Parental Responsibility

Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility means the legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that a parent has for a child and the child's property. A person who has parental responsibility over a child has the right to make decisions about their care and education. Important decisions in a child's life should be agreed with any other person who has parental responsibility.

The following are examples of important decisions in a child’s life that should have the agreement of everyone with parental responsibility:

• Where a child lives.

• Whether or not a child has medical treatment.

• How and where a child is educated.

• Which, if any, religion a child follows.

• Deciding a child’s name and registering their birth.

• Giving consent for a child to leave the country, whether for a holiday or permanently.


Who has parental responsibility?


• Mothers automatically have Parental Responsibility and will not lose it if divorced.

• Married fathers automatically have Parental Responsibility and will not lose it if divorced.

• Unmarried fathers do not automatically have Parental Responsibility.

• Step-fathers and Step-mothers do not automatically have Parental Responsibility.

• Grandparents do not automatically have Parental Responsibility.


Who can get parental responsibility?


• Biological fathers

 If a father is not married to the mother and is not registered on the birth certificate of a child, it will not automatically be the responsibility of the parents. If you are registered on the birth certificate, but it happened before December 2003, you will not automatically be responsible for the parents either. A biological father who does not yet have parental responsibility can obtain it through:

1. Re-registering the birth of the child

This can only be done if the father's name is not on the original birth certificate. The mother must agree and must go with the father to the registration office or complete the legal declaration of paternity form. Application forms are available at the local registration office or at

2. Making a parental responsibility agreement with the mother

This is a formal written document, not just an informal agreement between the parents. The agreement is made using form C (PRA1), which

You can get it at your local court or at The Notes section on page 2 of the form explains how to complete the process. The form must be signed by both parents and attested by a court official.

3. Ask the court for a parental responsibility order

If a mother does not agree that the father has parental responsibility, he can ask the court for an order. See "Parental responsibility orders".

4. There is an order of arrangements for children, with the father named as the person with whom he lives.

The parent's responsibility will only continue while the order is in effect, so it is possible for the parent to request an order of parental responsibility at the same time.

5. Marry the mother

If a father does not have parental responsibility, but then marries the mother of a child, he will have parental responsibility. The child's birth will have to be re-registered using a "Request for re-enrollment after the parents' marriage form". The form is available at the local registration office or at

• Step-parents:

The  stepfather will not automatically obtain the parental responsibility of a child if they marry or enter a civil society with the mother of the child. A stepparent means that a person is married or in a civil society with the mother of a child; Does not include couples who live together.


1. Making a parental responsibility agreement

The agreement must be made with both the parent that the step-parent is married to, or in a civil partnership with, and the child’s other parent if they have parental responsibility.

The agreement is made using form C(PRA2), which you can get from your local court or from The Notes section on Page 2 of the form explains how to complete the process. The form needs to be signed by all parents with parental responsibility and the step-parent, then witnessed by a court official.

2. Applying to the court for a parental responsibility order

If a child’s other parent has parental responsibility, and will not agree that the step-parent should have parental responsibility as well, the step-parent can apply for a court order. See Parental responsibility orders.


How is parental responsibility obtained?

1. Parental responsibility agreements

2. Parental responsibility orders

3. Appointing a guardian


1. Parental responsibility agreements

If a parent or stepparent has no parental responsibility, they may agree with the other parent, or parents, that they will share parental responsibility. Making an agreement between parents avoids having to go to court for an order.

You can get a parental responsibility agreement form in your local court or at Both parents (and, if applicable, any stepparents) must sign the form in court, so that it is witnessed by a court official. You must complete separate forms for each child. You must also bring a copy of the birth certificate and proof of identity of your child.


2. Parental responsibility orders

If the parents cannot agree on whether the other parent or the stepparent or stepmother should have parental responsibility, the parent, stepparent, or stepmother can apply to the court for an order.

The court will decide if it is in the best interest of your child that the parent or stepparent has parental responsibility. The welfare of your child should be the highest priority of the court. In general, the case is that a single parent will be granted parental responsibility, unless there is a very good reason why he does not have one.

When making a decision, the court will consider:

If the father, for his actions during and since the request, has shown sufficient commitment to a child to justify giving him parental responsibility

The level of attachment between parents and child.

The reasons for requesting parental responsibility.

3. Appointing a guardian

A parent with parental responsibility can appoint a person to be a guardian for their child after their death. The appointment can be made in writing, as long as it is signed and dated, or in a will.

How we can help?

Please contact our specialist family law team, to discuss this issue, or any other issue of family law or relationship breakdown.

TMC Solicitors

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Our team will undertake a formal review of your case documents and advise you on the suggested next steps. Our expertise in this area means that care and consideration will be used when reviewing your file. We understand that matters can be time sensitive and you will receive our advice promptly following our instructions.

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