Fathers and children: the law

Fathers' rights - indeed, parental rights - do not really exist in UK law. Instead, the law refers to parental responsibilities. Parental Responsibility (PR, or Parental Responsibilities and Rights (PPR) in Scotland) is a legal status that means that you have a duty to care for and protect your child

Fathers' rights to see their children are not set out in UK law as such, but depend on a number of factors, of which Parental Responsibility is just one. Having said that, PR (or PPR) gives you the right to contribute to decision making regarding your child's future such as:

  • giving consent to medical treatment
  • choosing their school
  • deciding how they should be brought up
  • choosing their name
  • choosing their religion

What does UK law say about fathers' rights to see their children when parents separate? What rights do you and your child have? Is the law, or are the courts, biased against dads? We look at your legal position if you're separating.

Other useful articles...

- Father's Rights - How do I get parental responsibility

- Child Support


About the author


Clare Kirby qualified as a lawyer in 1983 and worked for several years in industry. She founded Kirby & Co in 1997. As a member of Resolution and an advanced member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel she is experienced and respected in the field of family law. Trained as a collaborative lawyer, Clare offers clients a range of options - traditional, and collaborative law - to best meet the needs of the individual clients.




Updated: September 2017


Hide comments (110)


  • Connor
    Connor Friday, 08 April 2016

    Hello I have recently split with my ex partner we have a son together and she's pregnant now too she's treating me with not being able to see my children and have come on this site for a bit of advice I have never been violent towards this women ever

  • Guest
    Luv my son Friday, 27 May 2016


    My x girlfriend has put the chip benefits and tax credit in my name and has givin him to me as long as I get a property close to her house . But I have no friends or family were we live in Brighton and I am from Newcastle. If I take my son and move back home what rights does she have over me

  • Guest
    Meme Thursday, 02 June 2016

    Denied access

    My brother has a son with a 'psycho' ex. His son has just turned 1. The mother has taken him to Disney in Paris without his consent. He has parental responsibility and is named on the birth certificate. The mother is denying him access. He has completed the necessary forms for contact. Any advice of what else he can do?

  • Guest
    Rowena Monday, 22 August 2016

    I'm a great fan of father who want to see their children, as so many nowadays are just not bothered!
    Your friends ex can legally take him out of the country for up to 30 days if she too has parental responsibility (noreally a given for mothers unless it has been taken away from her)
    Apart from filling in the relevant court form, applying for mediation and speaking to his ex there isn't much else he can do apart from wait for the court hearing.
    I would suggest he gets legal advice or assistance, as the process can be quiet daunting and needs to be prepared correctly if you want to achieve the desired outcome.
    Hope all goes well.

  • Guest
    Amanda Saturday, 28 January 2017


    From experience I know that if you have parental responsibility and the child has your surname on the passport you have to give them some form off consent like written as in some country's you can be stopped from leaving and arrested for abduction as the child's name is not same so need proof from the father in this case

  • Guest
    Ian Saturday, 04 November 2017

    Fathers rights uk\wales

    Fathers automatically have rights as well as the mother and neither parent can take the child out of the UK without consent from parties involved IE the other parent or court order. The 28 days thing applies within the UK and does not apply abroad as different legislation so our laws are not that out spread, the 28 days applies if the father or mother has full access IE no fathers name on birth certificate so inturn they parent can take child abroad without consent, otherwise it's known as obduction and can carry a prison sentence but underneath it all its just red tape jargon and trash that u have to siv threw but both sides are parents of that child and the law is not clear on its meaning and dialect so it's down to us to understand or reason with a situation involving a child or children. Mothers and Father's have equal rights until the courts see fit otherwise as the law states that a parent or parents have a duty to the child and usually the courts will look at what's best for the child or children

  • DAD.info Team 1
    DAD.info Team 1 Monday, 06 June 2016

    Dear All

    Thank you for your comments and thoughts on this subject - our forum page really will be of help to you all - please see link below.


    Please do come back to us if you need any further advice or help.

    Many thanks!

