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I’m a Father With no Parental Responsibility for my Child: What can I do?

Posted on: 2 mins read
Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

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If you’re a father without Parental Responsibility for your child, you’ll have no legal right to make the big decisions that will affect the rest of their life. Decisions like where they should live, where they should go to school, or what religion they should follow.

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental Responsibility gives you legal authority to make decisions about your child’s upbringing, care and welfare. We’re not talking about day-to-day decisions like what they should have for tea, or whether they need a new pair of shoes or not. Parental Responsibility will give you the responsibility and rights to make decisions when it comes to things like:

  • where they should live;
  • what they should be called;
  • whether they need certain medical treatment;
  • what religion they should follow, if any;
  • which school they should go to;
  • who should be their legal guardian if both parents were to die.
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Parental Responsibility for your child can be given to one or more people, but it’s important to know that everyone who has Parental Responsibility for the child will need to consent to decisions about their care, welfare and upbringing before they can be made.

How do I Know if I Have Parental Responsibility for my Child?

The mother of the child will automatically have Parental Responsibility over the child.

So will the father, but only if:

  • they are married to the mother of the child, or are in a civil partnership with them;
  • their name is on the birth certificate.

If you’re a dad that doesn’t have Parental Responsibility for your child, we recommend that you seek legal help and advice from specialist Family and Child Lawyers.

What Rights do I Have Over my Child if I Don’t Have Parental Responsibility?

If you don’t have Parental Responsibility for your child, the right to make decisions that affect how your child is brought up won’t officially sit with you.

Of course, if you’re on good terms with your partner then you’ll no doubt make these decisions together, regardless.

But, if you were to separate, this is when it becomes tricky if you don’t have Parental Responsibility.

If you don’t have Parental Responsibility, the Courts won’t recognise you as the child’s father and you won’t have any legal right to be involved in any Court decisions about where your child lives, which school they go to, or what their surname should be, etc.

How do I get Parental Responsibility for my Child?

If you’re a father that isn’t married or in a civil partnership with the mother of your child, or your name isn’t on your child’s birth certificate, you can get Parental Responsibility by:

  • registering your child’s birth with the mother (this only applies to births registered after 1 December 2003);
  • entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother;
  • asking the Courts for a Parental Responsibility Order;
  • being named as the parent with care under a Child Arrangements Order.

Get in touch with our team of Family and Child Law Solicitors if you don’t have Parental Responsibility for your child. We can tell you what legal options you have, and what the best course of action to take would be.

Or, if there’s a dispute about a decision affecting your child’s upbringing between you and the other people who have Parental Responsibility, we can help you resolve this in Court.

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