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

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 21 Jul 2017 | 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 use to live in London but now i live in Italy because my parents took me to Somalia and took my passport away from me iLegallyand now they re in London and i came to Italy by boat so i need help
player - 21-Jul-17 @ 9:10 PM
My son is 16. He is currently living/staying with his grandmother as he stole 200 worth if gaming equipment from our home and disappeared for days (after £5 here and £10 there going missing) when i found him he kicked off saying he wanted to live with his dad and it was all his step dads fault. After i spoke to his dad(20miles away in tiny village) and expressed my concerns about him possibly involved with drugshe agreed to take him in. Unbeknownst to me he was allowed out from friday to sunday no questions asked. This lasted 8weeks. He then (possibly stole £80 from there) went awol again and finally called me to break down, say he needs help and begged to come home. We agreed with very tight rules (such as no one round, lock doors wheb going out etc). 48hrs later and he had taken €600 out of a cupboard, a laptop and an expensive camera. His gran agreed to take him in and now ive just found out hes stolen from her. He can't come home he cant stay at his grans and no one else will trust him...do i have any options?? P.s hes an intelligent lad who has just started work at a fast food place and has secured a college place.
Peaisme - 16-Jul-17 @ 11:21 PM
Jo - Your Question:
My son has a number of asbo now on last chance with being kicked out of my house really don't know what to do council said they will inform me before so I've choice to make him homeless or I get out I have two other children to think of too what do I do my sons 16 his don't won't want him it will kill me to do it too but got to think of my other children too please advice