    Dad.Info Team

  • Guest
    David Mcdermott Thursday, 16 June 2016

    Please help!!!!

    ex partner is taking my daughter abroad on holiday for a fortnight,neither her or her Soliciters has informed me where she is flying to,where she is staying over the 2 week period,and also who other than my ex partner will be accompaning my daughter i.e her partner at the moment that she claims is not her partner us an addict and convicted armed robber etc,Can anyone help me here so I can find out what I can do? I do not wish to stop my daughter going on holiday,I simply want to know the location and details of the hotel where she shall be staying,I am worried sick as there is a list of certain countries as we all know that are very dangerous at the moment,and the last holiday to Tunisia my daughter missed a major suicide bomb attack near her hotel by just one day,What can I do? As I feel helpless and we have a court order in place already(this was myself who raised the procedings) the judge ruled in my favour and gave me back access to my daughter,as for years i had to put up with my ex not letting me see her whenever she was in a bad mood,The problem is it's Friday tomorrow and I know she has a flight booked for Sunday,The time limit is very short,Please can someone offer advice,my ex and I do not talk so trying the good guy approach is ruled out,I would be grateful for some help,thanks. David.

  • Guest
    Dad Team Friday, 17 June 2016

    Thank you for your comment - it would be really helpful if you could post your question on our forum - the link is below:


    This is a great way for our community of Dads and our experienced moderators to be able to help you.

    I hope that helps - if not please come back to us.

    Kind regards from the Dad.Info Team

  • Guest
    Mum Saturday, 22 April 2017

    A mother asking a dads view please...

    Hi all as a mum I came to visit this site in the hope you are able to help me with a mans view. Sorry for the long post but wanted to be sure your in the picture of the situation

    I was with my ex for 14 years and we have three children 11,8,6. My ex was not the most faithful of men more than three times playing away to which his last one he packed his bags and left to move on with her about 30 doors away.

    I have since moved out of London he refused to help towards homing them instead moving in with this lady and her four children. I took just my half the equity and purchased a new home on my own. During the last two years he has hardly called the children, he has seen them almost two weekly but no contact in between. It's been very hard on them.

    My reason of putting you in this picture is... He has never supported me with the children eg behavior or backing me up or asking how they are doing at school nor ever coming to a single parents evening, he although loves his children has always been a dad that just likes the dip toe in approch... All the hard stuff he walked away from..

    I have taken sole care of all three I have asked 100's of times for him to make more effort and call and to see them now and again alone to keep his relationship with them strong but there is no effort other than his two weekly access.

    I am very happy now and so I don't have hate for him I just want him see our kids and be the dad I hoped he would always be for our children.

    The issue I'm having is I have realized I Carnot make someone I have paid and allowed them to go away with the school on a little three day break..

    I don't ask him for money I fund the children alone.. And I am so understanding if anything I'm far too nice but that's me..

    My ex seems to think that I have to call him and get his permission for everything they do... For me yes pr is a right of his I have never ever stopped him seeing his children if anything I have been pushing for him to be in their lives more he doesn't want that..
    however when he chose to walk away from all his responsibilities that come with fatherhood I will not be phoning him almost two weekly asking for permission for each thing they do. After all I have control of their daily lives

    My view is he never has wanted an active role with them and I have cried many a time over this fact as its all I ever wanted him to do. Now he is seeing the effects of his lack of contact and they don't evolve him he suddenly is experiencing the loss and is trying now to be very aggressive in his approach demanding I tell him and get his permission...

    I sense this is due to him seeing he has lost his relationship with his children, and now wants and needs to feel important and have his ego stroked hence why he's becoming demanding theating court about his rights of being evolved.

    I need a mans view as feel I'm missing something..

    What I don't get is how can a man pack and leave move away from kids round the corner within 9 weeks take them to this new women's house then drive past our old house daily and at times not see or speak to them for 21 days a time... To then suddenly see he's lost their connection and now demand he has rights...

    How can he think his say counts when he plays no part or interest in any other aspect of their lives

    Thanks so much guys I'm such a fair ex never ever be hard work towards him just not having him dictate what he wishes to be part of or not for me it's all or nothing.
    He was very controlling and feel now all that control has gone this is his way of trying to gain some type of control over me again...

    Your views would be most appricated. Thanks so much

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