Parental responsibility refers to a number of rights and duties which a parent has in respect of their child. There are a number of rights that constitute parental responsibility, including having a say in a child’s name, education, religion and medical treatment. It also encompasses the parent’s rights to information about their child. A parent with parental responsibility is entitled to full information for the child’s school (for example, school reports and events) and they are also entitled to information about a child’s medical condition and any treatment they may need to receive. 

However, a person with parental responsibility does not have unilateral rights in relation to a child. If there are two parents with parental responsibility, then those two parents will need to agree those bigger decisions. If they cannot agree, then either parent can apply to the court to ask that a court order is made regarding any decision that can’t be agreed.

A mother will always have parental responsibility for her child, but a father may have to apply to the court if he does not automatically have parental responsibility for a child. The court will take into account a variety of factors, including their relationship with the child and the father’s reasons for applying for the order.

Parental responsibility is not intended to restrict the day-to-day decisions which have to be taken in a child’s life, nor does it dictate which parent the child should live with or what contact the child has with the other parent as the parent with day-to-day care will naturally have to make the everyday decisions for the child in their care.

If you are an unmarried father without parental responsibility, or a step parent or indeed a relative caring for a child on behalf of their parent, you may wish to consider obtaining parental responsibility. This can be done either by agreement or by obtaining a court order. 

If you would like to contact one of our solicitors with regards to a parental responsibility matter to see how we can help, then please do so.

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