FAQs on Domestic Violence for fathers
Rights to information
My child lives with their mother and her new partner; he was violent to her so now children’s services are involved. What are my rights to information about the situation?
As a father you have a right to information about your child. It is reasonable for you to have concerns about the safety of your child if there has been domestic violence at home from their mother’s current partner. Your child’s social worker may share information with you if they are worried that your child may be at risk and if they consider that sharing information with you will reduce this risk.
However, the social worker should only share information with you that is relevant and necessary. They do not have to share all the information they hold with you especially if it does not relate to the concerns, or is from a long time ago.
If you think that you are not being told all the information that you need to know in order to help keep your child safe or that you are not being properly involved in the assessment and plans for your child then you can contact the social worker, in writing or by email, to try to resolve this. You should explain:
- Your relationship and your involvement in your child’s life
- Your commitment to working with Children’s Services to help your child
- How you can help care for and support your child
- What information you think you need to know in order to best help your child.
My ex-partner is still angry with me, because I had an affair, and I’m worried that she has told children’s services that I was domestically violent. Can I see the information?
If children’s services carried out or are carrying out an assessment of your child’s needs then they should contact you to discuss this and to include you in the process. You can contact the local children’s services department in the area where your child lives to check if they are involved with your child and why and to make sure that you are involved in the assessment. You should receive a copy of your child’s assessment.
Children’s services should work with you but must also ensure that they do not put your ex-partner or your child at any additional risk.
If you choose to you can formally write to children’s services to ask them for a copy of any information they hold about you or your child. However, there are certain situations where children’s services may decide not to share information such as where this could cause serious harm to somebody. This is explained in more detail in Family Rights Group’s advice sheet guide on access to information held by children’s services.
I don’t want my family to know that children’s services are involved because of domestic violence. What can I do about this?
Wider family members do not have a specific right to information about you or your child. If you have any concerns about information being shared you should discuss this with your child’s social worker as soon as possible and try to reach an agreement. Sharing information within families where there is domestic violence can increase safety for a child and their mother but may not be appropriate in all situations.
However, it is often a good idea to involve your wider family as they may be able to offer you and /or your partner help to care for your child safely. They may also be able to care for your child if you or your child’s mother cannot. If there is a possibility that your child may need to live elsewhere because the concerns about domestic violence have not been overcome then agreeing to involve your wider family, perhaps through a family group conference (where it has been assessed as safe to use) could allow your child to be raised safely in their family network instead of having to live with unrelated carers.