In England and Wales parental responsibility for a child is defined in the Children Act 1989 as "all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent has in relation to the child and his property."
Having parental responsibility for a child enables a parent to make day-to-day decisions in respect of their child about matters such as education, religion and medical treatment. Any parent with parental responsibility can also, for example, object to any change of a child's name.
Who has parental responsibility?
Parental Responsibility is something which every mother automatically has. Fathers who are married to the mother of the child at the time of the child's birth also automatically acquire Parental Responsibility.
In England and Wales , since 1st December 2003, unmarried fathers acquire Parental Responsibility if they are present to register as the child's father at the Registry Office and their name is put on the child's birth certificate. However, the law is not retrospective and for all unmarried fathers whose name is not on their child's birth certificate and whose child was born before 1st December 2003 or 4th May 2006 it is still necessary to sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother or to apply for a court order for Parental Responsibility.
It is recommended that unmarried fathers acquire Parental Responsibility. The father will then have virtually the same rights in bringing up the child as enjoyed by married fathers.
Parental Responsibility Form
This Parental Responsibility form is a legal document which the mother must sign. It must be witnessed and filed with the Principal Registry. The document includes instructions on how to complete it and where it should be registered