Parental Responsibility… Frequently Asked Questions

Sally Clark Blog

Here at Barnes Clark Family Law, we are specialists in all areas of private family law including advising and assisting clients in relation to arrangements for children. When advising clients on children arrangements, questions are often raised about parental responsibility, such as the below.

What is parental responsibility?

Parental Responsibility (PR) is not about ‘rights’ but about ‘responsibility’ for a child. Whilst any party with PR should be involved in decision making, it does not automatically mean that day to day decisions of the parent with care of the child should be interfered with.

All parties with PR should be involved in important life decisions, such as education, religion, medical treatment and in respect of the child’s name. This means, for example, one parent cannot just change the child’s name without the consent of the other parent, in they have PR.

Who has parental responsibility?

Mothers automatically have Parental Responsibility for their child. This is not the case in relation to Fathers.

Fathers automatically acquire PR upon marriage to the Mother.

If a child was born prior to 1.12.2003 and the parents are not married, the Father does not have PR. If born after that date, the Father can acquire PR, but only if they are listed as the child’s father on the birth certificate.

How can you get PR?

Parental Responsibility can be acquired as follows:

  • By agreement with the Mother. A form will then need to be completed as necessary and then sent to the Principal Registry of the Family Division in London.
  • By an application to Court. Usually the Father will make an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order and this will include that he has obtained PR. Here at Barnes Clark Family Law, we are experts in this area of family law and can offer you informed advice as to steps that need to be taken.

How long does PR last?

Generally speaking, once PR is acquired, it cannot be taken away. However, it does lapse when the child reaches the age of 18.

For further information, or to arrange an appointment please contact us on 01274 861096 (Liversedge) or 01423 637272 (Harrogate) or email Please note that we offer a free half an hour consultation.