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Understanding Parental Responsibility

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 22 Oct 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.

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My ex who is resident parent to our 5 and 10 year old girls has moved in with her boyfriend. She refuses to give me his details. Do I have the right to know as I have PR? Can I demand she tells me?
Locket - 22-Oct-18 @ 11:20 PM
I am 17yrs old, studying, indian, my father 52 was in a relationship with another women. Now since we discover this after 4 yrs. He is trying to make my mother feel guilty by saying even chatting with a old college friend is called betrayal. He has refused to give us any expenses. But sends WhatsApp messages to try his best to stop my mother from going to working saying she will now be free tomeet other men . He is stalking on us by keeping contact with building security guards and paying the security phone bills.He lives in Goa as he is temporarily on working leave due to vericose veins. We live in Mumbai as i am in the 12th and my brother 22 has started working. 22 yrs back my father asked My mother to give up work and be a housewife. Now he has told her that he has fed her for 22 yrs and cannot feed her any more. She has to go to work and feed her he self and the children. My father also told me that he is not not my ATM to pay my bills. Is he correct ? Please suggest .
Samosa - 20-Oct-18 @ 12:17 AM
Sid - Your Question:
My son is 18 and going to university in September to do a foundation course leading to a degree. Am I still required to pay his mother CSA payments or can I just pay an amount I choose directly to my son

Our Response:
No CSA is not payable once a child finishes study at A level or equivalent.
LawAndParents - 24-Aug-18 @ 3:40 PM
My son is 18 and going to university in September to do a foundation course leading to a degree. Am I still required to pay his mother CSA payments or can I just pay an amount I choose directly to my son
Sid - 24-Aug-18 @ 9:02 AM
Mike - Your Question:
A father's parental rights are terminated by the court for reasons of domestic violence and domestic assualt.The child (now 9) resides with the mother who has full custody.Visitation by the father is at the discretion of the mother.The father has completed anger management as ordered by the court, and has had regular contact with the child since his rights were terminated a few years ago.Can the father apply to the court to have his parental rights reinstated on the grounds he has complied with the court order and there have been no reported incidences of abuse or assault since his rights were terminated? (All parties reside in the UK)

Our Response:
He can certainly apply. The judge will order further investigations before considering reinstating parental rights etc.
LawAndParents - 6-Jun-18 @ 11:15 AM
A father's parental rights are terminated by the court for reasons of domestic violence and domestic assualt. The child (now 9) resides with the mother who has full custody. Visitation by the father is at the discretion of the mother. The father has completed anger management as ordered by the court, and has had regular contact with the child since his rights were terminated a few years ago. Can the father apply to the court to have his parental rights reinstated on the grounds he has complied with the court order and there have been no reported incidences of abuse or assault since his rights were terminated? (All parties reside in the UK)
Mike - 5-Jun-18 @ 7:55 AM
So Mother's are extremely vulnerable to very controlling ex's and have no way of keeping her & child safe from daily manipulation after seperation? ie if both parents are on the BC but were not married but child has Fathers surname,. Do they have the same powers? Can the Father just take the child from the Mother? Can the Mother and child move away without permission or are they forever under thier control?
Milsey - 25-May-18 @ 9:39 AM
So Mother's are extremely vulnerable to very controlling ex's and have no way of keeping her & child safe from daily manipulation after seperation?
Milsey - 25-May-18 @ 7:54 AM
Hi. I have looked on different websites and some say one thing and others say something different. My 17 year old daughter and her boyfriend are planning on going to Scotland to get married. We live in England. If they do does parental responsibility stop when they get married? thankyou
Katrina - 18-May-18 @ 7:08 AM
dmj - Your Question:
My 15 year old daughter has decided she wants to live with me full time as she has had a falling out with her father, which has partially contributed to her ill health. She has to attend CAMHS appointments each week and is Gillick competent.She has a school trip abroad coming up and her father is threatening to withdraw consent so she won't be able to go. The school will not take her with only my consent.She also does not want him to know anything about her CAMHS appointments.Is she able to do this - ie she does not want him involved in her life - she does not want him to have parental responsibility over her.This is not a snap decision - this has been coming over months now.Thanks

