Home > Child Protection > Understanding Parental Responsibility

Understanding Parental Responsibility

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 17 Jan 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Parental Responsibility Natural Father

As a parents you are responsible, in the eyes of the law, for the safety, wellbeing and upbringing of your child. Parental responsibility requires you to ensure that your child receives the best care possible within the family unit.Although not an exhaustive list, parental responsibility means:

  • Providing your child with a name
  • Offering a secure and safe home
  • Providing your child with good discipline
  • Playing an active role in their education
  • Deciding how your child receives medical attention
  • Nominating a guardian for your child, if necessary

Who has Parental Responsibility?

By law, the mother of any child automatically has parental responsibility for them from birth. If the parents are married at the time of the birth or they have jointly adopted the child, then parental responsibility becomes a joint venture and both parents should have a say in how that child is brought up.

If parents then divorce, they do not lose parental responsibility and are still responsible for the child one the marriage has been dissolved.

What if I am unmarried?

If a mother is unmarried, she has sole parental responsibility for that child, and all decisions relating to her child’s upbringing are hers.

However, unmarried fathers can gain legal responsibility for a child by:

  • Jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother
  • Making a parental responsibility agreement with the mother
  • Having a parental responsibility order, made by a court
From 4th May 2006, an unmarried father has parental responsibility if he is named on the child's birth certificate. Unmarried fathers can also be named on a child's birth certificate if it is re-registered, which will give them parental responsibility.

Applying for Parental Responsibility

If you do have to apply to the courts for parental responsibility of your child, you must show a level of commitment to your child as well as a high level of attachment. The court ultimately has the final decision and must take all things into account before deciding on parental responsibility. The court must also consider why the father wishes to be given parental responsibility and may look at the mother’s ability to care for the child or children.

A court welfare officer may be appointed to assess the father’s level of commitment to his children in terms of attendance and also how he interacts with them.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hi I have been split from my partner for 4 months we have a nearly 2 year old together. He hasn’t had a fixed abode since we have split he has just lost his job so no doubt maintenance will be stopping soon. He sees her only on a Sunday for a few hours and doesn’t bother asking in the week how she is etc. And when he sees her he expects to stay at my flat which I have now stopped. Because of all this he has started threatening me telling me he knows his rights. And that id better not have anyone else around our daughter or he will find out. He has made these types of threats before. He has also hit my whislt we have been together, he has a terrible anger problem. And now talks of suicide what are my legal rights? Ideally I do not think he is mentally stable currently to be with her one on one and no one in my family wishes to mediate? Regards
Fezzer89 - 17-Jan-18 @ 6:50 PM
alyn23 - Your Question:
Hello.me and my ex girlfriend we split one week ago.she leaves the house woth our son of 1 year and 8 months.she lives 30miles away from me.i’m going twice per week to see him.i asked the mother if she can let our son to sleep overnight on saturday and sunday at my house once per month.she told me no, she refused me.i go to family mediaton and now i’m waiting for her to respond to this service.my question is : do I have the right like father ( my son have my name) , to have once per month my son with me at my house?thank you

Our Response:
There is nothing specific in law about the amount of contact a father can have with his child. See what the results of mediation are and perhaps aim for more contact and then overnight stays when your child is a little older.
LawAndParents - 17-Jan-18 @ 3:44 PM
hello...me and my ex girlfriend we split one week ago...she leaves the house woth our son of 1 year and 8 months...she lives 30miles away from me...i’m going twice per week to see him...i asked the mother if she can let our son to sleep overnight on saturday and sunday at my house once per month...she told me no, she refused me...i go to family mediaton and now i’m waiting for her to respond to this service...my question is : do i have the right like father ( my son have my name) , to have once per month my son with me at my house?...thank you
alyn23 - 15-Jan-18 @ 2:21 PM
Jan - Your Question:
I have a question please.my ex and I spilt up 7 years ago.I have 3 kids with him.3 years ago my daughter made allegations that I hit her.my ex never brought her back and a investigation were done and dropped.I've since tryed WhatsApp messages presents calling her.they say she don't want to see me and moved her to a far away school away from me.I've since heard there loads of abuse in the house.and that they remind her that am a nasty women.we're should I go from here what are my rights.

