Who has Parental Responsibility for my Child?

Posted on: 2 mins read
Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

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If you have Parental Responsibility for your child, it means that you have the legal right to make decisions about their upbringing and you have a legal responsibility to make sure that they’re properly cared for.

Who has Parental Responsibility for my Child?  

If you’re the mother of the child, you’ll automatically have Parental Responsibility for them. If you’re the father, you’ll usually have automatic Parental Responsibility if you’re married to the child’s mother or in a civil partnership with them, or if you’re named on the birth certificate.

Parental Responsibility can lie with just one parent, both parents, or multiple people in some cases. For example, if there are stepparents or legal guardians involved in your child’s upbringing.

If more than one person has Parental Responsibility, before any important decisions about your child’s life is made, everyone who has Parental Responsibility will need to agree on it first.

If this ends in dispute, our experienced team of Family and Child Law Solicitors can support you in Court.

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Why do I Need Parental Responsibility for my Child?

Having Parental Responsibility for your child is crucial if you want an equal say in how your child is brought up. It gives you legal authority to make key decisions about your child’s life.

Some of the legal responsibilities and rights you’ll have if you’ve got Parental Responsibility include:  

  • deciding where your child lives;
  • protecting and looking after the wellbeing of your child;
  • deciding how and when to discipline your child;
  • choosing where your child goes to school;
  • picking or changing your child’s name;
  • appointing a legal guardian to look after your child in the event of your death;
  • deciding what religion, if any, your child should be brought up with, until they reach an age where they can decide for themselves;
  • consenting to medical treatment or operations.

If you don’t have Parental Responsibility for your child and you and your partner split up, then you wouldn’t have a legal leg to stand on when it comes to making decisions like these.

If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have Parental Responsibility for your child, then contact our team of specialist Family and Child Law Solicitors.

How to get Parental Responsibility for my Child

If you don’t have Parental Responsibility for your child, but believe you should have, there are several ways you can get it:

  • register your child’s birth with the mother (this will only apply if your child was born after 1 December 2003);
  • enter into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother of your child;
  • get a Parental Responsibility Order from the Court;
  • get yourself named as the resident parent under a Child Arrangements Order.

If you’re not sure which of these options would be the easiest way to get Parental Responsibility for your child, get in touch with our team of Family and Child Law Solicitors. We can talk through your situation, give you advice on what to do, and help you through the process of getting Parental Responsibility.

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