Acquisition of parental responsibility by step-parents and others
Acquisition of parental responsibility by step-parents and others

The following Family guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Acquisition of parental responsibility by step-parents and others
  • Step-parents
  • Acquisition of parental responsibility by others
  • Duration of parental responsibility

Step-parents

Since 30 December 2005 a step-parent who is married to or the civil partner of a parent of a child who has parental responsibility may apply for an order for parental responsibility or may enter into a parental responsibility agreement. The explanatory notes to the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (ACA 2002), which brought the changes into effect, state that the intention of the new provisions is to provide an alternative to adoption where a step-parent wishes to acquire parental responsibility for their step-child. The advantage of the new provisions is that they do not remove parental responsibility from the other birth parent and do not legally separate the child from membership of the family of the other birth parent.

Parental responsibility agreement

Step-parents may acquire parental responsibility for their step-child by entering into a parental responsibility agreement.

In relation to a parental responsibility agreement:

  1. where both of the child's parents have parental responsibility, the agreement must be between the step-parent and the child's mother and father

  2. where only the mother has parental responsibility, the agreement must be with her

  3. the parties must complete a Step-parent Parental Responsibility Form (Form C(PRA2))

  4. there are similar formalities as between unmarried parents, and the rules governing recording the agreement apply: see Practice Note: Acquisition of parental responsibility by unmarried fathers

  5. parents must produce