Our Response:
We can't really give individual advice of this nature. It might be worth calling the helplines at:
Family Lives
or
Family Rights Group
LawAndParents - 20-Mar-17 @ 2:00 PM
My son has a number of asbo now on last chance with being kicked out of my house really don't know what to do council said they will inform me before so I've choice to make him homeless or I get out I have two other children to think of too what do I do my sons 16 his don't won't want him it will kill me to do it too but got to think of my other children too please advice
Jo - 17-Mar-17 @ 7:20 PM
My brother has taken in his son due to social services contactinghim as he had no where to go and only other option was for him to go into care he is now 16 years old,my brother had been fighting for the last 10 years to see his son and been prevented due to the mother being unreasonable and using the children as a weapon against my brother.The mother has now agreed to parental responsability for my brother and no longer has anything to do with her son we attended a child protection order meeting a few times and never really received any assistance from social services,the child has now been signed off from social services and haspresented with alot of behavioural issues and anger management issues to the point where my brother feels unsafe in his own home and has been physically threatened on more than one occasion and subjected to violent outbursts he has asked social services for help and they are saying there is nothing they can do because he is 16 i am scared for him as i feel his son my harm him if this continues to escalate and according to parental responsability he cant just throw him out ?? He doesnt want to listen change or respect his surroundings or the people around him can you go to court to get parental responsibility removed ? As i dont think there is any other option
Dawnc - 29-Dec-16 @ 1:10 PM
My brother has taken in his son due to social services contactinghim as he had no where to go and only other option was for him to go into care he is now 16 years old,my brother had been fighting for the last 10 years to see his son and been prevented due to the mother being unreasonable and using the children as a weapon against my brother.The mother has now agreed to parental responsability for my brother and no longer has anything to do with her son we attended a child protection order meeting a few times and never really received any assistance from social services,the child has now been signed off from social services and haspresented with alot of behavioural issues and anger management issues to the point where my brother feels unsafe in his own home and has been physically threatened on more than one occasion and subjected to violent outbursts he has asked social services for help and they are saying there is nothing they can do because he is 16 i am scared for him as i feel his son my harm him if this continues to escalate and according to parental responsability he cant just throw him out ?? He doesnt want to listen change or respect his surroundings or the people around him can you go to court to get parental responsibility removed ? As i dont think there is any other option
Dawnc - 29-Dec-16 @ 1:07 PM
can my ex husband sell the ex marital home and leave our 18yr old daughter homeless..?she works but is also in education so can not afford to live independent.. please I don't know which way to turn. she is so distraught
mandy - 16-Dec-16 @ 4:26 PM
My life was destroyed when my husband sent me packing, after 13 years we have beentogether. I was lost and helpless after trying so many ways to my husband back tome. One day at work, I was distracted, not knowing that my boss called me, so he satand asked me what it was all about, I told him and he smiled and said it was noproblem. I never understood what he meant by it was no problem getting back myhusband, he said he used a spell to get back his wife when she left him for anotherman, and now they are together till date and initially I was shocked hearingsomething from my boss. He gave me an email address of the Prophet Abuvia whichhelped him get his wife back, I never believed that this would work, but I had nochoice coming into contact with the sayings that I get done, and he asked for myinformation and that my husband was able to propose to throw him the spell and Isent him the details, but after two days, my mother called me that my husband waspleading that he wants me back, I never believed, because it was just a dream and Ihad to rush off to my mother's place and to my greatest surprise, was kneeling myhusband beg mefor forgiveness that he wants me and the child back home, when Igave prophet Abuvia a conversation regarding sudden change of my husband and he madeclear to me that my husband will love me until the end of the world, that he willnever leave for another woman. Now me and my husband is back together and starteddoing funny things he has not done before, he makes me happy and do what it issupposed to do as a man without nagging. Please if you need help of any kind need,please contact Prophet Abuvia for help. His email is prophet.abuvia AT g m a i l . com hiswebsite is prophetabuviasolutiontemple. webs . com
Sarah Coleman - 16-Dec-16 @ 9:23 AM
First of the best thing to fix any situation is to stop it before it starts ...how? Work with your kids and feed their ambition to learn and to grow and be more responsible and if you can help them to realize their dreams if they are actually putting in the time to make it happen on top of that remember just because you don't dream it doesn't mean it's not possible so do your best not to smash them down but I say you can't or that's not possible because the more and more you tell them that the blessing last Faith they're going to have you because that is the lie you've been telling them their whole life and you yourself believe that at one point honestly that's what makes it hurt the most just because a child is a child and has not experienced much emotionally does not mean that they aren't capable of feeling betrayed and hurt and honestly the last person you want them to feel that way towards their parents otherwise they will be spiteful towards everyone and think the world is their enemy
Someone less stupid - 2-Dec-16 @ 3:13 PM
I have a young brother about to turn 17 but he has beended in trouble with police for various reasons and he comes back home late. with he way he behaves we feel unsafe can we kick him out?
Able23 - 10-Nov-16 @ 3:16 AM
Dr.No - Your Question:
My 15 year old daughter recently got her first boyfriend who is 17. She was living with her mum (her mum and I have been divorced for a number of years) but arguments ensued to the point where I became worried that it may escalate into something more - all of which centred around mums disapproval and concern around a 17 year old boy dating our 15 year old daughter. My daughter became very withdrawn and upset so trying to be a good father I moved to a larger house and agreed with her mum to have our daughter move in with myself, her stepmother and my baby son.Since moving in with me and her new family its transpired that all the stories I'd heard from my daughters mum concerning theft, playing truant from school, lies and deception on a grand scale, a huge slide in grades at school and a general downward spiral into becoming not a very nice person are all true. Previously I'd doubted most of it when my daughters mum had spoken with me as she herself has been known to bend the truth to suit her on more than one occasion. To top it all off I'm concerned that my daughter and her boyfriend may already be sexually active - albeit my daughter turns 16 in a couple of months but nonetheless, possible sexual activity at her age still consitutes problems. I have asked her about this and she is adamant that nothing has happened but given her recent distrustful behaviour I don't know if I can believe her.My real question is, having all this going on is causing huge upset and disruption for us all and I'm particularly concerned for my baby son who is 2 years old - I don't want him to be in this tense environment. So is it possible for me to evict my daughter at 15 and if so what would happen ? Her mum has already said she doesn't want her back living with her as she too has young children with a new partner.

