Parental Responsibility

Parental Responsibility covers the “rights, duties, responsibilities and authority” of a parent. This includes, for example, choosing which school a child should attend or consenting to medical treatment.

Mothers automatically have parental responsibility although the situation is slightly more complex for fathers. If a father was married to the mother at the time of the birth, or subsequently married, the mother they will have parental responsibility. If the parents are not married, but the father is named on the child’s birth certificate and the child was born after 31 December 2003, the father will have parental responsibility.

If a father does not have parental responsibility, he can acquire it by entering into an agreement with the mother or if it is not possible for an agreement to be reached, by asking the court to make an order that he should have parental responsibility. The court will consider the level of involvement that the father has had with a child, his commitment to the child and his motivation for asking for the order.

It is also possible for step-parents or civil partners to acquire parental responsibility.

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