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What is Parental Responsibility and Can it be Removed?

What Is Parental Responsibility (PR)?

Parental responsibility is the right of a person to make decisions regarding a child, the Children Act defines PR as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property.’

The rights can include:

  • Where the child goes to school
  • Where the child lives
  • Consenting to medical treatment
  • Travelling abroad
  • Which religion the child is brought up by

How Do You Get Parental Responsibility?


  • Automatically have PR


  • Being married to the mother at time of birth
  • Subsequently marrying the mother
  • Being named on the birth certificate
  • Entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother
  • Parental responsibility order given by the court


  • Anyone with a child arrangements order stating that the child is to live with them has PR
  • A special guardianship order gives the guardians PR
  • Parental responsibility order given by the court

Removing Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility can currently only be removed through either the child being adopted, or the court orders that the PR is terminated. The latter only occurs in very extreme circumstances, generally where it is deemed that the holder of PR poses a risk to the child.

Recent Changes to the Law

The Victims and Prisoners Bill is currently going through the House of Lords and incorporates ‘Jade’s Law’ which would mean that anyone convicted of murdering their partner/ex-partner who they have a child with would have their parental responsibility automatically suspended. The law is set to be named after Jade Ward who was murdered by her former partner in 2021. Her murderer was able to continue to make decisions regarding their four children.

The Criminal Justice Bill will have its 3rd reading in the House of Commons on 15th May 2024 and contains provision for someone who is convicted of raping a child to have their PR suspended.

In both of these instances it would be the responsibility of the judge in the criminal proceedings when sentencing the offender to make the ‘prohibited steps order’ specifying that no step which could be taken by a parent in meeting their parental responsibility could be taken by the offender. This would therefore remove the need, as is currently the case, for a separate application to be made in the family court and would allow for a more put together and holistic approach to these types of sensitive cases.

Contact Us

If you require advice on any of the issues raised in this blog or any other family law matter, please contact our specialist family team at David Gray on 0191 232 9547

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