Our Response:
Have either you or your daughter's mother spoken to her school teachers or welfare staff about this? It would be far better to address the issues of theft, truanting and lies directly rather than "evicting" your daughter. If possible, take action with your ex, if not make the first move and contact school, say you need help to stop your daughter from de-railing completely. Your local education authority may already be involved if she is persistently truanting so ask them for help, and for ideas about how you can help. We appreciate you worry about your young son and this can't be easy, but can you create some specific activities/days out that involve both your son and daughter so that she doesn't feel alienated?This is your daughter's future, please don't consider throwing her out lightly.
LawAndParents - 4-Nov-16 @ 2:38 PM
My 15 year old daughter recently got her first boyfriend who is 17. She was living with her mum (her mum and I have been divorced for a number of years) but arguments ensued to the point where I became worried that it may escalate into something more - all of which centred around mums disapproval and concern around a 17 year old boy dating our 15 year old daughter. My daughter became very withdrawn and upset so trying to be a good father I moved to a larger house and agreed with her mum to have our daughter move in with myself, her stepmother and my baby son. Since moving in with me and her new family its transpired that all the stories I'd heard from my daughters mum concerning theft, playing truant from school, lies and deception on a grand scale, a huge slide in grades at school and a general downward spiral into becoming not a very nice person are all true. Previously I'd doubted most of it when my daughters mum had spoken with me as she herself has been known to bend the truth to suit her on more than one occasion. To top it all off I'm concerned that my daughter and her boyfriend may already be sexually active - albeit my daughter turns 16 in a couple of months but nonetheless, possible sexual activity at her age still consitutes problems. I have asked her about this and she is adamant that nothing has happened but given her recent distrustful behaviour I don't know if I can believe her. My real question is, having all this going on is causing huge upset and disruption for us all and I'm particularly concerned for my baby son who is 2 years old - I don't want him to be in this tense environment. So is it possible for me to evict my daughter at 15 and if so what would happen ? Her mum has already said she doesn't want her back living with her as she too has young children with a new partner.
Dr.No - 3-Nov-16 @ 8:44 PM
Hi, We have a son (40 +years old) who came to live with us for 6months until he got himself sorted.. 5 years later he is still with us and refuses to leave, he shouts at us and we feel very bullied by him.. He pays no rent and pays part of the water and electricity bills after we ask him (constantly having to ask) How can we evict him as he refuses to leave Thank you
Mo - 9-Oct-16 @ 9:36 PM
My 16 yr old son was kicked out of his foster home by the carer on friday and left on the streets homeless can they legally do that
Chell - 30-Aug-16 @ 9:34 AM
Inga - Your Question:
I got diagnosed with cancer in 2014. And was very ill then. At the same time my son was 14 and very difficult at school. The school was to expel him just as I started my Chemo therapy. My sister with whom I never had good relationship decided that he should go and live with her until I get better. I am still on Chemo (mentainance) third year going. Since he has gone to live there he has become more hostile to me. I am getting my strength back and I am having lots of issues with my sister who is turning my son against me. Example- he comes to me on weekends and has his own key. On few occasions he left key in the lock on the outside of the door. Last time before he left for my sisters he did it again and I have asked for the key back. And told him to think about my concern until the next visit. The same evening my sister has told him that I m a bad mother for taking the key from him. Bare in mind that he didn't have a key to her house at all!!! She would buy him designer clothes at prices in hundreds and simply give me recipt to pay. I told her if she does that again without my permitting I will not give her the money!! She arranged extra tuition for my son as his doing GCSE. I said thank you. But would like tel number of the teacher so I can pay directly. She refused!!! She told my son that I don't want to spend money and buy him things!! And that I m a bad mother!!! He does not answer my calls and told me that he don't want nothing to do with me!! I feel that my sister has abused my situation and turned my son against me. I love and miss my son so much. It's making me very upset and depressed. She texted me and said that she has been to citizens advice bureau. And is transferring child benefit to her adress. And that as he is 16 and don't want to live with me. He will remain with her!! Help !

