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Monday 13 May 2013

What is ‘parental responsibility’ and how do you get it?

Parental responsibility is the rights and powers that a parent has to make decisions about a child’s up-bringing; for example, important decisions such as medical treatment, religion and education in respect of the child. If you have parental responsibility you will also need to consent to a change of name for the child or the child being taken abroad even just for a holiday.

All mothers automatically have parental responsibility for their child from birth. Fathers only have it if they were married to the mother at the time of the birth or subsequently, or were registered on the birth certificate after 1 December 2003. Fathers do not lose parental responsibility following a divorce. Step-parents do not have parental responsibility for their partner’s children whether married to them or not.

Fathers can obtain parental responsibility by getting the mother to sign a parental responsibility agreement or by applying to the court for a parental responsibility or residence order.  Step-parents can obtain parental responsibility in the same way.

In certain cases people other than parents or step-parents may need parental responsibility, for example where a child is being cared for by a grand-parent or aunt/uncle they can obtain it through a special guardianship or residence order.  In those cases the parental responsibility will only last as long as the order.

For more advice contact Erica Cottrell or Tina Coward