This section isn’t intended to give you legal advice regarding contact with your ex-partner. For that, you must seek legal advice from a solicitor. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau can advise you how to find a solicitor experienced in dealing with family issues – and also advise on applying for Legal Aid, if you need it. Here, you’ll find information about terms you may hear being used if you’re in the process of separating, and what they mean for you.
Unlike mothers, fathers do not always have ‘parental responsibility’ for their children. With more than one in three children now born outside marriage, some parents may be unclear about who has legal parental responsibility for their children. While the law does not define parental responsibility in detail, the key roles are:
- Having contact with and living with the child
- Protecting and maintaining the child
- Disciplining the child
- Choosing and providing for the child’s education
- Determining the religion of the child
- Agreeing to the child’s medical treatment
- Naming the child and agreeing to any change of the child’s name
- The right to take or receive photographs of the child
- Accompanying the child outside the UK and agreeing to the child’s emigration, should the issue arise
- Being responsible for the child’s property
- Appointing a guardian for the child, if necessary
- Allowing confidential information about the child to be disclosed
A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth. However, the conditions for fathers gaining parental responsibility vary throughout the UK.