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

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 28 Jul 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]
Daddy- Your Question:
I haven't yet got PR in the process.my 15 year old daughter wants to see me is it legal for me to see her if I see her in the street and talk with her and drive around locally with her.she doesn't want the mother knowing as she would be infore a good telling off for seeing me.you may say wait but is it legal for me to see her in the circumstance.

Our Response:
It is not illegal to talk to your child without the express permission of the other parent. However, you are going through the process of gaining PR or access through the courts it may be wise to take the legal route if it gives your ex ammunition to make accusations (if she is against you seeing your daughter).
SeparatedDads - 30-Jul-18 @ 10:13 AM
I haven't yet got PR in the process..my 15 year old daughter wants to see me is it legal for me to see her if Isee her in the street and talk with her and drive around locally with her.she doesn't want the mother knowing as she would be infore a good telling off for seeing me..you may say wait but is it legal for me to see her in the circumstance.
Daddy - 28-Jul-18 @ 5:55 PM
My daughter is 16 and about to start sixth form in September. Do I still have parental rights to information from her new sixth form?
mlotl - 21-Jul-18 @ 3:26 PM
AEvans - Your Question:
My ex will not allow me to have my kids stop at my home until she knows my address which I don't want her to have but she has my contact number which is all ways on 24/7 it's never on silent I have never put my kids in danger I just want to be a dad to my kids she knows the kids are safe with me as far as I'm concerned she is trying everything in her power to stop me seeing then I have been through this once befor with my two older kids mom from apart relationship I would like some advice on what I can do for the best interest of my kids

Our Response:
Unfortunately, there are no rules here. Most parents like to know where their children are when their children are not in their care, so it's understandable why your ex may wish to know your address. This can be viewed as responsible parenting. However, if for whatever reason you do not wish to tell your ex, then you are both at loggerheads. Therefore, the issue should be resolved through mutual negotiation, or mediation.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jul-18 @ 11:47 AM
My ex will not allow me to have my kids stop at my home until she knows my address which I don't want her to have but she has my contact number which is all ways on 24/7 it's never on silent I have never put my kids in dangerI just want to be a dad to my kids she knows the kids are safe with me as far as I'm concerned she is trying everything in her power to stop me seeing then I have been through this once befor with my two older kids mom from apart relationship I would like some advice on what I can do for the best interest of my kids
AEvans - 17-Jul-18 @ 8:43 PM
Lel- Your Question:
My ex has our children, they do not want to have contact with me. They have been on a child in need plan due to concerns of my new partner, the social worker has said she is closing as children are safe and do not meet threshold. Can I bring family and friends to the meeting? I've found out my children and ex habe moved to a new house but won't give me the new address but I should know where my children live. The social worker said its up to him. Do I have to go to court to see my children and will the judge make them See Me?

Our Response:
You would have to apply to court if your ex refuses, please see the link here.
SeparatedDads - 17-Jul-18 @ 3:00 PM
My ex has our children,they do not want to have contact with me.They have been on a child in need plan due to concerns of my new partner, the social worker has said she is closing as children are safe and do not meet threshold.Can I bring family and friends to the meeting? I've found out my children and ex habe moved to a new house but won't give me the new address but I should know where my children live.The social worker said its up to him. Do I have to go to court to see my children and will the judge make them See Me?
Lel - 16-Jul-18 @ 11:32 PM
Jay - Your Question:
My son was about to turn 16 and has had issues with depression anxiety and suicide thoughts. After a dramatic stressful arguement he decided he wanted to live with the other parent. I agreed. I wanted him to happy.After 1 month he was struck by a vehicle as a pededtrian. hospitalized with luckily minor to medium injuries but otherwise fine.My ex did not contact me! No one did!!I found out from numerous messages and phone calls starting at 11am of people asking me if he was ok. and I just kept saying everything was fine. I got home from work at 8pm and found out over Facebook.I was upset. and thats putting it lightly.I was not allowed to talk to him or see him.6 months pass by and they are of course sueing the older lady or insurance company but they are keeping all details from me.They meaning the parent and child do not want me involved. They now have gone for full parenting time and guardianship of said child with a clause stating the child will only contac me by his choice.I haven't worked in 6 months due to this mess and stress!!!!By the way im from Canada

