Close up of parent and a child hands at sunset.

What is Parental Responsibility? What can be done if you disagree? These are questions often asked of family lawyers. Although the concept of “parental responsibility” has been around since the Children Act commenced in 1991 it is helpful to give some examples of the decisions that are made regarding children that are included by it.

It covers matters such as choosing a child’s education, agreeing to a child’s medical treatment, naming the child, agreeing any change of name, or looking after the child’s property. The child’s mother automatically has parental responsibility from birth.

A father usually has parental responsibility if he is either married to the child’s mother or listed on the birth certificate, otherwise it can be applied for. If there is a disagreement between parents about its exercise mediation and/or negotiations should be attempted.

Should the disagreement continue the court can make certain orders including:

Specific Issue Orders

This can be used to resolve disputes, such as which school a child shall attend or any changes to a child’s name.

Prohibited Steps Orders

This prevents a parent from carrying out a certain activity relating to a child and so prohibits that party from exercising their parental responsibility to some specified extent. It can cover matters, such as seeking to prevent the relocation of the child or change of school from taking place.

However, the Family Court must only make an order for a child if this is better for the child than making no order. The Court will consider the welfare of the child and should always consider if the making of an order would be in the best interests of a child before doing so.


If you would like help and support please contact our specialist Children team who will be happy to help.