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Understanding Parental Responsibility

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 21 Sep 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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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
I have not through court with my ex parent over our son but he see him a couple times a week but he is trying on stop me taking him on holidays to spain for two week can he stop me? Help
mum of rainbowbaby - 6-Jun-17 @ 7:34 PM
My 3 year old son has been living with me for over a year now, since his mum went off with another man.She moved in with a relative whilst waiting for a council property. She has not contributed towards his care in all that time (despite still receiving child benefit until recently) I pay for everything for him and he is happy and healthy and he loves being with me.She has had him to stay overnight for two nights only in all of this time (over a year) and has had plenty of opportunity to have him to stay.She rarely sees him, maybe a few hours every 2 weeks and has let him down on numerous occasions, I don't tell him now when she is due to see him as I don't want him upset.She now has a rented house and has already put an application in for tax credits, I fear that, if she wants him back, it will purely be for financial gain e.g, working tax credits and all the benefits that are attached to a child.where do I stand if she decides she wants him back (which I'm sure will be any time now) and what can I do to fight this?
Tone66 - 29-May-17 @ 8:59 PM
My son is named on his son's birth certificate (the mother is not a British Citizen) and he has been advised by Social Services to get an emergency child arrangement order as the baby is being emotionally abused is there anyway he can remove the his son from the mother if he can't get this order?
Mrs Tiggywinkle - 20-May-17 @ 9:25 AM
My mum took my son to Italy and did not return him to me in England,she also gave my Son's passport to his dad without my permission.im an unwed mother so have sole responsibility.i went to get him back and his dad wouldn't give me my sons passport so was unable to bring him home that was Sept 2012. I haven't spoken to his dad since we finished when he was born in 2000and he's never paid maintenance. He thinks he can take what he wants and keep me out of my Son's life when im his mum. If his dad really cared about him he wouldn't try to keep his mother who was bringing him up very well out of his life. My Son and myself were born in England.when my son was born i had to start all again with nothing because of his dad.he never applied to no courts to want to be apart of my sons lifeAnd my son is 16now and the law says im responsible for his welling till he's 18.please help as we've missed out on so much already.
Sad mum - 21-Apr-17 @ 8:19 AM
Smems - Your Question:
My son is 18 and I have written a letter of eviction to him,he says its not a legal document and I cannot ask him to leave??? He is associated with drugs and I have other children at home. Any advice would be a real help please.

Our Response:
If he's still in full time education you may find you still have parental responsibility and it would be more difficult to evict him. Is he paying rent? Does he have a tenancy agreement? If not then "evicting" him should be straight forward. You could always consider professional legal advice if you're not sure.
LawAndParents - 11-Apr-17 @ 11:33 AM
My son is 18 and I have written a letter of eviction to him,he says its not a legal document and I cannot ask him to leave??? He is associated with drugs and I have other children at home. Any advice would be a real help please.
Smems - 9-Apr-17 @ 1:50 PM
Cakes - Your Question:
My daughter was born in Western Australia and her father's name is on the birth certificate. We have lived in the UK (without her father) for a year and a half. She is at school here (which I pay for) and we have just brought a house. In this time he has Skyped twice. I would like to apply for sole responsibility so I can formally have permission for all the decisions I am making on behalf of my daughter. Can you advise whether I would do this through the UK or WA courts and if in your opinion I would be successful.

Our Response:
You can't usually remove a parent's parental responsibility unless there is a safety risk to your child etc.
LawAndParents - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:31 PM
My daughter was born in Western Australia and her father's name is on the birth certificate. We have lived in the UK (without her father) for a year and a half. She is at school here (which I pay for) and we have just brought a house. In this time he has Skyped twice. I would like to apply for sole responsibility so I can formally have permission for all the decisions I am making on behalf of my daughter. Can you advise whether I would do this through the UK or WA courts and if in your opinion I would be successful.
Cakes - 6-Apr-17 @ 8:33 AM
Pninja - Your Question:
Me and my partner of 24 years have recently separated, we were never married but have 2 kids a 15 & 11 year old, I am named on both birth certificates.she recently moved out after I bought her share and she took the kids which are only a mile away but she has said I get them every other fortnight which I do t have a problem with, my issue is she moved out on the 20th Jan and has already introduced a new man into the kids life's without my knowledge, she has known the guy less than 2 months!Where do I stand if anywhere??

Our Response:
There's nothing you can do legally really, unless you think the children are at risk etc. The best thing to do is to try and have a rational conversation about this with your ex. If you feel the children are at risk, you can apply for a prohibited steps order to prevent him being there at the same time as the children.
LawAndParents - 31-Mar-17 @ 1:41 PM
Me and my partner of 24 years have recently separated, we were never married but have 2 kids a 15 & 11 year old, I am named on both birth certificates....she recently moved out after I bought her share and she took the kids which are only a mile away but she has said I get them every other fortnight which I do t have a problem with, my issue is she moved out on the 20th Jan and has already introduced a new man into the kids life's without my knowledge, she has known the guy less than 2 months! Where do I stand if anywhere??
Pninja - 30-Mar-17 @ 7:20 PM
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
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