Our Response:
At the age of 15, a court will take the child's opinions into account but will also look at the overall circumstances and what they consider to be the child's best interests. This might be your only resort if you cannot agree with the father.
LawAndParents - 11-May-18 @ 9:53 AM
My 15 year old daughter has decided she wants to live with me full time as she has had a falling out with her father, which has partially contributed to her ill health. She has to attend CAMHS appointments each week and is Gillick competent. She has a school trip abroad coming up and her father is threatening to withdraw consent so she won't be able to go. The school will not take her with only my consent. She also does not want him to know anything about her CAMHS appointments. Is she able to do this - ie she does not want him involved in her life - she does not want him to have parental responsibility over her. This is not a snap decision - this has been coming over months now. Thanks
dmj - 9-May-18 @ 3:30 PM
Hi. My daughter was born May 2002, me and her dad were unmarried at the time of her birth, we both registered her birth and he’s named father on the birth certificate. We married in 2006. I would like to know if he has parental responsibility please also I’ve been told that he’s our daughters next of kin as he’s older than me, Is this true and if so how can I be her next of kin as I am her main carer. Thank you
Salopians - 3-May-18 @ 8:44 PM
Hi , I have 2 children aged 8 & 4. My children’s father decided to have an affair when I was pregnant with our now 4 year old. This led to him leaving the family home & not sticking to his set days to see the children. Due to this I stopped all visits in the hope he would take it to court for more access ( I wanted him to be involved ) . He took it to court and an order was put into place for him to have the children every other weekend Friday - Sunday , Ive since found out that during the Saturday he leaves the children whilst he workswith his girlfriends brother who my children have met a handful of times , is this acceptable ?? This man is not a relative & I know nothing about him ? Thx
Smithy - 15-Apr-18 @ 8:36 PM
Hi. My daughter have 9 years old. My and her dad split when she have 10 months old. She’s live with me since that. His see her when they want, when his not busy with his staff. His always come first and his daughter second, his never ask if she need something. When I ask for paternal help his always refused to give. So I put child maintenance. Now his mum (not him) always ask me for her birth certificate and her ID card. I’m always refused to give her my child identification. I don’t know what for she want them. Can I get some advice for what she can do on my back? I been on citizens advice and they tell me to not give nothing from my daughter.
Cris - 4-Apr-18 @ 7:10 PM
My daughter split from her partner 13 years ago after he beat her up for the second time. Both went to court and gained shared residency. Since then the girls went to stay solely with the father and his new partner. Social services have been involved as the father has hit both girls and his new wife. Social services have allowed the girls to go back into his care as they assume that he has parental responsibility.We have now found that he does not have parental responsibility as the girls were born before 2003 and the parents were unmarried. Were social services wrong to send them back to the father?
Caz - 30-Mar-18 @ 9:22 AM
My son split up from his partner a year ago he is on all 4 birth certificates she has been using the kids to get her own way saying if he doesn't do it she will loose contact with kids which has now happened she has blocked him on there phone not let him see or speak to him we used to have them at least 3 days a week know she won't even let him talk to him it is killing him not talking or seeing them realy realy need advice if she's allowed to do this
Gates - 29-Mar-18 @ 3:45 PM
Helio, My name is Dominika, I was hoping to get some advice. Me and my ex husband we split up many years ago (2008) and we are divorced. We have a son 10 years old (born in 2007), my son don't know his father, he never talk to him or hear from his father from 2008, zero contact, he doesn't pay any child maintenance since 2008. My question is how I can take parental responsibility from my son father, what is the all procedure and how to start. Thank you in advance
NikaHibsz - 22-Mar-18 @ 4:24 PM
Hi, My children reside with me but spend approx 1 night a week with their father. I want to take them away to visit family abroad but my ex husband is saying no to this as it falls over xmas. Can he dispute that with them living with me? We don't have a court residency order or any thing Thanks
K - 14-Mar-18 @ 2:29 PM
sigha - Your Question:
Hi there,Please I want to ask if I am earning and living with my wife and children and now I am moving out in new other council flat where I will pay my rent to new council for myself there but will I need to pay anything in my last council for my children as well because they were taking housing benefits and getting it less because of my income if I leave permanently So will last council force me to pay the part of rent as well because of my parental duty and income from my job.although, I am leaving from old home/wife/children.Many thanks in advance.RegardsAhmad

