How to apply for Parental Responsibility

What is a parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is a term used for the legal rights, duties, powers and responsibilities that a parent receives when they have a child.

By having parental responsibility it is essential that you provide a home and maintenance for the child. You are also able to exercise power to make decisions for that child providing it is in their best interests.

Important decisions about the child’s life can be agreed and made by parents with parental responsibility, these decisions include:

  • To provide a safe and suitable home for the child and deciding where the child will live.
  • To provide appropriate education and decision where the child is educated
  • Deciding on what to name the child and registering their birth
  • Deciding and providing consent on the child leaving the country whether for a visit for permanently.
  • Decisions about the Religious beliefs the child should be brought up with
  • Consenting to a child’s operation or certain medical treatment.
  • Representing the child in legal proceedings

Parental Responsibility provides the power to make important decisions in relation to a child until they reach the age where they are able to consent for themselves at 16.

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Do I have parental responsibility?

If you’re a mother of a child you will automatically receive parental responsibility when the child is born. The rules on parental responsibility are different for fathers. A father named on the child’s birth certificate or is married to the mother of the child, will also have an automatic parental responsibility.

Parents of a child that was born into a civil partnership through artificial insemination will automatically be granted parental responsibility if both names are added to the child’s birth certificate.  

If you do not have parental responsibility you may be wondering how to apply for parental responsibility. Contact one of our specialists in child law who can provide you with the information you need and assist you in gaining parental responsibility for a child.

Parental responsibility agreement

A common question concerning a child is how to apply for parental responsibility. One of the ways of gaining parental responsibility is through a parental responsibility agreement. Any person including fathers that are not married to the child’s mother or are not named on the birth certificate of the child can secure a parental responsibility agreement to share parental responsibility.

A parental responsibility agreement may be the best option without going to court if both parents are on amicable speaking terms. When both parties agree on a parental responsibility agreement it saves time and money and stress. It also requires maintaining a good relationship between all parties thus having a positive impact on the child and their upbringing.

If parents can reach a parental responsibility agreement between them then a parental responsibility form needs to be completed. This form is called Form C(PRA1).  

The parental responsibility form records that an agreement has taken place between both parents. Both parents must sign the parental responsibility form at the court and it must be witnessed by a court form. A separate parental responsibility form will have to be submitted for each child and proof of your child’s ID will be required, i.e. Birth Certificate.

How do I deal with mother refusing parental responsibility

Not all parents of a child following a divorce or separation remain amicable. Therefore, in some instances the mother may refuse granting a parental responsibility to a father. It is important to note that married fathers who are named on the child’s birth certificate are automatically granted parental responsibility. This can not be removed or taken away even if the parents’ divorce.

However, complications often arise when the father is not married to the mother and may not named on the child’s birth certificate. It is often advisable to promote an active discussion between parents when considering the issue of parental responsibility. Our family lawyers can assist you in contacting your former partner to see whether the issue of parental responsibility can be resolved. If discussions fail and the mother still refuses to grant parental responsibility to the father by agreement, then the father would need to make an application for a parental responsibility order. This is used where any of the existing parental responsibility holders refuse to agree to a parental responsibility. The court will make a decision whether it is in the child’s best interest for a parental responsibility order to be granted. 

How to apply for a parental responsibility order

Unfortunately, not all parents are amicable following a divorce or separation and some parties may become hostile towards one another. In such instances you may be wondering how to apply for parental responsibility. If parties cannot come to an agreement on a parental responsibility agreement regarding the child an alternative option in gaining parental responsibility would be to apply to the court for a parental responsibility order.

At Kabir Family Law our child law specialist you can guide you through the court process of gaining parental responsibility.

In order to apply for a parental responsibility order a form C1 needs to be completed.  

As with many child law issues the court’s priority will be the child’s welfare in deciding on whether to grant a parental responsibility order. You should bear in mind that the Court has the power to make no order where the Court feels there would be no good reason to make an order.

When considering an application for a parental responsibility order the courts will consider the following:

  • Commitment: The court will consider whether the parent making the application has shown sufficient commitment to the child to justify granting them parental responsibility.
  • Reason: What is the reason you want parental responsibility
  • Attachment: the court will consider the level of attachment between you and the child.

Can I gain parental responsibility if I am a step-parent?

A step-parent is often a significant figure in a child’s life and can often complete a child’s family. However, without parental responsibility a step-parent does not have any legal standing when making decisions relating to a child. it is important to note that step-parents can obtain parental responsibility. However, this is not as straightforward as simply marring the biological parent of the child. The ways in which a step-parent can acquire parental responsibility are:

  • By marrying the parent of a child who has parental responsibility and entering into a parental responsibility agreement. The agreement will be between the parent who already has existing parental responsibility and the step-parent. The step-parent must acquire written consent from all parental responsibility holders before they can acquire parental responsibility.
  • A step-parent can make an application to the court for a judge to order for their parental responsibility. In such a situation the existing parental responsibility holder will be provided notice by the court. Despite whether there are any objections to the application or not the courts will decide whether it is in the child’s best interests for the step-parent to be granted parental responsibility.
  • If the step-parent obtains a Child Arrangements Order which names them as the person with whom the child will reside then they automatically obtain parental responsibility. This parental responsibility is valid until the order remains in force.
  • Step parents can also obtain parental responsibility automatically if they become the child’s legal guardian or are appointed as the child’s special guardian.

