What is Parental Responsibility?
When a child is born the mother automatically receive parental responsibility. This defines the responsibility and authority which are associated with being a parent and allow the mother to make decisions on behalf of her child. It is essentially a duty of care to protect the child and act in the child’s best interests.
As a father you will only automatically receive parental responsibility if you are either married to the child’s mother when the child is born or are named as the father on the birth certificate. Parental responsibility can only be taken away by a court order.
Do I Need Parental Responsibility?
If you are living with your partner parental responsibility is not usually required as the chances are that you will be involved in making decisions about your child’s upbringing. However, if you are no longer together or in the tragic case where the child’s mother dies, having parental responsibility can be extremely significant as it confirms in legal terms your responsibility towards the child.
Having parental responsibility applies until the child is 18 and allows you to consent to medical treatment for your child, make decisions about your child’s education and apply for your child’s passport.
It also allows you to make decisions about where your child lives, their religious upbringing, to look after property on their behalf and to give consent if they are under the age of 18 and wish to marry.
Who can apply for Parental Responsibility?
A civil partner, natural father or step-parent can all apply for parental responsibility. If a child has more than one person with parental responsibility they do not necessarily have to seek agreement from anyone else and can make decisions on issues such as medical treatment and education independently.