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Posted by familylaw on 20th December 2011

In England and Wales Parental Responsibility for a child is defined in the Children Act 1989 as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent has in relation to the child and his property”.

Having Parental Responsibility for a child enables a parent to make day-to-day decisions in respect of their child and the right to be consulted, about matters such as education, religion and medical treatment. Any parent with Parental Responsibility can also, for example, object to any change of a child’s name.

Who has Parental Responsibility?

When a child is born, as the mother you automatically have Parental Responsibility. The father does also but only if he was married to you at the time of the child’s birth or you subsequently marry. If you are unmarried, the father automatically has Parental Responsibility for the child if the child’s birth is registered after the 1 December 2003 and the father’s name is on the child’s birth certificate.

Will you lose Parental Responsibility if you get divorced?

No – you do not lose Parental Responsibility if you get divorced; you will carry on being the child’s full legal parent whether or not the child lives with you.

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