Home > Legal > Your Right to Be Kept Informed About Your Child: A Guide

Your Right to Be Kept Informed About Your Child: A Guide

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 21 Mar 2017 |
 
Fathers Parental Responsibility Schools

As a committed father, you want to know all about the important things in your child’s life, particularly their medical and educational information. If you don’t have main custody of your son or daughter, you might not be the initial point of contact for doctors and schools, and you may find yourself missing out on crucial information. This is a quick guide to the rights of fathers and the ways to make sure you are kept informed.

Approach Your Ex-Partner

First, however difficult it may be, you should approach the resident parent. Explain that you are interested in your child’s progress and wellbeing and that you would like to have the same information from school and doctors as they have. It will often be the easiest way to get access to documents, as your child’s mother will have all the information provided for them, and can simply forward copies on to you.

Medical Information

In an ideal world, sharing your concerns with the resident parent should solve the situation. If, however, they are unhelpful with your request, you need to know where you stand as a parent. In terms of your child’s health, you should contact the doctor’s practice directly, explaining that you are a parent who has the right to your child’s health information. The surgery may ask you to provide proof of your Parental Responsibility. Do not be offended by this, it is routine for doctors to ensure that patient records are confidential, but they must also make sure that information is provided to those who are entitled to it. (See Writing to Your Child's School or GP for Information: A Template on this site.)

If They Refuse

If you are refused the information, ask the practitioner for information on how to make a complaint, or speak to the General Practice Manager. You can go one step further and speak to the Health Authority or the Information Commissioner, if you need access to your child’s medical records.

In some cases, your child may be moved from one doctor’s practice to another, and if this is the case, and you are unaware of the location of the new practice, you can write to the Area Health Authority, with proof of your Parental Responsibility, and they will inform you as to the new practice details. At this point, you must contact the new practice yourself as described above.

Schools and Education

The Department for Education and Employment has clarified that the parent with whom the child does not normally live is entitled (unless restricted by the Court) to the same rights as the parent with whom the child lives under issues relating to the Education Act. This means that as a parent, you have the same rights to information that the resident parent has.

Under education legislation, if you are the natural parent or have been granted parental responsibility, you are within your rights to receive information regarding your child’s schooling. It is essential that you make sure that the school has your address and knows that you want the same information sent to both parents.

Letting them Know

To ensure the school knows that you want information and that you are entitled to it, contact your child’s school in a pleasant but firm manner. Explain that you, as a parent, are entitled to the same information to be sent home to you as well as the child’s mother. Put this request in writing, with enclosed proof that you are the child’s father. Be prepared for more questions, as schools and doctors have a duty of care to protect the child. If you have no court ruling denying you access to the child, you are legally entitled to the information.

If the School is Unwilling

In some cases, schools will be less willing to allow information to be sent to the non-resident parent. If this is the case, contact the Local Education Authority (your local council will give you the details), citing the guidance from the Department of Education and Employment. Explain the fact that you have no Court Judgment against you but you are not being afforded your parental rights. They should help you to receive the school information in the same way that the resident parent does.

School Selection

School selection is not as straightforward as the resident parent ‘choosing’ their preferred school. It all depends on the catchment area of where the child resides. If speaking with the resident parent has not made a difference and you believe that your child’s wellbeing will be affected by attending a certain school, then you can apply for a Specific Order Issue.

Specific Issue Order

If you find that, with the school or general practitioner, you are meeting obstacles which deny your parental rights, you can apply for a Specific Issue Order if:

  • You want an Order relating to specific issues of how your child is being looked after by the other parent
  • You cannot reach an agreement with the other parent
  • You fear for the general wellbeing of your child

This is a last resort, as legal battles can be lengthy, stressful and put further strain on the whole family, including your child.

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[Add a Comment]
M.K - Your Question:
I don't have contact but do get informed about my children's school stuff. Can I ask for their school letters and reports to go my Mum's address instead of mine? I move a lot for work and can't keep on top of things.

