Mothers have parental responsibility for their children as does the child’s father if he is married to the child’s mother when the child is born or afterwards. This is so even if the married couple subsequently separate or divorce unless a court makes a court order stating otherwise.

If a man is not married to the mother of his child he does not have parental responsibility (PR) for the child. However he may be able to obtain joint PR with the mother.

Since December 2003, a father can obtain joint PR by having his name recorded on the child’s birth certificate. This applies to children registered on or after 1st December 2003 and to children registered before that date. In the latter case the birth can be re-registered.

The father must either go with the mother when she registers or re-registers the birth, or he or the mother must produce one of the following: a statutory declaration of paternity and the mother’s acknowledgement of it; a Parental Responsibility Agreement together with a declaration that it has not been terminated; a Parental Responsibility Order; or certain court orders requiring the father to maintain the child or giving him parental rights and duties, or custody and control. Details of acceptable court orders are available from any registry office.

This change in the law is not retrospective, so a father who was named on the birth certificate before 1st December 2003 has not suddenly acquired Parental Responsibility.

If you are living together and you are the father you may want to enter into a parental responsibility agreement with your children’s mother. Such agreement would give you the same rights and responsibilities as a married father.

The consent of everybody with PR is needed before a child can be taken out of the UK, even for a holiday. However, a person who has a Residency Order can take the child out of the UK for up to a month without needing permission. The consent of everybody with PR is also needed to change a child’s name.

Please contact this firm if you require a free quotation for a Change Of Name Deed. +44 (0)208 539 0075.

This article is a guide only and professional advice should be taken before any course of action is pursued.