Parental Responsibility- Who has the rights?

 Parental Responsibility is the legal status which determines   “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”. A person who has Parental Responsibility for a child therefore has the right to make key decisions regarding their upbringing including where the child should live, their education, medical treatment and religion.
Given its importance, it is vital to ensure that Parental Responsibility is in place or if not, know how it can be acquired. Parental Responsibility is automatically acquired by all mothers, fathers married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, fathers named on the birth certificate (on the proviso the child was born after 31st December 2003) and civil partners/ partners of mothers registered as the child’s legal parent on the birth certificate.
If Parental Responsibility has not automatically been acquired (for example, by a father not named on the birth certificate, step parent or grandparents looking after a child) then you may wish to take steps for it to be obtained. The most common method of doing so would be to reach a Parental Responsibility Agreement with all those who already have Parental Responsibility or alternatively, it can be acquired by way of an application to the Court for a Parental Responsibility Order.

If such an application is made,  the Court will make a decision based upon the “Welfare Checklist” and determine whether it would be in the child’s best interest. Other factors that would be taken into consideration would include whether the applicant’s has shown sufficient commitment to the child to justify them in obtaining Parental Responsibility and the reasons it is being sought.


If you have any questions or require assistance on family matters including arrangements for children and parental responsibility,  please contact our Family Law department 01756 793333 or contact our Family Law specialist by email:



Andrew Foulds
Family Law Solicitor
Tel: 01756 692877