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Can we Legally Throw Out Our 16-Year-Old Son?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 26 Oct 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Parental Responsibility Legal Duty

Q.

I have a 16-year-old stepson who has been in a group home and after he returned home, he was expelled from school for breaking and entering and also for vandalism.

What are the legal ramifications that we as parents will face if we throw him out of our house?

He causes constant turmoil and was initially removed from our home for peeking at my 12-year-old daughter while she was in the shower. Please help!

(Mrs K.L, 17 October 2008)

A.

The parents of a child have certain responsibilities to care for that him or her which are covered by the legal concept of parental responsibility. A person with Parental Responsibility for a child has the legal duty to protect, house and provide for them.

Not all parents have parental responsibility. The birth mother of a child will automatically have parental responsibility. An unmarried father of a child born prior to 1 December 2003 will not have parental responsibility for the child unless he enters into a parental responsibility agreement with the child’s mother or obtains a court order granting parental responsibility. Even parents without parental responsibility have a legal duty to provide for their children financially.

It is not clear from your question whether you have formally adopted your stepson and whether your partner is the boy’s mother or father. The degree of legal responsibility that you and your partner have for the boy may depend on the answers to the following questions:

  • Is your partner the boy’s mother? If so, she will almost certainly have parental responsibility for the child, as there are very limited circumstances in which a birth mother can lose parental responsibility.
  • Is your partner the boy’s father? If so, whether or not he has parental responsibility will depend on whether he was married to the boy’s mother or entered into a parental responsibility agreement with her or obtained a court order granting him parental responsibility. If the answer to any of these is yes, your partner will have parental responsibility.
  • Have you formally adopted the boy? If you have legally adopted him, you are likely to have parental responsibility for him. Since 2005, step parents have also been able to apply for parental responsibility orders.

How Long Does Parental Responsibility Last?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the duties towards a child which come with parental responsibility continue until the child is 18. In the case of children between the age of 16 and 18, parental responsibility ends if the child marries.

In some circumstances where parental responsibility was conferred by a court order, it may end upon expiry of the order. Alternatively, a court order ending the parental responsibility may be obtained. The child’s birth mother can only lose her parental responsibility if the child is adopted.

I have referred to your stepson as a boy or child because, in legal terms, that is what he is until he turns 18. Technically, a person with parental responsibility for a child, who fails to look after that child, could be prosecuted for child neglect. Therefore, if either of you do have parental responsibility for this boy, it would be inadvisable to throw him out. Clearly the current situation is unsustainable and you all need help of some kind.

