Parental Responsibilty

Parental Responsibility is more complex than you might think.

Parental responsibility is a vital issue for a huge issue of UK children. Many people think of themselves as parents of the child or children that they look after. Actually, some have no rights and could be powerless in an emergency without further Legal Planning

Parental Responsibility video from the Department of Justice will help to explain.

What is parental responsibility?

All mothers and most fathers have legal rights and responsibilities as parents.  Those with parental responsibility should look after the child in the normal way of parents.

If you don’t live with the child, you don’t automatically have the right to contact. However, the other parent still needs to keep you updated about their well-being and progress.

Parents have to ensure that their child is supported financially, whether they have parental responsibility or not.

Who has parental responsibility?

1) A mother from birth.

2) A father generally has parental responsibility if he is married to the child’s mother and or  listed on the birth certificate, depending when and where the child was born in the UK.

You can apply for parental responsibility if you don’t automatically have it.

Births registered in England and Wales.

(We don’t cover other parts of the UK.)

If the parents of a child are married when the child is born, or if they have jointly adopted a child, both have parental responsibility, which they retain should they later divorce.

Unmarried parents and parental responsibility.

An unmarried father can only get legal responsibility for his child by:

a) jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother (from 1 December 2003)

b) getting a parental responsibility agreement with the mother.

c) getting a parental responsibility order from a court.

Parental Responsibilit for Births registered outside the UK.

If a child is born overseas and moves to the UK, where parental responsibility lies depends on the UK country they’re now living in.

Parental responsibility for Same-sex parents and Civil partners.

Same-sex partners who were civil partners at the time of the treatment will both have parental responsibility.  For same-sex partners who aren’t civil partners, the second parent can get parental responsibility by either:

a) applying for parental responsibility if a parental agreement was made.

b) becoming a civil partner of the other parent and making a parental responsibility agreement or jointly registering the birth.

How to Apply for Parental Responsibility.

  • If you’re not the mother, you can apply to court to get parental responsibility.You need to be connected to the child, eg as their father, step-parent or second female parent.   More than 2 people can have parental responsibility for the same child.

Sign a parental responsibility agreement.

If you’re a father who wants parental responsibility and the mother agrees, fill in a parental responsibility agreement.

Take the agreement to your local county court or family proceedings court, where it can be signed and witnessed. (It looks like that is now Brighton, Hastings or Lewes, but so many errors on the Government site and elsewhere I am not certain – feel free to let me know.)

Also take the child’s birth certificate and proof of your identity, like a passport or driving licence.

Send 2 copies of the form to the address below:

Principal Registry of the Family Division. First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6NP.

Apply for a court order.

If you want parental responsibility but can’t agree on arrangements with the mother, you can apply for a court order which costs £215 (July 2013.) This does not include any legal advice.  You may be able to get help with court fees if you’re on benefits or a low income.

To apply, fill in the application for an order (C1).

Send this to your local county court or family proceedings court.

If you and your partner use a surrogate to have a child, you’ll need to apply for a parental order.

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