as nutrition and days out.

Who has Parental Responsibility?

Married parents both automatically have it

If parents are unmarried, only the mother has Parental Responsibility unless the father has been named on the birth certificate and the child was born after 1 December 2003.

How can it be acquired?

Unmarried fathers

Unmarried fathers can acquire Parental Responsibility in 6 ways:

1. by being registered as the father on the child’s birth certificate, as above
2. by entering into a ‘parental responsibility agreement’ with the mother
3. by applying to the court for a parental responsibility order
4. by being appointed as a guardian
5. by obtaining a residence order from the court
6. by marrying the mother

Step-parents and civil partners

Step-parents and civil partners can acquire Parental Responsibility in 2 ways:

1. by entering into a ‘Parental Responsibility agreement’ with the consent of all people with Parental Responsibility
2. by applying to the court for a Parental Responsibility order

Can Parental Responsibility be lost?

No, you cannot lose it.

If you are a parent going through divorce or separation, you continue to have Parental Responsibility for your children, even if they no longer live with you.

If you have any questions on Parental Responsibility or would like to book an appointment, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the family law team.

Further reading:

Contact with children (Family Law)

Child Arrangements Orders (Family Law)

This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article. For more information, please click here.