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

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 8 Apr 2020 | 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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Has a parent any legal parental rights if a 17 year old has left home.Or will they be held responsible if that child gets into trouble or puts themselves in an unsafe situation.
Fatty - 26-Feb-20 @ 1:20 PM
Hi I am living with my boyfriend he has 2 children de other 1 is 17 years old dis year his father is paying maintenance de other one is 15 years old her mother applied for maintenance after they broke up with her baby daddy den she went back to de court claiming dat de money is not enough okay de problem is dis lady is a drunkard she chased her daughter last year de child is no longer here with her so de problem is dis lady is receiving dis money every month and get drunk with it while de child is not her even de grant money so can de father of de chlid go 2 court so day they can fix dis or what m confused
Maka andile - 29-Jan-20 @ 5:54 AM
Hi I am living with my boyfriend he has 2 children de other 1 is 17 years old dis year his father is paying maintenance de other one is 15 years old her mother applied for maintenance after they broke up with her baby daddy den she went back to de court claiming dat de money is not enough okay de problem is dis lady is a drunkard she chased her daughter last year de child is no longer here with her so de problem is dis lady is receiving dis money every month and get drunk with it while de child is not her even de grant money so can de father of de chlid go 2 court so day they can fix dis or what m confused
Maka andile - 29-Jan-20 @ 5:50 AM
My partners ex wife has thrown out his 2 daughters 15 and 12 now there staying at there older sisters flat share that’s just 18 my partner doesn’t know what to do about the situation I’m absolutely fuming it’s been over a month and still nothing has changed
Milly - 9-Jan-20 @ 2:42 PM
Law Parenting how come any age of 14 to 18 have a power over parents with no common sense laws. There 2 law that need to be void by doing that, parents will gain control and power over their child. One is, there is a law said that's child are allow to leave home on free will at at 14 to 17 year old which parents will have no control of child. Second is, Parents aren't allow to kick a child out for any reasons or beyond out of control, Which will put parents on crime charge and possibly face time jail. See that power child have. A minor Children's see that parents can't kick minor child out or Parents can't keep a minor child at home. How that's going solve a problem for a parents to have that power over there child?? Here, what it need to be done with a common sense law which parents will get that power back and regain their control,.. Make a new LAW that all minor who DISOBEYED parents,BEYOND OUT OF CONTROL,RUNNING AWAY,SNEAK OUT AT NIGHT and DRUG. Put them jail. It's must be at age 14 until they reach mature age of 18, 1. Any minor age 14 to 18 that DISOBEYED parents and beyond out of control will face up in jail until they reach age of 18. First time will do 30 day believe in 2nd chance child could be possible open eyes. 2nd time will stay until age 18. Which will give a parents power back. Also it will keep the street less with minor running all over killing other for no reason also it's will keep them from join the gang or killing, all must be free from idle by doing nothing out of a time, that's why they get bored and end up breaking the law. That kind of common sense with law. Parents can be parents/law with law cop. we need to get our power back as parents to where there will be no law for any minor to be emancipation or free will's on minor child to be free unless they 18. If a minor child can't followed rules at any home is breaking a law and it's more like a minor child will be breaking a law out in adult world. Break rule/law at home they will face a time jail. That's should be in future. Build a new jail for a Minor Children's Home.. A child that's break the parent/law, all parents have a right to sent child there. There is no need a proof or any reason of any necessary on any minor children's. Child have no power to speak because they are a minor period. Parents will have a right to do as they please with no questions from any authority over minor child. It's not necessarily need for court or from judges, they have no power over parents decision on which best for child. Build a big like home jail,school,train a jobs,army,hospital and many more for a future job, Correct or teach them in positive attitudes and by time they hit age at 18 will be free automatically, gradually from jail school, got job ready, place for them ready or back home up to them. Parents will have to pay for it to support whatever building is. Plux tax will cover that. I tell you this. Kids will not know power until they reach age
Ed - 4-Dec-19 @ 10:56 AM
Me husband what me son out the house he 15 years old he will not go to school, and he bunch hole in my wall and door and slapped the door bad when he in a bad mood
None - 1-Dec-19 @ 12:05 AM
Me son will not got to school so he when to college and did go, now he to go back to school, and he said he not going, he slapped door, put hole in me wall and dad, and me husband was him out the house he just 15 years old, and he said l to go with him,
Ann - 1-Dec-19 @ 12:03 AM
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
My husband's ex-wife has thrown my 15 year old step son out, she is now saying just for the summer hols, he has come to live with us, can we apply for child benefit and stop maintenance as she had text us saying we have to buy his school uniform.
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
Jojo and Minoo ... my situation with my 16 year old son is the mix of your two situations... this is tearing me apart and killing me inside but I really can't cope anymore ... it's been a year and he doesn't change, doesn't respect me and thinks he is above the law and treats me like if I have no power or choice in our family home ...
Xana - 19-May-19 @ 2:01 PM
I live with my partner and his 18 year old son. Me and my partner are joint tenants. The problem is his 18 year old who keeps bring weed into our home home dad's not bothered about it but I am.have I got any rights to kick him out.
Claire - 24-Apr-19 @ 1:09 PM
I have a 16 year son who has always been well behaved me and the father have been split for over 10 years my son got a girlfriend and things changed we argued and he moved to live with his dad ... problem is dad has never been a parent always a mate and I know he is actually like ing with his gf although his dad denies this my son refusing all contact with me and wants me to leave him alone he is 16 but in his final year at school What is my legal right ? What can I do
Me1111 - 16-Mar-19 @ 1:35 PM
Hi I really need advice, I had no choice but to send my eldest son who is 16 and half to my parents 4 weeks ago, he has always been a handful but last couple of years his aggressive, any how my parents can not cope wiv him and want him out! I can’t have him back home cuz I fear for my 4 other sons!! How do I contact ss and will he go into a home!! I’m really struggling so any advice will be really appreciated
Michlle - 18-Feb-19 @ 6:10 AM
I don't know what to do my 17 son 18 next week is hard work and its hard to keep the family safe. I have been told by the S S that I have to keep the young ones safe but they won't help me find him somewhere else.i ask for help but get told no and on the other hand I get told he has to move out he has autism and I can't cope with it. He his making the all family feel unsafe to live with.
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
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