“What is the impact of us not being married if we have children?"

Being unmarried does not affect the legal status of the mother, as she will automatically have parental responsibility for the child. 

Being unmarried may, however, affect the father’s status as an unmarried father does not automatically have parental responsibility in the same way. 

Parental responsibility means the rights and responsibilities of a parent to a child. In practice, it means the ability to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare including education, medical treatment and where the child lives. It is different from financial responsibility.  A father will have financial responsibility for a child even if he does not have parental responsibility. 

An unmarried father will only have parental responsibility if one of the following apply:

  • He is named on the birth certificate and the child was born after 1 December 2003
  • He has entered into a formal parental responsibility agreement with the mother
  • The court has ordered that he has it

Expert legal advice

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