Frequently asked questions for fathers

Fathers and family support

The local authority is providing support services to my daughter. I'm her father but I don't have parental responsibility. Should I be consulted by the local authority and told what is happening?

If you aren't your daughter's main carer and she is living most the week with her mother, then, to begin with, the local authority is likely to work most closely with the mother when they assess your daughter's needs. However, government guidance in Working Together (Chapter 5 para 5.37-8) says the assessment should look at the parents' capacity to meet the child's needs. Although you don't have parental responsibility you are her biological father and so you should be involved in the assessment process and be told what is happening. The exception to this would be if involving you would place your daughter at risk of harm.

Read here for futher information on family support services.

What can I do if the local authority refuses to include me in the assessment?

If the local authority refuses to include you in the assessment process, we'd suggest you write to them setting out your relationship and involvement with your child and what you would like to happen. This should include:

  • how would you like them to involve you in the assessment and planning for your child.
  • What support you think your child needs
  • What you can offer in terms of care and support.
  • Ensure you keep a copy of the letter you send.

If they still refuse, then you may want to contact Family Rights Group's advice line to discuss your circumstances and consider making a formal complaint to the local authority.

Social workers have been involved in helping support my son, but I am still worried  that he is being harmed through lack of care given to him by his mum. What are my options?

If the local authority carried out an assessment of your son's needs, the social worker should have talked to you. The assessment should have identified your son's needs and his mother's ability to meet those needs and look after him.  It should also describe what additional support other family members can give and what help the local authority will provide to make sure your son is well cared for.

As you are concerned by your son's care and you feel you aren't being heard, we would suggest you write to the local authority setting out your concerns and what you think needs to happen to address these.

Keep a copy of your letter.

If you believe it would be in your son's interests to live with you, it is essential that you think through how you can manage this, including contact with his mother.

You then need to ask your child's mother if she agrees to the arrangement for your son to live with you (you may find mediation helpful to reach such an agreement); or if your son is under a care order, the local authority needs to agree the arrangement;

If neither of these apply, you can apply to court for a Residence Order under s.8 Children Act 1989. For further information on how to apply for a Residence Order, contact Family Rights Group.


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