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: 19 Feb 2018 |
 
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]
Afi - Your Question:
Hi there,My Kids are living with their mum, we r in the court regarding contact etc. Court has ordered a Child Welfare Report. Any suggestion on how to deal with Bar Reporter. I mean how to avoid common mistakes and traps. And how to a positive impression on Bar Reporter and present myself strongly.

Our Response:
I will post your question on our Separated Dads Facebook page, you can read the answers here .
SeparatedDads - 20-Feb-18 @ 2:15 PM
Hi there, My Kids are living with their mum, we r in the court regarding contact etc. Court has ordered a Child Welfare Report. Any suggestion on how to deal with Bar Reporter. I mean how to avoid common mistakes and traps. And how to a positive impression on Bar Reporter and present myself strongly.
Afi - 19-Feb-18 @ 11:08 PM
Sean - Your Question:
I am paying regular maintenance via direct debit Collect and pay but have no contact with my children at present( she will not allow it and due to extortionate fees on collect and pay I cannot afford to get legal support go to court for contact). I have been made aware that my oldest is not at college and is working although ex is still claiming child benefits but according to maintenance it is up to me to prove this. I don't know what college to even contact. Who do I speak to to find this information out please?

Our Response:
Even if your child is not attending college, until the college ends the course and child benefit stops being paid, then you would have to continue paying child maintenance. When your child officially leaves approved education or training, payments will stop at the end of February, 31 May, 31 August or 30 November (whichever comes first). You may wish to write to your child's college to verify whether they are officially still at college.
SeparatedDads - 12-Feb-18 @ 3:04 PM
I am paying regular maintenance via direct debit Collect and pay but have no contact with my children at present( she will not allow it and due to extortionate fees on collect and pay I cannot afford to get legal support go to court for contact). I have been made aware that my oldest is not at college and is working although ex is still claiming child benefits but according to maintenance it is up to me to prove this. I don't know what college to even contact. Who do I speak to to find this information out please?
Sean - 9-Feb-18 @ 9:44 AM
I see you - Your Question:
I would appreciate if you people stop taking down my messages when I’m trying to get advise I’m in serous distress here I am not a spammer I am just slow ok fair go mate.thanks!.my story my ex and I have a battle going on and she is at a loss I pity her poor thing.anyway my legal question how do you get out of paying child support?thanks.

Our Response:
You cannot get out of paying child support. Every non-resident biological parent is responsible for paying child maintenance to help support their children. We have taken down posts that seem nonsensical and/or accusatory. We are happy to answer genuine questions. However, if you could try to stop posting comments that are not genuine questions in order to allow others to have some space to post also, it would help. Thank you.
SeparatedDads - 6-Feb-18 @ 2:20 PM
I would appreciate if you people stop taking down my messages when I’m trying to get advise I’m in serous distress here I am not a spammer I am just slow ok fair go mate.thanks!.my story my ex and I have a battle going on and she is at a loss I pity her poor thing .anyway my legal question how do you get out of paying child support?thanks.
I see you - 6-Feb-18 @ 7:24 AM
Jay - Your Question:
My Ex (never married) is taking our child for overnight stays on various locations such as his girlfriend's house, her parent's house, hotels etc and refuses to give me, the residential parent the addresses and contact details. We made an agreement amongst ourself that, he is having our child once a week, inlcuding every other weekend. He doesn't usually pick up his phone if and when I contact him unless it's pick up or drop off. I feel very uncomfortable of not knowing where my child is, especially when she is staying overnight elsewhere apart from his home.Has he got a legal obligation to provide me with the whereabouts of our child's locations and contact details? I would provide him the same should he request it.