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, we canot advise as Canadian family law a different to English family law, which is what we specialise in. You would have to seek legal advice in your locality.
SeparatedDads - 28-Jun-18 @ 11:53 AM
My son was about toturn 16 and has had issues with depression anxiety and suicide thoughts. After a dramatic stressful arguement he decided he wanted to live with the other parent. I agreed. I wanted him to happy. After 1 month he was struck by a vehicle as a pededtrian.... hospitalized with luckily minor to medium injuries but otherwise fine. My ex did not contact me! No one did!! I found out from numerous messages and phone calls starting at 11am of people asking me if he was ok... and i just kept saying everything was fine.. i got home from work at 8pm and found out over Facebook. I was upset.... and thats putting it lightly. I was not allowed to talk to him or see him. 6 months pass by and they are of course sueing the older lady or insurance company but they are keeping all details from me. They meaning the parent and child do not want me involved. They now have gone for full parenting time and guardianship of said child with a clause stating the child will only contac me by his choice...... I haven't worked in 6 months due to this mess and stress!!!! By the way im from Canada
Jay - 27-Jun-18 @ 5:55 AM
WDad - Your Question:
Can an ex having tried several times to change postal address at the known GP, change the GPs my child is registered at without my consent? I have PR and equal residency order 50/50. Please

Our Response:
Whatever your ex does without your consent and you which you do not agree to with regards to your child, then your only recourse is to either try to resolve the matter via mediation or challenge her decision through court.
SeparatedDads - 26-Jun-18 @ 3:28 PM
Can an ex having tried several times to change postal address at the known GP, change the GPs my child is registered at without my consent? I have PR and equal residency order 50/50. Please
WDad - 26-Jun-18 @ 12:27 AM
Lovingfather - Your Question:
My sons previous school approached me and my partner at his parents evening concerned for my sons poor attendance. They were concerned that I did not know of his absences and I explained that there is a lot of animosity between his mother and I and she provides bare minimum information. His school was very helpful, gave me an attendance report and set up a notifying service for when he is absent. Recently my ex moved him to another school, and I had spoken to them and set up all the necessary information. I explained the situation and how everything was set up at his previous school and they confirmed they could notify me of his absence as I am his father and have PR. I received a nasty text today from the ex saying his school had set her aside and told her I had requested to be notified when he is absent and she said they won’t be doing that and I would get his school and attendance report. My question is, am I legally entitled to be notified by the school when my son does not attend?

Our Response:
If you have joint parental responsibility for your son, then the school should treat you on equal terms with your ex. In this case, you may wish to write to/contact the school again asking for an update. If the school refuses your request after speaking with your son's mother, then you may wish to send a solicitor's letter explaining your rights and the background reasons for your request. If the school ignore this, your only option is to apply to mediation or court.
SeparatedDads - 22-Jun-18 @ 12:06 PM
My sons previous school approached me and my partner at his parents evening concerned for my sons poor attendance. They were concerned that I did not know of his absences and I explained that there is a lot of animosity between his mother and I and she provides bare minimum information. His school was very helpful, gave me an attendance report and set up a notifying service for when he is absent. Recently my ex moved him to another school, and I had spoken to them and set up all the necessary information. I explained the situation and how everything was set up at his previous school and they confirmed they could notify me of his absence as I am his father and have PR. I received a nasty text today from the ex saying his school had set her aside and told her I had requested to be notified when he is absent and she said they won’t be doing that and I would get his school and attendance report. My question is, am I legally entitled to be notified by the school when my son does not attend?
Lovingfather - 21-Jun-18 @ 6:53 PM
@NICHOLSON - tbh both parents with PR should by law be treated equally in the eyes of the school. If the school is refusing to do this write to your LEA and ask what the policy is.
EdF - 8-Jun-18 @ 2:55 PM
The right to have a say in education and school choice looks good on paper but that's as fair as it goes. In reality the residential parent can change the child's school without the non residential parent even being made aware or contacted by the school. It's only a right on paper in practice the education system doesn't support the rights by any pro active measure, never even considering to keep non residential parents informed of any changes the residential parent is making. Another system failing non residential parents they've only given us 'rights' to the extent that they don't have to change or deal with the issues
NICHOLSON - 7-Jun-18 @ 6:08 PM
My ex has recently had an operations on they arm and i have asked for a letter off they doctor before continuing contact with our son but for months now they keep denying me of one but still demanding contact to continue but I am worried about the safety and well being of my son if contact continued as I dont no if my ex is fit and well to look after our son. What are my right on this matter I am willing for my ex to see our son after i see a letter from the doctor but they are not willing to provide one at all its been since February that my ex havent had contact they message for the first two months but last months havent message had no conact at all off my ex not even asking how our son is at all.
Dave - 27-May-18 @ 11:09 PM
Redman14 - Your Question:
I have withdrawn all contact with my son & his mother, due to her lying about where she was taking him on contact. She said she was taking him to her mother's, but in reality was taking him to a stranger's that she had met on Facebook, got immediately pregnant to & expected my 4 yr old autistic child to call this stranger "daddy" while there. I didn't find out until recently that this was happening, but my son had been more difficult to manage for around the same time period. I've since found that my ex took our son to meet at least 3 different men met through the Internet & on one occasion, he came home with bite marks on his shoulder that the hospital put down as caused by another child, despite 3 doctors not being 100% certain if they were inflicted by a child or adult. I am applying to the court for an amendment to the contact order, so she gets supervised only.hopefully for an extended period, given her chaotic lifestyle & bed hopping. Can anyone advise on what a court is likely to do in this situation please?

