How to Remove Parental Responsibility

05 January 2021

Generally, the only way to remove parental responsibility from someone is to make an application to the Court. Although if someone has been given parental responsibility through a court order, then that responsibility would end once the court order is no longer in force.

It may not seem important if both parents have parental responsibility but only one parent plays an active role in the child’s life. However, there will be certain circumstances when this will matter. For example, if you want to change your child’s name or apply for a passport for them, you would need the co-operation and consent of everyone with parental responsibility.

If parental responsibility has been granted through a court order then this parental responsibility will be in place as long as the order is in force. This could include a Special Guardianship Order.

Otherwise, the only way to remove parental responsibility from someone is to make an application to the Court. It is extremely difficult for this type of application to be successful. The Courts would only do this in exceptional circumstances, for example if it is necessary for the child’s protection.

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is a legal term used to describe the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that a parent has towards the child and their property.

  • This includes the right and duty to:
  • care for the child and provide a home
  • determine where the child should live
  • ensure that if the child is of compulsory school age they receive appropriate education
  • consent to medical treatment or obtain appropriate treatment for the child
  • name the child
  • remove the child from the jurisdiction (England & Wales)

Who has parental responsibility?

A mother (who gives birth to the child) will have parental responsibility as soon as a child is born.

The position in relation to the child’s father is not quite as simple. If the father is married to the child’s mother at the time the child is born, he will automatically have parental responsibility. If the parents are not married but the father’s name is added to the child’s birth certificate (for births after 2003), he will acquire parental responsibility when the child’s birth is registered. If the father isn't named on the birth certificate, but marries the mother at a later date, he will automatically get parental responsibility then.

How to get parental responsibility

Fathers can get parental responsibility by entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the child’s mother. They can also apply for a court order that grants parental responsibility or that says the child should live with them.

Step-parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles can also get parental responsibility for a child, but usually only if they are involved in caring for the child. They would have to apply to the court for an order for parental responsibility, an order for the child to live with them, or an order for Special Guardianship.

More articles