Parental Responsibility In The UK: What Are Your Rights?

To be able to make legal decisions on behalf of a minor, you must have something called ‘Parental Responsibility’. Sometimes, people may refer to this as their rights as a parent, but it entails having the power to make judgments and approvals for a child.

Mothers will have this naturally from birth. As of 2003, a father will only have Parental Responsibility if he was either married to the mother at the time of birth or listed on the birth certificate. This means that if you find grounds for divorce for separation in UK, a father will still have a legal obligation and responsibility to his children.

Parental Responsibility gives you the power to make a number of decisions for your child until they reach adulthood and are legally allowed to choose for themselves.


When you apply for a school place for your child, you must have parental responsibility. Regarding your child’s education, and permissions relating to this, you must be able to give legal consent to where their education takes place, as well as to hold yourself accountable for any fees or other consent forms throughout that period.

This parental responsibility also holds you accountable for ensuring your child is present at school, and to liaise with their teachers to help them engage with their schoolwork.

Parental Responsibility is not only important when your child first starts their educational journey. It is also necessary to transfer schools, as well as to change schools when your child gets older.

Medical Treatment

Legally, only one person with parental responsibility needs to give their consent to medical treatment. This means that, so long as both parents have this PR, a child will be able to gain medical attention no matter which parent they are with. This can make things difficult if the child is staying with their father and he does not have Parental Responsibility.

If the treatment involves an emergency or a situation where waiting could potentially be fatal, it is possible for medical professionals to proceed without requiring any form of consent. Likewise, if the medical professionals deem that the treatment is vital, they may take the situation to court to have any lack of consent overruled.


Parental consent by an individual with Parental Responsibility is required for a minor to be able to have a piercing. Again, just one parent needs to be present to sign for this, however, it can be a good idea for all with PR to have given some form of verbal consent.

Gaining Parental Responsibility can be achieved by completing a PR agreement form, or applying for it through the courts. This will hold you accountable for the welfare, financial responsibility, and care of the child up until they are an adult. This is a responsibility, as opposed to a right, and should not be taken for granted or abused.


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