What Is Parental Responsibility
Parental Responsibility encompasses the rights and obligations a parent has in making decisions which affect a child’s life, such as where the child goes to school and what medical treatment the child should have.
Parental Responsibility as defined by the Children Act 1989:
“All the rights, duties, power, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”.
Parental Responsibility gives you the legal right to be involved in decisions concerning your child, have access to information about your child (for example GP’s records) and be informed about your child (for example by your child’s school)
Who Has Parental Responsibility?
Parental Responsibility is automatically conferred on the child’s mother. If the parents are married at the time of the child’s birth the father will also automatically obtain parental responsibility.
How Can Unmarried Fathers Acquire Parental Responsibility?
If the child was born before 1st December 2003:
- Obtaining a Parental Responsibility Order from the court
- Marrying the child’s mother
- Registering a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the court
- Obtaining a Residence Order
- By being appointed as the child’s guardian.
If the child was born after 1st December 2003, the above plus:
- Registering the child’s birth together with the mother at the time of the birth.
- Re-registering the birth together with the mother.
How Can A Step-Parent Obtain Parental Responsibility?
The Civil Partnership Act came into force on December 5th 2005. Under this act a partner automatically becomes a Step Parent to any child born to or adopted by their Civil Partner.
An important amendment to Parental Responsibility for step parents was also introduced. As well as acquiring Parental Responsibility via a Residence Order a step parent can now obtain Parental Responsibility as follows:
- Completing a Parental Responsibility Agreement with everyone else who has Parental Responsibility for the child (there is no limit to the number of people who can have Parental Responsibility for a child)
- Obtaining a Parental Responsibility Order from the court.
What Does The Court Consider When Granting A Parental Responsibility Order?
The court will consider the level of commitment and involvement that the applicant has in the child’s life, and the reasons for the application. The application must be in the interests of the child.
Expert Legal Advice
It is important to consider all aspects which will affect your child, such as appointing a guardian for your child in your Will. This is a complicated area of law; we are able to offer sensitive help and advice concerning your rights and obligations relating to children.