What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental Responsibility is all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority by which law a parent has in relation to his or her child. A person with Parental Responsibility is responsible for the care and wellbeing of their child.

The most important aspects of this can been seen as follows:

  • Providing a home for the child
  • Having contact with the child
  • Protecting and maintaining the child
  • Arranging the child’s education
  • Determining the religion of the child
  • Consenting to the child’s medical treatment
  • Naming the child
  • Agreeing to the child’s change of name
  • Consenting to the child’s marriage
  • Agreeing to the child’s adoption
  • Agreeing to and vetting the issue of passports
  • Taking the child outside of the UK
  • Administering the property of the child
  • Appointing a guardian for the child
  • Having day-to-day care of the child
  • Allowing the child to be interviewed
  • Consenting to the taking of blood for testing
  • Allowing confidential information relating to the child to be disclosed.
Who has Parental Responsibility for a child?

The following people have Parental Responsibly:

  • Mothers
  • New fathers if they have been married to the mother at any time since the birth of the child or they are registered jointly with the child’s mother on the Birth Certificate since 1 September 2003 or they have acquired it by formal legal agreement with the mother (called a Parental Responsibility Agreement) or by Court Order (Section 4 Children Act 1989).

Step-parents can now acquire Parental Responsibility for a child by a formal legal agreement with both parents with Parental Responsibly.

A step-parent may also be granted Parental Responsibility by way of Court Order if a Child Arrangement Order is made and the child is to spend time living with that person, or if a Guardianship or Adoption Order is made.

It is important to note that people who are not parents such as step-parents (meaning a spousal civil partner of a parent) do not have Parental Responsibility just because the child is living with them.

A step-parent does not get Parental Responsibility just by marrying or entering into a civil partnership with the child’s parent.

Why would a step-parent want Parental Responsibility?

A step-parent may want the authority, stability and recognition of Parental Responsibility if they are the full time carer, especially a step-mother of a young child, if there is no contact with the other parent or the other parent is abroad, unknown, dead or sometimes not able to be contacted.

If you need to seek Parental Responsibility and you are a step-parent or it has been suggested that you should require the same and you would like more information, please contact Elizabeth Hodder.

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