Our Response:
It is impossible to say what a court may decide. 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. However, 'bed-hopping' and/or a 'chaotic lifestyle' is not considered a crime. Unless you can prove your ex has been seriously negligent, then you may be wasting your time.
SeparatedDads - 24-May-18 @ 12:57 PM
I have withdrawn all contact with my son & his mother, due to her lying about where she was taking him on contact. She said she was taking him to her mother's, but in reality was taking him to a stranger's that she had met on Facebook, got immediately pregnant to & expected my 4 yr old autistic child to call this stranger "daddy" while there. I didn't find out until recently that this was happening, but my son had been more difficult to manage for around the same time period. I've since found that my ex took our son to meet at least 3 different men met through the Internet & on one occasion, he came home with bite marks on his shoulder that the hospital put down as caused by another child, despite 3 doctors not being 100% certain if they were inflicted by a child or adult. I am applying to the court for an amendment to the contact order, so she gets supervised only.......hopefully for an extended period, given her chaotic lifestyle & bed hopping. Can anyone advise on what a court is likely to do in this situation please?
Redman14 - 22-May-18 @ 6:14 PM
philcc134 - Your Question:
My ex has moved in with her new partner 19 miles away from my home in Manchester. She is due to start school in September and we disagree on schools. My ex wants her to go to a school which is walking distance from her new house whilst I want a school in the middle of where we both live. I currently have my son every Tuesday and every other weekend. We’ve tried mediation which hasn’t worked and I would like a court order to grant permission for her to attend a school in the middle. Is this outcome realistic.

Our Response:
Much depends upon who is the day-to-day primary carer of your child. If your ex is and convenience means it would be better for her to be in a school in her resident catchment area, then it is unlikely a court would request that your daughter attends school in another area. 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.
SeparatedDads - 21-May-18 @ 12:17 PM
My ex has moved in with her new partner 19 miles away from my home in Manchester.She is due to start school in September and we disagree on schools. My ex wants her to go to a school which is walking distance from her new house whilst I want a school in the middle of where we both live. I currently have my son every Tuesday and every other weekend. We’ve tried mediation which hasn’t worked and I would like a court order to grant permission for her to attend a school in the middle. Is this outcome realistic.
philcc134 - 19-May-18 @ 8:50 AM
ARC - Your Question:
I know parental responsibility gives me the right to my child’s medical records. But does it also give me the right to be informed when their mother puts in a medical appointment for them. Can I insist the GP sends details of appointments and updates and results etc to both me and my ex wife separately?