Our Response:
There is no reason why the school should not consider this request, if you write the authorisation letter and state your reasons why.
SeparatedDads - 22-Mar-17 @ 11:47 AM
I don't have contact but do get informed about my children's school stuff. Can I ask for their school letters and reports to go my Mum's address instead of mine? I move a lot for work and can't keep on top of things.
M.K - 21-Mar-17 @ 5:11 PM
Hi Me and my ex split before our little one was born (he's now 6 months old). We got on very well for the first few months and I was kept informed about things happening like his HV appointments, when he was due jabs etc and I've never given her a reason for anything to change. However the last few months she been nothing but unreasonable and doesn't give me any information at all regarding my son and gets her parents to drop him off on the days arranged. She lived/lives with her parents but has told me that she's moved out of her parents house in the last month, however she refuses to tell me where she is living. Her parents still drop my little one off to me but my ex's father has told me she still lives at home with them and her mother says she's moved out. Do I have a legal right to know where my son is living? I do have PR and I'm on the birth certificate.
HB16 - 16-Mar-17 @ 1:12 AM
Hi I wrote to my daughters school requesting a meeting with the head. She accommodated this and said all information would be sent to me also. This happened for a month or so and has now stopped. I emailed the school about this and received a newsletter but again now this has stopped and I know am not getting everything, what would you advise?
Ian85 - 3-Mar-17 @ 10:14 PM
awbgdad - Your Question:
Hi, my ex has stopped me seeing or speaking to our 5 year old son and won't even tell me how he is. What are my rights as it's breaking my heart and I'm losing sleep from missing him?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Please see link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here which should help answer your question. Our Separated Dads forum may help you further. You have no access rights to your child until you take the matter to court or agree a resolutiuon with your ex via mediation.
SeparatedDads - 3-Mar-17 @ 12:58 PM
Hi, my ex has stopped me seeing or speaking to our 5 year old son and won't even tell me how he is. What are my rights as it's breaking my heart and I'm losing sleep from missing him?
awbgdad - 2-Mar-17 @ 8:02 PM
This is based on my own experiences and are my opinions: Until the powers of leverage over children empowered to a mother in the majority of cases are completely pulled apart - then Dads who divorce from maligned mothers are at their absolute mercy !! That has been my situation for the last nearly 20 years - I have no contact whatsoever with either of my two older children simply because the way in which the process of law is staged acts a firewall between my rights versus hers. Further the politically preconceived ideologies of influential court workers as well as the vestige of interests of legal "actors" further disrupt the abilities of any non-resident parent to achieve legal parity or support. I had a "perfect" contact order which I had to fight tooth and nail for - yet this was over a short time disemboweled by my ex through brainwashing the children while they were still very young and the only way to seek any recourse would be to destroy mine and my children's lives entirely by "playing" the court's system. This would serve to benefit no-one but the incalculably greedy law firms who themselves hate dealing with the child contact side of matters (it's messy, unrewarding and less lucrative than resolving the tangible matters of ancillary relief) - This they make penalisingly plain in the way they deal with anyone seeking to maintain such ongoing arrangements against a discrepant mother. In my opinion, the Courts, on formulating ancillary and contact orders ought to be periodically checking with the respective parties beneficiary to those orders that they are getting what they should in terms of financial arrangements and contact arrangements respectively in order to ensure that matters are progressing properly and if not then why not ? By doing so this could prevent massively damaging effects on families who end up fighting through courts on ongoing bases as well as saving huge wastage of court time. The problem that arises is that both orders are treated very differently. If the tangible financial order is not maintained then this is considered a criminal offence and is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. However, the witholding and abating of contact arrangements being intangible are haphazardly subjective and open to huge amounts of corruption by errant mothers - yet there are no criminal penalties whatsoever. Just a single high-profile example of a suspended sentence or a night in jail prescribed against a worst offender would overnight halt swathes of mothers who might have intended to play such tactics - being advised by their legal representatives to think twice or risk a criminal blight to their name ! Until this situation is totally overturned then nothing will alter and my damning first sentence statement will prevail. My suspicions are that both huge vested interests politically, financially as well as professionally (posturing) will prevent this ever happening.
EIBF - 12-Feb-17 @ 11:45 PM
Hi, my 2 kids are having trouble in school. They live with their mum and I am really worried about their attendance, I have requested information from school but I fear it is as low as 75%. There have been problems previously with neglect and social services getting involved. I would love to have them come live with me but they have 2 half siblings and I don't really want to separate them as they love them to bits. Is there anything I can do besides going to court to get custody to try and get my ex to take the kids to school?
Worried Dad - 25-Jan-17 @ 7:57 PM
Jj - Your Question:
My 12 year old son lives with his dad.my son and I have a healthy relationship but me and his dad don't.My son fell at school and was taken to hospital for suspected broken arm.I was informed by the school and was not told by his dad. It was only when I rang my son later that evening when I found out. His dad said to me he doesn't need to tell me nothing and told me to stop calling him.what can do ? Even though doesn't live with me ??

