Ready Steady Baby


Parental responsibilities and rights

As a parent you’ve a responsibility to look after the growth, health and welfare of your child.

Your child’s rights

All children have the right to be cared for so that they can grow up and meet their full potential. As your child’s parent, you’re responsible for making sure your child’s rights are met. 

The rights of all children are set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). 

Read more about children’s rights

Parental Responsibilities and Rights

Parental Responsibilities and Rights is a complex area of law. In UK law, the person who gives birth is the baby’s mother.

If you have Parental Responsibilities and Rights (PRRs), you can make major decisions about your baby, like:

  • where they live
  • what school they go to

PRRs are automatically given to a baby’s mother. If you’re the child’s biological father you’ll have parental responsibilities and rights if you:

  • were married to, or in a civil partnership with, the child’s birth mother when your child was conceived
  • married or entered into a civil partnership with the child’s birth mother after your child was conceived (even if your relationship ended later)
  • jointly registered your child’s birth with your child’s birth mother (after 4 May 2006)
  • have signed and registered an agreement with the child’s birth mother, unless a court has taken away her parental responsibilities and rights
  • are given them by a court

It’s important to get PRRs right for your baby. If you’re unsure about what this should be, you can get legal advice.

mygov has more information about parental responsibilities and rights

Settling disputes

It’s best for a child to grow up with the involvement of both parents in their lives, as long as this is practical and in their best interests. If there’s a dispute, you can get help to resolve it or ask a court to make a decision.

While it’s not legally binding, a Parenting Plan can help settle any differences between you and your child’s other parent as your child grows older.

mygov has more about making a parenting plan

Artificial insemination

If your baby was conceived by donor insemination or fertility treatment, and:

  • you’re married or in a civil partnership – your civil partner or spouse is the child’s other legal parent unless they didn’t agree to the insemination or treatment
  • you’re not married – you can nominate someone else to be the child’s other parent (such as a cohabiting partner) at the time if it was done at a licensed fertility clinic in the UK

Registering the birth

Your midwife or hospital staff will inform the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages that your baby’s been born.

In Scotland, you must register the birth of your baby before they’re 21 days old. If you haven’t registered the birth within 21 days, you’ll get a reminder letter from the registrar asking you to do so.

How to register the birth

You may need to make an appointment with your local registration (register or registry) office to register the birth.

When you go to register, take:

  • the birth card given to you by the hospital or your midwife
  • your marriage or civil partnership certificate, if appropriate

mygov has more about registering a birth in Scotland

Transgender or non-binary parents

If you’re a transgender or non-binary parent who has given birth you’ll need to register as your baby’s mother on the birth certificate.

The Equality Network has more about trans parenting rights.

Further information and other languages and formats

Translations and alternative formats of this information are available from Public Health Scotland.

If you need a different language or format, please contact

Last updated:
2 November 2023