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What is Parental Responsibility?

Updated: Aug 16, 2022


What is meant by parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility means the responsibility of parents towards their children. In simple words, Parental responsibility refers to the powers, rights, duties, and obligations that an adult person may have to fulfill for a child.

The term Parental Responsibility has been defined under Section 3(1) Children Act 1989 as "all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has concerning the child and his property."

How does a parental responsibility order work?

A Parental Responsibility Order is an order obtained under the provisions of the Children Act 1989.

In regards to a Parental Responsibility order, the order will consider the aspects of the judgment passed in the case of Re H (minors) (Local Authority: Parental Rights) (No 3) [1991] (the ‘Re H factors’). The aforesaid case focuses on the following aspects;

  • The degree of commitment of the father towards the child

  • The current state of the relationship of the father with the child

  • The reason to obtain a parental responsibility order

Why is parental responsibility important?

Parental responsibility provides the legal rights to an adult to make decisions on behalf of the children to provide them due care.

Parental responsibility enables an individual to have the right to be consulted regarding:

  • Where the child lives

  • Medical Treatment of the Child

  • The Child's Education

  • Religion that the Child follows

  • Any other important decision which needs to be taken care of.

In simple words, Parental Responsibility comes with a bundle of responsibilities and rights towards the child.

Is parental responsibility the same as custody?

No, parental responsibility is not the same as custody.

A parental responsibility only enables a person the “rights of custody" of the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.

What are the ways to get parental responsibility for a child?

In case the applicant is unable to agree on the arrangements with the person who already has parental responsibility (eg. the mother of the child), they can apply for Parental Responsibility in Court. This is detailed below in the article.

If someone is the legal father of the child or a non-birth mother who was the legal parent at the time the child was conceived, it is possible to acquire Parental Responsibility by forming a civil partnership or marrying the mother of the child.

How can a father obtain parental responsibility?

Fathers who do not have their names on the child's birth certificate, or are not married to/ in a civil partnership with the mother of the child have the right to acquire Parental Responsibility for the child in different manners.

However, the procedure to acquire Parental Responsibility may be a little different depending on the jurisdiction.

The following are some of the ways through which Fathers can get parental responsibility for their children:

  • Entering into a civil partnership or marrying the mother of the child

  • Obtaining a Parental Responsibility Order from the Court

  • By entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother of the child and recording this agreement at a court

  • Upon the death of the mother of the child being appointed as child's guardian

  • Re-registering the birth of the child jointly with the after. (Please note the date of birth of the child must be after 1 December 2003)

Can a parental responsibility order be granted by the courts?

Yes, a parental responsibility order can be granted by the court.

If the court finds out that the applicant should have parental responsibility, then the court can the applicant can be granted parental responsibility equal to that of the mother.

A parental responsibility order can be made in county family court or high court.

How to apply for a Parental Responsibility in Court?

To apply for a Parental Responsibility court order, the applicant must fill the application order (C1). The cost to obtain the court order is around £232. Those who are eligible for it may be allowed a reduction in this court fee.

Court Help Limited can help you to fill out this form to obtain Parental Responsibility.

Who automatically has parental responsibility?

Mothers who gave birth to the children automatically have Parental Responsibility of the child.

On the other hand, the fathers also automatically have Parental Responsibility if the name of the father is on the child's birth certificate or if the parents are married at that time.

It is also possible for anyone connected to the child to apply for Parental Responsibility in the courts of Law.

Who can apply for parental responsibility?

Anyone can apply for Parental Responsibility provided the person applying for Parental Responsibility is connected to the child. For example, the father, a second female parent, grandparent or step-parent can apply for parental responsibility.

It is to be noted that more than two people can have Parental Responsibility for the same child.

What can be used as proof of parental responsibility?

The child's birth certificate can be used as proof of Parental Responsibility.

Apart from that, a consent letter signed by the child's parent can also be used as proof of Parental Responsibility.

How do I prove sole parental responsibility?

To prove the sole parental responsibility of the child as a sponsoring parent, one has to show evidence that she or he has been taking all parental care of the child solely for a substantial period.

How can we help you with Parental Responsibility?'

We at Court Help Limited are specialized in family court matters including Parental Responsibility by drafting statements and applications. Our legal team has rich experience and knowledge to assist you in the documentation and paperwork involved in such cases.

Apart from Parental Responsibility, we also specialize in various family law matters such as child custody, divorce settlement, domestic violence, etc.

To know more about Parental Responsibility in England, check out some of our other related articles which are available here.

In case you are facing any such issues concerned with family law matters, do not hesitate to contact us. You can read our reviews here. At the bottom of the page, there is a Quick Contact Form, you can fill it out or email us at or you can call us at 07375757510.

Note: This article is not legal advice and must not be treated as legal advice.


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