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What is Parental Responsibility?: 

When a person has parental responsibility for a child, that person can make all of the important decisions concerning the child’s upbringing. This includes, for example, decisions about which school the child attends, what, if any, religion they should follow and also decisions about any medical treatment they should receive. 
 
More than one person can have parental responsibility for a child and each can exercise their parental responsibility independently. So, for example, a mother who cares for her child can make decisions about routine medical treatment for her child without having to obtain the agreement of the father who also has parental responsibility.

 A child’s mother always has parental responsibility for their child and a father has parental responsibility if he is married to the mother or if he is named on the child’s birth certificate (for births registered after 1.12.2003). If a father doesn’t automatically have parental responsibility he can acquire it by entering into a formal agreement with the mother or by obtaining a court order.

There are other family members, such as step parents or grandparents, who are very important to children but who don’t automatically have parental responsibility. Step-parents can acquire parental responsibility by entering into an agreement with the child’s natural parent and this is quite important as it means that they can take decisions in relation to the child in the event that the natural parent is for some reason unable to do so. Step parents may also make an application to the court for parental responsibility in appropriate circumstances.  Grandparents may acquire parental responsibility if they are caring for their grandchild by way of a court order. Co-Op Legal Services

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