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Parental Responsibility

Who has it?

If the parents were married at the time the child was born, then they both have it (CA 9189, S2(1)).
If the parents were not married at the time the child was born, then only the Mother has parental responsibility (CA 1989, S2(2)).

What if I’m a Father and I don’t have parental responsibility?

It can be acquired by three different means:

  1. He becomes registered as the child’s father under an Enactment e.g. through Section 10 Birth and Deaths Registration Act 1953. This may be the case for unmarried parents in a relationship when the child was born may register Dad on the birth certificate as well. This can be done either through a joint request or by one parent requesting the registration whilst also providing a statutory declaration from the other parent.
  2. A ‘parental responsibility agreement’ is made between the Father and the Mother.
  3. He can apply to the Court, requesting an order be made granting him parental responsibility.

Does a step-parent have parental repsonsibility?

The starting point is that a step-parent does not have parental responsibility.  

However, similar to a Father without PR they can either reach a Parental Responsibility Agreement or apply to the Court for an order (CA 1989, S4A(1)).

Why is it important?

The legal definition of “parental responsibility” means 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 (CA 1989, S3(1)).

In practical terms, that means providing a home for your child, looking after them and protecting them.

It is important because those with PR have to make significant decisions about issues such as:

a. The child’s education

b. Choosing and registering their name, or changing it later

c. Decisions over medical treatment they receive

d. Extended trips overseas

e. The child’s religion



Children Act 1989

Births & Deaths Registration Act 1953

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