Skip to content

What is parental responsibility?

Firstly, it is important to understand what parental responsibility is and who has it.

Parental responsibility means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that a parent has in relation to the child.

A person with parental responsibility can make decisions about the child’s upbringing and is entitled to information about their child. For example, they can give consent to the child’s medical treatment and make decisions about the child’s education. They also have the right to receive information about their child’s health and education.

Parents do not always need to get the consent of the other parent for routine decisions, even if they also have parental responsibility, but for major decisions (for example, one of you wants to move abroad with your children) both parents with parental responsibility must agree.

Who has parental responsibility?

A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth.

A father usually has parental responsibility if he is either married to the child’s mother or he is named on the birth certificate. If a father does not automatically have parental responsibility for their child they can apply for this either by entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother or by applying to court for an order.

On separation both parents retain their parental responsibility for their children, even if the children do not live with them.

If you have parental responsibility for a child but you do not live with them, it does not mean you have a right to spend time with your children. However, the other parent must include you when making important decisions about their lives.

What happens if you can’t agree about important decisions?

If you can’t agree on a major decision about your child, either parent can make an application to the court for a specific issue order, requiring the court to make the decision i.e. about what school your child should attend. Alternatively, either parent can make an application to the court for a prohibited steps order, asking the court to stop the other parent from taking a particular step i.e. removing your child from their current school.

We would be happy to discuss any children issues with you and should you require any further information about this, or other family issues, please contact our Carol Chrisfield at [email protected] to discuss matters.