Our Response:
If you want to try and reinstate contact with your child it might be better to try and arrange short visits on neutral ground. If the father does not agree, try and arrange mediation (Citizens' Advice can help you find mediation services). Does the daughter have any contact with her siblings? Perhaps you could ask that this is organised first with a view to seeing you subsequently. If mediation is unsuccessful you can try the courts. If you feel the abuse allegations are true contact social services or the NSPCC.
LawAndParents - 10-Jan-18 @ 12:08 PM
I have a question please ..my ex and I spilt up 7 years ago ..I have 3 kids with him .3 years ago my daughter made allegations that I hit her .my ex never brought her back and a investigation were done and dropped .I've since tryed WhatsApp messages presents calling her .they say she don't want to see me and moved her to a far away school away from me ...I've since heard there loads of abuse in the house .and that they remind her that am a nasty women ..we're should I go from here what are my rights ..
Jan - 7-Jan-18 @ 7:38 PM
Louisa- Your Question:
I am 21 weeks pregnant and myself and the baby's father are seperated. This is due to his drug problem, I wasn't aware of this until after I had gotten pregnant. There are numerous members of his family that also have drug issues and due to this I don't want any of them to be involved with my baby. My ex's sister tries to contact me a lot demanding I give them access and threatening me with the courts, the sister also has drug issues. My ex turned up unexpectedly at my house a few days ago to return money to me that he had stollen when we was together. He wanted to speak in regards to the baby but I explained I had nothing to talk about. My midwifes have advised me that if I don't put him on the birth certificate he will have no rights to access. Is this correct? Does he have the rights to start legal proceedings before my baby is even born?

Our Response:
The father can apply to the courts to have his name added to the birth certificate if the mother has not included it at the original registration.
LawAndParents - 5-Jan-18 @ 11:30 AM
I want to take my daughter away from her mother as she has proved on countless occasions she is an unfit parent! She’s gone against social service orders regarding who’s allowed around my daughter and on one occasion proceeded to attack me in the presence of my child! I have parental responsibility so I was wondering if I can take her and then go for full custody
Nick - 4-Jan-18 @ 3:57 PM
Ay - Your Question:
Hello,I have a question. My partner and I have a child and are no longer together. He is now 5 years old and lives with her. I spend about 2-3 hours with him every other weekend, but I would like to take him out for day trips within London ( London eye, aquarium etc) and perhaps have him stay over at mine every now and then.She is insisting that I am only to spend time with him in her neighbourhood and that 3 hours is more than enough time to spend with him. We don't have any parental responsibility agreement, but I am named on the birth certificate. What can I do? as I feel she wants to control and dictate how, when and where I see my son.

