‘Parental responsibility is a legal concept set out in the Children Act 1989. ’Most parents have parental responsibility for their children, which includes a duty to protect and maintain them and provide them with a home. It also encompasses various rights relating to the upbringing of a child, covering issues such as making decisions about schooling and medical treatment.
All gestational mothers (ie the person who gave birth to a child) automatically have parental responsibility. Fathers who are married to or in a civil partnership with the gestational mother or who are listed on the birth certificate also automatically have parental responsibility. Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, same-sex partners are who married to or in a civil partnership with the gestational mother at the time of conception usually have automatic parental responsibility. Once parental responsibility has been established, it does not cease upon divorce or separation.
If a parent who doesn’t automatically have parental responsibility would like to obtain parental responsibility and the other parent agrees, they can use a Parental responsibility agreement, which needs to be signed and witnessed at the local family court.
For more information, read Parental responsibility.