Victoria Batstone
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Date Published:11 Jun 2019 Last Updated:27 Nov 2021

How can I get parental responsibility?

Family Law

There are many ways that a person can obtain parental responsibility for a child. How you go about getting parental responsibility will depend on your individual circumstances. The three main ways of acquiring parental responsibility are as follows:-

1. Parental responsibility agreements

For parents or step-parents that do not have parental responsibility, you can agree to share the parental responsibility with the other parent(s). This is recorded in a standard parental responsibility agreement form which must be signed by the parties at Court and witnessed by a Court officer. This option is usually the most amicable.

2. Parental responsibility orders

In circumstances where agreement cannot be reached, you can apply to the Court for an Order giving you parental responsibility. When considering your application, the Court will take into account various factors but, ultimately, whether or not parental responsibility is granted will depend on what is in the best interests of the child. The types of factors that are taken into account include the applicant parents’ level of commitment and attachment to the child and the reasons behind the application. This is not an exhaustive list and there may be other factors taken into account.

3. Appointing a guardian

A parent with parental responsibility can appoint a person to be a guardian for their child after their death. The appointment must be made in a prescribed form for it to be effective.

The guardian will have parental responsibility but they cannot make decisions in isolation of the surviving parent if they also have parental responsibility. A guardian will only be able to exercise parental responsibility to the exclusion of the surviving parent if the deceased parent was the only parent with parental responsibility. However, the surviving parent can challenge the appointment of a guardian by applying to the Court. If both parents have parental responsibility, then the guardian will only be appointed after both parents have died.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert Family Solicitors, please email us at or call us on 01202 525333.