Change text size:

Parental responsibility

What is Parental Responsibility?

Under the Children Act 1989 Parental Responsibility means all of the rights, duties, powers and responsibility that, by law, a parent has in relation to their child and the child's property.

Who has Parental Responsibility?

  • If the parents of the child were married to each other at the time of the child's birth, they both have Parental Responsibility;
  • In cases where the parents were not married to each other at the time of birth, the mother automatically has Parental Responsibility; however, the father does not;
  • If a father is not married to the mother of the child at the time of birth then he will only have Parental Responsibility automatically if he is registered on the child's birth certificate as the father to the child and the child was born after 1 December 2003.

How to acquire Parental Responsibility

There are a number of ways in which unmarried fathers can acquire Parental Responsibility. These include the following:

  • By marrying the mother of the child;
  • By becoming registered as the child's father;
  • By entering into a Parental Responsibility agreement with the mother;
  • Becoming a fully appointed guardian;
  • In the making of a Parental Responsibility Order;
  • In the making of Residence Order.


Step-parents can also obtain Parental Responsibility for a step child by entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement or via Court Order. [See our website sections on Fixed Fee PR Agreements and Fixed Fee PR Orders for information about our fixed fee packages].

As with all orders concerning children, if an application to Court is made, the welfare of the child will be the paramount consideration.

printer friendlyPrinter friendly