Parental Responsibility

Acquisition of Parental Responsibility by Unmarried Fathers

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental Responsibility means having all the rights, duties, powers, responsibility and authority that, by law, a parent has in relation to their child. This includes having a say on issues such as discipline, education and medical treatment and having the right to provide a home and having contact with the child. It does not include the right to interfere with the day-to-day care.

Parental Responsibility at birth of child

Where parents are married to each other at the time of the child’s birth, they each have Parental Responsibility.  Where the parents are not married to each other at the time of the birth, the mother automatically has Parental Responsibility and the father does not.

Parental Responsibility following birth of child

An unmarried father can obtain Parental Responsibility in the following ways:-


An unmarried father who marries the mother will acquire Parental Responsibility.

Registration on child’s birth certificate

If a father is registered on the child’s birth certificate he will acquire Parental Responsibility.

Parental Responsibility Agreement

A father will acquire Parental Responsibility if he enters into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother.

Court Order

A father will acquire Parental Responsibility if he makes an Application to the Court and is granted a Parental Responsibility Order.  A father will also acquire Parental Responsibility if a Child Arrangements Order (i.e. an Order stating whom a child is to live with and spend time with and when) provides that the child is to live with him and a Parental Responsibility Order is made.  If a Child Arrangements Order provides that the child should spend time with the father then the Court must decide whether it is appropriate for the father to have Parental Responsibility and if so the Court would have to make a Parental Responsibility Order.

When deciding whether to make a Parental Responsibility Order the welfare of the child is the Court’s paramount consideration. The other factors the Court considers is:-

Cases where an Order has been refused include where the father has been violent towards the child and/or mother and where it was likely the father would misuse his Parental Responsibility to interfere with the mother’s care.

If you need assistance in respect of your matrimonial affairs, whether this is in respect of issues concerning a divorce and the related financial aspects, children, injunctions or cohabitation disputes, please contact our offices on 01323 727321 to arrange an appointment.

Please note that the family department offer a free initial 30 minute interview to provide general advice and guidance in relation to your matter.

Eastbourne, Hailsham, Polegate, Meads

Guy Brown
Guy Brown
Carolyn Richards
Carolyn Richards
Greg Saunders
Greg Saunders
Tina Ripley
Tina Ripley