Our Response:
If you are named on the birth certificate you automatically have parental responsibility. Ask your ex partner if you can draw up an agreement for specific times time (inlcuding overnight stays) that your son spends with each of you...if necessary use a mediation service to help with this. If that is unsuccessful you can apply to the courts for a child arrangements order.
LawAndParents - 3-Jan-18 @ 2:34 PM
I am 21 weeks pregnant and myself and the baby's father are seperated. This is due to his drug problem, I wasn't aware of this until after I had gotten pregnant. There are numerous members of his family that also have drug issues and due to this I don't want any of them to be involved with my baby. My ex's sister tries to contact me a lot demanding I give them access and threatening me with the courts, the sister also has drug issues. My ex turned up unexpectedly at my house a few days ago to return money to me that he had stollen when we was together. He wanted to speak in regards to the baby but I explained I had nothing to talk about. My midwifes have advised me that if I don't put him on the birth certificate he will have no rights to access. Is this correct? Does he have the rights to start legal proceedings before my baby is even born?
Louisa - 2-Jan-18 @ 7:23 PM
Hello, I have a question. My partner and I have a child and are no longer together. He is now 5 years old and lives with her. I spend about 2-3 hours with him every other weekend, but i would like to take him out for day trips within London ( London eye, aquarium etc) and perhaps have him stay over at mine every now and then. She is insisting that I am only to spend time with him in her neighbourhood and that 3 hours is more than enough time to spend with him. We don't have any parental responsibility agreement, but I am named on the birth certificate. What can i do?as i feel she wants to control and dictate how, when and where i see my son.
Ay - 31-Dec-17 @ 9:41 AM
My soon to be X husband has had the children over the Christmas period. He has been burning candle at both ends and I made him do a breathalyser test before driving the kids on the motorway to stay with his brothers family who are not big party animals. I have since found out he’s taking the kids for a night to some big drinkers and probably a very late night. Is it wrong to involve my 15 year old son and ask him to make my X do a breath test for the motorway journey back?
Abbey - 27-Dec-17 @ 12:18 AM
Sare - Your Question:
Hi.i need some advice please,i split from my ex husband 12 mths ago.he is now in prison for affray(he beat up a 17 yr old boy)and aggravated burglary.he hit the said boy and 60 yr old dad after forcing entry to their home.can I get his p.r.revoked and a residency order.he was a heroin user before sentancing and before we met he was a prolific offender

Our Response:
You would have to apply to the courts if you want to prevent your child from seeing his/her father. The courts will consider all the circumstances and the safety/best interests of the child.
LawAndParents - 19-Dec-17 @ 10:32 AM
Hi..i need some advice please,i split from my ex husband 12 mths ago..he is now in prison for affray(he beat up a 17 yr old boy)and aggravated burglary...he hit the said boy and 60 yr old dad after forcing entry to their home...can i get his p.r.revoked and a residency order...he was a heroin user before sentancing and before we met he was a prolific offender
Sare - 16-Dec-17 @ 3:57 PM
Greg - Your Question:
Hi there, I was hoping to get some advice. Myself and my wife have separated recently and we have two girls 6 and 5 (both were born when we were married). Currently I have moved out of the marital home, and the kids have been staying with me at the weekends, whilst my wife has them during the week. This has only been recent and I have an email agreement with her agreeing to 50-50 childcare (3 nights for me, 4 nights for her). She is no refusing to let this happen and I really don't know what my rights are as a father. Am I entitled to demand they stay with me for the agreed time, its really in the best interest for them. I have a 6 bedroom house (my parents, who are happy to help me with free childcare), a car to drive them to their school (less than 10 miles away), a good job etc. What are my rights as a father?The irony is, the marriage broke up due to her infidelity.ThanksGregg

Our Response:
A child has the right to contact with both parents. If your ex is not sticking with an arrangement that you agreed informally, then you should try mediation. That might help with setting out a more formal agreement and it can then be made legal via the courts if your ex continues with non-compliance.It's perfectly reasonable to expect a 50/50 shared residence agreement.
LawAndParents - 1-Dec-17 @ 10:40 AM
Hi there, I was hoping to get some advice. Myself and my wife have separated recently and we have two girls 6 and 5 (both were born when we were married). Currently I have moved out of the marital home, and the kids have been staying with me at the weekends, whilst my wife has them during the week. This has only been recent and I have an email agreement with her agreeing to 50-50 childcare (3 nights for me, 4 nights for her). She is no refusing to let this happen and I really don't know what my rights are as a father. Am I entitled to demand they stay with me for the agreed time, its really in the best interest forthem. I have a 6 bedroom house (my parents, who are happy to help me with free childcare), a car to drive them to their school (less than 10 miles away), a good job etc. What are my rights as a father? The irony is, the marriage broke up due to her infidelity. Thanks Gregg
Greg - 29-Nov-17 @ 3:36 PM
Ian - Your Question:
Hello, my name is Ian. I have been searching for advice but have not come across anything that relates to my situation. When I was 15, I got my then gf pregnant. We broke up and I was never able to meet the child.I was supposed to be at the hospital while she gave birth but then they changed their mind and was unable to be present. I attempted several times to reach out and tried to be in the kid's life but each time I was asked to leave them alone and I was even asked to give up my rights. She blocked me from all social media and has never attempted to find me. She is married and has no other kids. It has been 13 years since and he will be turning 14 in February 2018. I have not had any contact with the woman for at least 10 years. I would like to meet him but I dont know how to go about it. I am now 29 years old and I feel terrible for giving up and not doing anything sooner. I don't want to live with this in the back of my mind for the rest of my life. Please help.

