Birth Registration and Parental Responsibility

26 June 2007

Birth Registration and Parental Responsibility: proposals for changing the law

In the form of a Green Paper published 26 June 2007 – Joint Birth Registration: promoting parental responsibility – the UK Government has proposed an important change in legislation so that more fathers sign the birth certificate. 18% of unmarried fathers do not sign the birth certificate in the UK (which is 7% of all fathers). This means that just under 45,000 children each year in the UK have no registered father at birth. In Australia, the rate of mother-only birth registrations is half that in UK – so we know there is room for change.

Why now?

Secretary for Work and Pensions, John Hutton said: “More and more children are now born outside marriage but the current registration system does little to encourage the rights and responsibilities of parenthood for both mothers and fathers. We want to significantly reduce the numbers of children with no Dad on their birth certificate to help make sure that even when relationships break down, this fundamental responsibility remains as important as ever. We know that fathers involved from the birth of their child are more likely to stay in contact and be involved in their child’s upbringing. “

Birth registration:

  • Records the parentage of the child. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that each child has the right, as far as possible, to know his or her parents (Article 7). 
  • Confers “Parental Responsibility” on the parent, giving the parent the legal authority to make important decisions in relation to caring for the child. (The Fathers Direct paper, Birth Registration and Parental Responsibility – see RELATED DOCUMENTS, below – outlines what PR means.)

Duncan Fisher, Chief Executive of Father’s Direct said: “This Green Paper is groundbreaking – it marks a major step in defining the responsibilities of fathers as strongly as we define the responsibilities of mothers. The need to do more to engage with young fathers, who make up such a large proportion of the fathers who do not sign the birth certificate, is particularly welcome, given how much they are currently excluded around the birth of a baby. Also welcome is the proposal to make registration a bigger event, with good information and access to support for parents who want it. This needs real Government commitment and investment.”

To find out more . . .

You can read the Government’s Green Paper Joint Birth Registration: promoting parental responsibility by clicking on the link.

To read the Fathers Direct paper Birth Registration and Parental Responsibility: proposals for changing the law right click on that document under RELATED DOCUMENTS (below), choose ‘Save Target As . . .’ and the pdf should download quickly.

To read the SUMMARY POINTS from Fathers Direct’s paper, click on SUMMARY Birth Registration under RELATED DOCUMENTS (below) – and the Word document should download quickly.


Birth registration and parental responsibilty
Summary birth registration

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