top of page

Parental Responsibility

In the UK, parental responsibility refers to the legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority that parents or guardians have in relation to their children. It is defined under the terms of the Children Act 1989.

Parental responsibility includes making important decisions about the child's upbringing and welfare, such as:

  • Providing a home and a safe environment for the child.

  • Making decisions about the child's education, including choosing schools and consenting to medical treatment.

  • Deciding on the child's religious upbringing.

  • Representing the child in legal matters.

  • Disciplining the child appropriately.

  • Maintaining the child financially, including providing food, clothing, and shelter.

The following individuals have parental responsibility:

  1. Mothers: Automatically have parental responsibility for their children from birth.

  2. Married Fathers: Automatically have parental responsibility if they are married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or marry her later.

  3. Unmarried Fathers: Can gain parental responsibility if they are: Listed on the birth certificate (for children born in England and Wales after December 1, 2003, in Northern Ireland after April 15, 2002, or in Scotland after May 4, 2006). Through a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother. By obtaining a Parental Responsibility Order from the court.

  4. Adoptive Parents: Gain parental responsibility when they legally adopt the child.

  5. Step-Parents: Can acquire parental responsibility by: Marrying or forming a civil partnership with one of the child’s parents who already has parental responsibility and obtaining a Parental Responsibility Agreement or a court order.

  6. Guardians: Appointed by the court or in a parent’s will have parental responsibility.

It is important to note that while these are the most common ways to acquire parental responsibility, other individuals may also gain parental responsibility under specific legal circumstances, such as foster parents or relatives who are granted a Child Arrangements Order by the court.

The overarching aim of parental responsibility is to ensure that those responsible for a child have the legal authority to make decisions that serve the child's best interests.

Responsibilities in the context of social media include:

  • Access and Usage: Those with parental responsibility decide if and when a child can use social media, considering age restrictions and the child's maturity.

  • Online Safety: It's their duty to teach and monitor safe online practices, helping protect the child from cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and other online risks.

  • Privacy Settings: Managing a child's account settings to protect their privacy, including deciding who can see their posts and personal information.

  • Content Sharing: Making decisions about what photos, videos, or personal details of the child can be shared online, considering the child's privacy and digital footprint.

  • Consent for Accounts: For platforms with age restrictions, those with parental responsibility are responsible for providing consent for children under the age limit to create accounts, ensuring compliance with platform policies and laws.

  • Digital Wellbeing: Guiding the child on healthy social media habits, including time spent online and the impact of social media on mental health.

Parental responsibility in the UK mandates that all decisions made by parents or guardians regarding a child's use of social media should prioritise the child's best interests, aiming to balance their safety, privacy, and the development of responsible online behaviours.

Recent Posts

See All

What is a financial Consent Order?

A financial consent order is a legally binding document that formalises the terms of your financial settlement. It outlines the division of your property, savings, investments, pensions, and other ass

Does divorce alone end the financial ties?

A divorce on its own does not automatically sever your financial ties, it simply means you are no longer married. Unless a legally binding financial settlement is reached, there is no inherent conclus


bottom of page