Our Response:
This issue is nothing to do with your GP and should be resolved with your ex directly. If you cannot, your only other options are to suggest mediation as a way of coming to an agreement, or if your ex will not agree to mediation, then you would have to apply to court. You can see more about Specific Issue Orders, here .
SeparatedDads - 18-May-18 @ 2:32 PM
I know parental responsibility gives me the right to my child’s medical records. But does it also give me the right to be informed when their mother puts in a medical appointment for them. Can I insist the GP sends details of appointments and updates and resultsetc to both me and my ex wife separately?
ARC - 18-May-18 @ 2:22 PM
Hi, My husband and I married 14 years ago, and have 2 children. When we married my husband had a 2-year-old daughter with a previous girlfriend, they were never married and although he was named on the birth certificate and his daughter had his name, this was before the automatic parental responsibility law change, therefore, my husband did not have parental responsibility for the child. Shortly after we married, his ex moved with his daughter and we had no idea where they were, my husband went to a solicitor and a letter was sent to his ex's parents house but nothing came of it. Nobody would tell him where they were and we were told that she was calling another man dad. After a few years, we decided to stop searching for his daughter because it would be unfair to barge into her life and tell her that the man who she believed was her father was not, we decided to wait until she was 16. However, we continued to search social media, look for family members in hopes of seeing some photo's, over the years we never found any, none of them seemed to have Facebook or anything. Then 18 months ago, when his daughter was 14 I decided to stop searching using our surname and her mothers' surname and just searched her first and middle name. I found her with a completely different surname, recognised her straight away, I looked through her Facebook and found her birthdate (with the wrong year to make her older). I noticed she had a couple of my nephews in her friends' list so I contacted them. After a little bit of sneaking, we discovered that she had found out 3 years earlier that the man she had called dad was not her dad when she found her birth certificate, and that she knew my husband was her real dad. My husband reached out to her. Over the past 18 months, my husband and his daughter have grown close, her mother and her mothers' ex (the man she thought was dad) do not know about the relationship. It turns out that back when she was 4 years old, her mum changed her surname legally, she did this to hide her from her father. When she found out the truth she had told their daughter horrible lies, told her that he had left and wanted nothing to do with her, that I had stopped him from seeing her, that we didn't love her. Not only this but the man who had been her father has physically and mentally abused her, her mother and her mothers' other children for years. Social services and police have been involved but nothing has ever been done. The children are on the child protection register but have not been removed. She turns 16 in less than 2 months, she is in a loving relationship with a slightly older but lovely girl whose parents have told her that she can move in when she's 16. Her mum and ex-stepdad bully her about her sexuality, have told her she can't leave home until she is 18, and she is terrified of them. He sits in his car outside her girlfriends' house intimidating them. Her social worker has told her that they are lyi
WorriedStepMum - 1-May-18 @ 12:23 PM
Hi I've just asked my ex-wife, who is the main carer for our four children (ages 15-8) for my children's original Birth Certificates and Passports. I've told her I will return them within a week. I need these to prove my status as their father going forward. All of these documents were obtained while we were married. It's possible that their passports have been recently renewed as this is due every 5 years. We've been divorced for just over two years. She's asked for evidence of why I need them or 'someone to speak to' to establish that this is a 'legitimate request', whatever that means. My understanding is that with full parental responsibility, I'm entitled to these documents on request and I don't necessarily need to provide such proof. Besides the council may or may not issue a letter stating why I need to prove this and even if they do, would such disclosure not be a violation of my privacy? I would appreciate help and clarity on what my legal rights are and how best to approach this assuming she remains intransigent. Thanks in advance.
Vinnie - 24-Apr-18 @ 2:51 PM
Can anyone help me with a couple of issues please
Lurchio - 15-Apr-18 @ 11:11 PM
My partner split up with me at xmas and served me with a non molestation order in Feb . This means now I only go through her mum now . Back in Feb I asked my ex can I have half of her school holidays as well as every other weekend which was what I was doing and she refused the half of holidays which annoyed me and I threatened not to take her back in the Sunday and let her get an emergency order to get us in court bypassing mediation . Anyway I decided to take her back that day and accepted the non molestation in court but withoutfa t finding as I am not bothered if I don't see my ex . Since then my ex has said through the mother that I can't see my daughter now as she is awaiting legal aid to have a court order re contact t drawn up . Since the 6th of Feb I have not been allowed to take my daughter on my weekends but they have offered FaceTime when she is with my ex mum or to pop in and see my 2 year old any Thursday when she is with ex mum . I know I can go through the c100 route as I bypass mediation due to non molesteation order but she has done the c100 now but this is going to take 6-8 weeks before it's in court so that will be 4 months without me having routine contact with my daughter . How will the judge see all of this .
Paul - 12-Apr-18 @ 11:36 PM
Loulou32 - Your Question:
If your separated would anyone here as a father be willing to pay half for a medical assessment for their son? There is two year waiting list. Also what rights, if any, are there to ask or half be provided ? Thanks

Our Response:
You would have to agree this with your ex. If you cannot agree between you, then mediation would be the next option to consider, please see link here. Much depends upon whether the medical assessment is required and whether the non-resident parent feels they wish to contribute beyond paying child maintenance to help their child. Anything above normal child maintenance is voluntary and at the paying-parent's discretion.
SeparatedDads - 12-Apr-18 @ 9:56 AM
If your separated would anyone here as a father be willing to pay half for a medical assessment for their son? There is two year waiting list. Also what rights, if any, are there to ask or half be provided ? Thanks
Loulou32 - 11-Apr-18 @ 11:39 AM
BAZZ - Your Question:
Why was my perfectly valid and not nonsensical question taken down and not answered please??

Our Response:
If your question was a valid question, then please repost. It may have been deleted by accident.
SeparatedDads - 5-Apr-18 @ 12:12 PM
Why was my perfectly valid and not nonsensical question taken down and not answered please??
BAZZ - 3-Apr-18 @ 10:15 AM
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