Parental responsibility conveys certain rights and responsibility in relation to a child. Practically having parental responsibility will, amongst other things, allow you to contact the child’s GP to obtain or discuss medical treatment and to play an active role in the child’s education, giving you access to school reports and parents evenings.
A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child, as do married fathers. Unmarried fathers may also have Parental Responsibility depending on when the child was born, whether the father is named on the birth certificate or whether there is a parental responsibility agreement or Order.
Upon the registering of a Civil Partnership the partner who is the non-parent legally becomes a ‘step parent’ to any children born to their partner. This would include any adopted children.
How to obtain parental responsibility
If you wish to have parental responsibility for your Partner’s children it can be obtained in one of the following ways:
by entering into a voluntary parental responsibility agreement with every person who has parental responsibility for the child concerned, or
by obtaining an order of the court. This could be a parental responsibility order or a residence order (which would give parental responsibility to the person with residence for the life of the residence order).
Parental Responsibility comes to an end when the child attains the age of 18 years or by court order if earlier.
This is a complicated area of the law and if you are in any doubt about your rights and responsibilities relating to children do take advice from an experienced family lawyer.