How to apply for parental responsibility for a stepfather

Many mothers often marry or enter into a relationship with someone who is not the biological father of their child.

Stepfathers often develop a strong bond with their step-child. However, stepfathers have no legal rights overstep children and cannot be involved in the decision making process for a child.

In order to make such important decisions stepfathers will need to apply for parental responsibility. Many times, we are asked how to apply for parental responsibility for a stepfather.

A stepfather will not be granted parental responsibility for a child by simply marrying the biological mother of the child. Previously getting parental responsibility for a stepchild was only possibly by way of adoption.

However, following a change in the law there are many ways of getting parental responsibility for a stepchild and include circumstances where:

  • The Court makes a Child Arrangements Order and orders the child lives with the stepparent either on their own or with another person.
  • When the stepparent adopts a child this puts them in the same position as the birth parent
  • Through the signing of a stepparent Parental Responsibility Agreement, to which all other people with parental responsibility consent
  • When the Court has made a Parental Responsibility Order following an application by the stepparent.

When a stepparent obtains parental responsibility for a step child a step parent has the same rights, duties and responsibilities as a biological parent.

How soon can I get parental responsibility?

The length of time it can take to obtain parental responsibility will vary depending on the process which is carried out. If parents can amicably agree to a parental responsibility then the matter can usually be dealt with quickly and swiftly. Once the parents have completed the parental responsibility form it will need to be taken to the local family court or the central family court. The courts will witness the signature of the parents. The forms and supporting documents will then need to be sent to the Central Family Court for them to stamp and return the agreement to each parent.

If a parental responsibility order is required where the parents are unable to reach an amicable agreement surrounding the parental responsibility, then an application will need to be sent to the family court for a parental responsibility order. This process can often be lengthy. However at Kabir Family Law our family lawyers have the experience and skills to assist you through this process as well as assist you in completing the relevant forms to submit to the court.

What rights do I have after parental responsibility?

Acquiring parental responsibility is very important as it allows the relationship of a parent with a child to be made official and legal. The position of a parent with parental responsibility will be recognised by schools, local authorities, hospitals and everyone else. Parental responsibility provides security to both the child and the parent who acquires this.

Acquiring parental responsibility also allows the parent to be involved in the decision making process surrounding their child’s future. Parents with parental responsibility can make decisions on and choose the child’s name, the religion the child will be bought up with, what school the child will attend and what education they receive. The school and education provider will also keep the parent with parental responsibility updated and informed of the child’s progress at school, their school reports and any other issues.

A parent with parental responsibility will also need to be consulted to any key decisions which affect the child’s life. These include consultation regarding any emergency medical issues and treatment, as well as consultation on whether the child can travel abroad or relocate to another part of the country.

Can I make day to day decisions surrounding my child if I have parental responsibility?

It is important to note that if your child is not living with you will be limited to your involvement into the day to day living of your child. Parental responsibility allows a parent to make key decisions about their child. Parental responsibility does not result in you interfering with the child’s day to day living arrangements. The parent who lives with the child is responsible for making day to decisions about their child and this cannot be interfered with unless it concerns major decisions.

How to apply for a parental responsibility order for same sex couples?

The process for same sex couples who are in a civil partnership or marriage is the same as for stepfathers when gaining parental responsibility.

The court will consider all the information provided on the best interests and wellbeing of the child.

Can a parental responsibility order be removed?

Parental responsibility cannot be taken away from a parent who has it automatically except in the case of adoption.

Parental responsibility obtained via court arrangement order or special guardianship only lasts until the order remains in force. Therefore, once the court order expires the parental responsibility is lost.

It is rare for the court to remove a parental responsibility order which they have acquired through the court. However, it may be appropriate in some extreme circumstances.

Although parental responsibility via a parental responsibility order cannot be removed or transferred (unless in extreme circumstances), parental responsibility can be delegated in the following circumstances:

  • Child being educated abroad
  • Child educated in England and parent lives abroad
  • Child educated in England and parental responsibility is given to a grandparent or trusted family member.


I am the mother of a child can my parental responsibility be removed?

No. As you have automatically acquired parental responsibility this can not be removed from you.

I have separated from my child’s father and have been re-married. Can my partner apply for parental responsibility?

Yes your partner can apply for parental responsibility through a number means being a court application for a:

  • child arrangements if the child is to live with the father 
  • parental responsibility order
  • adoption order

There is no doubt that gaining parental responsibility can be complicated however getting expert legal advice from a child specialist can really help you to be clear on where you stand and feel more in control of the situation.

Contact our Parental responsibility specialists today to arrange a free initial consultation today

If you are looking for advice or assistance on gaining for parental responsibility call us on 0330 094 5880 or let us call you. We also have offices in Newcastle, York. Oxford, London, Manchester and Northampton so you can arrange to come and visit us if this is more convenient.