Check to see if you have Parental Responsibility

Not all parents are treated the same and not all parents have ‘parental responsibility’. The information below will help you to understand if you have Parental Responsibility


If you are a birth mother you immediately and automatically have parental responsibility when you give birth to your child.

Unmarried dads

If your child’s birth was registered on or after 1 December 2003 and you were named on the birth certificate as their dad, you automatically have parental responsibility. If you are not named on the birth certificate then you don’t have parental responsibility. But as the biological father, you can get it by:

• marrying your child’s biological mother, or

• re-registering your child’s birth to add your details naming you as the dad, or making a parental responsibility agreement with your child’s mum, or

• applying successfully for a parental responsibility order (if your child’s mum will not agree to any of the above), or

• being appointed the child’s guardian

if the mother dies, or

• getting a child arrangements order that says your child will live with you.

In these circumstances the court must make a separate parental responsibility order which can only be ended by another court order. (The situation is different if you get a child arrangements order that just says your child will spend time with you and not that your child will live with you. In these circumstances the court may make a parental responsibility order but it doesn’t have to.)

An order giving you parental responsibility does not automatically result in a change to your child’s birth registration. If you want that to happen (and your ex still won’t re-register the birth with you, naming you as the dad) you will have to ask the court for another order called a Declaration of Parentage

(a formal statement by the court that you are the child’s father). You apply for declaration of parentage using form C63. You can find this at https://formfinder.hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/c63-eng.pdf and a Welsh/English version at https://formfinder.hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/c63-bil.pdf. If you get this declaration, the court must tell the General Registrar Office and the birth will be re-registered.

Married dads

If you are married to your child’s mum, you automatically have parental responsibility. This is the case whether you got married before or after your child was born. And you keep parental responsibility even if you get divorced. Only a court can decide that you should lose it.

Second female parents

‘Second female parent’ is a legal term that means something very specific. As the female partner of a mother, you are a ‘second female parent’ if:

• your partner had a child through a fertility clinic in the UK, licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and

• you and the child’s mother both agreed to you being treated as a parent before conception took place,


• your partner’s child was conceived on or after 6th April 2009. Being a second female parent does not automatically give you parental responsibility.

If you are a second female parent and were in a civil partnership or married to your child’s mother when the child was born, then you automatically have parental responsibility.

If you are a second female parent but weren’t in a civil partnership or married to your child’s mother when the child was born, you can get parental responsibility in all the ways available to an unmarried dad.


As a step-parent there are no circumstances in which you have parental responsibility automatically. So marriage or civil partnership to one of the child’s parents does not automatically give you parental responsibility.

Married step-parents (in both opposite sex and same-sex couples) and step parents in a civil partnership can get parental responsibility by:

• making a parental responsibility agreement with the parent or parents who already have parental responsibility, or

• applying to the court for a parental responsibility order.

Step-parents who are not married or in a civil partnership can only get parental responsibility by adopting their partner’s child.

It is possible for more than two people to have parental responsibility for the same child at the same time. This can happen, for example, where parents divorce, one parent remarries and the two parents with parental responsibility make a parental responsibility agreement with the step-parent.

If you still aren’t sure whether you have parental responsibility or not, you may need to get legal advice about your position

Parental Responsibility Explained.

What is it?

Parental responsibility is how the law describes the responsibilities and rights that go with being a parent. If you have parental responsibility for a child, you must care for and protect that child and the law entitles you to be involved in making decisions about them.

Having parental responsibility will put your relationship with your child or step-child on an official footing. Your position will be recognised by schools, hospitals, local authorities and everyone else. This may make both the child and you feel a bit more secure.

Depending on whether you are the only person with parental responsibility or share the responsibility with others, you can make or be involved in decisions about the child’s future. This includes things like choosing the child’s names, the religion they will be brought up in and what schools they’ll go to. It means you’ll be able to do things like consent to medical treatment for them, apply for a passport for them, consent to their marriage if they want to marry before they’re 18, and look after any property they are entitled to until their 18th birthday. It also means your child’s school should keep you informed about how they are doing at school, send you school reports and generally keep you in the loop, for example, about parents evenings, sports days, and other events. But there are limits to the extent of your involvement if the child doesn’t live with you.

Just because you have parental responsibility, doesn’t mean you can interfere with the child’s day to day living arrangements, for example, by trying to control what they have for lunch. A parent who has parental responsibility can ask somebody else to use that responsibility on their behalf.

So, for example, if you leave your child with their granny for a week while you are working you could give granny a letter confirming that she can use your parental responsibility while you are away. Granny could show that letter to your child’s school or a hospital to prove that she has ‘delegated’ parental responsibility and the school or hospital should respect it. Equally a mum can delegate parental responsibility to a dad who does not have it. So it is not always necessary for a dad to have a parental responsibility agreement or order to be able to use parental responsibility if needed.


Help with Getting Parental Repsonbility

If you have spoken with the other parent and she is unwilling to agree to you having Parental Responsibility, then we can help you.


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