Our Response:
There is no law either way to suggest that your ex has to tell you where he is taking yours/his child, it really is something that should be agreed between the parents. If it is not something you both can agree on, then mediation is the next stage you should consider, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 5-Feb-18 @ 11:24 AM
My Ex (never married) is taking our child for overnight stays on various locations such as his girlfriend's house, her parent's house, hotels etc and refuses to give me, the residential parent the addresses and contact details. We made an agreement amongst ourself that, he is having our child once a week, inlcuding every other weekend. He doesn't usually pick up his phone if and when I contact him unless it's pick up or drop off. I feel very uncomfortable of not knowing where my child is, especially when she is staying overnight elsewhere apart from his home. Has he got a legal obligation to provide me with the whereabouts of our child's locations and contact details? I would provide him the same should he request it.
Jay - 4-Feb-18 @ 4:08 AM
Hi , I’m hoping to shed some light in this . My partner and I separated 2 years ago , very complicated 6 weeks before moving into a home we bought together . A girl From work slept over at his mothers and then coincidentally down the line she’s had a baby and here we are . So I’m in the house with the children and he lives at his mums / her mums . My children have had anxiety issues , not wanting to stay , crying to come home that has gone on for weeks. I understand it’s difficult for them as I hve the house but he made the choice to have a child in that situation . Her mother has gone away now for 6 months which is great as they have privacy and a routine . But they now want my children to sleep in her mothers bed ( obv her family has nothing to do with my children ) in a home they have Been too once for 5 mins . It’s taken me 2 years to finally get him to stay with his dad at his nanas , a home he’s known since birth and went to all the time . I have said it would be fair to do alternate weekends and cut the overnight mid week stay to tea at his nanas. However last night he took them to this house , even though I said no , which is a good 30 Min drive from school ( I live 2 mins walking distance from school ) do I have any rights to stop this happening again ? I don’t even know where they were in case of an ememergency . I find it really selfish he isn’t thinking of the children or putting their needs first here . He is refusing to do tea rather than an overnight stay which would be easier for everyone involved .
Meeks21 - 26-Jan-18 @ 8:25 AM
Hi , I’m hoping to shed some light in this . My partner and I separated 2 years ago , very complicated 6 weeks before moving into a home we bought together . A girl From work slept over at his mothers and then coincidentally down the line she’s had a baby and here we are . So I’m in the house with the children and he lives at his mums / her mums . My children have had anxiety issues , not wanting to stay , crying to come home that has gone on for weeks. I understand it’s difficult for them as I hve the house but he made the choice to have a child in that situation . Her mother has gone away now for 6 months which is great as they have privacy and a routine . But they now want my children to sleep in her mothers bed ( obv her family has nothing to do with my children ) in a home they have Been too once for 5 mins . It’s taken me 2 years to finally get him to stay with his dad at his nanas , a home he’s known since birth and went to all the time . I have said it would be fair to do alternate weekends and cut the overnight mid week stay to tea at his nanas. However last night he took them to this house , even though I said no , which is a good 30 Min drive from school ( I live 2 mins walking distance from school ) do I have any rights to stop this happening again ? I don’t even know where they were in case of an ememergency . I find it really selfish he isn’t thinking of the children or putting their needs first here . He is refusing to do tea rather than an overnight stay which would be easier for everyone involved .
Meeks21 - 26-Jan-18 @ 8:15 AM
Iqqi - Your Question:
I just need a advice can someone please help me? I been Separated from my husband since 1 and half he got married without giving me divorce however I didnt had enough evidence to prove in court so closed the case and give orders that he can see my kids 3time a day and over night on weekends. Now he living with his new wife openly and he also introduced his new wife to my kids. Now he is arranging his new wife to collect them from school I am not happy about it what can I do? I dont feel my kids to go with her on their own? Can I do anything about it? He still didn’t divorce me yet.