Our Response:
As specified in the article, if you have parental responsibility for a child you don’t live with, you don’t necessarily have a right to contact with them - but the other parent still needs to keep you updated about their well-being and progress. The difficulty comes if the parent doesn't wish to disclose the information. You may wish to ask a solicitor to write a letter to your ex outlining your rights to be given the information directly. However, if your ex refuses to ignore the letter or the suggestion to attend mediation in order to resolve the issue outside court, then you would have to apply for a specific issue order through the courts, please see link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 18-Jan-17 @ 11:23 AM
My 12 year old son lives with his dad ..my son and I have a healthy relationship but me and his dad don't. My son fell at school and was taken to hospital for suspected broken arm. I was informed by the school and was not told by his dad. It was only when I rang my son later that evening when I found out . His dad said to me he doesn't need to tell me nothing and told me to stop calling him ..what can do ? Even though doesn't live with me ??
Jj - 17-Jan-17 @ 1:59 PM
bgleed - Your Question:
Does anybody know of the rules for being allowed youir childs education information applies to college aswell. if a child is under 18.Thanks

Our Response:
Yes, the information attached to parental responsibility rights will last until PR stops, which is when the child reaches 18.
SeparatedDads - 13-Jan-17 @ 12:23 PM
Does anybody know of the rules for being allowed youir childs education information applies to college aswell. if a child is under 18. Thanks
bgleed - 12-Jan-17 @ 3:45 PM
Eli - Your Question:
My child's local high school continue to contact my child's father despite me asking them not too. My reasons for not wanting the school contacting my ex is 1- my child hardly ever see's his father 'much to his disappointment', this was a choice made by my ex when he remarried and had a new family a few years ago. 2- my ex shows no interest in our child's education, has not attended a single parents evening and never asks to see his school reports or anything. 3- My ex will often use the messages he's sent by the school as a means to ring and cause trouble, that's the only time he show's any interest whatsoever, and it ways heavily on our child's shoulders. My ex has no parental rights, my child was born in 2002 and his father and myself never married. His fathers name is down on his birth certificate, but it ends there. As I've stated to the headmaster of our child's school, I have no objection to my ex being given an end of year report showing my child's achievements/areas needing improvement, attendance and whatever else. What I object to is the school keeping my ex contact number in the system, which results in him being sent the same weekly text messages as I do regarding absences, homework, dinner money, money and school trips, and all the little bits past back and forth in between. The headmaster now claims that my ex is untitled to this, and continues to go against my wishes. I don't agree, and as stated above 'my ex has no parental rights'. The headmaster or any of the staff at the school have a clue who my ex is, he has not once been to the school or met the headmaster or any staff. Yet they continue to give him information over the phone and via text message and email, without even asking for proof that he is in fact the father to one of their students.Are they within their right to do so?

