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Understanding Parental Responsibility

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 13 Mar 2017 | 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.

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Peter- Your Question:
Need help, my ex wife would like to met my new partner but my new partner doesn't want to meet her, my ex wife wants to meet her before I am allowed to have my oldest daughter for 3 nights when I go on holiday so my question is does my ex wife have rights to meet her.

Our Response:
There are no "rights" as such. This is something you need to work out between the two of you. If you were to refuse, your ex wife might choose to take this to court as a specific issue order or similar. A court would look at the interests (and safety) of your child in this instance.
LawAndParents - 15-Mar-17 @ 10:32 AM
Need help, my ex wife would like to met my new partner but my new partner doesn't want to meet her, my ex wife wants to meet her before I am allowed to have my oldest daughter for 3 nights when I go on holiday so my question is does my ex wife have rights to meet her.
Peter - 13-Mar-17 @ 12:36 AM
Hi, I have tried to look on the internet for an answer to this but can find nothing, hopefully you can help? I had my oldest daughter in 2003, just before the law changed regarding parental responsibility. I never married my daughters father and split up with him shortly after my daughter was born. Up until very recently my daughter stayed overnight every other weekend, which I was happy about as I think it important that she has meaningful contact with her Dad. All that changed recently as my daughter has decided that she wants to live with her Dad. Obviously this came as quite a shock to me as we haven't fallen out in any way, and she certainly has not been unhappy. As I have previously said, her father does not actually have parental responsibility, I have at the moment allowed her to move, although I am not happy about it. I am concerned that he will try to move her schools, doctors etc without my knowledge, and although I know that only I legally have parental responsibility I do not know how I would go about enforcing it. What can I do to make sure that nothing is done without my say so?
Worried Mum - 13-Feb-17 @ 3:38 PM
Hi, I have tried to look on the internet for an answer to this but can find nothing, hopefully you can help? I had my oldest daughter in 2003, just before the law changed regarding parental responsibility. I never married my daughters father and split up with him shortly after my daughter was born. Up until very recently my daughter stayed overnight every other weekend, which I was happy about as I think it important that she has meaningful contact with her Dad. All that changed recently as my daughter has decided that she wants to live with her Dad. Obviously this came as quite a shock to me as we haven't fallen out in any way, and she certainly has not been unhappy. As I have previously said, her father does not actually have parental responsibility, I have at the moment allowed her to move, although I am not happy about it. I am concerned that he will try to move her schools, doctors etc without my knowledge, and although I know that only I legally have parental responsibility I do not know how I would go about enforcing it. What can I do to make sure that nothing is done without my say so?
Worried Mum - 13-Feb-17 @ 3:12 PM
Good mum - Your Question:
Please help as I have seeked legal advice (free half hour, not anywhere near enough!) but I think solicitor missed the point! When my son was born, his father & I were not married, & since separated. We registered the birth together, he was only asked to produce his birth certificate as ID, this is not his legal name! he put it on the birth certificate & did not declare any other names, I since discovered he changed his name by deed poll as a child & uses the new name for everything, not the one he stated on birth cert, so he is not who he says he is! He has disappeared, no fixed abode. I want to change my son's name to mine, surely I don't need the father's permission as he should be void now as he lied on birth certificate giving false name?? He is not real! Thanks in advance

