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: 27 Sep 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.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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[Add a Comment]
I made a doctors appointment for my son to see a gp without telling my ex. I just want to check he is well. I went today only to find out that it was cancelled, I assume she cancelled it. What should I do?
JaJa - 27-Sep-17 @ 10:34 PM
Mike- Your Question:
My partner moved homes without letting me know where she has moved to. I have sent her emails to know where she has moved to and has refused to let me know. She has also refused me talking to my kids and has refused me any interaction with my kids.

Our Response:
You can still apply for a child arrangement through court to see your children, please see link here. Simultaneously, you would have to fill in a C4 form, which is an application for the disclosure of a child's whereabouts. This means the court can put a trace on your children, to allow you to bring the application to court. Your ex can choose to have her address remain confidential and the courts will agree to this. However, it will allow you to be able to bring the matter to court in a bid to gain access to your children.
SeparatedDads - 25-Sep-17 @ 12:58 PM
My partner moved homes without letting me know where she has moved to . I have sent her emails to know where she has moved to and has refused to let me know . She has also refused me talking to my kids and has refused me any interaction with my kids .
Mike - 24-Sep-17 @ 11:30 PM
Despairing - Your Question:
Hello My partner'sson has just been 'withdrawn' from school for failing his mock A levels. The school never told my partner and it was a big shock as the last school report he got said the child was 'doing well.' Every year my partner contacts the school to tell the current form tutor of the family dynamics (he doesn't communicate with his ex ) and to please stay in touch with reports and anything he should know. This year as before the tutor gave his assurance that he would. This year he also explained that his ex took away the child's phone which my partner communicated with him on. After hearing whispers that the child had been 'kicked out' he wrote to the school who confirmed it had happened two weeks previously. He wrote an official letter of complaint and the school replied that they didn't have to communicate with both parents - only the 'priority' one - the child's mother whom the child lives with. They also said they had been communicating with the mother about the child's deteriorating grades all term - again we knew nothing of this. This seems all wrong - morally. The tone of the letter was in no way sorry for not communicating as promised. Is what they've done illegal ?

Our Response:
You raise a very interesting point here, especially as both parents (who have parental responsibility) should be treated equally, so it might be worth seeking legal advice regarding this. Most schools are issued with a guidance on parental responsibility, so you might wish to ask for a run down of the school's policy. It is a very grey area - but in theory information should be communicated to both parents. The Coram Legal Centre may be able to give you further advice, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 24-Jul-17 @ 11:58 AM
Hello My partner's son has just been 'withdrawn' from school for failing his mock A levels. The school never told my partnerand it was a big shock as the last school report he got said the child was 'doing well.' Every year my partner contacts the school to tell the current form tutor of the family dynamics (he doesn't communicate with his ex ) and to please stay in touch with reports and anything he should know. This year as before the tutor gave his assurance that he would. This year he also explained that his ex took away the child's phone which my partner communicated with him on . After hearing whispers that the child had been 'kicked out' he wrote to the school who confirmed it had happened two weeks previously . He wrote an official letter of complaint and the school replied that they didn't have to communicate with both parents - only the 'priority' one - the child's mother whom the child lives with. They also said they had been communicating with the mother about the child's deteriorating grades all term - again we knew nothing of this .This seems all wrong - morally. The tone of the letter was in no way sorry for not communicating as promised . Is what they've done illegal ?
Despairing - 21-Jul-17 @ 9:36 PM
So my ex wife has decided a new nursery without consulting me, do I have a right to refuse him to go to that nursery as I feel its inappropriate and too far away for him. Shouldn't I of been consulted?
Dan - 12-Jul-17 @ 5:44 PM
Dbro86 - Your Question:
Hi my ex is putting our daughter into a playgroup which is charging her. She has asked me to give her more child maintenance money to cover the cost. I already feel the £205i give her monthly is more than enough to cover this. Just looking for some opinions. Thanks