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I think people who thought their kids out on to the roads should be arested
Gull - 26-Oct-19 @ 12:11 AM
Hi I’m a 16 year old girl and am having trouble at home. My brother (18) is horrible and disrespectful to my parents and abusive to me. I can’t leave home because I work for my parents and I won’t have any income if I leave and they won’t kick my brother out! I want to move in with my granny but her benefits will drop and I can’t afford to pay the difference. What should I do? I’m scared for myself mentally and haven’t got any help. They don’t understand the demons in my head. Is there a way to claim benefits to support me living by myself or with my granny?
Annon - 31-Jul-19 @ 9:55 PM
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Trish - 25-Jul-19 @ 8:03 AM
I have a 16 yr old step son (17 in Nov), who has only lived with is for the past 2 years, at his mothers request.He has attacked my husband multiple times and disrespects me at every turn.I have tried everything to resolve this from sit down talks to therapists (who say he's headed for jail), and even catering to his every need.He says I am nothing to him but someone who is in the way of his time with his dad.My husband and I have only been married 4 years and are on the verge of divorce once again solely because of my stepson.My husband admits he doesn't want him living with us because he causes constant turmoil but feels he cant just throw him out due to his obligations as a father. He lies, steels and constantly buys weed at school. He's is very narcissistic and just 2 days ago was in trouble with law enforcement for the first time for public destruction of property. I had to pick him up from the cops and yet he gets in my face when we get home screaming, spitting and calling me obscene names. My own son, who is 15 doesn't want to be at home when he's here.I dont want to lose my son because of this kid. What rights do I have as a step parent? Can I kick him out since legally its MY house and not my husbands? We have hidden the guns and lock our bedroom doors at night for fear of what he may do.Help.
SV - 27-May-19 @ 2:05 PM
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Xana - 19-May-19 @ 2:01 PM
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Claire - 24-Apr-19 @ 1:09 PM
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Me1111 - 16-Mar-19 @ 1:35 PM
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Michlle - 18-Feb-19 @ 6:10 AM
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Sammy - 24-Jan-19 @ 8:22 PM
I am a 15 year old girl (16 in August).I am very unhappy at home.I am revising for my GCSEs and I have to share a room with my younger sister who I do not get along with.I also do not get along with my mum or dad though they are both at home.I have said to my mum that I would like to move out and go to live with my grandma.She said I could go a few days a week but not full term.She only likes to make herself look like a good mother that is why she says this.If she was a good mother she would know that I am fragile and need to be in an environment where I feel comfortable as I tried to take my life 2 days before my 15th birthday.The only thing she was annoyed about was that social services got involved.I feel the same everyday and I couldn’t think of anything worse than staying at home.Does anyone know if I can perminantly move to my grandmas house without my parents stopping me?
Anonymous111 - 16-Jan-19 @ 9:37 PM
Hi All, As a parent of an 8 year old boy who has been a tyrant from day one. I can tell you something I've learn't. The most critical years of childhood are from 0 to 10/12. After this age just like a tree or plant the child is almost formed. It's not possible to do much after the age 14/15 in terms of trying to discipline etc. The answer to this country wide problem is two fold 1. good parenting (which you can only learn from good books) 2. Boarding high school (costs money!). The state needs to provide for such tearaway children it's not their fault they are very different that's all. You can't change a donkey into a horse or vice versa but you can accept it for what it is and try your best to help it. Instead of hating your child help him, as a parent you have 10X more power to do so. Even Hitler loved his parents, they may hated what he did but hopefully still loved him as their son upto the point of WWII. Once a child is 16 it's time to reap what you have sowed, if you received the seed of stinging nettle make it into the best one in the world, for it too has beauty in it. Yup sure it stings when you hug it but it too has a natural beauty. Look for the goodness in your son or daughter and praise it, don't look for the thorns all the time. Easier said then done I know but think of Anthony Joshua, what an amazing man he has turned out to be. Instead of taking the wrong path he found a better one ..boxing. When he told his mum what he wanted to do ofcourse she was worried but she encouraged him instead by saying "you knock them out".Encouragement is the best gift you can give to the most difficult child in the world, this is because even the most difficult child in the world wants to be successful, they don't know how to. Would you rather a drug dealer show him the way instead of you? Good luck!
BMP - 22-Oct-18 @ 11:16 AM
Hi, I have 5 children 17,11,8,4 & 8 months my 17 year old is constantly arguing and causing problems for the rest of the household. We live in fear of him and have no idea what he is going to do next he is violent and abusive and we never know what he is going to do next.He works full time all I wan to do is protect my other children but protect him too but I have no idea where to turn.
Jrg - 9-Oct-18 @ 10:00 PM
Hello, my two daughters who are wholly disrespectful, abusive and are bringing my wife to a nervous-breakdown are constantly claiming they both want to leave home despite everything being at their fingertips thanks to their mother & I. Tuesday we evicted them both. One is 20 & the other 17. We gave them the means and instruction to go to their grandparents house - which they claimed they wanted to do. They since decided not to travel to their grandparents but stay at a friends house. Can you confirm our legal position on this please. Thank you.
BW - 13-Sep-18 @ 11:35 AM
So I have a 16yr old son who is verbally abusive & a drug dealer.He is stoned most of the time & known to the police & social services.His dad & I are being held prisoners in our house as we never know what’s going to happen.Social services do nothing & say that because he comes from a loving & wealthy family they can’t help.He’s been arrested several times but the police hold their hands up & say there’s nothing they can do.He has a younger brother who is traumatised by living in such an aggressive atmosphere.We can’t go on holiday as he won’t come with us & we can’t leave him.His dad & I are both professionals & have offered our son a variety of jobs as he didn’t sit his GCSEs but he makes more from dealing.I’ve offered to pay for rehab/therapy but he doesn’t want it.Any ideas?
Jojo - 27-Aug-18 @ 4:52 PM
My 16 year old son smoking weed.I spoke with him many times but no point. He brings his friends here to do that when im at work and I am so worried to something happpens same as fire etc. I told him if he does not obey my role he has to leave my house and he hasnt done. I want to change the lock and dont lem him in. Can I? And what shall I do?
Minoo - 1-Aug-18 @ 7:52 AM
Lin - Your Question:
I am divorced. I want to know how old my child does not need the consent of his father to go away on holiday with me?Because the father is really bad. and does not allowed his child to go on holiday. In the meantime he never take him.

