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Parental Responsibility

Duncan Lewis Private Children Solicitors – 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, or children and their 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, or children.


A mother automatically has Parental Responsibility, as does a married father notwithstanding whether the marriage to the mother happened before, or after the birth of the child. As from the 1 December 2003, unmarried fathers of children whose birth is registered on, or after this date, provided they are named on the birth certificate of the child, also have Parental Responsibility.


Fathers of children whose birth is registered before 1 December 2003, who have not acquired Parental Responsibility by virtue of marriage, or unmarried fathers of children whose birth is registered after 1 December 2003, and are not named as father on the child’s birth certificate, do not automatically have Parental Responsibility. This means that they are not recognised in law as having all the responsibilities relating to a child.


A father not married to the mother can acquire Parental Responsibility if they make an agreement with the mother called a Parental Responsibility Agreement, or by court order.


For a father, parental responsibility can be gained by: 

  1. marrying the mother of the child 
  2. entering into a voluntary Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother 
  3. obtaining a Parental Responsibility Order from the court.


Step-parents may also apply for Parental Responsibility. Before the court will make an order granting parental responsibility, the father would need to establish that there is a definite commitment to the child, a degree of attachment between the father and the child, and that the application is being made in the interests of the child.


Duncan Lewis is ranked and recommended by the Legal 500 UK Legal Directory for its Family & Matrimonial work – and the Duncan Lewis team includes Advanced Members of the Law Society’s Family Panel, and members of the Law Society Children Panel – so our team is well placed to help you with any specific issue disputes.


Parental Responsibility ends when the child attains the age of 18 years, or earlier if a court order is made. For expert legal advice and support on Parental’ Responsibility, or attaining Parental Responsibility, call Duncan Lewis Private Law Children Solicitors, or request a call using our online form.

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