Our Response:
The child benefit will not simply be transferred without further questions from the DWP, you should get in touch with them and say it's just a temporary arrangement. As for the relations between you, your sister and your son, we suggest you seek some kind of counselling help or mediation before a complete family breakdown occurs. Citizens' Advice will be able to point you in the right direction.
LawAndParents - 29-Jun-16 @ 2:49 PM
I got diagnosed with cancer in 2014.. And was very ill then.. At the same time my son was 14 and very difficult at school.. The school was to expel him just as I started my Chemo therapy ... My sister with whom I never had good relationship decided that he should go and live with her until I get better.. I am still on Chemo (mentainance) third year going.. Since he has gone to live there he has become more hostile to me.. I am getting my strength back and I am having lots of issues with my sister who is turning my son against me... Example- he comes to me on weekends and has his own key.. On few occasions he left key in the lock on the outside of the door... Last time before he left for my sisters he did it again and I have asked for the key back.. And told him to think about my concern until the next visit... The same evening my sister has told him that I m a bad mother for taking the key from him.. Bare in mind that he didn't have a key to her house at all!!! She would buy him designer clothes at prices in hundreds and simply give me recipt to pay.. I told her if she does that again without my permitting I will not give her the money!! She arranged extra tuition for my son as his doing GCSE .. I said thank you .. But would like tel number of the teacher so I can pay directly.. She refused!!! She told my son that I don't want to spend money and buy him things!! And that I m a bad mother!!! He does not answer my calls and told me that he don't want nothing to do with me!! I feel that my sister has abused my situation and turned my son against me... I love and miss my son so much .. It's making me very upset and depressed... She texted me and said that she has been to citizens advice bureau .. And is transferring child benefit to her adress.. And that as he is 16 and don't want to live with me.. He will remain with her!! Help !
Inga - 28-Jun-16 @ 4:26 PM
16 year old stepson.I want out of my house.he lies .steals.talj s back.don't help around house.his mom let's him get away with stuff.and tells me I don't have right to say anything.I just want him gone .no help will work I'm over it.tell me if I can make him leave
Trouble - 16-Jun-16 @ 11:56 PM
Al - Your Question:
My nephew beats his mother, threatens suicide, is abusing solvents, has climbed onto roofs, laid down in the road and even set himself on fire.My sister cannot through him out until he is 18 as I understand things but as he is 17 NOBODY WILL HELP HER OR HIM. For him to get help for mental issues the various authorities need to wait until he is 18 , other wise they need his consent. This is a ridiculous situation. Personally I would through him out and risk prosecution rather than risk the lives of others in the house, including young children. My sister is too scared to do so and so lives in fear of her life & safety instead.How can this situation be remedied ?

Our Response:
Unless he leaves of his own accord, it's a difficult one. Has your sister tried any of the support organisations like Family Lives ?
LawAndParents - 14-Jun-16 @ 2:40 PM
My nephew beats his mother, threatens suicide, is abusing solvents, has climbed onto roofs, laid down in the road and even set himself on fire. My sister cannot through him out until he is 18 as I understand things but as he is 17 NOBODY WILL HELP HER OR HIM. For him to get help for mental issues the various authorities need to wait until he is 18 , other wise they need his consent. This is a ridiculous situation. Personally I would through him out and risk prosecution rather than risk the lives of others in the house, including young children. My sister is too scared to do so and so lives in fear of her life & safety instead. How can this situation be remedied ?
Al - 13-Jun-16 @ 10:36 AM
Sk12345 - Your Question:
HiMy son is almost 17, he dropped out of college and despite getting a job, he left after 3 weeks. He smokes cannabis on a daily basis which makes him verbally and physical aggressive- he constantly screams at me telling me I'm a whore and wishing I was dead because I refuse to give him money. He is in trouble with the police and I can just see him ending up in prison if he carries on as he is. I can't sleep and feel constantly sick with worry but just can't handle him and his behaviour any more. I have two other teenagers who are lovely and nothing like him.I've contacted YSS who are going to contact him to try to get him working or studying but who can help me and the rest of my family? We are all suffering.

Our Response:
Try the Family Lives Parentline for some individual support. Let us know how you get on.
LawAndParents - 3-Jun-16 @ 12:17 PM
Hi My son is almost 17, he dropped out of college and despite getting a job, he left after 3 weeks. He smokes cannabis on a daily basis which makes him verbally and physical aggressive- he constantly screams at me telling me I'm a whore and wishing I was dead because I refuse to give him money. He is in trouble with the police and I can just see him ending up in prison if he carries on as he is. I can't sleep and feel constantly sick with worry but just can't handle him and his behaviour any more.I have two other teenagers who are lovely and nothing like him. I've contacted YSS who are going to contact him to try to get him working or studying but who can help me and the rest of my family? We are all suffering.
Sk12345 - 2-Jun-16 @ 6:48 PM
Lu - Your Question:
Hi. My son is 14 nearly 15. He is diisrepectful to me swears at me tells me to go away when I'm talking to him. Smashes my doors in the house when he gets angry and now refusing to get up for school on a regular basis. I've already been fined. I can't deal with him anymore he gets angry and smashes the house. Any ideas on help

