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Parental Responsibility

Both parents automatically have parental responsibility for a child if they were married when the child was born. This means they are each legally recognised as having all the rights and duties that parents normally have in relation to a child and that generally they both have to be consulted about major decisions in relation to the child’s upbringing e.g. education, medical treatment and any change of the child’s name.

If the child’s parents were not married at the time of the birth then only the mother will definitely have parental responsibility.  The father will automatically have received parental responsibilty but only if the child was born after the 1st of January 2005 and the father’s name was entered on the child’s birth certificate. Unmarried parents can sign a parental responsibility agreement granting the father parental responsibility or he can apply to court for an order giving it to him. There are provisions for this law to change but, if it does change, it won’t be retrospective.

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