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)


  • Guest
    allen gallie Wednesday, 17 August 2016

    allen gallie

    my stepson has a 4 month old girl and is unable to see her as he has autism , child services say he should
    have 2 hours pre- week under supervision , however when we ask them to provide the supervision we have had no
    answer from them , there is no one else to supervise , I am wheelchair bound and have a stroke so I am unable to do this
    what can we do ?

  • Guest
    Inese Friday, 19 August 2016

    Dad's responsibilities

    Hello dads. I am a mum. We split up with my partner. I want and need he takes care of his son due to I work. His response was that by law he have no any responsibilities towards his son because we split up. Now I have to deal with everything by myself. Is it true?

  • Guest
    Edward Friday, 19 August 2016


    Hello. I have a 8 month old son, me and the mother separated 10 days after he was born because she said I wasn't there when she refused me to be around him or her when her friends came round and even though I was up with him every night and let her rest. She let me see him once a week for 4 hours, which I then persuaded to make it more, but before that she got him registered without me knowimg and after me asking. So I have been fighting to get on the birth certificate since. I tried being reasonable and kind but everytime I asked she started an argument and then her mother would come and get involved which last time ended up with her saying I wasn't the father which she then stopped me from seeing my boy. I am now taking her to court at the end of the month. I can't wait till I can spend time with him and him to know who I am again.

  • Guest
    Paul Friday, 19 August 2016

    If as a society we think that a farther has the same rights as a woman, we are naïve, as a man the only right that you seem to have is the right to pay child support. I split from my ex wife 19 years ago, 6 years in court 36 court orders later my ex still refused, to let me see my children.

    Her legal team approached me and said “When a woman is adamant that you are not seeing your children, you are not seeing your children”
    I would get an order outlining contact 12 until 6, she turned up at 5.55, then demanding the children back at 6.
    How many times have you heard a woman going to prison, for breaking a visitation order?
    It really is a shame when parents cannot differentiate their feeling , to that of the children. Parents should remember, that you should love your child more than you hate your ex, and restricting denying access, hurts the children more that it hurts the ex partner

  • Guest
    Brian Jenkins Thursday, 25 August 2016


    my ex has taken my 7 year old boy away for nearly two weeks, I do not know where or when they'll be returning.. is this legal??

  • Guest
    tracy Friday, 26 August 2016


    please can anyone help ..... my partner has 2 children with his ex .... 17 & 9 years old my partner has parental responsibility but his ex has new partner whom she now has a child with they are apparently getting married next year and she says the 'step dad' will be adopting the 9 year old .... is this possible ... I said they will need his consent but his ex is saying if he don't turn up at court it will happen

  • Guest
    Tony Saturday, 27 August 2016


    I have two children with seperate mothers. When I do the csa calculator is they amount estimated what you should give each of them or should it be split between the two?

  • Guest
    Ross Monday, 29 August 2016


    My girlfriend and I are about to split and our 4 year old son is about to start school, but if we are to split i do not want to live where we are currently living because the cost of rent will be too high for me to be able to afford a place on my own.

    I will have to move back to Birmingham where i am originally from as I have friends and family there, so in light of the breakup, I would prefer to be around people I love.

    However my Son is the most important thing to me and early signs suggest that my girfriend is going to make this as hard as possible and as our Son is about to start an incredibly important time in his life, I need advice as to what to do because I will not be living anywhere near them anymore, but I want to know what access rights I have and what if anything I can do to prevent her making our Son go to a school so far away and making it so difficult in an already difficult time?

  • Guest
    richard Monday, 29 August 2016


    My ex and mother of my daughter (2half yrs old) has introduced her to her new partners grandparents and allowing my daughter after only 6 months of meeting them Grandma and Grandpa ! I am not happy about this as it could cause confusion and no one knows how long this relationship will last which means how often is this going to occur and how many 'Granma's and Granpa's is she gonna have ? I can understand that if after 3 or 4 yrs they are still together then it's not so much of a problem , but after this short period of time I don't think that it is such a wise decision to be introducing people into my daughter's life and letting her carry on like they are family ... Is there anything I can do to prevent my daughter from going round these people's house's ?

  • Guest
    Kelly Heathcote Wednesday, 07 September 2016

    how do i start court proceedings?

    my partner and i have been majorly let down by social services where his son is concerned and his ex will not let him see him unless money is put into her bank... even though she is the one that thought she would be better off to go through maintenance she is now screwing because of the delay in money getting to her, plus the fact its three times less than what he was happily paying her. his son is on social services records and his mum is checked up on but they just really don't seem willing to help us. we are absolutely ready to take this through the courts now just for normality for my step son more than anything as she says awful things to him about his dad and its not fair!! i just don't know where to start with any of it so any advice would be massively appreciated!!

    Many Thanks :)

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Guest Thursday, 06 August 2020

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