Parental responsibility

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility means the legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority a person has for a child and their property.

A person who has parental responsibility for you has the right to make major decisions about your care and upbringing. This can include:

  • Your education
  • Your religion
  • Consenting to certain medical treatment
  • Choosing, registering or changing your name.

Who has parental responsibility?

Your mother automatically has parental responsibility for you.

Your father will have parental responsibility for you if:

  • he was married to your mother when you were born, or he married her after you were born. Your father will not lose parental responsibility if your parents divorce.
  • he was not married to your mother but he is named on your birth certificate as your father after the 1st December 2003.
  • he has an order from the court giving him parental responsibility for you.

A step-parent may be able to get parental responsibility for you if they are married to your mother/father and they enter an agreement or get a court order.

Other people can get parental responsibility for you if you live with this person under a court order or Special Guardianship Order. For example, this may be a grandparent or older sibling.

Your adoptive parents will get parental responsibility for you once an adoption order is made.

Can parental responsibility be removed?

Your biological parents will lose parental responsibility for you if you have been adopted. Your adoptive parent(s) will then get parental responsibility for you. For further information, see: Adoption.

If you live with someone other than your biological parents under a court order, that order can be discharged (removed) by the courts and that person will lose parental responsibility.

In some situations, a father may have his parental responsibility removed but this is very rare.

Can I still see my father if he does not have parental responsibility?

You can still have contact with your father even if he does not have parental responsibility. Contact is your right and does not depend on parental responsibility. For more information, see: Contact with family members when parents disagree.

At what age can I make my own decisions?

Parental responsibility comes to an end when you reach the age of 18. However, the older you are, the more you will have a say in these decisions. For more information, see: Disagreements about major decisions.