How to contact us for advice

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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). 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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What is parental responsibility and do mothers have it?

The law says that parental responsibility is:

‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority, which by law a parent has in relation to the child…’. This is explained in section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989.

A person who has parental responsibility can make important decisions about their child’s life. This includes:

  • Providing a home for their child
  • Protecting and caring for their child
  • Agreeing to their child having medical or dental treatment.

Mothers have parental responsibility from the moment their child is born. This is not true for all fathers. Some fathers will have parental responsibility for their child because of being married to the mother. Or because they are named on their child’s birth certificate.

Our Fathers page provides easy to follow information about how, and when, fathers may have or get parental responsibility for their child.

It explains:

  • Six different ways that a father may have parental responsibility
  • Details of the court forms, fees and process that needs to be followed to arrange for a father to gain parental responsibility for their child
  • How to check if a father has parental responsibility for their child
  • How stepfathers may acquire parental responsibility for a child.

It is also a good idea to Open or download our Parental responsibility – quick facts guide to parental responsibility.  It includes a table showing who has parental responsibility. And the ways different people can obtain it.

It also answers questions about:

  • Whether parental responsibility can come to an end
  • Decision making and parental responsibility
  • Limits to parental responsibility, and
  • Taking a child abroad.

Visit the other sections of our Mothers page to learn more about stepmothers, second female parents and parental responsibility.

To seek legal advice in relation to parental responsibility, mothers 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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