When a child is born the mother automatically has parental responsibility. The father also only has this if he is married to the mother when the child is born or if he is registered as the father on the child’s birth certificate.
The law does not define in detail what parental responsibility is, however it encompasses all the rights and duties which a parent has regarding a child:
- Providing a home for the child
- Protecting and maintaining the child
- Disciplining the child
- Choosing and providing for the child’s education
- Determining the religion of the child
- Agreeing to the child’s medical treatment
- Naming the child and agreeing to any change of the child’s name
- Accompanying the child outside the UK and agreeing to the child’s emigration, should the issue arise
- Being responsible for the child’s property
- Appointing a guardian for the child if necessary
- Allowing confidential information about the child to be disclosed
You can obtain parental responsibility either by entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the child’s mother or by obtaining a parental responsibility order from the Court.
We can guide you through the process of obtaining parental responsibility by helping you complete a simple form, which needs to be signed by you and the child’s mother in the presence of independent witnesses, which then has to be lodged at Court.
When considering whether a parental responsibility order should be granted the Courts will take into account:
- The commitment shown by you towards the child
- The strength of the attachment between you and the child
- Why you are applying for a parental responsibility order
Please note that if you have not had contact with the child for a considerable period of time it may be extremely difficult to obtain parental responsibility for the child. You will need to show that it is in the child’s best interest for you to have parental responsibility for the order to be granted.W