Why does a father need parental responsibility?

Posted by Laura Bennett on

A father with parental authority has legal authority to make decisions about important aspects of a child's life.

A mother has parental responsibility automatically, but a father only automatically has parental responsibility if he is married to the child's mother or if he is named on the birth certificate. Please see the attached article for advice on other ways to acquire parental responsibility.

A father who has parental responsibility must be consulted about decisions regarding where a child lives, where they go to school and the medical treatment they receive. They must consent to any changes to the child's name or surname and give their written consent to the child being taken abroad by the other parent (unless a Child Arrangements Order is in place, in which case the person with whom the child lives can take them abroad for up to 28 days without seeking permission).

A father with parental responsibility can apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order, Specific Issue Order or Prohibited Steps Order regarding their child. A father who does not have parental responsibility, must seek the permission of the Court to apply for any of these Orders. This additional legal hurdle is not helpful at a time that is very stressful for fathers, as an application to the Court is usually necessitated by a serious disagreement with the child's mother.

I would advise any father who does not have parental responsibility for his child, to take the steps to acquire it before it is needed.

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Laura is a Senior Solicitor in the Family team based in Oxford.

Laura Bennett
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