Do I already have Parental Responsibility?
A biological mother will automatically have parental responsibility for a child
To find out who else has parental responsibility for a child we must look at the following statutes:-
Children Act 1989
Family Law Reform Act 1987
Adoption and Children Act 2002
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008
Opposite Sex Couples
Section 1(a) of the Children Act 1989 sets out that where a child’s mother and father were married to each other at the time of the child’s birth, then both parents will hold parental responsibility. After the introduction of the Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019, the wording of section 1(a) was amended to include parents who were in civil partnerships rather than marriages.
Until December 2003, where the mother and father were not married to each other at the time of the child’s birth, the father would not have parental responsibility and would either have to seek a parental responsibility order through the Court or enter into a parental responsibility agreement with the child’s mother.
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 led to amendments to the Children Act 1989. From 1st December 2003 an unmarried father would have parental responsibility if he was named as the father on the birth certificate or if the birth was re-registered to name him as the father. For further information on how to do this, please refer to section 10, Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953.
Same Sex Couples / Artificial Insemination
Section 1A of the Children Act 1989 states that a child who:
(a) has a parent by virtue of s42 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008; or
(b) has a parent by virtue of s43 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and is a person to whom section 1(3) of the Family Law Reform Act 1987 applies
the child’s mother and the other parent shall each have parental responsibility for the child
This means as follows :-
(a) A woman was married to another woman or in a civil partnership with another woman at the time that the embryo or sperm and eggs were inserted, or at the time of artificial insemination, and the other party consented to the insertion of the embryo or sperm and eggs, or to the artificial insemination
(b) No man is treated by s35 as being the father of the child ie the woman was married or in a civil partnership with a man but his sperm was not involved in the making of the embryo and no woman is treated as a parent by virtue of section 42 (see above), but
The embryo or sperm and eggs were inserted or the artificial insemination was carried out by services in the UK who have the appropriate licence
At the time of insertion or insemination the agreed female parenthood conditions as set out in section 44 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 were met in relation to a second woman who consented to act as parent
The second woman remained alive;
and the child is recognised as being legitimate or a legitimated person, has a parent by virtue of s42 of the Act, has a parent by s43 of the Act, or is adopted.
Section 2(A) of the Children Act 1989 (as inserted by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008), states that where a child has a parent by virtue of s43 of the 2008 Act but is not a person to whom section 1(3) of the Family Law Reform Act 1987 applies, the mother shall have parental responsibility but the other woman will have to acquire it.
Anyone falling outside these categories will not automatically have parental responsibility.