Our Response:
You can take a child abroad for 28 days without getting permission if a child arrangement order says the child must live with you, unless a court order says you can’t.
LawAndParents - 25-Jul-18 @ 12:21 PM
I am divorced. I want to know how old my child does not need the consent of his father to go away on holidaywith me? Because the father is really bad... and does not allowed his child to go on holiday. In the meantime he never take him.
Lin - 22-Jul-18 @ 1:07 PM
There are group homes out of state check your state send him there permanently.I believe he is already of age to be out of your house. This way he gets temporary housing and the help he needs.
Lyu - 12-Jul-18 @ 9:50 PM
Trace - Your Question:
I am a single mum to two boys one 17 and one 11. I am at my wit's end with my eldest he has no respect for me what so ever constantly sits and uses disgusting foul language. He has hit me and his grandparents before I have called the police on him and they said he had to stay up my mum's he was classed as a threat to me and his brother.he also smashed my TV up punched doors and outs holes in them and only the other night he got a knife out to his brother. I say to him to go but he just sits there and plays up more. I really don't know what to do ??

Our Response:
Try contacting others who've been through similar experiences or get professional support - try Family Lives which offers a helpline and also ask your local children's services for details of parenting classes for parents of teenagers etc.
LawAndParents - 4-Jul-18 @ 12:03 PM
I am a single mum to two boys one 17 and one 11 . I am at my wit's end with my eldest he has no respect for me what so ever constantly sits and uses disgusting foul language. He has hit me and his grandparents before I have called the police on him and they said he had to stay up my mum's he was classed as a threat to me and his brother .he also smashed my TV up punched doors and outs holes in them and only the other night he got a knife out to his brother. I say to him to go but he just sits there and plays up more. I really don't know what to do ??
Trace - 3-Jul-18 @ 10:57 AM
My son is 16 and a half. Runs away and also out of hand. Constantly in trouble always in innapropite relationships. Smokes weed steals cheats and is a pathological liar. He's always been a difficult child from day one. His behaviour is out of control he's set fire to my carpet also killed my fish in a marine tank. Broken furniture. Slashed his bedroom furniture with razors also the same with curtains. He awful and disrespectful to me and his younger sibling. He's got no respect for authorities. We refused to have him back home for his dangerous behaviour. Social services have rehoused him till June 19th. Then said if we don't have him back we will be charged with child abandonedment. Wtaf. He refuses to live with us and don't see the point in trying to reconcile when he wants his own place. What is my legal standing in this as there is no way he can come home and I risk my youngest child's health and safety over this. We did say we'd find a flat and help support him yet this seems unacceptable to the social services. Any help guys would be fab
Smitty - 4-Jun-18 @ 9:45 PM
Sazzee - Your Question:
HiI cant see the original question, and I don’t know if this is UK or US (I’m UK). But I have a 16 year old I am desperate to get out of my house. He steals, lies, does exactly what he wants at any time, I don’t know where he is or with who at any time he goes out. He is a constant threat to my 12 year old and we live on egg shells never knowing just how horrible he will be. I am called a c**t and t**t on a regular basis and the violence in the last 3 - 4 years has been horrendous. The police have removed him several occasions (he has done custody probably about 6/7 times) with me eventually having to have him charged with assault last year. At no point did the police or social services ‘house him’ - no - every time I was told I had to have him back because I’m his mum. Social services last year said - at last - that they would rehouse him. But over a year later, they have been unable to find anywhere for him and now closed the case because no services they can provide are helping because he refuses to take anything on board. So my hope I had been hanging on is gone. I hate him. There is absolutely no relationship with him other than that of mental and physical abuse. But he’s 16 so they won’t treat it as thatCan I kick him out? I should point out that his dad refuses To have him live with him because of his behaviour and threat to his new wife. But apparently his 12 year old ok to live with it. Any advice please