Our Response:
While you are under no obligation to pay your ex more money on top of child maintenance, it is a personal choice that many non-resident parents help out with. Much depends upon how much the nursery fees are and whether your ex is at a disadvantage by having to take on board nursery fees (which are expensive) on top of caring for your child on a day-to-day basis as the primary carer. Bringing up a child is a two-way thing and should be seen as an equal job for both parents.
SeparatedDads - 11-Jul-17 @ 11:28 AM
Hi my ex is putting our daughter into a playgroup which is charging her. She has asked me to give her more child maintenance money to cover the cost. I already feel the £205i give her monthly is more than enough to cover this. Just looking for some opinions. Thanks
Dbro86 - 10-Jul-17 @ 3:44 PM
Jpearce - Your Question:
Such awful situations!Hi all, My ex wife is refusing to tell me which school my child will be moving to (she is moving up due to age) I have contacted her current school, who instead of telling me, sent my message to my ex, and have replied to me saying they cannot comment as the ex doesn't want me to know!I have parental responsibility and thought I had the right to know where she will be going?Also, can the school contact my ex each time I contact them?Can't find any legislation to back this up.Thanks in advance

Our Response:
There seems not to be any current information on gov.uk. But there is in its archive section, which shows you the general guidance for schools with regards to PR here . This should not be too far removed from current practice.
SeparatedDads - 6-Jul-17 @ 3:19 PM
Such awful situations! Hi all, My ex wife is refusing to tell me which school my child will be moving to (she is moving up due to age) I have contacted her current school, who instead of telling me, sent my message to my ex, and have replied to me saying they cannot comment as the ex doesn't want me to know! I have parental responsibility and thought I had the right to know where she will be going? Also, can the school contact my ex each time I contact them? Can't find any legislation to back this up. Thanks in advance
Jpearce - 5-Jul-17 @ 3:14 PM
I am a single father, my ex has contact every wkend but has now moved home and is refusing to notify me of new address..can I refuse to let my child go to her mums?
Bentley - 28-Jun-17 @ 4:41 PM
ian - Your Question:
Hi, im trying to find out if have the legal right to know where my children will live when they move homes. I have parental responsibility for them both. My ex-partner is refusing to give the information of their new place of residence.

Our Response:
Your ex doesn't have to give you her new address if she prefers not to. However, if she decides to stop access and it means that you cannot trace your children in order to gain access, then you can apply for access through the courts and at the same time fill in a C4 form. A C4 is an application for an order for disclosure of a child’s whereabouts. It means the court can put a trace on your kids so you can apply to court for access, but if your ex still wishes to keep the address confidential, the court will respect this.
SeparatedDads - 26-Jun-17 @ 2:43 PM
hi, im trying to find out if have the legal right to know where my children will live when they move homes. I have parental responsibility for them both. My ex-partner is refusing to give the information of their new place of residence.
ian - 25-Jun-17 @ 11:07 AM
sally - Your Question:
Hi. I am just writing to see if anyone else has had a similar problem.After being separated from my partner 2 years ago I have been to court constantly. Not because I had never stuck to any arrangements but because they were constantly wanting to change things all the time. I has to attend alone and I fought hard alone even though he has a solicitor and a barrister present and I actually got what I wanted which was to spend a Saturday every week with my 2 girls aged 5 and 2.I had previously had to not see them all weekends for almost 2 years.However a month ago he and his parents decided to put my eldest into Rainbows club on a Wednesday night when she stops over with himself and is parents.He did not consult me. The big problem is that they do lots of activities on Saturdays and some evenings when they are with me and it is causing a lot of upset.You are expected to get them to the locations and I have no transport. Some of them are remote areas and I dont want to spend all day travelling with a 2 year old in tow for them to only spend 2 hours there.There have been 2 Saturdays already and I have refused to take her on one because of the distance. They have a lot more Saturday all day events coming up and I dont want to do it. We were having so much fun going out together.I fought really hard to get this day to spend with my girls.I have on occasion asked him to swap and I will have them all day on Sunday instead and he can have them on the Saturday and take her in the car but he said no.I dont know what to do. I would have thought he would need my permission to get her into Rainbows but I am not sure.Can anyone offer me advice

