Parental responsibility refers to the legal rights and responsibilities individuals have as parents. Those with parental responsibility for a child have a say in the major decisions regarding the upbringing of that child. These decisions can include (but are not limited to) determining a child’s religion, determining a child’s education, choosing or changing a child’s name, consenting to medical treatment for a child and consenting for a child to be taken out of the jurisdiction on holiday.
If you are the mother of a child, you will automatically have parental responsibility unless your child has been adopted and you have surrendered your parental responsibility.
If you are the father of a child, whether you have parental responsibility will depend on a number of factors:
- If you were married to the child’s mother when your child was born, you will automatically have parental responsibility.
- If you were not married, whether you will have parental responsibility will depend on when your child was born. If your child was born before 1 December 2003, you will not automatically have parental responsibility. If your child was born after 1 December 2003, you will have parental responsibility provided that you are named as the father on the child’s birth certificate.
- If you do not have parental responsibility, you can acquire it through a number of ways:
- If you subsequently marry the mother of the child, you will automatically acquire parental responsibility.
- If the mother consents, you can enter into a parental responsibility agreement.
- If there is no agreement between you and the mother, you will need to apply to the court for a parental responsibility order. This can be as a specific issue or as part of a wider child arrangements application.