Fathers without Parental Responsibility: What You Need to Know

What happens when a father does not have the legal rights to contribute to their child’s life and growing up? What impact does this have?

In England and Wales, fathers without parental responsibility face some restrictions with activities concerning their children. In this blog post, we will discuss the law on fathers without parental responsibility and how they can acquire it along with the impact this has on family law and proceedings, such as care proceedings started by the Local Authority

Parental Responsibility refers to the rights, duties, and obligations of a parent to a child and their upbringing. It is a legal term that determines the ability to make decisions on their behalf and the responsibility of care for the child.

Whilst a child’s mother automatically gains parental responsibility some fathers do not have parental responsibility for their children. This often occurs when the child’s parents were never married or when the child’s parents separated, meaning that they cannot play a significant role in their child’s life.

There are also some situations where parents can lose their parental responsibility, such as with the making of an adoption order. There are also situations where parental responsibility is shared or limited by a Local Authority, such as within care proceedings when an interim or full care order is in place.

Without parental responsibility, a father’s legal rights with their child may be limited. For example, they cannot make critical decisions for their child, such as schooling, medical treatment or changing the child’s name. They cannot intervene if the child is removed from the country by the mother or be consulted about their child’s welfare should social services be involved.

If a father without parental responsibility wants to be involved in their child’s life, they can acquire it. They can do this through:

  • Obtaining a Parental Responsibility Agreement – this is where the mother agrees to share parental responsibility, and the father signs a written agreement. Both parents then register the agreement at the Central Family Court in London.
  • Obtaining a Parental Responsibility Order – this is where the father applies to the court to have parental responsibility. The court considers the child’s welfare and, if satisfied, may make a parental responsibility order.
  • Being named on the child’s Birth Certificate – since 2003, a father whose child was born after that year can acquire parental responsibility if they are named on the child’s birth certificate.

It is important to note that acquiring parental responsibility does not necessarily mean the father will receive contact with their child. Contact arrangements must be agreed, or a court can make an order determining when a child spends time with their parents.

Within family law and care proceedings, parental responsibility plays a significant role. In such cases, fathers can find themselves without parental responsibility and without information. If the Local Authority is involved with the child’s welfare, fathers without parental responsibility must ensure they are represented and that the court knows they are an interested party. The Local Authority should provide fathers without parental responsibility with notice if there are care proceedings started involving their child. An application can be made to join the Court proceedings. They may have the right to ask the court for a Parenting Assessment, and within the proceedings the father’s suitability for parental responsibility is considered and an order can be made. It is very important that fathers without parental responsibility are notified of care proceedings, as one of the possible outcomes for the children within these proceedings could be adoption.


In conclusion, fathers without parental responsibility face a restriction that can significantly affect their role in their child’s life, including involvement with care proceedings with the Local Authority. Thankfully, they have legal avenues to acquire parental responsibility and assert their rights as a father and processes where they will be notified of certain proceedings

The process is easy to understand, and fathers can choose from a range of options to gain legal rights to their child. It is essential to remind fathers that acquiring parental responsibility does not automatically give them contact with their child. If further action is necessary, an experienced family law solicitor can provide the necessary assistance.

If you require expert legal advice on the above subject, Tayntons understands how difficult and stressful this time can be. Our experienced team is here to support you through the entire process. We provide practical and sensitive advice on all aspects of family and child law.

With over 165 years of experience in Gloucestershire, we have a deep understanding of the local legal landscape and can provide you with bespoke legal solutions tailored to your individual needs. Our expert Family Law Solicitors are committed to providing you with the highest level of service and will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

Speak with one of our team today.

To contact us please call 0800 158 4147 or 03330 145451 or email info@tayntons.co.uk

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