What is parental responsibility?
All mothers and most fathers will have legal rights and responsibilities, known as ‘parental responsibility’. If you have parental responsibility, your important roles are to:
- Provide a home for your child
- Protect and maintain your child.
How do you know if you have parental responsibility?
As a mother you automatically have parental responsibility for your child from birth.
If you’re a father, you will usually have parental responsibility if you are:
- Married to the child's mother
- Listed on the birth certificate
If you go through a divorce, both parents keep parental responsibility for the children.
Births registered in England and Wales
If you were married before the child is born, and also if you jointly adopt a child, both of you will have parental responsibility.
If you are an unmarried father, seeking legal responsibility for your child, you can do this in one of three ways:
- Jointly register the birth of the child (both names on the birth certificate), jointly re-register the birth with the mother, or ask the mother to sign a statutory declaration form confirming you are the father. Open the statutory declaration form.
- Get a parental responsibility agreement with the mother of the child. You get a parental responsibility agreement form also known as C(PRA1) from your local court office, by asking a member of staff. Or download it here.
- Get a parental responsibility order from a court. If you want parental responsibility but cannot agree on arrangements with the mother, you can apply for a court order. This costs £215. For help with fees and to find the application form, follow this link.
Births registered in Scotland
As a father you have parental responsibility if you are married to the mother when the child is conceived or at any point afterwards.
If your child is born after the 4th May 2006, and you are an unmarried father, you will have parental responsibility if you are named on the child's birth certificate. If your child is born before 4th May 2006, and you are an unmarried father, you will not have parental responsibility even if you are named on the birth certificate.
To try and obtain parental responsibility, you will need to fill in a Parental Responsibilities and Rights agreement form which can be obtained by email from firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 0131 244 3581.
Births registered in Northern Ireland
As a father you will have parental responsibility if you are married to the mother at the time of the birth. If you marry after the child's birth, you will have parental responsibility only if you live in Northern Ireland at the time of the marriage.
If you are an unmarried father, and your child is born after 15th April 2002 you will have parental responsibility if you are named, or become named on the child's birth certificate.
If your child is born before 15th April 2002, you do not automatically have parental responsibility for your child. You may acquire parental responsibility through 1 of 2 ways:
- Parental responsibility agreement with the mother. The form for this can be found here.
- Parental responsibility order through the courts. You can obtain this from your local court, by asking a member of staff. The form is called a C1 form.
Births registered outside of the UK
Parental responsibility will depend on which area of the UK you are living in. See above for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Same Sex Couples
Co-habiting partners: The second parent can obtain parental responsibility by either applying for parental responsibility if an agreement has been made, or by becoming a civil partners, and making a parental responsibility agreement.
Step-Parents: Married stepparents and registered civil partners have parental responsibility if the mother and father of the child have agreed or if you have a court order giving you parental responsibility.
If both parents agree to you having parental responsibility, you can enter into an agreement with them. You can obtain this form from court staff, asking for a parental responsibility form called the C (PRA2). The process is the same for fathers seeking parental responsibility.
If the parents do not agree to you having parental responsibility, you can apply to the court for a parental responsibility form, called the C1 form.