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Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility is the legal right and responsibility to make decisions about children. Without it, you are not entitled to have a say in important aspects of a child’s life for example, where they should go to school, what (if any) religion they should be brought up in, what medical treatment they should have. You also do not have the authority to consent to medical treatment/school trips/vaccinations etc. on behalf of a child that you do not have parental responsibility for. This can obviously be very problematic, particularly in an emergency.

Who has Parental Responsibility?

A birth mother always automatically has parental responsibility for her child. A birth father automatically has parental responsibility for his child if either he is married/in a civil partnership with the birth mother or he is named as the father on the child’s birth certificate. An unmarried birth father acquires parental responsibility for his child (if he does not otherwise have it) by marrying the birth mother.

The position regarding other carers is not always so straightforward. For example, a surrogate is treated legally as a birth mother and therefore has parental responsibility for the child she carries, from birth until the making of a Parental Order which extinguishes her parental responsibility. Who else has parental responsibility in this situation depends upon whether the surrogate is married or is in a civil partnership.  Please refer to our resources pages where you should find a summary of the law relating to your specific situation. If not, please contact us and we will be able to advise you.


How can I acquire Parental Responsibility for a child?

If you are a birth father who does not have parental responsibility for your child, you can enter into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother or apply to the court for a Parental Responsibility Order. Birth fathers and other relatives or carers can acquire Parental Responsibility under a Child Arrangements Order. Adoptive parents acquire Parental Responsibility when an Adoption Order is made. Step-parents may acquire parental responsibility via a step-parent parental responsibility agreement or a step-parent adoption. Intended parents acquire parental responsibility when a Parental Order is made. 


How can The Modern Family Law Company help?

Parental Responsibility is complicated. We are experts in all aspects of family law relating to children, including parental responsibility. We will advise you about what the law says about your situation and what would be the best way for you to acquire parental responsibility for your own child or a child that you care for who is not biologically yours. We will draft the necessary paperwork and ensure that you case is advanced in the strongest possible way to achieve the outcome you are seeking.


How will we support you through the process?

We know from personal experience exactly how stressful and distressing court proceedings about children can be.  Whatever your situation, we will be there to support you through all the ups and downs of the process. We can refer you to one of our trusted partners e.g. a counsellor or psychotherapist,  if more formal support services are needed.


How do I find out more about Parental Responsibility?

Please Get in Touch via our contact page and we'll be delighted to provide further information.

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