Parental responsibility (PR) is all the ‘rights, duties, powers, responsibility and authority which by law a parent has in relation to the child and the child’s property’. A  person with PR for a child should be involved in and consulted about making any major decisions about that child, for example, the parent is to have a say in decisions affecting the child such as education and medical treatment.

Automatic Parental Responsibility

The child’s natural mother automatically has PR. If the natural father is married to the natural mother, the natural father will also have automatic PR.

Unmarried fathers do not have automatic PR.

Obtaining Parental Responsibility for unmarried fathers

  • The child’s father will obtain PR if their name is on the birth certificate and the child’s birth was registered after 01/12/2003.
  • The child’s father will obtain PR if they marry the child’s natural mother after the child’s birth.
  • Court Order – Usually used when there is a dispute between the father and the natural mother in which you may need to apply to the Court for a Parental Responsibility Order.
  • Parental Responsibility Agreement – Usually used when the natural mother is in agreement with the father that the father should have PR.
  • The child’s father will obtain PR if they are have a Child Arrangements Order and are named in it as the person with whom the child is to live with.
  • The child’s father may obtain parental responsibility if they have Child Arrangements Order and named in it as the person who the child should spend time with.

Parental Responsibility Agreements

Both mother and father will have to complete a signed agreement which would need to be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace, a Justice’s Clerk, an assistant to a Justice’s Clerk or a Court Official who is authorised by the judge to administer oaths. ID would need to be checked along with the child’s birth certificate.

Court Order

If you need to apply to the Court for a PR Order, you will need to file an application with the court along with a form confirming that mediation took place or that mediation is exempt for a certain reason. For information regarding mediation, please see our mediation and ADR blog.

PR is not lost if another person is granted it except for circumstances involving adoption.

I am not a parent – can I get parental responsibility?

You can get PR for a relevant child if you are:

  • A Guardian
  • A step-parent
  • An adoptive parent
  • A person with a Child Arrangements Order where the child lives with you
  • A person with a Special Guardianship Order for the child

If you need any assistance regarding PR and how to obtain it, or any other advice, please call our family experts on 033 03001103 or request a call back.


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