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Parental Responsibility: What Is It, Who Has It and Who Can Get It?

May 11, 2016

Parental responsibility means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which a parent has in relation to a child. In practice, this includes:

  • Deciding which school a child should attend
  • Deciding on a child’s medical treatment
  • Deciding on a child’s religion
  • Access to school reports and medical records
  • Deciding where a child should live.

More than one person can have parental responsibility for a child, and a person with parental responsibility for a child will not lose it simply because another person has gained it. 

A mother of a child will automatically have parental responsibility. 

A child’s father will automatically have parental responsibility when he is married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. If he is not married to the mother at the time that the child is born, he will only gain parental responsibility in one of the following ways:

  • If he is named on the child’s birth certificate (and the child was born after 1 December 2003)
  • By Court Order
  • By agreement with the mother
  • By marrying the mother (if he is the natural father – this does not apply to step-fathers). 

A step-parent can acquire parental responsibility if the parents with parental responsibility agree (that agreement should be documented) or by Court Order. 

If you would like to find out more about parental responsibility, please contact Karen Pritchard or any member of our Family Team on 01279 755777. 


Karen Pritchard

About the author

Karen Pritchard

Karen joined Nockolds in September 2015. Before joining the firm, Karen graduated with a First Class degree in Law from the University of Westminster and ...

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