Parental Responsibility gives parents (and others) certain rights, responsibilities and duties relating to a child’s upbringing, including:
The mother of a child has Parental Responsibility automatically. The father of a child also has Parental Responsibility automatically if he is married to the mother at the time of the birth.If the parents are not married at the time the child is born, the father can acquire Parental Responsibility as follows:
Step-parents do not automatically acquire Parental Responsibility for step-children when they marry and so cannot make important decisions about a child’s welfare, for example medical care. Step-parents can only acquire Parental Responsibility by obtaining an Order of the Court or by signing a Step-parent Parental Responsibility Agreement along with those who already have Parental Responsibility.
A grandparent cannot be granted Parental Responsibility by the parents of a child in the same way as a step-parent, even though the child may live with the grandparent. This may cause difficulties for the grandparent if they need to deal with the child’s GP or school. The only way to get Parental Responsibility is to apply for a Court Order, which would generally be obtained along with a Residence Order or a Special Guardianship Order. Find out more about grandparent’s rights here.