Our Response:
An unmarried father has parental responsibility if he's named, or becomes named, on the child's birth certificate (from 15 April 2002). If your ex has PR, then he is entitled to be informed as equally as you. If he does not have PR, then you would have to put it in writing to the school and if the school continues to ignore your requests apply to court for a Specific Issue Order prohibiting the school from issuing information. The court would then decide what it thinks is in the best interests of your child.
SeparatedDads - 10-Jan-17 @ 2:40 PM
My child's local high school continue to contact my child's father despite me asking them not too. My reasons for not wanting the school contacting my ex is 1- my child hardly ever see's his father 'much to his disappointment', this was a choice made by my ex when he remarried and had a new family a few years ago. 2- my ex shows no interest in our child's education, has not attended a single parents evening and never asks to see his school reports or anything. 3- My ex will often use the messages he's sent by the school as a means to ring and cause trouble, that's the only time he show's any interest whatsoever, and it ways heavily on our child's shoulders. My ex has no parental rights, my child was born in 2002 and his father and myself never married. His fathers name is down on his birth certificate, but it ends there. As I've stated to the headmaster of our child's school, I have no objection to my ex being given an end of year report showing my child's achievements/areas needing improvement, attendance and whatever else. What I object to is the school keeping my ex contact number in the system, which results in him being sent the same weekly text messages as I do regarding absences, homework, dinner money, money and school trips, and all the little bits past back and forth in between. The headmaster now claims that my ex is untitled to this, and continues to go against my wishes. I don't agree, and as stated above 'my ex has no parental rights'. The headmaster or any of the staff at the school have a clue who my ex is, he has not once been to the school or met the headmaster or any staff. Yet they continue to give him information over the phone and via text message and email, without even asking for proof that he is in fact the father to one of their students. Are they within their right to do so?
Eli - 10-Jan-17 @ 12:57 AM
Stressed - Your Question:
My ex partner has moved with my 2 year old son and her daughter from another ex of hers and is refusing to give me her new address.have I got a legal right to know where my son is?

Our Response:
Your ex is entitled to keep her new address from you if that is her choice. However, if you wish to apply for access and contact to your child as a result of her moving away, then you would have to apply through court via a C100 form and also fill in a C4 form which is an application to disclose the whereabouts of your child. This will allow you to apply to see your son. However, if your ex chooses, she can still keep her address confidential, but it means arrangements can be made so that you can regain contact with your child.
SeparatedDads - 6-Jan-17 @ 12:58 PM
My ex partner has moved with my 2 year old son and her daughter from another ex of hers and is refusing to give me her new address.have I got a legal right to know where my son is?
Stressed - 5-Jan-17 @ 3:16 PM
My daughters father has moved house and is refusing to give me their new address have I got a right to refuse him access until I know were she will be going?
Lady c - 28-Dec-16 @ 9:40 AM
Lou - Your Question:
My daughter has decided to life with her dad over the weekend without me knowing she's 13, can he change her school without my permission

