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Our advice service

We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

Our advice service is free, independent and confidential.

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By phone or email

To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). For Textphone dial 18001 followed by the advice line number. Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.

Discuss on our forums

Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Advice on our website

Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.

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How can a father find out if he has parental responsibility for his child?

If the father and mother were married either before or after the birth of their child, the father will have parental responsibility.

What if a father and mother were not married?

If a child was born after 2003, their father can check the child’s birth certificate to see if he is named on it as the father. If he is, then this means he is registered as the child’s father.

These are different ways to see the birth certificate:

Where a father is registered as the child’s father on the birth certificate, he will have parental responsibility for the child.

What if a father has a written agreement with the mother?

A valid agreement with a mother for a father to have parental responsibility must:

  • Be signed by a court officer
  • Registered at the Central Family Court.

If these things have not been done the agreement will not be recognised as legal. Any father who thinks he has a written agreement can check to see if the agreement is signed by a court officer.

For information about entering into a parental responsibility agreement see our What is parental responsibility and when do fathers have, or get, it? page.

What if a court order has been made about a child?

Parental responsibility can be part of certain court orders.

A father will have parental responsibility if the Family Court has:

It is a good idea to check any court order to see what type it is and what it says.

The form has to be filled in and then the Family Court with a fee of £215. Fathers who are on a low income or in receipt of benefits may be able to get help with their court fees. They will need to apply online here.

For information about applying for a parental responsibility order see our What is parental responsibility and when do fathers have, or get, it? page.

To seek legal advice in relation to parental responsibility, fathers can:

  • Post a question on our Parents Forum and receive advice from one of Family Rights Group’s expert advisers
  • If needing further or more detailed advice, call Family Rights Group’s specialist legal and practice advice line on 0808 801 0366 (the advice line is open Monday to Friday, from 9.30 am to 3 pm excluding bank holidays)
  • Find a solicitor who is a specialist in children law. Or who has Children Law Accreditation. To find a solicitor, search using the ‘how to find a solicitor’ function on the Law Society website. See our Working with a solicitor guide on our Top tips and templates page for more information about finding and working with a solicitor.
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