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
    Frustrated fiancé Thursday, 27 October 2016

    Partners ex

    My partners ex is moving down the country with his 3 year old son. She's saying she is fine for him to do the 4+ hour train journey to see him on the days he usually does (once a week) but nothing more. He asked if he could have him for weekends but her answer was the usual not without her there. Does he have any rights to see his son more?

  • Guest
    Adrian Wednesday, 09 November 2016

    Limited Access to see my daughters

    My Wife has petitioned for divorce and I'm living elsewhere by myself.
    She refuses mediation regarding visitation rights see my daughters aged 7 & 8.
    She only allows me 2 to 6 hours the odd week to see my daughters and sends them to afterschool clubs instead of allowing me to collect them from school.
    I have parental rights.
    What can I do?

  • Guest
    luke benson Wednesday, 09 November 2016

    mr luke

    I have just separated with my ex girl friend, we are not married but have two children together. we not getting along again and I decided to move out for peace sake, she was happy and became a single mum with all the benefits. I always go home to see my kids almost everyday in their room but today she said I should come again and if I did she will not open the door for me.

    I've never be violent with her and I don't want to be arrested if I break the door in.

    please what can I do, should I just call police myself or which authority should I report to for help.

    I can never survive a day without my kids lest alone not seeing them again.

    please help me as I'm crying typing these.

    please help me


  • Guest
    Andy frodsham Tuesday, 15 November 2016

    Please help

    I have a daughter in america I've never seen because of her mother. I need help knowing what I can do because I live in the uk and she lives in colorado I need help on what I need to do to see my baby girl .there must be something I can do .I am her dad if anyone knows anything that can help me much appreciated I just want too see my only child

  • Guest
    Warren Wednesday, 16 November 2016

    What can I do?

    My ex fell pregnant while we where together and off/on told me I was/wasn't the father.
    The birth certificate is blank for the father.

    I have for years tried to talk to her about it to find out finally if I am the father.

    Now 16 years later I am still trying but getting no where.

    What if anything can I do?

  • Guest
    Vanessa Hossman Thursday, 17 November 2016

    American Father needs help in UK

    Hello. I am asking, no begging, for help. My son is married to a Brit and has 2 daughters. She had kicked him out ( she has a medical mental illness) again but this time she refuse to let him see their children. Speaking to her rationally didn't help, Child Services was a joke, the police wldnt help bcuz, I quote, "she called first" She doesn't want a divorce and won't let my son see the girls. She constantly calls the police bcuz she "sees him", he lives 2 blocks away! The living situation she currently has endangers the girls, ages 1 and 2 yrs. He does hv countless witness's as to her erratic and violent behavior. He was the one tht cared for the girls well being and provided unconditional love. They are a check for her, she has stated tht herself on FB. She already tried to committee suicide but first threatened to kill the baby then herself. Please, please help us.

  • Guest
    nathan surridge Tuesday, 22 November 2016


    i am a young father, aged 19 (yes bit young but we both truely thought we were ready), since the mother of my beautiful daughter got pregnant, she turned into a completely different person, she turned spiteful and abusive, controlling and manipulative, now i cant even see our daughter, she moved out and gone back to her parents house, blocked me on facebook and barred my number so i have no way of contacting her and no contact with my 4 month old daughter, Aimee-Rose, i want to know before i take this through court, what are my rights and entitlements as a father?

  • Guest
    alan Monday, 28 November 2016

    contact orders/ residence orders/ help with court bills

    I have been going in and out of the family courts now for the last 4 years with my daughter.There has been so many accusations about me it is unbelievable. each time my x raised an accusation it prolonged me getting my final court order. after a long struggle I have been awarded access. I have had the court order for 2 years now. my x has continued to stop and start acces at her will. I feel like I have waisted all my money and I am now right back where I started. I haven't seen my daughter for a month now and after getting legal advice I am going to have to put it back into court at my expense to get a enforcement order. as legal aid has now finished I'm in a position that if I cant pay for the solicitor then my x still has the upper hand and can stop acess as she pleases.ive recently lost my job and although its states on my order I can see my daughter for Christmas unless I pay to get it back into court it looks like it aint going to happen. are the any charities or funds available that can help me? ive done everything within my powers to see my daughter but I don't have an endless supply of money to keep taking it back to help.please help me

  • Guest
    sims Monday, 12 December 2016


    fake allegation are being made but have not been investigated but still being writen in report

  • Guest
    Mr h dehayni Friday, 23 December 2016

    Want my little daughter to meet my other daughter

    Hi there, I don't know wat to do I'm so upset..
    I have daughter with my ex she's 5years old..
    And now I have daughter with my wife she's 3year,
    My ex doesn't want them to meet ever,, and I can't
    Go and see my 5year child coz my younger child always
    With me, as her mother doesn't live her, I don't want to leave my child with baby sitter want to take her with me, I have no family here in uk to leave her with..I miss some of her birthdays and some Christmas coz I can't take with me, I'm so want them to meet so life can b easier.. my ex says alys she will never meet her on her dead body..
    Wat can I do please???

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