Parental responsibilities and rights (PRRs) are, at their most basic, the responsibilities and rights which a parent has in relation to their child. However, despite their name, these responsibilities and rights are not only available to mothers and fathers. In fact, not all mothers and fathers have them. The court has the power to award and remove some or all of these responsibilities and rights.
PRRs often relate to things which parents, carers and guardians do every day without even thinking about them. Some PRRs, however, can be a bit more complicated and cause family disputes. This is when legally having PRRs can be important.
PRRs broadly give you responsibilities and rights relating to:
- Where the child lives and with whom he or she has contact. Terms colloquially used for this are residence, custody, contact and access.
- Safeguarding and promoting the child’s health, development and welfare. This includes meeting the child’s health and education needs as well as the more general duty to make sure that the child is properly cared for.
- Providing direction and guidance to the child. This relates to “lifestyle choices” and the way that the child is brought up. It can include, for example, the religion that the child follows. There is also a corresponding right to control, direct or guide the child’s upbringing (although this usually practically, and legally, reduces as the child gets older, as anyone with teenagers will know!)
- Acting as the child’s legal representative.
At what age do PRRs stop applying to children?
PRRs apply until the child is 16 years of age. The only exception to this is that the responsibility to provide guidance to the child exists until the child reaches 18 years of age.
Do I have PRRs?
- A child’s mother automatically has full PRRs in relation to her child when the child is born.
- A child’s father automatically has full PRRs in relation to his child if (1) he is married to the child’s mother at any time from the child’s conception onwards (whether the marriage takes place before or after the child is born)
(2) he is registered as the child’s father in the UK (colloquially he is “on the birth certificate”) after 4th May 2006. If he is, he has full PRRs whether he is married to the child’s mother or not.
- A guardian who has been legally appointed by a parent has full PRRs in relation to the child on that parent’s death.
(There are also provisions for automatic PRRs for women undergoing artificial insemination who are in a civil partnership or a relationship with another woman. These are too complicated to detail on this webpage but if you are in this situation and require advice please do not hesitate to get in contact or visit our pages on Assisted Donor Conception and Parenthood for the Modern Family).
Who can get PRRs?
The general rule is that anyone who can “claim an interest” can apply for PRRs in relation to a child. This is commonly accepted to mean anyone with an interest in the welfare of the child. Often applicants are fathers, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles or step-parents but PRRs are not limited to these. You do not need to be biologically related to the child. (The child him or herself can also apply to the court for an order relating to PRRs.)
A common situation in which people apply for PRRs is when the child’s parents are unable to fully exercise their PRRs or have had them removed. The rules do not, of course, mean that anyone who can claim an interest and applies will be granted PRRs in relation to a child. The welfare of the child is always the court’s primary consideration in deciding who should be granted PRRs.
How do I get PRRs in relation to a child?
If you are considering applying for PRRs in relation to a child you should contact us. You need to apply for PRRs through the court and we can assist you with this.
The only exception to this is that a father can enter into a legal agreement with the child’s mother to get PRRs in relation to their child without going to court. You should still, however, consult a solicitor in this situation to ensure that the agreement is legally binding. It is possible for you to apply for PRRs without being legally represented but we advise you to take legal advice before starting the process.
Equally, if a court action has been raised to remove your PRRs we can advise and represent you.
Please note that we do not offer legal aid.
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