Our Response:
The day the court order specifies you have your children is your day. It is up to you to choose what you do with your children, meaning your ex cannot make demands in what is effectively your time. In the first instance, you may wish to ask your solicitor to write a letter to your ex outlining the terms of the order and if he wishes your children to be involved in other activities then you are mutually willing to choose an alternative weekend day for your access. Hopefully, this will solve the problem. I have also pointed you to a link regarding what breaching the order means here . If your ex continues to be obstructive, then mediation should be suggested. If he will not agree, then your only other option would be to take the matter back to court. Giving your ex an alternative solution and trying to work around the issue would (by a judge) be seen as trying to be helpful. This evidence will back you up and show your ex as being deliberately unreasonable regarding what is essence should be an easy answer to the solution. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 16-Jun-17 @ 11:41 AM
Hi. I am just writing to see if anyone else has had a similar problem. After being separated from my partner 2 years ago I have been to court constantly. Not because I had never stuck to any arrangements but because they were constantly wanting to change things all the time. I has to attend alone and I fought hard alone even though he has a solicitor and a barrister present and I actually got what I wanted which was to spend a Saturday every week with my 2 girls aged 5 and 2.I had previously had to not see them all weekends for almost 2 years . However a month ago he and his parents decided to put my eldest into Rainbows club on a Wednesday night when she stops over with himself and is parents.He did not consult me. The big problem is that they do lots of activities on Saturdays and some evenings when they are with me and it is causing a lot of upset.You are expected to get them to the locations and I have no transport. Some of them are remote areas and I dont want to spend all day travelling with a 2 year old in tow for them to only spend 2 hours there. There have been 2 Saturdays already and I have refused to take her on one because of the distance. They have a lot more Saturday all day events coming up and I dont want to do it. We were having so much fun going out together .I fought really hard to get this day to spend with my girls .I have on occasion asked him to swap and I will have them all day on Sunday instead and he can have them on the Saturday and take her in the carbut he said no . I dont know what to do. I would have thought he would need my permission to get her into Rainbows but I am not sure.Can anyone offer me advice
sally - 15-Jun-17 @ 7:24 PM
Daba - Your Question:
Hi, after 2/3 years of trying to receive all letters from my sons school they have now changed the system so that all letters are available on the school website for parents to view.I am an absent parent with parental responsibility & it is important to myself to be treated the same as my sons mother & all other parents.The letters will as usual go home with the children on the day but I will have to access the school website to view them going forward.Can you tell me if this is legally accurate as I feel I am being treated differently to my sons mother & all other parents at the school by having to do this possibly every day or so.The school do not seem happy to as I see it treat myself the same as my sons mother or all other parents & going forward the response from the school to my concerns is one of ' a complainer' & they are not very receptive to myself wanting to be involved as much as possible with everything involved with school.Please can you advise on the above & give me any advice on this going forward.Thank you

Our Response:
You are still being granted the informatiuon and are not being restricted. So you have no real grounds to say you are being treated unfairly.
SeparatedDads - 15-Jun-17 @ 2:49 PM
Hi, after 2/3 years of trying to receive all letters from my sons school they have now changed the system so that all letters are available on the school website for parents to view. I am an absent parent with parental responsibility & it is important to myself to be treated the same as my sons mother & all other parents. The letters will as usual go home with the children on the day but I will have to access the school website to view them going forward. Can you tell me if this is legally accurate as I feel I am being treated differently to my sons mother & all other parents at the school by having to do this possibly every day or so. The school do not seem happy to as I see it treat myself the same as my sons mother or all other parents & going forward the response from the school to my concerns is one of ' a complainer' & they are not very receptive to myself wanting to be involved as much as possible with everything involved with school. Please can you advise on the above & give me any advice on this going forward. Thank you
Daba - 14-Jun-17 @ 4:55 PM
kmd01 - Your Question:
I'm asking to try and help my partner. His ex wife makes his life very hard. She refuses to communicate about his two children and although he sees them on a Sunday and for a few hours one afternoon a week (he had all but begged for more time and so do the children ) the ex wife will not speak to him what so ever. the eldest 9 a girl has a tablet and has recently been messaging him, his mum and me. The ex has taken the tablet away, punnished the child and made her very very sad. She has seen the messages screen shotted into her mum's phone and even had important messages deleted making her worry for her daddy's safety. Does my partner have a right to speak and message his daughter if she wants him too? We have sent an email asking to discuss the matter as this little 9 year old is starting to mistrust get own mother and it will be harmful to their relationship in the long run. But as usual there's no contact at all. What can we do??? Kx