Our Response:
We don't have enough information to advise properly on this really, but you will be required to pay child maintenance. The easiest way to get an idea of what you'll be expected to pay is to use the Child Maintenance Calculator
LawAndParents - 13-Mar-18 @ 10:32 AM
Hi there, Please i want to ask ifi am earning and living with my wife and children and now i am moving out in new other council flat where i will pay my rent to new council for myself there but will i need to pay anything in my last council for my children as well becausethey were taking housing benefits and getting it less because of my income if i leave permanently So will last council force me to pay the part of rent as well because of my parental duty and income from my job. although, i am leaving from old home/wife/children. Many thanks in advance. Regards Ahmad
sigha - 10-Mar-18 @ 2:08 AM
David - Your Question:
Hello,My cohabiting partner and I are separating. We have two sons 13 and 11. I have been a 'stay at home Dad' and main carer for our children for the last 8 years, whilst my partner has been the breadwinner. I am named on both boys birth certificate born 2005 and 2006 respectively. Being main carer means that I have done practically all of the day to day main caring e.g. : school runs, after school clubs, cooking, washing, sickness care, school holiday care, organising play dates etc etc. In my eyes this is being the main carer. My question is, as a cohabiting father, am I seen by the law as the main 'primary' carer assuming what I have said is factually correct? I also assume I have parental responsibility as well as the mother. Is this correct?I ask as my partner does not want to recognise that I have been the primary carer. I believe she is worried about the potential consequences that this could mean. Not sure what these consequences are. We are proposing shared care going forward but I feel I need her to recognise my present and past position so we can at least discuss things from a level playing field.

Our Response:
You have parental responsibility the child's birth was registered after December 1st, 2003 and your name is on the certificate as the father, so yes you do have parental responsbibility. Get lots of evidence together about all the work you've done as a stay at home dad, it should be fairly difficult for your ex partner to disprove anyway.
LawAndParents - 5-Mar-18 @ 1:50 PM
Laureen - Your Question:
HiI have a child from previous relationship and am currently pregnant (first trimester) with my boyfriend whom I used to live together with. He is very violent and last year Oct before I got pregnant I called police on him when he later his hand in me and he was handcuff and taken away. I asked police to warn him upon release to leave me alone after few eels he came back begging and I thought he changed. Then I got pregnant and 1mj this after he became violent with me again and I calle the police and he packed his things and leafy the house completely.The issue is the house is in his name (rent ) wen called a family meeting and he agreed to cont. to pay rent till I have the baby or ready to leave and also agreed to support me with some money every month because of my condition ( am not working yet) and did I mention he has 2 children from two different relationships before I meet him and he lied about this until after we moved in together.I don’t want to put his name of my baby certificate or have him have access or right to the baby pls what do I do? Should I move out of the house he is paying for ( I think he is doing this to want to claim the child as he said before he will take the baby from me) should I stop collecting maintenance money from him now? What can I do to stop him forGetting parental order or share custody later when my baby is grown? Should I run away or change my number pls help me!!! This man is evil and will do anything to have this baby because none of his children from his past relationships are allowed to see or visit him by their mums. Have throughly see him for who he is now.

