WHAT is parental responsibility?

Defined by law as ‘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.’

What does this mean?

It gives parents responsibility to make all the important decisions in the child’s life, and the day-to-day decisions.

Parental responsibility duties change from time-to-time as it depends on the child’s needs, circumstances, age and maturity of the child.

Children will become gradually mature and be able to make some decisions for themselves.

Who has parental responsibility / how to acquire parental responsibility?

- The mother will automatically have parental responsibility.

- Married parents have joint parental responsibility.

- An unmarried father can acquire parental responsibility by:

o being named on the birth certificate (after December 1 2003)

o entering into a parental responsibility agreement

o applying to court for a parental responsibility order

o being appointed a guardian by the mother or by the court

o obtaining a child arrangements (residence) order from the court

o marrying the mother.

- Any person who adopts a child.

- A local authority can acquire parental responsibility if a care order is made in relation to the child.

- Anybody who is granted a child arrangements (residence) order will obtain parental responsibility in relation to the child.

- Anyone obtaining a special guardianship order will acquire parental responsibility.

There is no limit to the amount of people who can have parental responsibility at any one time.

Can you lose parental responsibility?

Parents will lose parental responsibility:

* on the parent’s death

* on a child’s adoption;

- If acquired parental responsibility by agreement or by court order, the court can make another order ending it.

- When the child arrangements (residence) order ends.

If you would like to find out more, please contact Catrin Williams in Allington Hughes Law's family law department on 01978 291000 or e-mail enquiry@allingtonhughes.co.uk