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‘…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.’

Michael Lawless

Michael Lawless


01424 300 013

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Parental responsibility

People with parental responsibility are entitled to have a say in major decisions about the child, such as:

  • where the child should live

  • where they should go to school

  • what (if any) religion the child should have

  • what name they should have

  • the giving or withholding of medical treatment, and

  • dealing with their money or property


A child’s mother automatically has parental responsibility and does not lose it if she and the child’s father separate, whether or not they were married.


For the father the situation is slightly different.


  • A father who is married to, or the civil partner of the child’s mother when the child is born will automatically have parental responsibility.

  • Fathers of children born after 1 December 2003 who are not or have not been married to, or the civil partner of the child’s mother will have parental responsibility only if they are named on the birth certificate of the child. 


It is possible to re-register the child’s birth to add the father’s name to the birth certificate, provided that no father has previously been named and the re-registration is with the mother's consent, this gives the father parental responsibility.


If a father is not on the birth certificate and if it is not possible to obtain the mother’s agreement a father can apply to court for a parental responsibility order.


When considering whether to allow a father to have parental responsibility, a judge will consider the father’s commitment and attachment to the child, and whether his reasons for applying are genuine.


Generally, courts tend to award parental responsibility unless the father poses a risk to his child or to the mother.


If you would like advice on parental responsibility or any issues in relation to your child, get in contact with me, for clear and pragmatic advice

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