Parenthood and parental responsibility - legal services

We can help you with legal advice and legal representation services if an issue has arisen about whether someone is a legal parent or should have parental responsibility.  In particular, we can:

  • Advise you on whether you are (or someone else is) your child’s legal parent under UK law, and what implications that has

  • Represent you in a declaration of parentage court application to determine whether you or someone else is a legal parent

  • Help you acquire legal parenthood or parental responsibility

  • Represent you in a British nationality registration application for your child if he or she does not automatically inherit your British nationality. 

Am I my child’s legal parent?

Most parents don’t need to think about whether they are their child’s legal parent, but for parents of children conceived through assisted reproduction (including donor conception, co-parenting and surrogacy) and LGBT+ parents, the law has some very specific rules about who is and is not a legal mother, father or parent.

Being a legal parent is significant.  It affects whether you are financially responsible for a child, whether they inherit your assets and your British nationality, and your rights to make court applications if there is a dispute in relation to your child.

We can advise you on your legal status as a parent under UK law, birth registration issues and whether there are ways of you becoming a legal parent or applying for British nationality for your child.  

We can also provide legal support and representation services if you are involved in a dispute about parenthood, including:

  • Applications to the family court for a declaration of parentage if it is not clear whether you are a legal parent

  • Disputes about parenthood in the course of other children proceedings, such as where parents have separated and cannot agree arrangements for their children.

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is separate from legal parenthood and it concerns who has the right to make decisions about a child’s care before they are 18.  Some legal parents have parental responsibility automatically while others need to take steps to acquire it (and sometimes people who are not legal parents can acquire it too).

We can advise you on whether you have parental responsibility, what you can do to acquire it if not, and whether a court application is likely to be granted in your circumstances.

Often disputes about parental responsibility arise in the context of wider difficulties, for example after parents have separated or where there is a dispute about arrangements for a child.  Discussions around status, including parental responsibility, can be particularly charged and often need to be handled sensitively and strategically. 

How we help with disputes about parenthood and parental responsibility

We can help you understand your (or someone else’s) legal status as a parent and help you manage any steps you need to take to resolve any uncertainty or acquire status you don’t have automatically.  In particular we work with many LGBT+ parents and families created through assisted reproduction, donor conception and surrogacy.

We usually arrange a meeting with you in the first instance which can be face-to-face at our offices in central London or the New Forest, or by Skype or telephone. We will discuss with you honestly what the family court is likely to do in your case, and advise you strategically on how best to move forward and how we can help you.  

We provide high quality legal representation services to manage any court process and support you through any discussions with the other party in your case.  Very often issues around legal parenthood and parental responsibility are part of a wider picture, often a divorce or civil partnership dissolution or a wider dispute about arrangements for a child.  

Our work is charged competitively on an hourly rate basis, with regular monthly invoicing and clear costs estimates given at every stage. 

Looking for more information about legal parenthood and parental responsibility?

Our free online Knowledge Centre contains guidance, published articles and access to the law and forms you may need including:

Disputes about parenthood and parental responsibility

Legal parenthood after donor conception

Surrogacy law: parenthood and parental orders

Trans parents and legal parenthood

Securing parenthood and parental responsibility

Contact us to arrange a meeting in person or by Skype or telephone.

You can fill in our contact form, call us on +44 (0) 20 3701 5915 or email us at