Our Response:
If your ex has parental responsibility, and your daughter is living with him, then he can make decisions based upon what school your daughter should attend. However, as you too have parental responsibility, if you disagree with this, you may wish to inform her school, and/or your local LEA who may be able to intervene. Suggesting mediation with your ex may also be an option, if you cannot agree and you do not feel moving school is in your daughter's best interests. If your ex refuses to attend mediation, then you may wish to seek legal advice about applying to court for a specific issue order to try to prevent the move. Specific Issue Orders, much like the name suggests, are orders sought from the family court to determine a particular matter in connection with the exercise of parental responsibility. These orders can cover a wide range of issues that you and your ex-partner cannot agree on. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 20-Dec-16 @ 1:54 PM
My daughter has decided to life with her dad over the weekend without me knowing she's 13, can he change her school without my permission
Lou - 20-Dec-16 @ 8:07 AM
Help! My ex partners wife insists on cuttting our children's hair days after I've had it cut by a hairdresser. I generally have their hair trimmed every 4-6 weeks by a hairdresser yet she insists it is 'not straight' and is making a right mess of my daughters hair! It's a battle over hair. My daughter is in tears because of it!
losmo - 9-Dec-16 @ 10:20 AM
My ex wants to send out 7 year old son to boarding school several weeks of the year. He spent a week boarding in September and was bullied and would prefer not to go again. I also would prefer him not to board again. Apart from that he's quite happy at the school. Can I do anything to veto their decision?
Tony - 5-Dec-16 @ 7:38 AM
Hi, I have a court order for alternate weekends, half holidays, up to two midweek teatime(after school) contacts every week and "any additional contact the parents agree themselves" Ex wife refuses to agree any additional contact, e.g I am to provide teatime dates a month ahead but when I get a new schedule, there are always a couple of dates that are about three weeks ahead and not a month. I ask ex if we can agree to the dates as "additional contact" if there are no prior arrangements for child - ex flat out refuses even if the child is coming to me later that day for start of weekend contact. Ex refuses after school contact on Fridays preceding weekend contact because ex has fabricated a statement that the order won't allow teatime contact before weekend contact!. I have asked that we discuss suitable times for midweek telephone contact as a substitute for when teatime contact has been refused by ex or I don't have a day off for teatime contact. Ex never answered. Ex at one point enrolled child in 3 after school clubs, and prioritied club over contact - so was refusing contact dates for that reason. Given that child was attending club 12 times a month and was having midweek teatime contact 4x a month if lucky, I would think that on the rare occasion contact and club clashed, contact would take priority. By the way - ex has blocked my email address and forces me to contact new partner regarding child and claims my requests to agree additional contact and asking about child's doctors appointment, asking what infection has etc is harassment.. I could understand if I was emailing and texting several times a day every day but surely periodic correspondence between parents about our child's contact, school and doctor isn't harassment?? Am now in direct contact with child's school and doctor to receive information. Ex discusses child with my parents rather than discuss with me despite my requests we discuss child with each other - my parents would rather not speak to ex. Ex has got new partner to interfere in child's relationship with me and the partner has threatened that unless I arrange contact through him, there will be no contact arrangements made. New partner also made verbal threat to my safety and this was reported to police. Am I right to take ex to court? Am considering applying to switch residence as last resort to allow child to have strong relationships with both parents, not just one. Alternatively I will ask to be allowed to provide fortnight/3 weeks notice of teatime contact dates and ask for the order to specify what is expected from the resident parent in terms of supporting child's relationship with me, promoting contact. Obviously for the child I would rather not uproot again (ex has moved with child three times in three years) and would much prefer status quo for child and for ex to work with me to make arrangements that benefit our child, but honestly believe switching residence is in child's best interest lon
Osprey4040 - 14-Nov-16 @ 12:53 AM
Gjl16 - Your Question:
Hi, my husband has a 9yr old daughter. He never new she was pregnant untill she was in labour and is on her birth certificate. He was in her life for for around 1yr and then they split. She then moved and havent been able to locate her untill 7months ago she is profusley denying access and by no means do we want to turn her life upside down. He just wants to know his daughter he has always paid her maintaiance since the split ect we just dont no how to go about it now.

