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
    hugh mc harg Monday, 26 December 2016

    my struggle

    Not seen my beautiful children since last Christmas and this Christmas really hammered home how much I'm missing them I just don't know were to turn I can't get legal aid does anybody know what I should do ciz I don't think I can cope much more

  • Guest
    A mcwilliam Monday, 02 January 2017

    Custody of my son.

    I have my 9yr old son staying with me my x wife sees him on a Tuesday from 3pm after school to 7pm when she brings him back.she used to see him on a Thursday as well but stopped it and didn't want any more at the moment as she was attending a back to work course at collage. She said she would phone him 2 times a week instead till after January but made no arangments for Christmas or the new year. So she has switched off her phone over the Christmas and new year with no contact wot so ever.wot do I say to my son and lawyer. Thanks

  • Guest
    Richard Monday, 09 January 2017

    Mr Austin

    I am in the Raf and have been posted to Cyprus for 3 years . My step daughters biological father has not been in her life since she was about 8 months . She is now almost 6 :( we can't contact him and don't know where he lives . We have spoke to his father but he is just being obstructive and won't help even tho we are trieng to give contact back . The bio father was originally stoped contact cause he was on drugs and nether bothered trying . He stop pay csa and they tried to find him but because they couldn't they closed the case ? Does he still have a parental responsability as he has not seen or supported her for so long . And can he stop me my wife . Daughter and son from an amazing experience together ?

  • Guest
    Mark Taylor Tuesday, 17 January 2017

    Seeing my son


    My ex walked out on me after 3 years of being together in July 2013 when my son was 3 months old.
    I see my son every weekend without fail. When I am unable to see him on a weekend (work commitments or health issues) I am told I am NOT allowed to see my son through the week as this is HER time to see him.

    Is this allowed/correct by law?
    I am under the impression that I have 50/50 parental right as I am on his birth certificate and he has my surname.

    Please could anyone give me any advise on where I stand here?
    I pay maintenance for my son also (monthly) £120. What more can I do?


  • Guest
    Den Sunday, 22 January 2017


    My partner and I split up in October 2015 and she has constantly refused me access to my two boys.
    I had depression caused by the breakdown which also led to a small episode of self harming. I've since moved on from this but she still says that I'm an unfit father due to my condition.
    I have since learnt that her nice sometimes looks after the boys and I've also learnt that she has been sectioned twice due to self harming
    The breakup was nasty she had me arrested for harassment which gladly was proved to be false. If anything the police actually wanted to press charges against her for the same offence. She sent pictures of a dead baby girl to my elderly mother saying meet you granddaughter. She was cautioned for leaving the boys alone in a car whilst she went shopping and she threatened to drive away with the boys and never be seen again.
    The last contact I had with her was last December by email but I've been advised by the police not to reply.

    Please can anybody help as I'm missing my boys so much

  • Guest
    Hebbo Thursday, 16 February 2017


    Hi I'm after some clarity. My ex has just emailed asking if I would consider changing my sons surname from mine to hers. I've told her never is that going to happen. What I'm worried about thiugh is she is planning on taking him out the country for a holiday. Does she have to have my permission to take him away. He doesn't have a passport either. Is that something I have to sign?

  • Guest
    Nick Tuesday, 28 February 2017


    Hi my son is in the adoption serverces i last found out that he is not actually adopted yet and want to start having contact with him but in court i had to sign my rights over to social services so i dont know were i stand can any one give me advice please

  • Guest
    Michelle Evans Thursday, 02 March 2017


    Hi my partner has been broken up with his ex, who he has a 4 year old daughter with, for almost 2 years. She has always made it difficult for him to have contact with his daughter and even stopped his sister and father from having any contact with her. When she caught wind of me she instantly created barriers. Eventually we had her consent for me to meet their daughter and it went well. After a few weeks things became difficult again. My partners ex stopped me from having contact, to which we abided by. Then came excuses for why my partner was not fit to have contact with their daughter. My partner has since attempted to make arragments to see his daughter, however has not had much luck. With the fear of creating problems for their daughter, my ex decided to save money for a court action. However it has now came to my partners attention that his ex is taking him to court to remove all parental rights from him for good. We really dont know where to go from here.

  • Guest
    Sue Spalding Saturday, 04 March 2017

    Mum and child moving to different town from dad.

    Does an estranged father (not married) have any control over the mother moving to another area with the child - within the same country?

  • Guest
    Sari Saturday, 04 March 2017


    Iam a father lives in Lebanon beruit and my wife is in UK we are together since 2010 married in Cyprus in 2013 civil marriage our marriage registered in UK Lebanon and Cyprus, she was residence in Lebanon all those years till we had our daughter Elsie may in Nov 2016 in April 30 she said she want to go for visit UK for one weak and from that time I know nothing about them I tried to contact her family that she live with her mam and step dad he said she's is in Spain then I discovered she went Turkey at that time in April revolution and problems happened in Turkey I followed them to make sure they are safe then knew she's back to UK I also applied for visa to UK to go see what is going on her step dad reported me and caused cancel of my visa even thought I insisted to travel Manchester but the imgration transfer me back I only want to see my daughter and know she is fine don't know may be step father forcing her to do this duno what's his benefit he threatened me once I got text saying send me 50 thousand pound to bring you Elsie we not divorced and iam not saking for custody I am OK for giving her custody for ever I just want my right to see my daughter at least through social networks or pictures Elsie still don't know who is here dad I also not seeking to only go UK cause I own bussnies here financially iam more then OK. If there is any way you can help me with I be thankful. All documents official and every information iam telling you I can provide documents and prove to look more into my case regards,
    Sari ezzeddine

Leave your comment

Guest Thursday, 06 August 2020

PLEASE NOTE: If you have a specific question for DAD.info or for other dads, please post it on our Forum.

We may use your email address to respond to you about your comment. View our Privacy Policy for more details.