Parental Responsibility

Parental Responsibility is defined as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property’. If you have Parental Responsibility you are recognised in the eyes of the law as having all the legal powers to make decisions in relation to the upbringing of your child.

What is Parental Responsibility?
On a practical level having Parental Responsibility will, amongst other things, allow you to take part in choosing your child’s educational path and school, having contact with your child’s GP to obtain or discuss medical treatment for your child and playing an active role in your child’s upbringing or, managing a Trust or any Estate that the child may have an interest in, including religious education and culture.

Mother ‘s automatically have Parental Responsibility for their children. Father’s who marry the mother of their child also have Parental Responsibility, irrespective of whether the marriage to the mother occurred before or after the birth of the child.

As from the 1st December 2003 unmarried fathers of children born after this date, provided they are named on the birth certificate of the child, also have Parental Responsibility.

Confusion can arise in relation to children born before 1st December 2003 and parents who haven’t acquired Parental Responsibility be virtue of marriage or unmarried fathers of children who were born after 1st December 2003 and are not named as father on the child’s birth certificate? In situations like this it is only the mother who is deemed to have Parental Responsibility in respect of the child and clearly that can cause considerable anxiety to a father. However; all is not lost…

How to obtain Parental Responsibility
If you are a father who does not have Parental Responsibility it can be obtained in one of the following three ways:

  • by entering into a voluntary Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother, or
  • by obtaining an order of the court (Parental Responsibility order)
  • through marriage to the mother of the child

We will always explore the possibility of assisting father’s to negotiate with the mother of the child before proceeding to advise on litigation. An amicable approach to matters of this nature are better for all concerned and in particular for the child. However; in certain circumstances, negotiation is simply impossible, perhaps because of very poor relations between the parents of the child or simply hostility by one parent toward the other. Before a court will make an order granting Parental Responsibility, a father would need to establish that there is a degree of commitment to the child and the welfare of that child and, that a degree of attachment exists between the child and the father and that the application is being made purely in the interests of the child’s welfare.

Once Parental Responsibility is obtained, it must be exercised appropriately and jointly with the mother of the child. Parental Responsibility automatically comes to an end when the child attains the age of 18 years or earlier by order of the court.

There is no requirement to have Parental Responsibility to apply to the court to have contact with a child. Therefore people without Parental Responsibility, such as grandparents or step-parents are able to apply for Contact Orders, despite not having Parental Responsibility. However; where a genetic parent applies for a Contact or Residence Order in respect of a child, we will often also advise them to apply for a Parental Responsibility Order too.

Need further advice?
Call Mansouri & Son Solicitors on 020 8401 7352 for a free 30 minute telephone consultation with one of our solicitors or, to book a face-to-face appointment with a Specialist Family Law Solicitor.