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Understanding Parental Responsibility

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 20 May 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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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
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
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