Parental Responsibility: you and the law

Parental Responsibility is a legal status and how the law recognises you as the legitimate father of your child, so it's worth making sure you've got it. Dad Info explains all...

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental Responsibility means exactly what it says on the tin. It directly refers to the duties, obligations and rights that you have regarding the upkeep of your new addition.

Very basically, if you have Parental Responsibility, you are a parent in the eyes of the law. If you don't, you'll not be an official parent, even if you are the biological father.

How do I get it?


  • If you're married to the mum, you get Parental Responsibility automatically.
  • If you're unmarried, and you sign the birth certificate, you get it; if you don't sign, you don't get it.  
  • How is the birth registered  

The detail:

There's a simple check list to go through to find out whether you have Parental Responsibility:

  1. The birth certificate. If you're on it, and it was issued since 1st December 2003 (4th May 2006 in Scotland) then there's no problems - Parental Responsibility is automatic
    • N.B. If you weren't on the birth certificate, you can re-register the birth - and that will give you Parental Responsibility
  2. If you're married to the mother of your child, Parental Responsibility is automatic
  3. If the certificate relates to a birth before this date and you're not married, then don't despair - there are a number of ways that you can get Parental Responsibility. They are, as follows:

...or finally

  • Become the child's guardian upon the mother's death. 

It's worth noting are that PR doesn't have to be exclusive to Mum and Dad - Grandparents are granted the right in some situations, and so are same-sex partners, step-parents and other folks who have day-to-day care of kids. This doesn't remove PR from the mum or dad.

* In order to obtain a Parental Responsibility Order from the courts, you may need to get a solicitor.

Parental Responsibility Continued...

Parental Responsibility: why does it matter?

Fathers Rights - How do I get parental responsibility?

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