Our Response:
If you want to change the name by deed poll you do need the consent of the father, regardless of whether he himself has a different name. If he is absent and you can prove that you cannot contact him, you can apply for a court order to get the name changed. Here is our guide on changing a child's surname
LawAndParents - 9-Feb-17 @ 12:40 PM
Please help as I have seeked legal advice (free half hour, not anywhere near enough!) but I think solicitor missed the point! When my son was born, his father & I were not married, & since separated. We registered the birth together, he was only asked to produce his birth certificate as ID, this is not his legal name! he put it on the birth certificate & did not declare any other names,I since discovered he changed his name by deed poll as a child & uses the new name for everything, not the one he stated on birth cert, so he is not who he says he is! He has disappeared, no fixed abode. I want to change my son's name to mine, surely I don't need the father's permission as he should be void now as he lied on birth certificate giving false name?? He is not real!Thanks in advance
Good mum - 7-Feb-17 @ 10:33 PM
Hello all I'm loking for some advice regarding. My ex I came home from Wales today to find my fiance of 4years. Has left she's due to drop on the 2nd of aprilI came home to find almost everything gone from the house including the baby stuff I bought washing machine tumble dryer cloths etc so it's not just a spat it's been planned for months. The thing is I have done nothing but support her all the way through at 22weeks she was deciding on an abortion we talked and she didn't go through with it now... She's using it as a weapon trying to say I'm forcing her to have a baby but at the same time getting her Manipulative sister to message me saying that I'll only be allowed supervised contactI have been there for her from the start which is why I'm so confused about the whole situation we been going on really well then all of a sudden gone *poof*how do I go about the birth certificate etc even though baby ain't born yet I feel like she's kidnapped my unborn child and there's nothing I can do PLEASE shed some light thanks
John the broken conf - 2-Feb-17 @ 7:01 PM
My husband left the family home in Oct 16 and has been visiting the children regularly. Wehave remained amicable until Jan 17 when he did not give us any maintenance and we have since discovered that he has left his job and disappeared. He is not answering calls or messages from the children which is very upsetting for them. How do I explain this to the children and where can I get further advice please.
Strongmum - 18-Jan-17 @ 6:13 AM
Please can you help. My parents have a residency order on my daughter and have so done for a number of years. My relationship with my father (Leah's grandad) is turbulent and when I go & visit the atmosphere is horrible or we row. What rights so I have to see her & make decisions on her upbringing. Please help. I miss her.
Traybe - 8-Jan-17 @ 7:17 PM
Hi, last Wednesday night my wife left the house, she told me she was leaving and gathered up her stuff and that of the two boys who where not with her at the time.Standing outside the front door was a Police Officer.I asked what the hell is he doing here, she said I was advised.Right ok I admit things haven't been great between us for a while and I lost my dad last year and my job a few months ago.We've argued but I've never touched her or our boys. I'm almost certain the she's had advice that it counter relationship productive.I've not seen my boys since Wednesday morning last week and am missing them massively she won't make contact as she needs space.We weren't married at the time both boys where born but my name is on their birth certificates (Also gone along with the marriage)but they did go back and where amended after we got married.I'm now getting desperate to see them with the time of year it is what are my legal rights and can I do anything report her for abduction or anything. Advice appreciated
MyBoys - 22-Dec-16 @ 2:54 PM
My ex wife is using my kids against me as a weapon. I have always paid maintenance and never missed a payment. I provide a loving home for them to stay. Just recently she become passive aggressive towards me and we are now not talking. Where do i stand legally regarding access to my two kids. Any advice much appreciated.
Redbull2000 - 22-Dec-16 @ 12:31 AM
My ex wife is constantly trying to tell me how best to parent my kids. We had a ugly fight and she has threatened me with court action unfairly in my eyes. What are my rights as there dad, i am constantly feeling manipulated by her passive aggressive nature. I see them 3-4 times a week and provide a healthy maintenance supply as well as pay for there hobbies and provide a secure place for them to stay with me. She uses my kids as a weapon and its not fair.
AlanTed - 21-Dec-16 @ 11:27 PM
Nikki - Your Question:
My ex husband only is allowed indirect contact with his 4 children through recommendations of social services. He is requesting a set of school photos of each of the children. Do I have to give these? Is he entitled to them?

Our Response:
Ask social services whether this falls within their recommendations for indirect contact?
LawAndParents - 14-Dec-16 @ 2:47 PM
My ex husband only is allowed indirect contact with his 4 children through recommendations of social services. He is requesting a set of school photos of each of the children. Do I have to give these? Is he entitled to them?
Nikki - 13-Dec-16 @ 11:32 PM
Desperate Dad - Your Question:
Do I have the legal right to know where my daughter is living with her mother?

