Unmarried fathers in the UK parental rights in separation changed in 2003 when the legal status of “Parental Responsibility” was automatically given to any father whose name appeared on the birth certificate of any child born on or after 1st December 2003.

Unmarried fathers and Parental Responsibility

If the child was born before that date, an unmarried father does not have Parental Responsibility even if their name appears on the birth certificate. Parental Responsibility is a legal status that is conferred on a parent and establishes them as a parent of the child under the law: Find out more about Parental Responsibility.

Therefore, whether or not you have Parental Responsibility as an unmarried father depends on whether your child was born on, after or before 1st December 2003, and whether your name appears on the child’s birth certificate. This table summarises the options:

Which unmarried fathers have “Parental Responsibility”?

Does your name appear on the birth certfiicate?YesNo
Child born before 1st December 2003NoNo
Child born on or after 1st December 2003YesNo

Having Parental Responsibility for a child means that in law, you have the same rights as any other parent. You should recognised by courts, schools, hospitals and any other public institution as a legal parent. It is the baseline of legal recognition.

If you don’t have Parental Responsibility for your child and you want to get it, there are two routes: Either you can sign a Parental Responsibilty Agreement with the child’s mother, if she agrees to, or you can ask a court to issue a Parental Responsibility Order.

Further reading:

How do I get Parental Responsibility?