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
    Simon Joseph Tuesday, 10 October 2017

    Mother refuse my child to visit me at my new home with partner.

    I have split from my son mother a few years now. Although I have access to see my son this is only if I go to visit them or I bring my son to visit my Parents. She will not allow me access to have overnight stay with my son at my place of address just because she does not like my new girlfriend. There is no care issues this is purely out of spite an she is aware that it causes distress to me. My son is 9yrs old an has told me he wishes to visit me on overnight visits. Please help me

  • Guest
    g blake Saturday, 14 October 2017

    laws a joke

    sorry but even after months and months going to court jumping through EVERY hoop getting rights as a father i still havnt seen my two boys in 3 years as my ex just want answer the door ???? simple as that and cant do a thing hows that fair ??????

  • Guest
    Andy Saturday, 21 October 2017


    Hi, my 5 year old daughter who lives with her mother has had her ears pierced against my will. I voiced my concerns and I was told by the mother the she wasn't seeking my approval or permission to have her ears done and just went ahead. This was 3 days ago and since then is not replying to any of my messages. Where do I stand?

  • Guest
    Kelli Sunday, 22 October 2017


    Good morning I am just looking for some advice really myself and the children dad separated 9 years ago and access was agreed and this happened every Friday night 3:15pm till 6 pm on a Saturday, however this changed and he started having the 2 boys Friday night and collected the 2 girls Saturday and would have all 4 till the sunday!
    He will also have them a week out of the 6 week holidays! However on Tuesday night he messaged me! Please see below

    “Kelli me and rachael need a child free wkend every other wkend since we have been together we only been out twice and really its toll out off us and putting a strain on are relationship isn't a lot to ask but we do need this and it is not that I don't want to see the kids just we need to arrange things that are best for both of us if you want to talk about this face to face that would be great”

    Rachel is his new partner of 7 months whom has 2 children of her own which my children dad has moved in with!!!
    My problem is he dropped the weekends down already to 3 weekends on and 1 off to spend time with his new partner, I did start a new job back in January that requires myself to work weekends which before taking checked with dad this was ok which his response was I have the kids anyway so makes no odds.
    My children are aged 15, 14, 11 and 12 the 12 year old does have autism and doesn’t do change he is quite structured. I don’t think I’m been unreasonable which contact as I don’t receive any money for the children from their father! What can I legally do or is there any responsibility to have the children, as you would understand my Autistic sons welfare is paramount and he emotionally will not handle the changes I have spoken to his school and they have said the same he attends a specialist inclusive centre school, can you advise me on what legally he has to have the children, on advise from the school I understand my Autistic child’s needs are more then the other 3 children’s as he is mentally 5...
    I am willing to write a contract that we both sign and agree too been 3 weekends on 1 off for him but shared holidays can you please point me or advise me what is correct.

  • Guest
    Sarah Hurley Wednesday, 25 October 2017


    My brother is a great dad going through a divorce . 4 kids but she has stopped my brother seeing his kids . She shouts and screams she doesnt talk . What can my bro do please

