How to Remove Parental Responsibility

08 March 2017

By Family Law Solicitor Sarah Milner

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 wish to change your child’s name or apply for a passport, you would need the co-operation and consent of everyone with Parental Responsibility.

If Parental Responsibility has been obtained through a Court Order, then the person would only have Parental Responsibility for as long as the Order remains in force. This might 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 and 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 and responsibilities and authority that, by law, a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property.

This includes the right and duty to care for the child and provide a home, to determine where the child should live, to ensure that if the child is of compulsory school age they receive appropriate education, to consent to medical treatment or obtain appropriate treatment for the child, to name the child and to 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 and will depend on the circumstances when the child is born. If the father is married to the child’s mother at the time the child is born, he will automatically have Parental Responsibility or he will acquire it if he marries the mother at a later date. 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 at the time the child’s birth is registered.

How to Get Parental Responsibility

Fathers can get Parental Responsibility by entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the child’s mother, or by seeking an Order from the Court for either Parental Responsibility or for the child to 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. To do this they would have to make an application to the Court for an Order for Parental Responsibility, or for the child to live with them, or for Special Guardianship.

More articles