All mothers and most fathers have legal rights and responsibilities as a parent known as parental responsibility (PR).

Fathers have PR if they are married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or, if they are named on the child’s birth certificate from 2013.

PR is a legal term that means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that go with being a parent. Put simply, it is the duty to care for and protect a child.

PR enables you to:

  1. give consent to medical treatment for a child
  2. choose which school he goes to
  3. apply for a passport for him
  4. choose his religious upbringing
  5. decide where he will live
  6. consent to his marriage if he wants to marry before the age of 18
  7. look after a property on his behalf

If you are not named on the child’s birth certificate you can apply to the Court for PR or agree with the mother and Parental Responsibility Agreement.

If you have parental responsibility, your most important roles are to:

  1. provide a home for the child
  2. protect and maintain the child

If you have parental responsibility for a child you don’t live with, you don’t necessarily have a right to contact with them your contact with the child may be something which is determined by a Court with the assistance of CAFCASS. The other parent should keep you updated about their well-being and progress.

You’re also responsible for:

  1. disciplining the child
  2. choosing and providing for the child’s education
  3. agreeing to the child’s medical treatment
  4. naming the child and agreeing to any change of name
  5. looking after the child’s property

Parents have to ensure that their child is supported financially, whether they have parental responsibility or not. The CMS can assist with this.

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