Children: parental responsibility – how it’s gained and lost, and restrictions (England and Wales)

This House of Commons Library briefing note concerns parental responsibility as a legal concept as set out in the Children Act 1989 as amended. A link to the full report in pdf format can be found at the bottom of this page.

Parental responsibility is not a constant right, but diminishes as the child gets older and so can reach a sufficient understanding and intelligence of the consequences of decisions relating to them.

How parental responsibility can be acquired and lost can depend on the nature of the child’s relationship to the person concerned. It can also be acquired either through agreement or a court order. There can be restrictions on how parental responsibility is exercised, including the gaining of court orders in order to require or prohibit a particular action.

This note applies to England and Wales only.