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
    Fateh Monday, 06 March 2017


    I have three kids my ex told social srvice and told them that I was trying to a thack her and I was abuse her in font of the children and shouted at kids and even slap the kids . The social services took her somewhere where I don't know I got a solicitor too arrange contact with my kids the solicitor ask the social worker for canact they said they should write to them but police not been involved only social did. Please advise how long it takes to I see my kids and what percent chance of contact I will have or I won't have at all please need advices thanks for reading my post

  • Guest
    Andy Friday, 10 March 2017

    Mr mac

    Hello fellow men, I have recently separated from my girlfriend who is about 5 months pregnant, she will not allow me to come to any scans. Have I any rights in this? I'm originally from Ireland and now reside in the UK she says that I must give her money towards buying things for when the child is born but I'm currently unemployed and have no money to give her. I am perfectly willing to pay whatever money I need when I become employed so that my child can have the best future possible and would really like to know what my rights are to see my child when born and put on the birth certificate?

  • Guest
    Frank Monday, 13 March 2017

    Dads ingo

    What bout if mothers new partners shutting at my kid and ny son crys every time he has go were his mum's new partner is and her he's partner keep bring cops on her say she have brake downs and hurts her

  • Guest
    Si Tuesday, 21 March 2017

    Does the mother have the right to decide where to go on visits

    My ex partner refuses for me to bring my child to my home town which is 1hr and a half from where she and my son live. If it's my time with him, does she have the right to refuse me to take him there?

    Many thanks

  • Guest
    .. Wednesday, 29 March 2017


    3 days a week (fri-sun) my daughter comes and stays with me as seeing her on week nights are almost impossible with work and her being in bed for school but during half term her mom asked if I could get her some new uniform in which I did and ever since she has started school I haven't been invited to any plays or parents evenings. Could someone give me some advice

  • Guest
    Frank Monday, 17 April 2017

    Denied Access

    My partner told me she is seeing someone so I should move out of the house and move on with my life.I was so down I cannot believe she will do this to me, I move out of the house also move on with my life.she is pregnant for another man I also is married to another.now she is stopping me not to get contact with my daughter and it's affecting me because I love my daughter so much.please I need advice on how to go about it.

  • Guest
    Tony Monday, 24 April 2017


    I have just had my daughter for two days which were agreed by her mother the understanding was I have her Monday and Tuesday those where my days take her back the Wednesday. Her mother decided to come pick her up Tuesday which I said ok as it would have been a loosing battle and not fair on my daughter to see her parents row. Her mother then claimed I sent abusive messages and refused to hand my daughter over ( not true as I have messages saved ) now she and her family are going for full custody and refusing me access when I've done nothing wrong. What would be the best course of action I could take to see my daughter.

  • Guest
    Dave Monday, 01 May 2017


    I have been separated from my ex for 4 years in this time we built up a good arrangement where my son had lots of access to me I have recently gone through a brack up resulting in me being homeless I have worked as hard as I can to get my self back on track as quickly as I could I am due to move in to my new house in the next week i have contacted my ex regarding contact as it stopped for 4 weeks why I was homeless due to not haveing any where to have my son i did try seeing him but being 5 and stuck in a car all day it was not fear on him now she is trying to say I can only see him one a fortnight even though this is less then what is on Ower court order and a fraction on what we worked up to before what can I do about it I have considered court be have had a few people tell me I have no legal to stand on as I have not seen him for 4 weeks why I was homeless can anyone help ?

  • Guest
    Jonathon Thursday, 04 May 2017


    Separated from my polish wife for 2 years and i have a 4 year old daughter with her. My ex what me to give her my daughter's British passport back which i got for my daughter. I do not trust my ex and she would take my daughter back to Poland. What can i do to stop her from getting it back . As she has got a mediator involved and said she would take me to court to get passport. Any advice would be appreciated.

  • Guest
    R Franklin Friday, 05 May 2017

    Fathers rights over grandparents

    My children's mother has been sectioned under the mental health act and the children are currently staying with their maternal grandparents. I see them everyday and there is no problem between me and the grandparents but I get the impression that they believe they are now in charge and the kids will be staying with them indeffinately if the mother does not get well enough to take them back full time. Personally though I'd rather the children live with me (Certainly if their mother does not get well quite soon). In the event that the grandparents are not happy with this want are my rights to simply take the children? I am named on the birth certificates as the father. Any advice would be appreciated

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Guest Thursday, 06 August 2020

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