What is Parental Responsibility and Do I You Have it?

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What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility provides the holder the right to be involved in important decisions concerning the child’s upbringing. 

What major decisions should I be consulted on if I have parental responsibility

  • Determining the child’s education and where the child goes to school;
  • Choosing, registering or changing the child’s name;
  • Appointing a child’s guardian in the event of the death of a parent;
  • Consenting to a child’s operation or certain medical treatment;
  • Accessing a child’s medical records;
  • Consenting to taking the child abroad for holidays or extended stays;
  • Representing the child in legal proceedings;
  • Determining the religion the child should be brought up with. Where there is a mixed cultural background this should include exposure to the religions of all those with Parental Responsibility, until the child can reach an age where he/she can make their own decision on this.

Do I have Parental Responsibility?

Mothers automatically have parental responsibility. However, whether the father has parental responsibility depends on several factors.  

Child’s birth registered before 1st December 2003

You will have parental responsibility if you were:

  • Married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth
  • Married the mother subsequently after the child’s birth was registered. 

Child’s birth registered after 1st December 2003

You will have parental responsibility if:

  • Your name is on the child’s birth certificate 
  • If you were married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or if you marry the child’s mother subsequently to the child’s birth. 

How can I obtain parental responsibility? 

You will obtain parental responsibility if you have re-registered the child’s birth. Re-registering will require the consent of the mother. 

You can enter into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother on the court form C(PRA1)

You can apply for a parental responsibility order if the mother does not provide consent. The relevant court form would be a C1 but you would be required to attempt mediation before applying for this particular order. There is a fee of £215 to apply for this particular order but there is a fee exemption form available (EX160) if you are on a low income or in receipt of income-based benefits. 

Court forms can be downloaded from www.justice.gov.uk or obtained from any family court. The forms can be submitted to the family court closest to where the child resides once they have been completed. 

Can Parental Responsibility be taken away?

Parental responsibility can only be removed by an adoption order being granted if it was acquired through marriage. 

Parental responsibility can be removed via a court order if obtained either through a parental responsibility agreement, parental responsibility order or by being named on the child’s birth certificate. However, this is done only in very exceptional circumstances. 

When does Parental Responsibility expire?

Parental Responsibility expires when:

  • A young person reaches the age of 18.
  • A holder of Parental Responsibility passes away
  • A child or young person is adopted.

Can my new partner obtain Parental Responsibility?

It is possible for Step-Parents to get Parental Responsibility, but they must be married to one of the biological parents. 

Parental Responsibility can be obtained by agreement using a C(PRA2). This should be signed by all those with Parental Responsibility and the step parent and witnessed by a justices’ clerk or an officer of the court. It can then be submitted to the Principal Registry of the Family Division to be formalised. 

If you cannot agree, the step-parent can submit the form C2 for permission to apply alongside a C1 application form. There is a fee of £215 to make the application, however if you are on a low income or benefits you may be eligible for a fee reduction using an EX160 form.

The courts will consider the step parents connection to the child before granting permission, and then consider their commitment and attachment to the child and their reasons for applying. If they feel it is in the child’s best interest then they can grant the Parental Responsibility.

Family Law Advice

For further information please visit https://childlawadvice.org.uk/  and other legal advice and information surrounding Relationship Breakdowns and Parental Disputes as well as areas of Child and Education Law. 

This information is correct at the time of writing (24.04.2018). The law in this area is subject to change. The Dadsnet and Coram Children’s Legal Centre cannot be held responsible if changes to the law outdate this publication. The Dadsnet recommends you seek legal advice before making any decisions or taking any actions. Individuals may print or photocopy information in CCLC publications for their personal use. Professionals, organisations and institutions must obtain permission from the CCLC to print or photocopy our publications in full or in part.

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  1. Dominic Hayhoe

    Whilst these items are written down for parental responsibility, they are arguable I was told by my solicitor upon my divorce.

    For example, taking a child abroad on a holiday, he suggested if it was less than 2 weeks either party could do that without consulting the other.

    Common sense here applies. The courts don’t want petty arguments brought in front of them.

  2. Simon Head

    I need some advice on getting access to my son after a recent split with my now ex partner.
    I now have a new partner in my life but my ex has demanded that my son doesn’t meet the new woman until she does. She allows me to see my son 1 and a half days a week but dictates where and when I have thoses days and also where and who with I can take him. I have agreed to do as she has asked at the moment as im worried she will try and stop me seeing him completely. I have got to the point of seeking advice now as I have had enough of all the games and just want to be a dad to my son and believe that it should be equal between me and the mother. Any advice or any information about who im best to speak to would be greatly appreciated.

    • Graham Campbell

      Dear Simon,

      My advice is hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. At the end of the day you will only be allowed a good relationship with your son if your ex can be persuaded that it is something that will work from her point of view. It shouldn’t be like this, but it is. That is the world in which we live, and as parents we must deal with the real world. Yes, the Family Courts can make orders requiring her to allow your son to spend time with you, but they are slow, stressful and do little to enforce obedience. The Family Courts are the last resource.
      The reality is that you are in the position of a ‘supplicant’, not a parent with equal rights and responsibilities. . That won’t change if you go to court.
      It sounds as if both you and your ex are in a new situation, and It may be that your ex needs to acclimatize herself. Your first step is to help her to see that there is nothing to worry about if your son sees you regularly. Make sure that you keep seeing him, and that nothing happens to give her reason to be fearful or anxious. Hopefully she will come to see that your son wants to see you, and that it is in his interests to have a good relationship with his father.
      However, in the meantime it will do no harm to make some preparations for the court battle that you hope will not take place. Keep records. Keep a diary. Get in the habit of making contact arrangements by email or text, not phone, so that you have an independent record of everything that is said, and how reasonable you are being. . Start saving for legal representation. Find out how the Family Court system works. (Not well; believe me, I know – I am a family lawyer!) When things get difficult, focus your thoughts on your son. Best of luck!

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