Our Response:
Not necessarily. If you have parental responsibility you have say in important decisions in her life, such as school, or if her other parent decides to move areas etc. Please see the above article for more information.
LawAndParents - 13-Dec-16 @ 10:36 AM
Do I have the legal right to know where my daughter is living with her mother?
Desperate Dad - 11-Dec-16 @ 10:55 AM
rian - Your Question:
I had a baby boy.3 and 6month year old.me and my partner broke up.we are not married but my son father is in the registered birth of my son.do I have a right to ask a financial support for my baby to his father.do I have a Sole parental responsibility to my son?im working as a domestic helper.since my son born im the one to support his need.what is my right to my son.?

Our Response:
Yes if the father is registered on the birth certificate he should pay child maintenance.
LawAndParents - 30-Nov-16 @ 11:44 AM
i had a baby boy..3 and 6month year old..me and my partner broke up..we are not married but my son father is in the registered birth of my son...do i have a right to ask a financial support for my baby to his father...do i have a Soleparental responsibility to my son?im working as a domestic helper..since my son born im the one to support his need..what is my right to my son.?
rian - 29-Nov-16 @ 7:24 AM
My partners son , arrived home to find out of the blue his girlfriend had left taken their son with her.She has since gone silent along with her parents and has not provided the whereabouts or any access to him...the police say it's a civil matter and the social services can't (wont) do anything..she's suffering PND & it's heartbreaking to see my step son so upset and worried..any suggestions???
StepNan - 25-Nov-16 @ 10:54 AM
I just had a baby with someone I was seeing for a short term, There was a lady I know she got pregnant but actually dont who the baby dad was until the baby was born, partially we are 3 guys involved but she said only 2 of us are potential to be the kid dad, after the baby was born she did a DNA test with one guy and she said it was him so she said definitely I am the dad, I told her I want my DNA test which I agreed I will pay for but she refused I do it. Secondly, The baby is 3 weeks old now, I asked her if she had registered she NO which I am not sure she is telling the truth then I asked her to let me know when she will go and register and we can go together she got upset and said I dont have to be there that anyone can go and she doesnt need any of my information from me to be added on the baby birth certificate. I asked we may need to go to court because this is abnormal and she is upset all the time even a simple question and now she blocked and also said she will move house to avoid any contact from me. Any help please, do I need to contact solicitor or who can I contact that can provide help. I do not even know the baby full name, I just dont know why she wont let me in the baby life.
abamus - 13-Nov-16 @ 8:45 AM
Katiek1981 - Your Question:
I have sole responsibility of my son, but due to his behaviour issues he has been living with his father for over a year as I could not get him into a local school. His father is asking for me to contribute for some therapy which I have no issue with, but he won't provide me with a invoice. This therapist comes into the school so I asked his school for the details, but they have declined stating that its none of my business, even though it affects my son. Can someone please advise.

Our Response:
Stick to you guns, if your son's father wants you to contribute it's only fair that you can see how much it costs and whether it's having any success etc.
LawAndParents - 3-Nov-16 @ 12:46 PM
I have sole responsibility of my son, but due to his behaviour issues he has been living with his father for over a year as I could not get him into a local school. His father is asking for me to contribute for some therapy which I have no issue with, but he won't provide me with a invoice. This therapist comes into the school so I asked his school for the details, but they have declined stating that its none of my business, even though it affects my son. Can someone please advise.
Katiek1981 - 3-Nov-16 @ 9:39 AM
MummyG - Your Question:
Hi, I have got a 17 years old daughter, her father lives in US and we are in UK, he started to pay the child allowance when she was 7 years old from there he decided how much he should pay, how often and which date of the month. He has a good job as pilot. He doesn't call her, he messenger her sometimes, he took her for holiday back to his home in Italy after he hadn't seen her for 2 years. I'm a single parent 24/7. When I take her for summer holiday he never contributed with anything, he used to give her a little extra money on her birthday and Christmas. He never attended one parents meeting or one doctor appointment. He said once the airline company he works for give him a private health care and he add her on, but I must pay first and then health insurance would pay him, but I could never trust him on that. His mum used to give to my daughter a gift money and for years she hasn't done anymore, now she is the nursing home and we believed that he had kept the money that was supposed to give to my daughter.My questions are:- How much percentage from his salary he should pay the child allowance- How often he should visit her- Does he own me the 7 years he hasn't contributed anything.- Does he needs to pay any extra money towards child care for his lack of visiting, because I had to pay loads of money for child care for me to go to work.- Does he needs to contribute with her holidays expenses.Please could you tell exactly what I really need to know, about her father obligations toward to her and which he will stop pay her allowance.I'm lost and I need to make this right for her. Thank you

