Parental Responsibility Order

Posted on Sunday, 30th Aug, 2015 at 06:32:15 PM
Parental responsibility (PR) in family law is a legal status derived from the Children Act 1989. You may be quite rightly regarded as a responsible parent by a host of organisations, even singly responsible for your childs daily care, but at the same time not have the formal status of a parent with parental responsibility.

All mothers, whether married or unmarried, automatically have parental responsibility for any child born to them. [Children Act 1989 s2(1) & s2(2)(a)]

Fathers who were married to the mother of the child when the child was born also automatically have parental responsibility. [CA 1989 s2(1)]


Unmarried Fathers can acquire parental responsibility in any of the following ways:

By jointly registering the childs birth with the mother (for births registered after 1 December 2003) you will automatically gain parental responsibility (i.e. there will be no separate official document stating that you have PR) [CA 1989 s4(1)(a)]. It is the date of registration, not the date of birth which is important in determining whether the father has parental responsibility.

By re-registering the birth for pre December 2003 registrations, to add the fathers details, you will automatically gain parental responsibility [CA 1989 s4(1)(a)].You would either need the mother to attend with you or provide a formal declaration of agreement that your name is to be added to the birth record. NB: the birth can only be re-registered if the fathers name was omitted from the original registration. If it is already there, you cannot re-register, and therefore you cannot gain parental responsibility by this means.

By subsequently marrying the mother of the child you automatically gain PR [CA 1989 s2(3)Family Law Reform Act 1987 s(1)]

A birth parent can sign a parental responsibility agreement on form C(PRA1) according to the Children Act 1989. This document itself will signify that you have parental responsibility for the child) [CA 1989 s4(1)(2)].

By obtaining a residence order from the court (PR is a by-product of the residence order) you will automatically acquire parental responsibility [CA 1989 s12(1)], although in this form PR will terminate when the resident order ends (usually age 16).

By obtaining a parental responsibility order from the court. The order will specifically state that the court has granted you parental responsibility. [CA 1989 s4(1)(3)]

In English law a woman who is not the biological mother of the child can be legally the other parent of a child if she is the mothers same-sex partner in a lesbian relationship. Such a woman has parental responsibility in a very similar way as a legal father. This does not apply to an adoptive mother or a woman who is the mother of a child after a parental order made after surrogacy. Such a mother always has parental responsibility, whatever the gender of the other parent.

The childs other parent has parental responsibility:
if she is in a civil partnership with the mother at the time of the birth;
if she registers a civil partnership with the mother later on,
if she is on the English or Welsh birth certificate;
if she and the mother have signed a parental responsibility agreement, which is a prescribed form, and lodged it with the court; or
if the court has made a parental responsibility order in her favour.

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