Parental responsibility – the facts

 

Parental responsibility refers to the rights and relationship between parent and child. These rights may include:

  • Having contact with their children
  • Being able to discipline them
  • Meeting with the children’s teachers
  • Taking them to the doctors

Parental responsibility can be obtained with the assistance of a specialist family law solicitor, but in certain circumstances it may be obtained automatically. The rules regarding this are varied, and below is a summary of the law regarding parental responsibility in the UK.

For full and more accurate advice it would be beneficial to speak to a family law solicitor - call us and we will be able to help you.

Mother and father rights

Mothers automatically gain parental responsibility at the birth of her child. A mother always has parental responsibility for her children - this is unaffected by marital status. Unlike mothers, fathers do not always have parental responsibility.

Fathers without parental responsibility cannot:

  • Authorise medical treatment for their children (except in emergencies)
  • See their medical records
  • Prevent their adoption or change of surname
  • Prevent their removal abroad

A father can apply to the court to gain parental responsibility and the court will take the following into account:

  • The degree of commitment shown by the father to his child
  • The degree of attachment between father and child
  • The father's reasons for applying for the order

Throughout the UK the rules vary as to how a father obtains parental responsibility.

For births registered in England and Wales

Married parents: both have parental responsibility. Parents do not lose parental responsibility if they divorce, and this applies to both the resident and the non-resident parent.

Unmarried parents:  the mother always has parental responsibility for her child. The father, however, if unmarried, can only obtain parental responsibility through one of these three routes:

  • By jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother
  • By a parental responsibility agreement with the mother
  • By a parental responsibility order, made by a court

All parents (including adoptive parents) have a legal duty to financially support their child, whether they have parental responsibility or not. Fathers without parental responsibility can therefore still be pursued for maintenance payments (although may be subject to DNA confirmation of paternity).

For births registered in Scotland

  • A father has parental responsibility if he is married to the mother when the child is conceived, or any time after that date
  • An unmarried father has parental responsibility if he is named on the child's birth certificate (or at a re-registration of the birth)

For births registered in Northern Ireland

  • A father has parental responsibility if he is married to the mother at the time of the child's birth
  • If a father marries the mother after the child's birth, he has parental responsibility if he lives in Northern Ireland at the time of the marriage
  • An unmarried father has parental responsibility if he is named, or becomes named, on the child's birth certificate

The court will then decide to accept or reject the application based on what it believes is in the child's best interest. Legal cases involving children are often complex and stressful. Appeals are very expensive, so it is important to have the right legal representation from the start so that you can achieve an effective result. If you wish to obtain parental responsibility, it is highly recommended to seek legal advice from a solicitor specialised in family law.

If you have further questions, you may wish to visit our FAQ page on parental responsibility.

Do you want to gain parental responsibility over a child, or is your responsibility in dispute? Contact Law can put you in touch with a specialist family law solicitor who can represent your wishes and obtain a successful outcome. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

Call
0800 1777 162
or fill in the form
Our trained advisor contacts you
Your chosen specialist solicitor calls you
Quick enquiry form
Area of law:
Name:
Town/City:
Email:
Phone:
What our clients say about us
"This was the first time I've been to court, which was a nerve-racking experience for me. However, I felt very prepared, I understood my case and representation - this was down to you."
Gavin, criminal motoring, Oct 15
"Your service, and the prompt call back from your recommended firm was very good. I would not hesitate to call again or recommend your service."
Ian, employment law, Truro, July 15
"The firm were excellent, could not have been better! They are exactly what I need right now."
Linda, criminal defence, Thames Ditton, Jul 15
"Your contact and service was immediate and utmost professional, 10/10."
TF, conveyancing, Dudley, Jun 15
"I appreciate the service that you provide. I found you to be courteous, efficient and reassuring at a time when my confidence in justice is completely negative."
Patrick, litigation, Pontypridd, Jun 15
"I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the speed of which you came back to me in. If anyone else can benefit from your help like I have done, it would make my day."
Gail M, family law, Potters Bar, Jun 15
"Your assistance was extremely helpful. Particularly to someone who in 40 years of business has never experienced this sort of issue."
TD, commercial litigation, Galashiels, Apr 15
"It is difficult to express the value Contact Law has to someone like me who had very little understanding of the law and how to proceed forward with my case. Thank you for the service you provided."
AE, defamation law, Worthing, Apr 15
"Thank you for the efficient service I received. I was contacted by your solicitor on the same day as my request. Your quick response to my situation made me feel secure."
AN, employment law, London, Apr 15
"Your service was excellent, very fast and informative. I never got the impression of being pressurised at all. The solicitor you recommended was also excellent – very knowledgeable and supportive."
JHD, Motoring law, Liverpool, Apr 15
Contact Law supports the endeavours of STAE and commends all the work they are undertaking to assist in the plight of the Asian Elephant

 

We use cookies on the Contact Law site to help us improve it.

If you would like to allow our cookies, please click 'Continue' or carry on browsing. For more information on cookies and how to change your settings, click 'More info'.