Family Law and Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility means the legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority a parent has for 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) have legal rights, duties and responsibilities as a parent which are described in The Children Act 1989 as ‘Parental Responsibility.’

There is a duty on 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?

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.

Applying to the court for a parental responsibility order

If a mother doesn’t agree to the father having parental responsibility, he can apply to the court for an order.

If you need clarification on parental responsibility or are wanting parental responsibility, our Family Law team are ready to advise you.

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.