Our Response:
No we don't really have any advice that will help, we're really sorry. Try talking to organisations like Young Minds or Family Lives for help with your son; he sounds as though he's simply got himself into a downward spiral and may be terribly troubled and simply need help.
LawAndParents - 29-May-18 @ 3:31 PM
Hi I cant see the original question, and I don’t know if this is UK or US (I’m UK). But I have a 16 year old I am desperate to get out of my house. He steals, lies, does exactly what he wants at any time, I don’t know where he is or with who at any time he goes out. He is a constant threat to my 12 year old and we live on egg shells never knowing just how horrible he will be. I am called a c**t and t**t on a regular basis and the violence in the last 3 - 4 years has been horrendous. The police have removed him several occasions (he has done custody probably about 6/7 times) with me eventually having to have him charged with assault last year. At no point did the police or social services ‘house him’ - no - every time I was told I had to have him back because I’m his mum. Social services last year said - at last - that they would rehouse him. But over a year later, they have been unable to find anywhere for him and now closed the case because no services they can provide are helping because he refuses to take anything on board. So my hope I had been hanging on is gone. I hate him. There is absolutely no relationship with him other than that of mental and physical abuse. But he’s 16 so they won’t treat it as that Can I kick him out? I should point out that his dad refuses To have him live with him because of his behaviour and threat to his new wife. But apparently his 12 year old ok to live with it. Any advice please
Sazzee - 29-May-18 @ 7:21 AM
To all who don't know what to do with there teenage offspring, if your child is subjecting you to emotional or physical abuse then call the police, I know in many cases they won't be able to do much however if you refuse to attended the police station they will get someone from the social services to attended on you're behalf and they will also put a roof over there head's if you tell them they can know longer stay at home. This may seem drastic but at least you know that they are not homeless and they might get help with there behaverel problems as well.No parent should live in fear of there children and life is too short to be dreading what a new day might bring. Take control back of you're life and don't be another victim...
Marko - 26-May-18 @ 12:37 AM
Hi I would like to firstly offer my sympathy as regretfully I was once likeyou're son.The best solution is tough love, it is the only way to go and the only way you're son will ever have any respect for you. At the moment he knows he can pretty much do what he likes and get away with it.The next time he over step's the mark you should call the police and let them deal with him accordingly, they will ask you if you will attended the police station , you should then refuse They will then get an appropriate adult from the social services who will not only go to the station, they will also give him some where to live if you feel you can no longer tolerate him at home ?Not only would they house him they would try and deal with his behaverel problems, I know this will be difficult but you can not carry on living like you are. Hopefully he will sort out whatever is obviously making him behave so badly, and you can have a normal mother son relationship. Stick to your guns how ever hard it may be and I know you will get through this and it will get better, I promise you. I was a horrible teenager and treated my mother disgustingly, but now we have the most amazing realationship and I love her deeply. Have faith there is life at the end of the tunnel..
Marko - 26-May-18 @ 12:09 AM
How is it justifiable that the parents have duties towards the children, but not the other way around? Duty of behaving according to the house rules or you get barred? School can expel you, you can get an advocate specifying you're barred from an area, but parents have no rights to have basic rules upheld? There must be some way to make my house and my other children safe.
Ju0307 - 10-May-18 @ 5:33 PM
We have given our grandson, who has lived with us on and off (mainly on) since he was 2 years old,4 weeks notice to leave our home.Our patience has finally given out, and after many last chances, and most recently having to involve the police (we are now part of the domestic abuse statistics) we have told him that he has to leave. He'll be 18 soon, when our parental responsibility ends. He has periods when he is a reasonable teenager, (for a teenager if you know what I mean)but when he uses cannabis his 'I don't care' attitude overcomes everything else.We love him dearly, and has had many chances, but every time we have given in and allowed him to return home. This last event is the straw that broke the camels back, and we cannot live with a person that uses us, has no respect for us - especially when he is using, and treats our home and belonging with such little respect. Obviously we're scared that he'll end up on the street, and that we'll have to let him return to the fold, but in all previous cases when we have done this, he lasts a few weeks/months before his behavior towards us changes again (normally once he start regular cannabis smoking) so this time there will be no coming back. I'm wondering if many here have / are experiencinga similar issue, and how are they dealing with it?
HadEnough - 30-Apr-18 @ 3:54 PM
My son is 15 nearly 16. He’s been involved with smoking weed for the past 18 months but to find this he has stolen money and property from us over this time. We have grounded/removed privileges/talked/etc but he lies through his teeth about everything. Final straw is he stolen £500 from his 18 year old brother. He has now admitted it. I want to call the police. What are my options and what might happen? I also don’t want him at home anymore as his presence is causing huge amounts of emotional stress we have a 10 year old also.
Mj - 29-Apr-18 @ 10:07 AM
I have a 15 year old daughter who is physically abusive towards me, she pulls my hair tries to bang my head off the floor etc. I cannot take anymore and it’s getting to the stage now where I am actually dreading coming home from work now! No one seems to want to help, police said they can’t do anything as she’s only 15. Personally I want her out my house as I am fearing for my life. There are no other family members who will take her as they don’t want to know her. She has turned in to a Ned and a horrible evil person. I am at my wits end now and do not know where to turn
Anne - 12-Apr-18 @ 11:28 PM
My son is 25, doesn't work. He's constantly calling me names threateningme, he's attacked myself and his stepfather, trashed my house. How do I get him out of my house I don't think I physically can take anymore from him.
Pat - 11-Apr-18 @ 11:20 PM
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