Parental responsibility is defined as all the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities and authority which a parent has in relation to the child. In effect, parental responsibility gives the individual the right to be involved in the day-to-day management of the child’s life. People with parental responsibility are entitled to be given information regarding the child’s education and any medical matters.

A mother has parental responsibility as soon as the child is born and this can never be removed unless the child is freed or placed for adoption.

As a father, you will also have parental responsibility if you were married to the mother at the time of the birth or married her later on. If you are an unmarried father you can acquire parental responsibility in one of six ways:

  • If the child is born after 1st December 2003 by registering the birth with the mother so that your name appears on the birth certificate.
  • By entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother.
  • By applying to the Court for a Parental Responsibility Order.
  • By being appointed a guardian by the mother or the Court.
  • By obtaining a Residence Order from the Court.
  • By marrying the mother.

Step-parents (through either marriage or civil partnership) can also acquire parental responsibility by either entering into a step-parent parental responsibility agreement or applying to the Court for an Order. A grandparent can normally obtain parental responsibility if the child is living with them on a regular basis by applying for a residence order.