Parental responsibility

Who makes decisions about a child's upbringing?

Parental Responsibility (PR) is the legal right to be involved in a child’s life.

What does parental responsibility mean?

PR covers many issues including the right to information about a child’s upbringing, making decisions about education and the child’s name.  It does not give you an automatic right to see the child but it is suggestive that you should be involved in their life.

Parental responsibility means you could be involved in decisions including:

  • Where a child lives
  • Medical treatment
  • Religion
  • Education – which school the child attends and how they are educated
  • Whether the child should be taken overseas for a holiday
  • Whether the child should move to live abroad

If there is a dispute between people with PR about any of these issues (schooling, education, leaving the country) you may need to apply for a court order.

Who has PR?

All mothers automatically have PR, but not all fathers have PR. A father will have parental responsibility if he is married to the child’s mother, or named on the child’s birth certificate if the child was born after 1 December 2003.

This means an unmarried father who is not on the birth certificate will not automatically have PR.

If you do not have parental responsibility, you can acquire it by applying to court or completing a written agreement with the child’s mother.  Sometimes PR can be granted to a step-parent.  The court can grant parental responsibility to other people involved in a child’s life, typically if the child is living with other family members. Some court orders automatically give PR such as special guardianship orders.  In some cases the court can remove someone’s PR.

We can help you resolve issues about PR such as which school should a child attend, should they move away to live elsewhere, and how they should be raised.