Our Response:
Unless you have previously made an application for maintenance using the CSA or CMS, then you cannot claim back the arrears. You could try the CMS or the courts to enforce regular maintenance payments.
LawAndParents - 14-Jun-16 @ 2:25 PM
Tiggy - Your Question:
I have my grandson living with me for past three years as my daughter passed away. His dad lives across the road but has not had visitation for 5 years. My grandson knows where his dad lives and says hello to him. His dad agreed that the best pace for his son was with me and his grandad and two uncles as he hadn't been consistent in his life. I have never sought parental guardianship due to the fact that his dad said he still wanted to be involved, no contact apart from hello when passing has ever been made. He sometimes pays child maintenance but when he feels like not bothering he misses payments. I would like to know where I stand legally with parental guardianship and with the maintence payments. I find his relaxed attitude irresponsible and uncaring. I want to make sure my grandson will always be looked after and think the only way for that to happen is for him to be with us.

Our Response:
You can apply for a special guardianship order. Was any formal agreement made between you and your grandson's father when your daughter passed away?
LawAndParents - 14-Jun-16 @ 1:54 PM
Hi, I have got a 17 years old daughter, her father lives in US and we are in UK, he started to pay the child allowance when she was 7 years old from there he decided how much he should pay, how often and which date of the month. He has a good job as pilot. He doesn't call her, he messenger her sometimes, he took her for holiday back to his home in Italy after he hadn't seen her for 2 years. I'm a single parent 24/7. When I take her for summer holiday he never contributed with anything, he used to give her a little extra money on her birthday and Christmas. He never attended one parents meeting or one doctor appointment. He said once the airline company he works for give him a private health care and he add her on, but I must pay first and then health insurance would pay him, but I could never trust him on that. His mum used to give to my daughter a gift money and for years she hasn't done anymore, now she is the nursing home and we believed that he had kept the money that was supposed to give to my daughter. My questions are: - How much percentage from his salary he should pay the child allowance - How often he should visit her - Does he own me the 7 years he hasn't contributed anything. - Does he needs to pay any extra money towards child care for his lack of visiting, because I had to pay loads of money for child care for me to go to work. - Does he needs to contribute with her holidays expenses. Please could you tell exactly what I really need to know, about her father obligations toward to her and which he will stop pay her allowance. I'm lost and I need to make this right for her. Thank you
MummyG - 13-Jun-16 @ 9:24 AM
I have my grandson living with me for past three years as my daughter passed away. His dad lives across the road but has not had visitation for 5 years.My grandson knows where his dad lives and says hello to him.His dad agreed that the best pace for his son was with me and his grandad and two uncles as he hadn't been consistent in his life.I have never sought parental guardianship due to the fact that his dad said he still wanted to be involved, no contact apart from hello when passing has ever been made.He sometimes pays child maintenance but when he feels like not bothering he misses payments.I would like to know where I stand legally with parental guardianship and with the maintence payments. I find his relaxed attitude irresponsible and uncaring.I want to make sure my grandson will always be looked after and think the only way for that to happen is for him to be with us.
Tiggy - 12-Jun-16 @ 8:43 PM
