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Parental Responsibility An important change for unmarried couples (Nov 2003)

the right to be responsible for your child

  • The law is changing to make it easier for unmarried fathers to get equal parental responsibility: from 1 December 2003, all you have to do is for both parents to register the birth of your baby together.
  • Parental responsibility for your child gives you important legal rights as well as responsibilities. Without it, you don't have any right to be involved in decisions such as where they live, their education, religion or medical treatment. With parental responsibility, you are treated in law as the child's parent, and you take equal responsibilty for bringing them up.
  • Unlike mothers and married fathers, if you are not married to your baby's mother you do not automatically have parental responsibilty for them.
  • Before this change, you could only gain parental responsibility by later marrying the child's mother, signing an official agreement with the mother or getting a court order. You can still get responsibilty in these ways - you might want to think about this if you have other children.

Need help to decide what to do?
Parentline Plus have a free helpline where you can talk through the options and ask for advice.
Call them on Parentline Plus 0808 800 2222.

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