Consent for DNA and Parental Responsibility?

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Parental Responsibility – What is it and why is it important?

A person who possesses parental responsibility basically holds all the legal rights, duties and responsibilities for the child (person aged under 16 years) to whom it refers. Parental responsibility gives a person the right to be consulted about the child's welfare, education and health. Consent will be sort from the person or persons who have parental responsibility for a child when it is appropriate. This may include medical procedures, changes to the child’s name via deed poll and this will also apply to the consent required to perform a DNA test or paternity test

Who has Parental Responsibility?

Mother of the Child: The mother of a child automatically gains parental responsibility for the child to which she gives birth. The mother of a child can therefore always provide consent for the child to take part in a DNA test or Paternity test.

However, the laws across England, Wales and Scotland are slightly different when it comes to who else has parental responsibility and this includes the father.

Father of the Child: Parental responsibility is not automatically conveyed on the father of a child. Therefore before ordering a paternity test or other form of DNA test, it is important to check whether a father does or does not have parental responsibility. This is especially important when the mother is not participating in the test.

Please see the following guidance for fathers and parental responsibility:

Births registered in England and Wales

In England and Wales, a father acquires parental responsibility automatically if he is married to the mother at the time of the child's birth or if he marries the mother following the birth.An unmarried father does not acquire parental responsibility automatically. If a child was registered after 1st December 2003, then the father will have parental responsibility for the child as long as he is named as the father on the child’s birth certificate (this includes being named on the certificate following a re- registration of the birth).

For births registered prior to 1st December 2003 or for fathers who are not listed as such on a child’s birth certificate, then the father does not have parental responsibility and as such cannot consent for a child’s participation in a DNA paternity test.

Births registered in Scotland

In Scotland, a father automatically acquires parental responsibility if he is married to the mother at the time of the child's conception or if he subsequently marries the mother.

An unmarried father does not acquire parental responsibility automatically. If a child was registered after 1st December 2003, then the father will have parental responsibility for the child as long as he is named as the father on the child’s birth certificate (this includes being named on the certificate following a re- registration of the birth).

Unmarried fathers who are not named as the father on the child’s birth certificate do not have parental responsibility.

How can you gain Parental Responsibility?

If you find that you do not have parental responsibility for a child and you wish to acquire it, then please view the following information. A legal paternity test is normally required for all categories.

Unmarried fathers

    • Marrying the mother of the child (for births registered in England, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Bailiwick of Guernsey).
    • Re-registering the child’s birth certificate with the father’s name included or Being recorded on the child's birth certificate from 1st December 2003 in England and Wales and from 4th May 2006 in Scotland.
    • Obtaining a parental responsibility order from the court.
    • Obtaining a court registered Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother.
    • Being named on a Residence Order issued by a court.
    • Being appointed a guardian by a court.

Births registered outside the UK

If a child is born overseas and comes to live in the UK, the matter of parental responsibility depends upon and is governed by the UK country in which they are now living in.