Being named as a father on your child’s birth certificate

Ideally both parents should be named on a child’s birth certificate and it is particularly important if the birth parents are not married. A birth mother automatically has parental responsibility for a child and will be included on the certificate. Generally, where birth parents are married both will have parental responsibility.

Adding your name, as the birth father, is straight forward as long as the mother agrees.



What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental Responsibility is defined in the 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”.

The term ‘Parental Responsibility’ attempts to focus on the parent’s duties towards their child rather than the parent’s rights over their child.


What does Parental Responsibility really mean?

In practical terms, Parental Responsibility means the power to make important decisions in relation to a child. This can include:

  • determining the child’s educational needs and where they will goes to school;
  • choosing, registering or changing a child’s name;
  • appointing a child’s guardian in the event of the death of a parent;
  • consenting to a child’s medical treatment or agreeing to surgery;
  • accessing a child’s medical or educational records;
  • consenting to take a child overseas for holidays or extended stays;
  • representing the child in legal matters;
  • determining the religion the child should be brought up with. Where there is a mixed cultural background this should include exposure to the religions of all those with Parental Responsibility, until the child can reach an age where he/she can make their own decision on this.

Who has Parental Responsibility?

Mother automatically have parental responsibility. Father who are married to or in a civil partnership with the mother automatically have Parental Responsibility and will not lose it if divorced or if the civil partnership is dissolved.

Second female parents who were married to or in a civil partnership with the biological mother at the time of conception (unless conception was the result of sexual intercourse or the wife/civil partner of the biological mother did not consent to the conception).

Fathers who are not married to or in a civil partnership with the mother do not automatically have Parental Responsibility.

Grandparents do not automatically have Parental Responsibilities.

How can a father who is not married to or in a civil partnership with the birth mother obtain Parental Responsibilities?

They can do so in any of the following ways:

  • by marrying or entering into a civil partnership with the birth mother;
  • by having his name registered or re-registered on the birth certificate if his name is not already registered;*
  • by entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother;
  • by obtaining a Parental Responsibility Order from the court;
  • by having obtained a Residence Order prior to 22/4/2014;
  • by being named as the resident parent under a Child Arrangements Order;

* The law has changed so that unmarried fathers who registered or re-registered their name on their child’s birth certificate after 1st December 2003 will have Parental Responsibility for their child.

What if the mother refuses to add the father’s name to a child’s brith certificate?

If the birth mother is refusing to add your name to your child’s birth certificate, family mediation can help you. We can start a process to contact the birth mother and if this fails, we can help you to start your application to the courts for an order to have your name added.

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