Parental responsibility

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Parental responsibility is the concept of parents having ‘responsibilities’ towards their children, whether that may mean making important decisions in their child’s life or making day-to-day decisions. A parent’s duty towards their child will change over time and will vary with the age and maturity of their child as they become able to make their own decisions. 

Married parents have joint parental responsibility, but if unmarried, only the mother has parental responsibility. An unmarried father has a number of options available to him to acquire parental responsibility which a member of our Family Team would be happy to explore with you. 

Any number of people can have parental responsibility at any one time for a child; there is no limit. The only time when a parent will lose parental responsibility is on their death or adoption of the child. However, if an unmarried father or second female parent has acquired parental responsibility through a parental responsibility order, agreement or by registration on the birth certificate, it can be lost if the court makes a further order ending it. 

Although a number of people may have parental responsibility for a child, when making decisions on behalf of the child, it is in theory possible to act alone with no duty to consult anyone else. Nevertheless, there may be some decisions that may not be agreed by those who share parental responsibility. In these cases, it may be necessary to refer the matter to court. We recommend that you seek specialist advice on the options available to you. 

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