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
    Aaron Thursday, 08 September 2016

    My Daughter

    It's a long and painful story that I don't want to fully get into but the short of it all is me and my ex split and at first she was letting me see my daughter, as and when she would let me I might add but the last time I saw my daughter her mother went through my phone and saw I was dating someone, this is when it all stop she's told me that she's had a prohibited step order put in place and has contacted social services as well as her solicitor who will support her if and when I take her to court. The last time I saw my daughter was Oct 4 2015 I need any and all the help you can offer my daughter will be two in a few days

  • Guest
    Jay Tuesday, 20 September 2016

    Child Contact Arrangement Order

    I got Child Contact Arrangement Order in May 2016 to see my children 3 weekends out of 4 and 50% of holidays. I work 2 weekends a month (12 hr shift) so third weekend is with my partner only. My partner has returned to full time work as discussed in court in May and can no longer care for the children one weekend a month. We informed the children's mother four weeks ago about the changes. She now states we have to go back to court to amend order. We cannot afford court fees and cannot take more time off work as this process has rumbled on for 3 yrs. Any advice would be welcome and can court force you to give up work to adhere to a court order?

  • Guest
    Megan ryder Thursday, 22 September 2016

    Child access

    I am writing this on behalf of my partner and looking for advice.
    My partner and his wife have been separated for nearly 2 years, it's not particularly amicable as he left and carries around a lot of guilt and she is adament she will not move on and often becomes very bitter (more so since I have recently come onto the scene).
    He has continued to pay the full mortgage, all bills and any items/school trips the children need in this time. They have now sold the house which he has been more than gerenous with in regards to financial aspects.
    He is allowed access to his children every other weekend and has had to fight to have them overnight and for tea once a week (has adequate accommodation for them) he also goes to all school events, medical appointments and anything else he can.
    Our problem is he wants access to his children in writing before the house sale goes through as he is worried once she has financial independence she will cut off access (as she is very dedicated to her children and has an issue with not being in control).
    His solicitor has said access will be part of the divorce proceedings which she will not even entertain.
    What we would like to know is if he took this further legally would it be that he has a good chance to see his children more than what she is offering as he would also like access to Christmas period and have the chance to take them for a weeks holiday.
    Thank you in advance

  • Guest
    jay Tuesday, 27 September 2016


    my ex is not letting me have regular and routine access to my daughter. im supposed to be in court next week for a 2 day trial. im not going to do it. the cost is £25, 000 for a 2 day hearing. my family has already shelled out thousands. i have offered topay off the mortgage for my ex. only for my daughters sake. but only if i get regular access. what more can i do !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Guest
    brenda darley Thursday, 29 September 2016


    Invaluable writing - Just to add my thoughts if others need to fill out a CMS-20031 , my company saw a sample document here https://goo.gl/YL7oui.

  • Guest
    Liam Neville Saturday, 01 October 2016

    equal rights across the board

    What I cant understand is that women have been given equality in so many areas of modern day society but this government is totally ignoring the equal parental rights for men. I'm not saying that men should get everything but at least give the deserving men a chance to love our children without being pushed aside because this government is sexually biased against men.

  • Guest
    Nathan Tuesday, 04 October 2016

    My son

    Hi all I'm a 21 year old boy who is trying to fight for me to go on my son's birth certificate but my ex partner won't allow me to go on there. She is trying to stop my contact with my son and I need some info on how I can stop her doing it

  • Guest
    Harrie Tuesday, 11 October 2016

    Ex withdrawing son from school

    My husband has a 6 year old boy, and today, the child's mother has announced she is taking him out of school to home school him. My husband is against this, does he has rights to prevent this taking place? He has Parental Responsibility... we need advice! :(

  • Guest
    Marky2000 Tuesday, 18 October 2016

    Difficult ex

    Hi everyone,
    Could somebody advise me on this matter please. I have been split from the mother of my 2 children for just over 4 years now. You would think after 4 years, things would be easy but there not. My children's mum is as difficult as it comes regarding my rights with our children. Yesterday I took my son to the doctors as he has has a medical problem stretching over 3 years. I found out from the doctors that it was nothing to worry about but he gave me a diagnosis. When I spoke about my son's problem to his mum weeks ago she said that she had already taken him to the doctors regarding this matter but according to my son, she hadn't. When I told her yesterday what the diagnosis was she said that she already knew that, but if she did know that, she never told me weeks ago when I first mentioned to her that I was concerned. She then decided to swear at me me and call me names, this was all done through text message. She has also been slagging me off to her husband in front of my daughter who is now really confused and upset. She didn't inform our children's school of my contact details incase of an emergency. I found this out by checking with the school. The children also want my mobile number in their phones incase of emergency, she has said no to that as they have her number and her husbands as an emergency number. 2 years ago she stopped me seeing our choldren for 3 months just because we missed doong 1 piece of homework as we were oit having a good time. It's almost like she doesn't want me in our children's lives at all and I don't understand why? I love my children so much and would do anything for them but it's almost like when I voice my opinion or am concerned for the children, she doesn't like it and turns into a really spiteful nasty person. I have had to put up with this for 4 years and all I want is the best for my children. Is there anyone on here that can help me please?

  • Guest
    parent Friday, 21 October 2016

    advice needed please

    My son and his girlfriend have split up,she and her family are psycho, his ex pulls out her hair when in a mood scatches herself and has hit,kicked and bit my son when she is in a mood, she dosnt live with him but she has their child, she has made a complaint to the police that my son was hitting her which is not true, there has been other stuff going on which I don't want to get int. I would just like some advice on how to help him and also want our grandchild to be raised in a safe and happy home.

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