Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility refers to the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which a parent has in respect of their child. It grants authority to take decisions on behalf of a child as well as requiring a child to be cared for and provided for.

If you are the parent of a child but do not have parental responsibility, we can advise you as to how to obtain this. We also deal with disputes between parents over issues that they are both entitled to decide upon because they hold parental responsibility.

We provide advice to parents who need to know their rights as well as representation in enforcing these.

If you would like to talk to our London parental responsibility solicitors, ring us on 0208 989 3000 or use our simple contact form to request a call back and we will be happy to answer your questions.

Why choose Huggins Lewis Foskett for parental responsibility advice?

Our family law team are friendly and approachable and will do all they can to help you at this difficult time. We understand how difficult it is to deal with disputes involving your children and you will find us to be sympathetic and considerate.

As well as a high level of legal expertise, we are also known for the exceptional level of service we provide. We will keep you updated as to the progress of your case and we are always happy to discuss any concerns you have and answer your questions.

Our parental responsibility services

Advice on parental rights and responsibilities

We can advise you of your rights as someone with parental responsibility as well as how you can negotiate with your child’s other parent to agree on parental issues.

Applications for parental responsibility

If you do not hold parental responsibility, but you are a child’s father, same-sex parent, step-parent or guardian, we can advise you on applying for parental responsibility and make an application on your behalf. This includes by signing a parental responsibility agreement with the child’s mother or applying to the court for a parental responsibility order where necessary.

Parental responsibility disputes

If you are involved in a dispute over parental responsibility, we can represent you in trying to negotiate a resolution. This includes in dealing with disputes over decisions to be made for your child and obtaining parental responsibility if your child’s mother objects.

Child arrangements for those with parental responsibility

If you are going through a divorce or separation, you may need to put formal arrangements in place in respect of your children. We can represent you in negotiating child arrangements with your child’s other parent and anyone else who holds parental responsibility. Where necessary, we can arrange an alternative form of dispute resolution such as mediation to help you find an acceptable solution. We also deal with litigation if this is necessary.

Everything you need to know about parental responsibility

What is meant by parental responsibility?

The relevant parental responsibility act is The Children Act 1989, section 3, which says that parental responsibility is the rights, duties, powers, responsibility and authority which a parent has in respect of a child and their property.

A parent with parental responsibility has the right to have their say over the way in which a child is raised and the major decisions made on their behalf. They are also entitled to receive information concerning the child, such as medical records and educational reports.

If you have parental responsibility, you are responsible for:

  • Providing a home and caring for your child
  • Discipline
  • Arranging your child’s education, for example, deciding what school they will attend
  • Agreeing to medical treatment
  • Choosing your child’s name and authorising any change of name
  • Deciding which religion, if any, your child will follow
  • Looking after your child’s property

You should make these decisions together with anyone else who also has parental responsibility.

Can I make solo decisions if someone else also has parental responsibility?

You are entitled to make some decisions without consulting your child’s other parent with parental responsibility. In some cases, the other parent should be told about the decisions, while in others this is not necessary.

Some decisions they will need to be notified of include:

  • Taking the child on holiday – you should also note that holidays need to be dealt with in accordance with the terms of any child arrangements order or parenting agreement that exists
  • Emergency medical treatment
  • Planned doctor’s appointments
  • Moving house – if this involves a change of school, the other parent must agree to the new school
  • Any additions to the people living in your home

Day-to-day decisions that you can take on your own without the need to consult your child’s other parent include:

  • Routine medical and dental appointments
  • Ordinary discipline
  • Regular activities
  • School functions
  • Attending religious events

How do I get parental responsibility?

Birth mothers automatically have parental responsibility. It is also given to fathers who are married to the child’s mother as well as unmarried fathers who are named on the child’s birth certificate.

Other individuals may be able to apply for parental responsibility in certain situations, including:

  • Unmarried fathers
  • Unmarried same-sex parents
  • Stepparents
  • Grandparents
  • A child’s guardian
  • The local authority

Parental responsibility is obtained either by entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the child’s mother or, where this is not possible, by asking the court for a parental responsibility order.

How to apply for parental responsibility

The easiest way to obtain parental responsibility is when the child’s mother and anyone else with parental responsibility agrees that you should also be given it. In this case, a parental responsibility agreement can be completed and taken to the local family court where you will all sign it in front of witnesses.

You will also need to take proof of your identity and a copy of your child’s birth certificate.

After the form has been signed, you should send it together with several copies to the Central Family Court. The court will make a record of the agreement and retain the original. The copies will be sealed and returned to you. Everyone involved should be given a sealed copy. This is proof of parental responsibility. 

Otherwise, an application can be made to the court for parental responsibility. The court will consider whether it is in your child’s best interests to make an order, taking into account the following:

  • The level of commitment to the child, such as attending the birth, maintaining contact and providing financial support
  • The attachment between the applicant and the child
  • The reason why the application for parental responsibility has been made

The courts grant the vast majority of applications for parental responsibility.

Can a mother stop a father having parental responsibility?

A mother may object to a father being granted parental responsibility. It is open to her to explain to the court why this is. The court will consider whether it is in the best interests of the child to grant parental responsibility to the father.

Parental responsibility is only removed in exceptional circumstances, for example where a father is guilty of abuse of the child or their mother.

What are the rights of a father without parental responsibility?

Without parental responsibility, you will not have an automatic right to be consulted when major decisions are made in respect of your child.

You could still apply for a prohibited steps order, if necessary, for example, if the child’s mother was planning to leave the country and take the child with her.

You will still be obligated to provide financial support for your child and we can provide child maintenance advice for fathers if needed.

Our parental responsibility fees

Fixed fee parental responsibility advice and representation

We offer fixed fees for some work in dealing with parental responsibility issues so that you will know exactly how much you will be charged.

Hourly rates for parental responsibility advice

For other issues, we provide advice and representation on the basis of an hourly rate. This will depend on the level of expertise needed for your case and we will ensure you have the right lawyer to advise you.

Our family law team

Fee Earners

Marcin Typiak

For more information in respect of our services, see our child law solicitors page.

Speak to our parental responsibility solicitors in South Woodford, London

If you need advice, guidance or representation in respect of parental responsibility, we will be happy to help.

Call our parental responsibility lawyers in South Woodford, London now on 0208 989 3000. Or use the simple contact form below and we will get back to you soon.