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Home » Advice Centre » Parental Responsibility Agreements Explained

Parental Responsibility Agreements Explained

Posted on: 28 October 2013 by Goodwins Family Law Solicitors

A Parental Responsibility Agreement was once a rare occurrence, with child custody rulings being commonplace in divorces involving children.

Parental responsibility is automatically given to the biological mother of the child, but not always given to the biological father. If the biological father was married to the biological mother at the time of the child’s birth, then he will have it. However if the mother agrees, then both parents can sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement. The agreement consists of the legal duties that a parent has to their child. If a parent does not apply for the agreement, then there is a chance that they can lose their right to have any input on how their child is raised. Fathers of children born after 1st December 2003 have parental responsibility as long as their name is on the birth certificate.

A Parental Responsibility Agreement details the key rights and responsibilities that a father has with regards to the upbringing of their children. These include:

  • Providing a home for the child
  • Having contact and living with the child
  • Protecting and maintaining the child
  • Disciplining the child
  • Choosing and providing for the child’s education
  • Agreeing to the child’s medical treatment
  • Being responsible for the child’s property
  • Appointing a guardian for the child (if necessary)
  • Making decisions on the disclosure of confidential information about the child

Parental Responsibility Agreements are suitable for different couples:


Civil Partners

For people in a civil partnership, parental responsibility is given to both parents if they were civil partners at the time of the treatment.


Non-Civil Partners

For same sex partners who are not in a civil partnership, there are two options that the second partner can take to get parental responsibility:

  • Apply for parental responsibility if a parental agreement was made
  • Become a civil partner of the other parent and making a parental responsibility agreement or jointly register the birth


Step Parents

Step parents can apply for parental responsibility via a formal agreement between them and the parent(s) of the child. A step parent can also apply to the Court for a Parental Responsibility Order. 


Adoptive Parents

Parents who have jointly adopted a child are both given parental responsibility, and they both keep parental responsibility should they later divorce.


Parents via Surrogate

If you and your partner have had a child via a surrogate, then you both need to apply for a parental order. You must be genetically related to the child (e.g. either the egg or sperm donor) and you must be in a relationship where you and your partner are husband and wife, civil partners or living as partners. The child must also be living with you and reside permanently in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

If you are a father and you want to apply for parental responsibility, there are a number of options available to you. If the mother of the child agrees with you, you can fill in a Parental Responsibility Agreement and take it to your local county court or family proceedings court, where it can be signed and witnessed. If you cannot reach an agreement with the mother, you can apply for a court order, which costs £215.

Applying for parental responsibility can be stressful and confusing, with a multitude of rules and factors to consider. Here at Goodwins Family Law Solicitors, our expertise means we will assist you every step of the way; our vast experience enabling us to achieve a smooth and agreeable resolution with minimum effect on your children. We understand the delicate nature of child care cases, so your case will be treated with the utmost care and sensitivity from start to finish.


Goodwins Family Law Solicitors is a registered company in England. © Goodwins Family Law Solicitors 2022. All Rights Reserved.

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