Our Response:
Mediation is the first port of call where parents cannot agree on an issue, please see link here. The fact he is seeing his children is a plus. However, your partner's ex is not obliged to communicate with him with regards to issues such as the one you have highlighted. The fact he is seeing his children is a plus and any information he needs can come directly from them, or the school/GP directly. If his ex doesn't wish to communicate with your partner, a court will not force him to. His ex does not have to consent to mediation either. In such cases, if your partner wishes to push for a resolution he would have to take the matter to court.
SeparatedDads - 1-Jun-17 @ 10:45 AM
I'm asking to try and help my partner. His ex wife makes his life very hard. She refuses to communicate about his two children and although he sees them on a Sunday and for a few hours one afternoon a week (he had all but begged for more time and so do the children ) the ex wife will not speak to him what so ever. the eldest 9 a girl has a tablet and has recently been messaging him, his mum and me. The ex has taken the tablet away, punnished the child and made her very very sad. She has seen the messages screen shotted into her mum's phone and even had important messages deleted making her worry for her daddy's safety. Does my partner have a right to speak and message his daughter if she wants him too? We have sent an email asking to discuss the matter as this little 9 year old is starting to mistrust get own mother and it will be harmful to their relationship in the long run.But as usual there's no contact at all. What can we do??? Kx
kmd01 - 31-May-17 @ 7:50 AM
My daughter fell down the stairs at her mums house and fractured her skull and had a bleed on her brain. My ex declined to let me know untill 2 days later that she was in hospital. She said she never had my number on her new phone. But my argument is that anyone could have informed me about it. When i try to challenge her on the issue i am told that i am being selfish and its not all about me. And if i keep going on she will tell the nurses not to let me on the ward. Could i please be told what my rights are. I have parental responsability via birth certificate
hfc - 20-May-17 @ 8:55 AM
@Philverfox - at least you know your ex is on the ball about stuff. I suppose it's better than being the other way. there's not much you can do - apart from trying to talk it through with your ex.
JoeC - 25-Apr-17 @ 12:34 PM
Hi some advice would be very much appreciated. I have a shared care agreement with my little one who is 3. I have real concerns about her mothers obsession with her health and wonder if there is anything I can do. She is constantly making doctor appointments for my little one for every little cough, colds, headaches etc, she has also taken her to a&e on a couple occasions recently for chicken pox and an ear infection. Whilst I don't think she is a bad mother I'm really concerned the impact this is having on my little one as my little one is starting to play up to it and thinks she is ill the majority of the time. The hospital and doctors have no concerns of my little ones health and my ex is purely being over protective and paranoid. I feel a lot of this is due to my ex's insecurities. I've tried talking to her directly but she can't see where I'm coming from.I feel helpless and wondered if anyone has any advice on the best way forward.
Philverfox - 24-Apr-17 @ 7:02 PM
I split with my wife she cut me out of kids lifes im goin through court but behind my knowing she had left my children with someone and my daughter broke her arm and was crying for me and my wife made sure I didnt find out untill I saw my daughter left with same person I am upset because If it was somin worse wod I of been told when I should
gizmo - 15-Apr-17 @ 9:31 AM
Kez - Your Question:
My children are now receiving counselling at school, but the school do not provide either parent with relevant information. Is it correct?

Our Response:
You would have to check the school policy, or contact the school directly regarding this if you have not been given a handout, or any written information.
SeparatedDads - 28-Mar-17 @ 11:50 AM
My children are now receiving counselling at school, but the school do not provide either parent with relevant information.Is it correct?
Kez - 27-Mar-17 @ 3:53 PM
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
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