Tell us what you think

Beta This is the first version of the guide

  1. Home
  2. Your parental responsibility

Your parental responsibility

Parental responsibility is a term that means you have legal rights and duties relating to your children’s upbringing.

It doesn’t mean you have a right to spend time with your children (if you don’t live with them), but the other parent must include you when making important decisions about their lives.

You’re also responsible for issues such as:

  • where they go to school
  • how to discipline them
  • agreeing to their medical treatment
  • choosing, registering or changing their names

All mothers automatically have parental responsibility. A father usually does if he’s either married to the child’s mother or listed on the birth certificate.

Find out more about who has parental responsibility.

You can apply for parental responsibility if you don’t automatically have it.

You must provide financial support for your children even if you don’t have parental responsibility.

Arrange child maintenance yourself

Making decisions with the other parent

You don’t always need to get the consent of the other parent for routine decisions, even if they also have parental responsibility.

If it’s a major decision (for example one of you wants to move abroad with your children) both parents with responsibility must agree in writing.

You can apply for a Specific Issue Order or Prohibited Steps Order if you can’t agree. A judge will then make a decision which is in your children’s best interests.

Please help us improve the guide by leaving your feedback