Frequently asked questions for fathers

Parental responsibility

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is the term used to describe the rights and responsibilities parents have to care and provide for their children and make important decisions about their upbringing.

Do I need parental responsibility?

You need parental responsibility in order to make key decisions about your child, such as consent to medical or dental treatment, consent to school trips and taking a child abroad.

However, if your child is in the care system, the local authority should involve you in discussions about plans for your child whether or not you have parental responsibility.

Do I automatically have parental responsibility for my child because I am her father?

Not necessarily. All mothers automatically have parental responsibility for their child from the moment of the child's birth, but as a father you will only have parental responsibility automatically if:

you are married to the mother at the time of the child's birth or you marry her after the birth: or

you are registered as the child's father on the birth certificate and the registration took place after 1st December 2003.

Otherwise you can get parental responsibility:

  • by you and your daughter's mother both signing an authorised agreement giving you parental responsibility.  The form you need is PRA1. Once you have both signed it in front of an authorised person, you need to  send it to The Principal Registry of the Family Division; or
  • if you daughter was born before 1st December 2003 you can re-register the birth. The re-registration must be done jointly with your daughter's mother or you can do it alone provided the mother signs a statutory declaration that you are the child's father (read here for further information); or
  • by you applying for a court order giving you parental responsibility under s.4 Children Act 1989 (read here for more detailed information on parental responsibility).

I am in a fathering role but I am not the child's biological father. How can I acquire parental responsibility?

If you are a step-parent who is either married to the mother, or in a same sex-civil partnership with a birth father who has parental responsibility, you can get parental responsibility in three ways:

If both parents with parental responsibility agree, you can make a formal agreement with both of them on an authorised form. The form you need is PRA2. Again, once this has been signed by all of you in front of an authorised person, you need to lodge this form with the Principal Registry of the Family Division; or

By applying to the court for an order which grants parental responsibility under s.4A Children Act 1989; or by applying to court for a different legal order, for example a residence order, which gives the holder of the order parental responsibility, but you may need the court's permission (i.e. leave) to do this.

For further information on parental responsibility read here.

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