Our Response:
You need to find someone who can offer you direct support. Does your son show the same behviour towards his father etc? Try the Young Minds website, which has lots of useful information and a helpline.
LawAndParents - 20-May-16 @ 2:34 PM
Hi. My son is 14 nearly 15. He is diisrepectful to me swears at me tells me to go away when I'm talking to him. Smashes my doors in the house when he gets angry and now refusing to get up for school on a regular basis. I've already been fined. I can't deal with him anymore he gets angry and smashes the house. Any ideas on help
Lu - 18-May-16 @ 9:06 AM
Cheryl40 - Your Question:
I have a 16 year old stepson who has been suspended from school several times, putting his head down in class. eating and drinking in class, talking back to the teachers, calling teachers out of their name, lies, takes my things without asking, and being disrespectful to me. The problem is that my wife brushes things under the rug so it's made his behavior worse which has now cause us to be in a toxic relationship. I had a talk with her months ago that if we aren't on the same page with disciplining him it's going to turn out bad and that where we are now. I'm at my wits end because he has bald his fist up at me and says disrespectful things and she just sits there. Can I remove him from the home legally.

Our Response:
The better approach would be to seek some kind of family counselling or mediation - where you can work as a family to try and improve things. Your GP or the school might be able to help with contacts.
LawAndParents - 5-May-16 @ 12:55 PM
I have a 16 year old stepson who has been suspended from school several times, putting his head down in class. eating and drinking in class,talking back to the teachers, calling teachers out of their name, lies, takes my things without asking, and being disrespectful to me. The problem is that my wife brushes things under the rug so it's made his behavior worse which has now cause us to be in a toxic relationship.I had a talk with her months ago that if we aren't on the same page with disciplining him it's going to turn out bad and that where we are now. I'm at my wits end because he has bald his fist up at me and says disrespectful things and she just sits there. Can I remove him from the home legally.
Cheryl40 - 3-May-16 @ 11:42 AM
Poppy - Your Question:
My 16 year old daughter is abusive to me and my husband who is her step father. She is also abusive to her father. She is manipulative she lies and steals. She has a history of self harming and is not doing any work at all for her gcse's. She has no ambition and has never shown any inclination to work. She is having a severely negative effect on her 9 year old sister who.is now beginning to copy her behaviour. Sanctions and punishments have no effect on her at all. She is being assessed soon for asd. I suspect she has a BPD although she is really clever when put in front of psychiatrists and appears to behave normally. What can I do.to.protect her sister and prevent her from causing more harm and chaos to those around her? We are at our wits end and so far have received no help at all from social services or camhs.

Our Response:
Have you tried the various organisations and charities created to help with these kinds of issues? They will offer a sympathetic ear and some suggestions for help and to find a way forward.Young Minds and Family Lives are good places to start. You may also be put in touch with others who have been through similar experiences (believe us, you're not the only one)
LawAndParents - 31-Mar-16 @ 10:21 AM
My 16 year old daughter is abusive to me and my husband who is her step father. She is also abusive to her father. She is manipulative she lies and steals. She has a history of self harming and is not doing anywork at all for her gcse's. She has no ambition and has never shown any inclination to work. She is having a severely negative effect on her 9 year old sister who.is now beginning to copy her behaviour. Sanctions and punishments have no effect on her at all. She is being assessed soon for asd.I suspect she has a BPD although she is really clever when put in front of psychiatrists and appears to behave normally. What can I do.to.protect her sister and prevent her from causing more harm and chaos to those around her? We are at our wits end and so far have received no help at all from social services or camhs.
Poppy - 28-Mar-16 @ 3:33 PM
caz - Your Question:
Hi my 16 year old daughter continually skips school , swears at me and calls me names. she smashes things and wrecks my home. is there anything I can do , can I throw her out ? please advise

Our Response:
It would be kinder to seek support from school and elsewhere. She is old enough to leave home but before you "throw her out" you should consider whether this will ultimately be the best for your daughter.
LawAndParents - 29-Feb-16 @ 1:59 PM
hi my 16 year old daughter continually skips school , swears at me and calls me names . she smashes things and wrecks my home . is there anything i can do , can i throw her out ? please advise
caz - 26-Feb-16 @ 6:53 PM
I lived with my daughters father for 12 years.He had many affairs and things ended in domestic violence when our autistic daughter was 9.He took me to court for PR,which was granted.Since he has made no effort to see or be part of her life.Despite my many requests via social services for him to see our daughter without my involvement. Our daughter is now 16. She has no communication and will remain in school till the age of 19then continue at a special college.Can PR be removed now and where do we stand regarding maintenance as he has a large income.Also I has money belonging to our daughter from the sale of our joint home.He has never given or shown proof of the money put aside.I would like to out that into her own account. Can you adviseplease.
Nikki - 20-Feb-16 @ 7:56 AM
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