Our Response:
We can't give you personal advice on what you should do, but if you're worried about the baby's safety there are some things you can consider (1) when the baby is born and (2) after the baby is born. (1) Before the baby is born,if you're at all unsure about your safety or that of your unborn child (eg. if you partner is violent etc), then seek advice from the police or a solicitor - it may that you can apply for anon-molestation order. Also think about your accommodation, talk to the landlord, or look for alternative accommodation.
(2) After the baby is born - are you sure your ex partner is a threat to the child? If not, then allowing him contact might be acceptabel to you. You can ask a mediator to help you draw up a contact agreement (this can be formalised in the courts if necessary). If you don't want the father to have any contact with the child you will need some evidence of why he is a risk - seek advice about your options from a solicitor or Citizens' Advice. (2)
LawAndParents - 5-Mar-18 @ 10:02 AM
Hello, My cohabiting partner and I are separating. We have two sons 13 and 11. I have been a 'stay at home Dad' and main carer for our children for the last 8 years, whilst my partner has been the breadwinner. I am named on both boys birth certificate born 2005 and 2006 respectively. Being main carer means that I have done practically all of the day to day main caring e.g. : school runs, after school clubs, cooking, washing, sickness care, school holiday care, organising play dates etc etc. In my eyes this is being the main carer. My question is, as a cohabiting father, am I seen by the law as the main 'primary' carer assuming what I have said is factually correct? I also assume I have parental responsibility as well as the mother. Is this correct? I ask as my partner does not want to recognise that I have been the primary carer. I believe she is worried about the potential consequences that this could mean. Not sure what these consequences are. We are proposing shared care going forward but I feel I need her to recognise my present and past position so we can at least discuss things from a level playing field.
David - 2-Mar-18 @ 11:56 AM
Hi I have a child from previous relationship and am currently pregnant (first trimester) with my boyfriend whom I used to live together with. He is very violent and last year Oct before I got pregnant I called police on him when he later his hand in me and he was handcuff and taken away. I asked police to warn him upon release to leave me alone after few eels he came back begging and I thought he changed. Then I got pregnant and 1mj this after he became violent with me again and I calle the police and he packed his things and leafy the house completely. The issue is the house is in his name (rent ) wen called a family meeting and he agreed to cont. to pay rent till I have the baby or ready to leave and also agreed to support me with some money every month because of my condition ( am not working yet) and did I mention he has 2 children from two different relationships before I meet himand he lied about this until after we moved in together. I don’t want to put his name of my baby certificate or have him have access or right to the baby pls what do I do? Should I move out of the house he is paying for ( I think he is doing this to want to claim the child as he said before he will take the baby from me) should I stop collecting maintenance money from him now? What can I do to stop him for Getting parental order or share custody later when my baby is grown? Should I run away or change my number pls help me!!! This man is evil and will do anything to have this baby because none of his children from his past relationships are allowed to see or visit him by their mums. Have throughly see him for who he is now.
Laureen - 2-Mar-18 @ 12:15 AM
I have been separated from my ex for over 2 years and divorced 6 months. I have a partner which I have been with for over 2 years now. She has 3 kids for her last marriage and my ex is saying she doesn't want my new partner to take care of the kids on her own. My kids love my new partner and enjoy coming to my house so what right do I have that says my ex cant tell me who can look after my kids?
Kev - 21-Feb-18 @ 7:33 PM
Hi I have 2 children and there father hasn’t seen them in over 3 years and not paid any child maintenance either.. is it possible to obtain sole parental responsibility for them? And he lose his PR(His on there bith certificates) Many thanks
Lou - 6-Feb-18 @ 9:30 PM
Me and my husband separated 3years ago we share a daughter and he won’t tell me where he lives or who he lives with as he lives in a house share with another person ,he now won’t give me his phone number so when my daughter is with him I have no way at all of contacting her if anything happened to her I wouldn’t know and I feel powerless to stop him doing this to me
Em - 29-Jan-18 @ 7:02 PM
My son is 16 and enrolled in college last year. He has stopped coming to see me and doesn’t answer my messages . He recently posted on line that he is receiving unemployment benefit. I contacted his mum she denies this , I currently contribute £200 a month as long as he is in education , I contacted the college but they will not tell meif he is still attending . How can I find out as I don’t think his mother will tell me.
Tip-top - 29-Jan-18 @ 12:41 PM
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
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