Parental Responsibility

All mothers and most fathers have legal rights and responsibilities as a parent – known as parental responsibility. If you have parental responsibility, your most important roles are to provide a home for the child and to protect and maintain the child.

If you have parental responsibility for a child you don’t live with, you don’t necessarily have a right to contact with them – but the other parent still needs to keep you updated about their wellbeing and progress.

You are also responsible for:

  • Disciplining the child.
  • Choosing and providing for the child’s education.
  • Agreeing to the child’s medical treatment.
  • Naming the child and agreeing to any change of name.
  • Looking after the child’s property.

Parents have to ensure that their child is supported financially, whether they have parental responsibility or not. A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth. A father usually has parental responsibility if he is:

  • Married to the child’s mother.
  • Listed on the birth certificate (after a certain date, depending on which part of the UK the child was born in).
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