Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility is defined under 3 (1) Children Act 1989 as being: “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”. But what does that mean in practical terms?

Parental responsibility (PR) can be acquired in different ways. Generally speaking, a woman who gives birth to a child will automatically have PR. For fathers, it is acquired by either being married to the mother or being on the child’s birth certificate if the child was born after December 2003. If a father is not registered on the birth certificate, he can enter into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother, or if no agreement can be reached, apply to the court for a Parental Responsibility Order.

Therefore, it is usual for more than one person to have PR for a child. Where parents have separated, the parent with day-to-day care of the child will be able to make ordinary decisions about the child, such as what time they go to bed, and should be allowed to do so by the other people with PR without undue interference.

However, there are some other decisions that should not be made unilaterally by one person with PR alone. These include consenting to major medical treatment on the behalf of a child and deciding where they should be educated.

PR encompasses all decisions and responsibilities that a parent may make on behalf of their child during childhood and allows them to access a child’s school report, be informed of their medical issues, consent to treatment on the child’s behalf and decide where a child should be educated.

If you are having issues relating to family matters, and need advice regarding this, please contact 01484 714400 to book a free 30 minute consultation with one of our dedicated Family Law team.