FAQ – How do I get Parental Responsibility?
24 October 2019 by Lisa O'Boyle
Parental Responsibility means all the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities which by law a parent has in relation to a child and the child’s property. In practice having parental responsibility means that you have a right to decide and/or be consulted on matters relating to the child’s upbringing such as the child’s education, accommodation and medical treatments. Those with Parental Responsibility also have a responsibility to ensure the welfare of the child.
More than one person can have parental responsibility for a child. When it comes to day to day routine decisions each parent can act without the other parent’s agreement but that does not mean that they do not have to take the other parent’s wishes into account. When it comes to major decisions such as medical treatment, change of name and places of education for example, parents should consult with one another and ideally agree in writing.
The mother who gives birth to the child will always have parental responsibility and she will only lose parental responsibility if an adoption order is made.
A father will have parental responsibility if he is married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or, if the child was born on or after 1 December 2003, when the father’s name is registered on the child’s birth certificate. If the father subsequently marries the mother, the child’s birth certificate can be amended to include the father’s details. A father will also lose parental responsibility if an adoption order is made.
A father, a second female parent of a child, or a step parent can also obtain parental responsibility in one of the following ways:
- By making a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother
Both the mother and father (or second mother or step parent) must complete the relevant form. Both must then have their signature witnessed by a court official authorised to administer oaths, who will also sign the Form. The mother and father (or second mother or step parent) can do this separately and do not have to do so at the same time as long as it is on the same form. The mother will need to bring a copy of the child’s birth certificate and photographic ID. The father (or second mother or step parent) will only need to bring photographic ID.
- By applying to Court for a Parental Responsibility Order
This is an application to Court which can be made by a father, a second mother or a step parent.
In determining whether to make such an order, the Court will look at the child’s welfare and apply the “welfare checklist”. The Court will also determine whether the father (or second mother or step parent) has shown sufficient commitment to the child; the degree of attachment between the father (or second mother or step parent) and the child; and whether the reasons for the application are genuine.
- By obtaining a Child Arrangements Order that the child lives with them or a Special Guardianship Order
If the child lives with someone either under a Child Arrangements Order specifying that the child lives with them or under a Special Guardianship Order, that person will acquire parental responsibility. It should be noted that persons who have a Special Guardianship Order in their favour can exercise their parental responsibility to the exclusion of others who have parental responsibility for the child.
- By obtaining an Adoption Order in their favour, or a Parental Order in cases of surrogacy
An Adoption Order gives the adopting person parental responsibility and extinguishes the parental responsibility of other persons who had parental responsibility for the child before the Adoption Order was made.
- By being a legal guardian of a child appointed in a Will or by Deed.
The person who was appointed a legal guardian in someone else’s Will or by Deed, who takes on responsibility for the child will acquire parental responsibility if there is no other person who still has parental responsibility.
If you want to obtain parental responsibility, we have an experienced team of family lawyers who are able to advise and assist you on the best possible approach to take – contact Fisher Jones Greenwood by calling 01206 700113 or email [email protected].