Our Response:
It might be difficult to suddenly impose your life on a 13 year old boy, but you can introduce yourself slowly. You may need the help of the courts if the mother refuses contact. Write and formally request mediation first of all, then seek advice from a solicitor.
LawAndParents - 10-Nov-17 @ 11:51 AM
Hello, my name is Ian. I have been searching for advice but have not come across anything that relates to my situation. When I was 15, I got my then gf pregnant. We broke up and I was never able to meet the child.I was supposed to be at the hospital while she gave birth but then they changed their mind and was unable to be present. I attempted several times to reach out and tried to be in the kid's life but each time I was asked to leave them alone and I was even asked to give up my rights. She blocked me from all social media and has never attempted to find me. She is married and has no other kids.It has been 13 years since and he will be turning14 in February 2018. I have not had any contact with the woman for at least 10 years. I would like to meet him but I dont know how to go about it. I am now 29 years old and I feel terrible for giving up and not doing anything sooner. I don't want to live with this in the back of my mind for the rest of my life. Please help.
Ian - 8-Nov-17 @ 4:34 AM
Hi I'm in a situation where I have 2 kids with my ex we broke up last year Last week my 13yr son ended up leaving my home and going to this dads to attend school but he has been passed between his nanas and granddad house his dad says he wants to keep him to which I'm totally against and want him home with me and his sister but his dad has no fixed abode where do I stand on this please can someone advise me on what I should do
Poppy - 25-Oct-17 @ 11:17 AM
Chelle - Your Question:
Hi I have 11 year old daughter she was born in the Philippines her father is Canadian her fathers didn’t acknowledged her, just 2years ago he came to UK and finally see her for the first time.From then until now they have communication and acknowledge but not legally. Now my question is I want my daughter to have her Dad surname and legally accepted.What shall I do? He is supporting my daughter time to time I don’t have problem with that. I need DNA test for my daughter then but my her father is very adamant.I don’t know what to do.

