Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility enables parents to care for their children and make significant decisions for their well-being. Therefore, if you are the one making important decisions on behalf of your children, you must have parental responsibility.

But who holds the legal responsibility for a child? It is not always straightforward.

At Robertsons Family Law, we can help you with all matters relating to parental responsibility. Perhaps you wonder what to do about a stepchild, or you want to remove parental responsibility. Our specialist family law experts can guide you through the process.

The Strictly Legal Definition Within The Children Act

The Children Act 1989 defines parental responsibility as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authorities which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and the child’s property’.

This means you decide where the child lives, where they go to school, what church they go to, whether they could get certain medical treatments and more.

It seems simple, but not all birth parents can have parental responsibility for a child. That’s what makes it more complicated. For instance, the biological father of a child only has parental responsibility (if he’s not on the birth certificate) if he was married to the mum at the child’s birth or has married her since.

An unmarried father these days with his name on the child’s birth certificate does have parental responsibility, but this was not the case before the 1st December 2003. Mothers have automatic parental responsibility.

Others who may have parental responsibility include people with a ‘parental responsibility order’ such as parents through surrogacy, stepparents or anyone who has been granted a residence order concerning the child.

Robertsons Family Law is fully committed to bringing security and stability to your family. We strive to combine our legal expertise with our passion for helping people to get the right outcome for your family as quickly as we can.

How Can an Unmarried Father Obtain Parental Responsibility?

> You can marry the child’s mother.

> You can enter into a parental responsibility agreement with the child’s mum.

> A court can award you parental responsibility.

> The court can grant you a child arrangements order which says the child lives with you.

> The court can appoint you as the child’s guardian.

At Robertsons Family Law, we can guide you through the best route to obtain parental responsibility and also any child arrangements that could be linked to your need for parental responsibility.

FAQs on Parental Responsibility

In a nutshell, who can apply for parental responsibility?

Children must have someone who looks after them and has their interests at heart. That’s why the UK law says people other than biological parents can get parental responsibility. These are:

– Unmarried fathers
– Stepparents and grandparents
– Civil partners and same-sex partners
– Special Guardians and Local Authorities

Why not contact us at Robertsons Family Law if you believe you should have parental responsibility for a child? We can tell you more about your rights.

What if I don’t have parental responsibility for my child – do I have any responsibilities?

Yes, you have. You still need to ensure that the welfare of the child is maintained. In addition, if you are separated from the child’s mother, the biological father may still need to pay child maintenance. Child maintenance is not dependent on parental responsibility.

What if parents with parental responsibility can’t agree?

Most of the time, one parent with parental responsibility can decide, for example, if a child can go on a school trip. However, things get tricky when parents disagree on major decisions (such as invasive medical care for a child or if a parent wants to relocate). One or both the parents can then apply to the court for a ‘specific issue order’ or a ‘prohibited steps order.’

– A specific issue order addresses what the parents cannot agree on. The court will look at the available evidence and decide based on what is best for the child.
– The prohibited steps order can be issued if the court believes that one parent is not acting in the child’s best interest. It forbids the parent to do what s/he wants to do. The court must always be sure that such an order is still in the child’s best interests.

It is always better to negotiate than go through a costly and stressful court case. Robertsons Family Law can help you with negotiations.

What is a parental responsibility order?

Under the Children Act 1989, an unmarried father can apply to get his name on a child’s birth certificate or get the child’s mother to sign a Parental Responsibility agreement. If neither options are available, the court can make a parental responsibility order. The court will consider how committed the father is to the child, what relationship they have and why he is making the application.

Robertsons Family Law is a trading name of Robertsons Legal Limited registered in England and Wales under company number 9645024. The registered office is 6 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3RS. VAT No: 359 409132.

Robertsons Legal Limited is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (No 625915).

Cardiff Office

26 Windsor Place, Cardiff, CF10 3BZ

029 2000 2595

Bristol Office

101 Victoria Street, Bristol, BS1 6PU

0117 325 9181