  • Guest
    Joe Thursday, 23 November 2017

    Please Help

    I use to leave with my partner in South London that is full of deceits and lies, reason being there was no love from her but all she could benefit from me. She use to be married and her ex-husband divorced her 3 weeks after they got married in one of the registries in London with a baby boy.
    When I met her, the son was just 6 years old going seven and she moved in with me when I met her after about 3 months she became pregnant and delivered a baby girl in 2012 and we both went to register the name of the baby. At that point she always tell the members of her family we leave in Kent, due to her lazy attitude and funny characters fighting me raining words of insults on me, not ready to contribute to the up keep of the house, rents, staying in the kitchen with different co-tenants (men) e.t.c I decided we have to separate., in June 2013
    i moved to the midlands and told her I will have to be coming to see my child girl, she was given accommodation by the council on the name of the children. I visited then for about 3 times talking about the education of my baby girl that It will be better if my baby girl can start nursery school in a catholic church school, it was on the third time she disgraced me shouting at me and disallowed me to carry or moved close to my child, in the church environment where she attends (although she was born Muslim, joined that church because of me) That was the last I saw of her until she reported me top the Child support agency. In 2014 November I changed my job and was unable to pay child support but I told them to contact me so I can pay, meanwhile at that point we have arranged to meet for me to see the child as she said they leave in Kent we were to meet in KFC Peckham in London. she texted me the Saturday she wont be coming because she was lacking fund and until when ready to be responsible by paying regularly then she will start to let me see the child, I had go come back to midland with out seeing the baby and lost 2 shifts then.
    Every December she will not answer my calls till this year before the birthday of the baby 3 weeks precisely as she had always maintain that if I want to see the child I should arrange 3 weeks before because she work as well. I phoned to see the child on her birthday but she said "it's not possible" I asked and asked she uttered the same answer. After her birthday she said she was calling me that the child was un well but has been ok. Then we arranged to meet Good Friday I went to London Victoria to wait for her as arranged but to no avail, she texted me she can't come because there was engineering works on the rail. Bank Holiday Monday was next arrangement.
    On May bank holiday was when I saw my child after about 3 years and she said to me "let me tell you the truth, we don't leave in Kent but in Birmingham for the past 2 and half years to three years, and my baby was sick of appendices, had operation and was hospitalised for about 4 times last year" I was stunned. At this point all she was after was what and what I should be getting my child and to be seeing her at the Birmingham shopping complex or the Mcdonald's whenever I wanted to, we saw for about 4 time which was not convenient for me taking photographs and on Father's day we met bought them dinner.
    The main thing now is I told her the arrangement was not good for me, that I have and knows my rights that my child should be coming to me during holidays or weekends of which she objected and I asked her that we should go to the Family mediation service, it was then she said her son has just got admission to a grammar school and she has choosing a grammar school in Kent therefore they have already moved to Kent. I asked her how are we going to mediate then she asked me when I come to London I should call her, but it's like we are going back to the old time of wasting my time and loosing my shift at work because of going to wait in vain in London for her to bring my child. Please help how can I get her to mediate or can I go to court I don't know where she leave. Please help me.[b]

  • Guest
    Aaron Saturday, 02 December 2017

    My son is my world

    My mum has gardyen ship of my son and i left home over 7 months ago and now she's bot alouing me to see him how can i go about this as it's really hurting me

  • Guest
    Dave Wednesday, 20 December 2017

    School pickups

    Hi I went to pick up my boys from school the other day and was refused them as their mother has told them I can't pick them up without her permission I am named on the birth certificate and have them every week if she let's me pick them up I also used to drop them for the first year they went so have they got the rights to actually stop me why can't I do the same to her also?

  • Guest
    DCROOK Monday, 12 February 2018

    Easy Money

    If you make a system that allows a Sex to Financially benefit from it there is a certain type that will take that advantage and use it for their benefit. The Divorce system in the UK does nothing to protect children and has not done so in the 60 years I have been here.

    This is a true case and is an example of complete failure of the Justice System and the people who designed and run it.

    Two families destroyed by the greed of one individual.

    Person A marries Person C and remains married for 25 years
    Person B marries Person D and remains married for 12 years

    Person D commits adultery with Person C for 3 years and admits this to everyone including the courts.

    Person A divorces person C on the grounds of adultery and receives the house and other financial settlement.

    Remember person D who Boasts adultery with Person C ?

    Person D is allowed to divorce person B who has done nothing wrong on the grounds of Unreasonable Behaviour
    "Switching the Hoover off" because person B tries to save their marraige , yes that's right divorced by someone who has proven to commit adultery for 3 years and is allowed to determine what constitutes "Unreasonable Behaviour"

    Person B after 12 years of marraige has their Home and family signed away by a Judge despite doing nothing wring and ends up sleeping on a Park Bench.
    Person D then immediately moves in Person C who gets a roof over their head and drives out the children from the marital home.

    Is this the Legal system that you want, that ignores Values and rewards the guilty ?

    Families Destroyed But Adulterers Rewarded.

  • Guest
    nick cork Sunday, 11 March 2018

    ex stopped all contact all of a sudden

    hi when me and the ex first split i was seeing my daughter every other weekend and in week on school holidays the ex then stopped all contact all of a sudden iv tried txting ringing everything i think she has even changed her number we tried mediation she didnt turn up and wasnt interested i dont know what to do

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