Our Response:
If the father gives his consent, you can simply change your daughter's surname. If he doesn't consent you might have to apply to the courts who may order a DNA test, although we're not sure of the relationship between the UK and Canadian courts.
LawAndParents - 23-Oct-17 @ 11:20 AM
Hi I have 11 year old daughter she was born in the Philippines her father is Canadian her fathers didn’t acknowledged her, just 2years ago he came to UK and finally see her for the first time.From then until now they have communication and acknowledge but not legally. Now my question is I want my daughter to have her Dad surname and legally accepted.What shall I do? He is supporting my daughter time to time I don’t have problem with that. I need DNAtest for my daughter then but my her father is very adamant.I don’t know what to do.
Chelle - 19-Oct-17 @ 4:41 PM
I'm wanting to change my daughters surname she carries her bio fathers surname but he wasn't there at the registration to sign does this mean he still has rights
Lealea - 21-Sep-17 @ 7:09 PM
Hi I'm trying to get my 6yr daughters dad to see her when he should. He works 4days on and 4days off. He dose pay CSA. He likes to make out his an amazing dad. And she adores him. But she gets let down by him so much. Like this month august his had her two days. Is there something I can do to put set days in place? He just says he has stuff on and thts why he can't have her. Please help I hate seeing her upset. And I would say he can't see her. But every time I see her upset it just brings me to want todo that!
Kewib123 - 29-Aug-17 @ 7:40 PM
If the father doesn't have any contact at all with the child and he doesn't have PR either. Is there like an expiry date for him to try to claim PR with a court order? I know that in some states in America if the father doesn't have any contact for the first year he can't claim PR afterwards. I don't want my ex partner who left me when I was pregnant and saw my kid twice come one day in a few years trying to get PR and mess with my kid's life.
Nia - 16-Aug-17 @ 11:45 PM
Izzi - Your Question:
Am 4 months pregnant and my ex partner is threatening go for full custody of my child based on the fact that I have a mental health isuess. Also the fact that I live in a big city and will be living in a council house he lives in a small town in a 5 bedroom house. He earns a lot of money and am unemployed at the moment. His argument is that he can provide a better life for the child.Will I be penalised because of the above reasons? I am really worried and having sleepless night. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Our Response:
We can't say what a court would decide, but it's rare that full custody is given to the father of a very young child/baby unless the child is at risk.
LawAndParents - 16-Aug-17 @ 2:19 PM
Am 4 months pregnant and my ex partner is threatening go for full custody of my child based on the fact that i have a mental health isuess. Also the fact that i live in a big city and will be living in a council house he lives in a small town in a 5 bedroom house. He earns a lot of money and am unemployed at the moment. His argument is that he can provide a better life for the child. Will i be penalised because of the above reasons? I am really worried and having sleepless night. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Izzi - 15-Aug-17 @ 1:52 AM
Chelss91x - Your Question:
Hi, I have a three year old daughter, which I was in a 5 year relationship with consistent domestic abuse. I recently took her dad to court, to make sure he plays an active role etc in which they granted that her residency is with me (her mum) &I I think an order in place so he is unable to take her without permission, introduce her to anyone etc and Suppervised visits only on his chosen day a week in place I'm just curious if I am able to change her surname without her dads persmission, he is on the birth certificate but I'm unsure if her rights are with myself and I can do this without his persmission? There is currently a second order in place so he is not able to contact myself, so don't want t ask persimmon from him. Thanks in advance :)

Our Response:
Contact the General Register Office for information about whether this is possible for you to do without contact the father or without his consent. Sometimes it's possible to do this by deed poll without the need for a court order.
LawAndParents - 9-Aug-17 @ 2:31 PM
Hi, I have a three year old daughter, which I was in a 5 year relationship with consistent domestic abuse. I recently took her dad to court, to make sure he plays an active role etc in which they granted that her residency is with me (her mum) &I I think an order in place so he is unable to take her without permission, introduce her to anyone etc and Suppervised visits only on his chosen day a week in place I'm just curious if I am able to change her surname without her dads persmission, he is on the birth certificate but I'm unsure if her rights are with myself and I can do this without his persmission? There is currently a second order in place so he is not able to contact myself, so don't want t ask persimmon from him. Thanks in advance :)
Chelss91x - 8-Aug-17 @ 2:01 PM
Gillm - Your Question:
I have been divorced for four years, my ex sees our three children every other weekend. They don't want to sleep at his house anymore for various reasons, but want to keep seeing him. I don't know how to broach the subject as we can't communicate without arguing. My children hate going for the weekend and I'm fed up of them moaning about it!!

Our Response:
Why not send a friendly email saying that children are keen to continue seeing him but that they want some changes in the times etc. Suggest some alternative contact times, that involve after school and may be single days at weekends etc. If that would involve more travelling for him, perhaps offer to share...that might alleviate the impact a little. If it doesn't succeed, try mediation and then the courts...
LawAndParents - 3-Aug-17 @ 11:01 AM
I have been divorced for four years, my ex sees our three children every other weekend. They don't want to sleep at his house anymore for various reasons, but want to keep seeing him. I don't know how to broach the subject as we can't communicate without arguing. My children hate going for the weekend and I'm fed up of them moaning about it!!
Gillm - 31-Jul-17 @ 7:33 PM
I've a 9 months old. And the baby's father want to see the baby but I wouldn't like to give my permission to go out with mi baby. Father can come to see the baby at home. Is possible to stop him to take my baby out as I'm still breastfeeding. I'm getting depresion because I'm thinking he could do that. Please help me
shirley - 22-Jun-17 @ 11:14 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the LawAndParents website. Please read our Disclaimer.