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
    chris mill Sunday, 25 June 2017


    My sons ex girlfriend is a total nightmare.my son has done everything threw the courts.he did his superivous exess at the contact centre and done a another 6 weeks in the the contact centre and now he has his son on a Saturday outside the contact centre,She has done 22 comptemts of court and doesn't even turn up for her son welfare hearing.the last 4 lawyers she has had have served her a g10.sje has a daughter tp another man and she does the same to him,WHY is she allowed to get away with it,

  • Guest
    Trev Saturday, 01 July 2017

    Am I the father and what can I do?

    Hello I will keep this short
    Almost three years ago I was involved in a relationship with a woman breifly and we ended our fling after two months.
    She then contacted me to then state that she was pregnant which at the beginning she said she was not able to have kids but was still on contraceptive, and stated the child was mine fully well knowing I was not staying in the country much longer as I was moving abroad for work.
    After having the child she started her demands money from me but I have always said to her I will be there to provide for the child only under the circumstances that we do a DNA test to make sure that the child was mine.
    Fast forward the child is now 2 years of age I am still currently living abroad but feequently visit London and she is constantly refusing to do a DNA. But the she will always threaten me with e mails from CSA and atate she is speaking to her lawyer.
    After back and forth contacts with her she abcise me that her lawer told her wjat to do then suddenly blocks me from any contact as I was awaiting her solicitor's contact. Also my name as not been entered on the child's birth certificate.
    If you can advise me on what my rights are and what I can do it will be a Pleasure.
    Hope to hear from you

  • Guest
    Miss Worried, Any Advise Thursday, 27 July 2017

    AnyOne Help Me Please. Need Some Advise.. Thankyou

    Well ive been with the childs father for 10 years we have 2 children 3 & 2. Hes not been the faithfuliest man over our time (more than 3 times) he lives with the children, more because of me and him not having suitable accommadation for himdelf, he has no where to keep the children apart from his mothers eith a 3 bed house already got two sons and a daughter there, theres no where for children to sleep and all their focus is, is money.

    he is in & out of work, does bring in some money here & there, he takes no responsability for the childrens needs i.e nappies food puts on clothing occasionaly, no nursery trips attends no meetings regarding children i.e drs parent meeting at nursery hosp app etc. No food shopping trips maybe 4 shops in 3 years, he has rights, he is on the birth certificate, i dont take any time away from him children wise he can see them whenever within reason. He cannit compromise with anything. Ive sat and exolained i have nothing left to give i have given up with our relationship its not healthy for children and he just says "im taking them now, i have 3 days you have 4 starting now" no matter the time, 4pm 10pm 2am etc.
    He doesnt like the way i live, i.e cleaning, (my house is clean) or going places, says i spend all day at his mums i.e i dont want to b at hers i want to be at my house our surroundings parks libaries friends etc but if i dont go there its like why are you not there? Im scared that because his has more of a family network behind him i.e mum brothdr etc i have a brother close to me but hardly see, and my friends that he will try to take them for good, he has mentioned it, he cannot be reasonable and just wants to go through the courts and as ive said i have no one behind me and wortied he could win. Ive tried to reason with him and just tell him to stay at his mums il bring the children over after my 3 year old finishes nursey at 12pm il drop them to his mums, and il pick them up at 530 for usual bath n bed routine, so 5. Hours daily he doesnt even have to travel. But he said no, i just dont know what im supposed to do. I dont want this affecting them in any way but want a readonable outcome for all ese iall my babies. Help pls

  • Guest
    Andrew Thursday, 27 July 2017

    Regretful behaviour

    Hello! I am currently splitting with my ex after a long time of unhappiness. We have an 8 year old son together and I have lived with her and and her two children, now 19 and 16 for the past 11 years. Our house is in joint name and she is buying me out to 'keep the children safe' from me. I have had a bad year and sadly (and stupidly) have been drinking too much. Not on a daily basis, but there are two occasions when my children have found me on the floor, paralytic. One of the occasions I had cut my chin badly. I know hindsight is a wonderful thing and these episodes should never have happened. She has told me that she will now try to stop me seeing my son as he will not be safe in my care unless supervised. While I know that I am removing the cause for my unhappiness and drinking by leaving her, I can't tell you how much this hurts. We are not married and I am considering moving out before any agreement is made about our son as life is intolerable at home. Any advice from anyone would be appreciated. I am prepared for the worst. Thank you

  • Guest
    Nadia Mahmood Wednesday, 02 August 2017

    Going through courts for 2 years unable to get access

    Please help, my husband has Parental responsibility, is on his birth certificate and pays child maintenance. We are going through the courts and it has been almost 2 years and despite the child been assigned a legal guardian and the child's own legal representative. The mother is stilling not allowing my husband access and keeps assisting he has psychiatric assessment even though there is nothing wrong with him and he had one privately which she did not accept. I am pregnant we both are financially drained and no longer afford legal fees or resprestive and just worn out and at breaking point with no one to turn too. We just don't know what to do...