Our Response:
The fact your husband has not divorced you, and his access to your children are two different issues that should be separated. The first question to ask is how has he been allowed to marry again? Is one marriage not recognised in the UK? If you think your ex is committing bigamy, then you may have to report this to the police as a separate matter. With regards to your ex's partner picking up your children, you can restrict access if you do not like this arrangement. However, this will give your ex room to apply to mediation or through the court in order to try to resolve the issue. If there is no good reason why you should stop your ex's new wife from seeing your kids, then the court is likely to allow this. It's a similar situation if you meet someone new and your ex attempts you from introducing that person your kids to him. Unless there is a valid reason, the court will assume that the parent with parental responsibility is responsible enough to decide what he/she thinks is in the child's best interests. It's difficult, I know, when emotions are involved, but unfortunately the court will not punish a parent and stop them for seeing your kids because they have a new partner.
SeparatedDads - 22-Jan-18 @ 10:50 AM
I just need a advice can someone please help me? I been Separated from my husband since 1 and half he got married without giving me divorce however i didnt had enough evidence to prove in court so closed the case and give orders that he can see my kids 3time a day and over night on weekends. Now he living with his new wife openly and he also introduced his new wife to my kids. Now he is arranging his new wife to collect them from school i am not happy about it what can i do? I dont feel my kids to go with her on their own? Can i do anything about it? He still didn’t divorce me yet.
Iqqi - 21-Jan-18 @ 12:41 PM
I am divorced with a 14 year old daughter. My ex-wife and I have shared custody by mutual consent. She is very secretive about her life and doesn't let me go to her house although she comes to mine to collect our daughter. Do I have a right under law to know if she is living with someone? Should this have been declared on the divorce papers?
d.m. - 5-Jan-18 @ 8:08 PM
Hi, I came across this board when looking for some parental rights. My question is... Officially my daughter lives with me (The Father), but I share parental responsibilities with my ex, today her School arranged a meeting for my daughter with a educational Therapist after school hours (4pm) and took her from afterschool care which is on site, to this meeting, my ex was notified 30mins before the meeting, while the school never contacted me of any meeting, date or time.. (My ex called me as soon as she was told as our communication is good). Im just wondering if the school has done something illegal? or do they have the right to arrange and hold a meeting without my knowledge? thanks in advance.
Mike201 - 10-Nov-17 @ 11:16 PM
My son has equal parental responsibility for his two year old son, the mother and father seen a ear specialist for wax build up, the surgeon stated he couldnt see any problems but would do surgery anyway...my son asked for a second opinion which the appointment was meant to be in a week...the mother took the child for her week block of holiday time and without any contact with the father had the surgery on the childs ears...what are the fathers rights in this situation Thanks in advance for any advice
G-ma - 20-Oct-17 @ 1:55 PM
jaywkhan12 - Your Question:
Hi, So I got in contact with the school of my daughter to find out information on how well my daughter has been getting on but they denied me any information regarding my daughter, I was sent this fathers legal rights thing to look at from a friend that brought me here, after reading the info on my parental rights it said I am intitaled to school reports etc.so following the info I made a template letter and sent it to my daughters school but had no response so I phoned them again then someone I spoke to was more willing to help she said she was ment to get back incontact with me but was low on time anyway she asked me if there was any court judgement against me, which there isnt she was like okay and told me about parents evening that is taking place at the moment but she said she needs clarify this from my daughters mum to give me any information and that its fine for me to go in. What can the school do to find out if there is any thing like judgements etc against me preventing seeing my daughter school records and how my daughter has been getting on in school? I can then advise or give them a number to call to see if there is a court order or something preventing me as the mum of my daughter wont agree giving me access to anything she wont let me talk to my daughter let alone see her and there is no reason for doing this. I have made a letter from info I got off of here how to get info from schools/doctors regarding my daughter. I wrote a letter to her surgery but shes been moved from there and I don`t know where too it so how can I find out what surgery she is at so I can retain some information on her medical info.

Our Response:
School and local authority staff must treat all parents equally, unless there is a court order that states otherwise. Everyone who is a parent, has a right to participate in decisions about a child's education and receive information about the child (even though, for day-to-day purposes, the school's main contact is likely to be a parent with whom the child lives on school days). If the school continues to be difficult, I would ask your child's school on its written policy on parents with parental responsibility and what access to information they are allowed to have (which puts the ball in the school's court, so to speak). The school can ask the mother if there are any court orders against you and/or possibly find out via the courts. If your ex is denying you access, I hope you are taking the matter further.
SeparatedDads - 20-Oct-17 @ 11:33 AM
Hi, So i got in contact with the school of my daughter to find out information on how well my daughter has been getting on but they denied me any information regarding my daughter, i was sent this fathers legal rights thing to look at from a friend that brought me here, after reading the info on my parental rights it said i am intitaled to school reports etc.so following the info i made a template letter and sent it to my daughters school but had no response so i phoned them again then someone i spoke to was more willing to help she said she was ment to get back incontact with me but was low on time anyway she asked me if there was any court judgement against me, which there isnt she was like okay and told me about parents evening that is taking place at the moment but she said she needs clarify this from my daughters mum to give me any information and that its fine for me to go in. What can the school do to find out if there is any thing like judgements etc against me preventing seeing my daughter school records and how my daughter has been getting on in school? I can then advise or give them a number to call to see if there is a court order or something preventing me as the mum of my daughter wont agree giving me access to anything she wont let me talk to my daughter let alone see her and there is no reason for doing this. I have made a letter from info i got off of here how to get info from schools/doctors regarding my daughter. I wrote a letter to her surgery but shes been moved from there and i don`t know where too it so how can i find out what surgery she is atso i can retain some information on her medical info.
jaywkhan12 - 19-Oct-17 @ 12:55 PM
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
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