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What is Parental Responsibility?

View profile for Adarsh Patel
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Parental responsibility is the rights and responsibilities a parent has over their child. It simply encompasses completing the role of a parent that one would expect a parent to do.

Parental responsibility is the legal term given to the legal rights and responsibilities a parent has over their child. If a person has parental responsibility over a child, they have a responsibility to protect, maintain and provide a home for that child. Whilst parental responsibility does appear to be a legal and complicated term, it simply encompasses doing what is expected of parents and making decisions on behalf of the child. A person with parent responsibility will be responsible for disciplining, choosing, and providing for their education, discussing, and consenting to medical treatment and the general care of the child. However, parental responsibility does not guarantee a person the right to spend time with the child if they do not live with them but must be involved in making important decisions for the child.

Who has Parental Responsibility?

A mother will automatically have parental responsibility for her child from birth. A father will usually have parental responsibility for their child if he is:

  1. Married to the child’s mother.
  2. Listed on the child’s birth certificate.

For same sex parents, they will both have parental responsibility if they were civil partners at the time of the treatment/fertilisation. A parent who does not have parental responsibility for their child can obtain this by making an application to the Court for a Parental Responsibility Order.

Does Social Services have Parental Responsibility?

If you have social services involvement with your children, it is likely that you are being advised to adhere to a safety plan or contact arrangements, which may state that you are not allowed to have unsupervised contact with your child or that your child will live with a family member or their other parent. It is important to note that unless the Local Authority have been granted a Care Order, which can either be a full or interim order, they do not share parental responsibility for your children. This means that they cannot make decisions about who the children live with, who they are allowed to have contact with and whether this needs to be supervised, or any other rights and responsibilities that a person with parental responsibility would have. However, this does not mean that you should not listen to their advice or adhere to any safety plans because you cannot be forced to do, as this will depend on your individual situations. It is usually advised that you should engage and work with social services as much as possible. It is important to remember however that unless the Local Authority have been granted a Care Order by the Family Court, they cannot stop you from exercising your parental responsibility.

How can Johnson Astills Help?

If social services are involved in relation to your children, then we may be able to help. Please get in touch with Johnson Astills today and we would be more than happy to discuss your requirements further. Please call us at our office in Leicester on 0116 255 4855 or our office in Loughborough on 01509 610 312 and ask to speak to a member of the Care Team. Alternatively, you may prefer to email us at or fill in our enquiry form.