Parental Responsibility : What does it mean & who is entitled to it?

Parental Responsibility : What does it mean & who is entitled to it?

Parental Responsibility is defined in section 3(1) Children Act 1989 as being:

“All the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”


Parental Responsibility is the legal term for the right of the parent (to be involved in decisions regarding the child) as well as the responsibility of the parent to ensure the welfare of the child. A person with Parental Responsibility can make decisions such as choosing a school, naming a child, getting medical treatment as well as disciplining a child.


Mothers who give birth to children, automatically have Parental Responsibility for the child. Fathers automatically have parental responsibility if they are married at the time or named as the father on the birth certificate.


If you are the father of a child but you are not married to the mother and are not named on the birth certificate, read our blog on the rights of cohabiting parents.


Also, just because someone is not listed as a parent on the birth certificate, does not mean that they cannot obtain parental responsibility. You can enter into an agreement with the mother called a ‘Parental Responsibility Agreement’. Alternatively, you can make an application to the court & obtain a Parental Responsibility Order. You can also apply for a Child Arrangement Order.


If you are no longer living with your children, parental responsibility does not disappear – you still have a responsibility to ensure that your children have appropriate arrangements in place.


If you are concerned about matters regarding your children or that you do not have parental responsibility of your child, please contact one of our family law experts on 0203 601 5051. Our services include:-

  • Preparing Parental Responsibility agreements
  • Assisting a parent in applying to the Court for a Parental Responsibility agreement.
  • Applying for a Prohibited Steps Order where one party seeks to exercise parental rights contrary to the wishes of the other. This could become appropriate when a parent decides to leave the country permanently  without the others consent.
  • Applying for a Specific Issue order. This includes instances wherein an agreement cannot  be reached on decisions such as which school a child should attend or which religion a child should follow

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