My son has been a single dad to my grandaughter who is 13. Her mam has been popping in and out of her life off and on. My son has residency order for his daughter. Last week my grandaughter went to see her mam and when she came back she said she wanted to go and stay with her mam. My son would not agree to this explaining to his daughter it has been 5 years since she saw her mam and would it not be best to have more contact first then see what happens because my son had said this my grandaughter began to be horrible to him so she came to my house.on the Monday on the Tuesday night her mam came and took her when I said she couldn't she said I had no rights my son phoned the police but they would not get involved unless we could prove she was at risk. Today my grandaughter mam has been approaching schools where she lives and to get money without getting agreement from my son she has said she can do what she wants she does not need permission off him. We have only a contact number no address where my grandaughter is. I wondered what my sons rights are as there is no way he will agree for his daughter to live there because of serious incidents that have occurred in the past with my grandaughter mother and partner we are at our wits end as there is no legal aid now my son cannot afford a solicitor as he has limited money I hope you can help. Concerned grandparent and father
flowerpot - 9-Jun-16 @ 7:17 PM
Singlemummy1 - Your Question:
I had a baby girl in January 2016. I am not in a relationship with her father. I gave her father a key to my home early pregnancy so he could help me out and when she was born he could come and go as he pleased. She was an emergency c section and I went thru it all on my own. I went through the whole pregnancy on my own too as he was on drunken benders every weekend and one night stands. He said three weeks before my daughter was due to be born he wanted to step up. He felt bad for not being there. He still had a key to my home so the door was still open to him. I announced that I needed support from family so I was due to move the may bankholiday weekend. He seemed to understand and be supportive of this. My daughter was then born. The first 5 days he was really supportive. Then he disappeared for a week and came back for a visit to dissappear for two weeks. Etc he would come round to my home and play on his phone for the duration he was there. Or talk about his sex and going out life how much he drunk over the weekends etc. He has never given us money and never contributed anything towards his daughter. He isn't on the birth certificate and I have moved now. 5 hours away. He doesn't know where we have moved to and has my email address but has no way of contacting us. I don't think he wants any contact as he didn't make the effort when we was half an hour away. But if he did try contacting us etc what do I do?

Our Response:
Consider your child's best interests first of all. If you think that your ex might improve his behaviour once he got to know your daughter better, then it might be worth allowing contact for an hour or so at a time. He can apply to the courts to have his name added to the birth certificate and for contact with his daughter, so it may be better to simply facilitate this.
LawAndParents - 2-Jun-16 @ 2:06 PM
I had a baby girl in January 2016. I am not in a relationship with her father. I gave her father a key to my home early pregnancy so he could help me out and when she was born he could come and go as he pleased. She was an emergency c sectionand I went thru it all on my own. I went through the whole pregnancy on my own too as he was on drunken benders every weekend and one night stands. He said three weeks before my daughter was due to be born he wanted to step up. He felt bad for not being there. He still had a key to my home so the door was still open to him. I announced that I needed support from family so I was due to move the may bankholiday weekend. He seemed to understand and be supportive of this. My daughter was then born. The first 5 days he was really supportive. Then he disappeared for a week and came back for a visit to dissappear for two weeks. Etc he would come round to my home and play on his phone for the duration he was there. Or talk about his sex and going out life how much he drunk over the weekends etc. He has never given us money and never contributed anything towards his daughter. He isn't on the birth certificate and I have moved now. 5 hours away. He doesn't know where we have moved to and has my email address but has no way of contacting us. I don't think he wants any contact as he didn't make the effort when we was half an hour away. But if he did try contacting us etc what do I do?
Singlemummy1 - 1-Jun-16 @ 11:24 PM
I have a eleven year old daughter her father took me to court four years ago to get access I have a residency order but he has now been placed on the sex offender register for life and in prison for two half years for sexual groomi g and assult how can I go about getting his parental responsibility taken away from him please
Mumzy - 27-May-16 @ 9:13 PM
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