• Victoria Apperley

So, you may have parental responsibility. But what does that mean?

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

As you may or may not know, I am spending the month of August to raise awareness on Family Law! So stay tuned for plenty of juicy posts!

Who has Parental Responsibility?

There are certain types of people that have parental responsibility for a child. I am based in England, and therefore all of the details are based on parents living in England.

  • A mother has parental responsibility for their child from the time of birth.

  • A father will have parental responsibility if they are married to the child mother or they are listed on the birth certificate. (If the child was born after 1st December 2003).

  • If parents have jointly adopted a child, they will have parental responsibility.

  • Each person will keep parental responsibility, even if they divorce or separate later in life.

If an unmarried father doesn’t have parental responsibility he can get it by either getting a parental responsibility agreement with the mother or getting a parental responsibility order from court.

If you are not the mother you are able to apply for parental responsibility. You need to have some sort of connection to the child, however, for example, their father, step-parent or 2nd female parent.

More than 2 people can have parental responsibility for a child.

You are able to agree parental responsibility outside of a court case, there are forms you can ask to be witnessed and agree amongst yourself.

If you are the other parent.

If you are a step parent.

If you can’t agree with the mother, you can apply for a court order, costing £215, by filling out a C1 Order

What does parental responsibility mean then?

You have 2 very important roles, to provide a home for your child and to protect and maintain for your child.

However, you are also responsible for the child’s discipline, their education, medical treatment, naming your child and looking after their property.

Financial support must be provided whether you have parental responsibility, or not!

If the parents are separated all important decisions for the child must still be made jointly.

The child has a right to contact with both of their parents.

Whilst parental responsibility does not give the parent the right to have contact with the child, the child has the right to contact with both of their parents.

Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that “Children must not be separated from their parents against their will unless it is in their best interests (for example, if a parent is hurting or neglecting a child). Children whose parents have separated have the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this could cause them harm.

By stopping your child from seeing another parent the only rights you are taking away, are those of your child.

If you have parental responsibility for a child and you are unable to see them right now, you can apply to grant them contact to their other parent through court. However, you need to attempt mediation before applying.


You are legally required to consider mediation before applying to the family court. You must attend a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting). These will give you an idea of whether Mediation will be able to sort out your arrangements for the future.

There are certain exceptions, such as domestic violence cases, where a MIAM is not required to have a hearing.

Mediation can potentially give you more control over what happens with your contact and financial arrangements. It’s cheaper than going to court, and it can be less upsetting for both you and your children.

If you do not have parental responsibility you may still apply for contact through court.

For a Child Arrangements Order you can apply, even without parental responsibility, if you are:

  • The Mother

  • The Father

  • The Step Parent (by marriage or civil partnership)

There are many other orders that can be applied for, which I will go into in other blogs, but for now I want to focus on Parental Responsibility.

I would love to answer any questions you have on Parental Responsibility and applying for orders from the court, so get in touch!

Being a litigant in person can be scary, but there is so much help available out there, you can do it!


©2018 by Victoria Apperley