Parental Responsibility Law

Parental responsibility law refers to the legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority a parent has in regards to a child and the child's property. A person who has parental responsibility for a child has the right to make decisions about their care and upbringing.

All mothers (and most fathers) already have parental responsibility rights, duties and responsibilities that are described in The Children Act 1989 as ‘Parental Responsibility.’ Parental responsibility laws state it is up to a parent to promote their child’s welfare whilst discussing certain rights such as agreeing to a child’s medical treatment, obtaining school reports, naming the child and agreeing to any name change.

Who Has Automatic Parental Responsibility Rights?

The following people automatically have parental responsibility:

  • All birth mothers
  • Fathers married to the mother at the time the child was born
  • Fathers who are not married to the mother, but are registered on the child’s birth certificate. The registration or re-registration must have taken place after December 2003
  • Civil partners and partners of mothers registered as the child’s legal parent on the birth certificate.

Obtaining Parental Responsibility

If a mother doesn’t agree to the father having parental responsibility, he can apply to the court to help him in obtaining parental responsibility.

Removing Parental Responsibility

Case law demonstrates that while removing parental responsibility is possible, it should only be ordered in extreme to prioritise the child’s welfare if the parent in question is dangerous to them. Examples of removing parental responsibility in leading case law are cases in which an unmarried father was found guilty of harming the child or their siblings. Generally speaking, if the parents are married, it is more likely that courts will enforce a prohibited steps order, limiting parental responsibility, rather than removing it.

If you need clarification on parental responsibility or are wanting parental responsibility, our family law team are ready to advise you on parental responsibility laws.

Our family law team is here to help.

Please call us to find out how we can help. We can talk on the phone or arrange a meeting where we can discuss your options and give you a clear idea of timeframes and costs.

Alternatively, please contact us online and we’ll call you back when it’s convenient for you.