Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility defines the duties to a child, which includes caring for the child, maintaining the child financially, protecting them from harm and providing the child with an education. It also allows you to make decisions for a child in relation to their religion, education and health. Parental responsibility can be held by more than one person and does not cease if someone else acquires it. You may have parental responsibility for a child but not look after them on a day-to-day basis, but this does not affect your duties to the child. In addition, a parent may not hold parental responsibility but will still have a financial obligation to their child.

The following people have parental responsibility to their child:

  • The mother.
  • The father if he was married to the mother at the time of the birth.
  • The father if the child was born after 1 December 2003 and is registered on the birth certificate.
  • A Court recognised guardian
  • Adoptive parents
  • Anyone with a Residence Order in their favour

If you are the father and do not have parental responsibility, you can acquire it by applying to the Court, entering into a Court agreement with the mother or marrying the mother. These methods can also be used by a step-parent or civil partner to acquire parental responsibility.

Disputes as to Parentage

If you are in doubt as to who the father of the child is, we can help you resolve this issue through a number of ways. In some cases, negotiation may be needed for the mother to state who the father is, and in others, you may want to undertake a DNA test for a definitive result. This can resolve disputes around contact with a child or financial provision for a child may not be yours. We understand that parentage is a sensitive and often distressing issue, the nature of which has to be approached carefully.