  • Guest
    Guest Saturday, 19 August 2017


    So my partner split from his ex over 4 years ago he's going through an endless battle to get on the birth certificate to have some rights to his son she refuses and makes excuses over and over again his. Son is almost five ready to start school in September we've been together over 4 years (they were not together long before we met) she's refused him to see his son which has caused my partner depression and put our relationship on the edge were running out of ideas we can't afford court and he don't pay her anymore as she had been benefit frauding as she was having over £120 a month of us and not declaring it we both work full time but we would die to have him again on weekends what advice do you have we are so desperate he lives with his mom in a two bedroom flat with her his 15 year old sister and older brother he never smells clean when we did have him and his clothes were always filled with holes so we always offered to buy him clothes but she only wanted the money

  • Guest
    jay Saturday, 09 September 2017

    any body help

    I have a 6 year old girl who was conceived from a one night stand, my daughter has my second name and my name is on her birth certificate. I have been there for my daughter since day one even though there was no relationship in place with her mother. just over a year ago it come to light that my daughters mother was in a relationship with my older brother which as you can imagine did not go down very well. him being my brother played a huge part in the fact I disagreed with this but also I knew him as a person how he liked to drink and take drugs also how he had treated his ex partners and not only that but the impact it would have on my daughter when she grows older and realises the situation or better yet if they ended up having a child,........ I don't wont my child to be having a step brother or sis who is also there cousin its to messed up. so I stressed my concerns on many occasions but always fell on deaf ears, family started to get involved trying to make them realise this was not normal and from this the mother decided to stop all contact to myself my mother and sister who I might add have done nothing but support her as her family disowned her. (that's another story) I have tried mediation which she would not do, I spoke to a solicitor but could not afford the cost so decided to quit my job to seek legal aid to later find out I could not receive this as there has been no domestic violence :/ the only glimpse I have had in my daughters life is when I go to the school on a monthly basis to speak to her teachers and get an update on her education which her mother also tried to stop. she has now given my mother and sister access to see my daughter and every visit my little girl is breaking down asking why she cant see her daddy and why does her little sister (different women) get to see her daddy when I was hers first... I have tried reaching out again but am once again falling on deaf ears and feel like im at the end of the road but refuse to give up, is there anybody that can help me in this appalling situation :(

  • Guest
    Manny Tuesday, 19 September 2017

    Hi I am looking for some advice

    Hi I am looking for some advice I have been seperated from my wife for nearly 2 and half years , I had domestic violence allegations against me by my wife police got involved and the matter went in court then she retracted her statement and all finished . I have a child with her and she is a controlling narcissit women who emotionally tortured me and did whatever she could to control me. She threatened manipulated and made me look bad by purposely doing wrong and then blaming. Now after 2 and half years she wants me to come back and rejoin marriage.she texted me as she don't know what she did with me in the past. I can't write all what I been through in short now she doesn't let me see my son I don't know what to do as I miss him a lot and she is using him and is not concerned about his emotional well being. I pay child maintenance regularly through bank.

  • Guest
    Worried mum Tuesday, 26 September 2017

    Worried mum

    Need Dad's opions. My ex moved back to Spain 3 months after our baby was born. We had broken up but never said he had to leave the country or area our baby lives. He has always paid child care 400 gBP per month and on time in the last 7 months. I never ask for anything. When he gives me his travel plans for the weekends he visits every 5 weeks. I make sure he see his son from 10 until 6. over nights I can't afree to as he has no fixed abode or any baby equipment or relationship as such. Question is. He is movin back to the UK the November. 15 months after the birth and putting pressure on me for visit eights. What would you agree to or think is right for our baby?

  • Guest
    Chris Saturday, 30 September 2017

    Refused access to my son

    i was with my ex missus for 5 years ( she ended it )and we have a 3 year old son together and for the last 9 months i havent been allow to see him. Approximately a year ago i started to see someone new and i believe this is the reason i havent been allowed. shes changed her number so i cant contact her to speak to him or have any contact what so ever.. i have begged and pleaded with her to let me see him, i give her over £300 a month towards him i have never shy'd from my responsibilities i just want my son back in my life but i feel like im being made to choose.. i just need some advise on my next step and where i stand if i need to take legal advise.

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.