Our Response:
If your husband wishes to apply for access and his ex refuses, he would have to suggest mediation in the first instance, please see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here. If his ex refuses, he would have to make an application through the courts. Your husband has a right to apply for contact with his daughter and court is always seen as the last resort. However, if his ex refuses all negotiation, then court may be his only option.
SeparatedDads - 7-Nov-16 @ 10:50 AM
Hi, my husband has a 9yr old daughter. He never new she was pregnant untill she was in labour and is on her birth certificate. He was in her life for for around 1yr and then they split. She then moved and havent been able to locate her untill 7months ago she is profusley denying access and by no means do we want to turn her life upside down. He just wants to know his daughter he has always paid her maintaiance since the split ect we just dont no how to go about it now .
Gjl16 - 6-Nov-16 @ 12:48 PM
Recently divorced here. We have a joint custody agreement (1 week on, 1 week off) with my two year old son. I have two questions: -Do I have the right to know where my son is at all times? -Do I have the right to know who is with my son at all times? For instance, if my ex allows other people over or other men, or allows men to spend the night, etc. I feel like personally I should have that right but I know that may not be the case. We have it written in our divorce papers that he cannot be around anyone with a known sex related crime record or arrest (convicted or not). Well, if she is bringing over random dudes without telling me when I ask who has exposure to him, I have no way of keeping any checks and balances. And obviously can't control who he is around. But I'd like to have knowledge Am I being irrational?
uabrice - 22-Oct-16 @ 5:23 PM
Rbz - Your Question:
Hi all I've finally managed to make a clean break from the mother of my son, and for the time being bases on her track record I'm not letting her know my address , Shes a bunny boiler and has cost me jobs friends and family and the roof over my head, so until I know she has moved on am I in my rights to withhold my address and because of this she won't let me have my son stay over.

Our Response:
Yes, you are entitled to keep your address private. However, you would have to take the matter to court if your ex will not let you have your son until you reveal your address. The court will then decide what it thinks is in your child's best interests.
SeparatedDads - 5-Oct-16 @ 2:40 PM
Lou - Your Question:
My husband has a 17yr old daughter with ex wife.Child is autistic, aspergers, and has many issues.The ex wife is running along lines of parental alienation and has been for years, not thst we'll ever prove it.Over the last year, his daughter has been talking to him daily, albeit short conversations. She told him on various occasions she wants to live with us and my children. Her mother has since gone beserk, and now refusing her to see her dad.My husband is also aspergers, so is finding it difficult to comprehend. The ex has said she will not allow him to have access or speak to his daughter, and has taken her mobile and messaging access away. Shes 18 in Feb, and has mental age of 7 year old.Where can we go from here please.

Our Response:
Your husband would either have to suggest his ex attends mediation in order to try and resolve the issue via a third person and if she refuses he would have the option to take the matter to court, please see link, When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here and also Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here.
SeparatedDads - 5-Oct-16 @ 12:57 PM
Hi all I've finally managed to make a clean break from the mother of my son, and for the time being bases on her track record I'm not letting her know my address , Shes a bunny boiler and has cost me jobs friends and family and the roof over my head, so until I know she has moved on am I in my rights to withhold my address and because of this she won't let me have my son stay over.
Rbz - 5-Oct-16 @ 8:35 AM
My husband has a 17yr old daughter with ex wife. Child is autistic, aspergers, and has many issues. The ex wife is running along lines of parental alienation and has been for years, not thst we'll ever prove it. Over the last year, his daughter has been talking to him daily,albeit short conversations. She told him on various occasions she wants to live with us and my children. Her mother has since gone beserk, and now refusing her to see her dad. My husband is also aspergers, so is finding it difficult to comprehend. The ex has said she will not allow him to have access or speak to his daughter, and has taken her mobile and messaging access away. Shes 18 in Feb, and has mental age of 7 year old. Where can we go from here please.
Lou - 4-Oct-16 @ 8:07 PM
Hi, I'm Jason, Me and my childs mum are going through it at the moment and I'm actually going through court but in the mean-time I normally have my son for 2 days during the week. On this occasion i messaged my childs mum on Monday (26/09/16) to arrange to collect my son the next day as I'm off on Tues and weds this week and she replied back saying i can't have my son this week because she is in hospital and he is in the care of someone who lives outside of south London bare in mind i live a 15mins drive from each other and we both live in southeast London. If I didn't message her I wouldn't of found out that she was in hospital and she wouldn't tell me how long she's in for and what she's in for and she wouldn't tell me where my son is. I'm on the birth certificate and i know i have parental responsibility so any advice? what steps can i make because i was thinking of calling the authorities... my son is 18months
jason - 27-Sep-16 @ 3:55 PM
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