Parental responsibility is a legal concept that consists of the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities that most parents have in respect of their children. It includes the right to consent to medical treatment in respect of a child on behalf of that child. Normally the consent of all those with parental responsibility is required in order to change the name of the child or to allow the child to be taken out of the country. The Parental Responsibility agreement gives those rights.
An unmarried father may find that he does not have parental responsibility. Parental responsibility is particularly useful in the following circumstances:
- For all unmarried fathers where the child was born before the 1st December 2003;
- In cases where an unmarried father of a child born after the 1st December 2003 is not on the birth certificate for some reason;
- Where a couple marry and the other party already has a child;
- In all civil partnerships where either party already has a child or gives birth to a child before a civil partnership has been effected.