Article published on 16 May 2016

Parental Responsibility or PR means all of the rights, duties, powers and responsibility which a parent has in relation to the child and their property. These rights exist so that a parent can carry out their parental duties. There is no definitive list of these rights and duties as they will change throughout a child’s life however some common examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Naming the child
  • Bringing up the child
  • Protecting and maintaining the child
  • Choosing the child’s religion
  • Consenting to medical treatment
  • Disciplining the child.

Who has Parental Responsibility?

The mother of the child will always have PR for the child.

If a mother and father are married or civil partnered at the time of conception or birth, they will both have PR for the child. They will continue to share PR even after any divorce or dissolution of the civil partnership (although please note a court can make orders to govern aspects of the child’s upbringing if necessary).

If the parents are not married at the time of birth, the father or second female parent (same sex couples) may acquire PR in the following ways:

  • By making a PR agreement with the mother on a prescribed form and having it registered; or
  • By the court making a PR order; or
  • By their name appearing on the birth certificate – this only applies in respect of children born on or after 1 December 2003 (female parents could only be added to a birth certificates separate law was brought in force on 6 April 2009); or
  • By marrying or entering into a civil partnership with the mother; or
  • By obtaining a child arrangements order (previously called a residence order) for the child to live with the father or second female parent. If an order is made for a father to have contact with the child, the court can also consider making an order for PR at that time. If PR is acquired in this way, it only remains in place for as long as the child arrangements order remains in force.

Since 30 December 2005, step-parents, who are married/civil partnered to a parent can acquire PR by court order or by entering into an agreement on a prescribed form with all parents who have PR for a child already.

Guardians will acquire PR for a child if they are appointed as such upon the death of a parent.

At the time of an adoption of a child, the birth parents will lose PR and the adoptive parents will gain PR.

If you have any queries surrounding parental responsibility please do not hesitate to contact Rebecca Ashton at our Bognor Regis Office on 01243 864001.

Rebecca Ashton (Chartered Legal Executive Lawyer)

Matrimonial Department 

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