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

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 22 Jul 2018 | 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 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
andyj123456 - Your Question:
We have an 18-year-old son we want to evict.He lies, steals and will not make any effort to help out around the house. He comes in when at whatever time he likes disturbing myself and his mother (we are both 50+ I have had lots of cancer surgery and my wife gets up for work at 4:45 on weekdays).He has repeatedly taken money from my wallet and his sister's purse. He smokes drugs in his room - we have asked him not to smoke in the house. He doesn't help with any housekeeping yet takes food and eats what he wants. The room is a smelly tip, with dirty laundry on the floor - he expects his mother to wash, iron and put it away with no thanks given.we have asked him several times to leave and even refused to open the door when he returns home, but he will repeatedly knock on the door - making the dog bark, disturbing us all - until someone lets him in.How can we kick him out if he refuses to leave?We need rest and recuperation, not stress and constantly worrying about him staling goods or maybe even the car.

Our Response:
Talk to him, he's only 18, throwing him out is probably not the answer. Please contact the Family Lives Helpline for some indivual advice on how to handle this.
LawAndParents - 23-May-18 @ 12:04 PM
We have an 18-year-old son we want to evict. He lies, steals and will not make any effort to help out around the house. He comes in when at whatever time he likes disturbing myself and his mother (we are both 50+ I have had lots of cancer surgery and my wife gets up for work at 4:45 on weekdays). He has repeatedly taken money from my wallet and his sister's purse. He smokes drugs in his room - we have asked him not to smoke in the house. He doesn't help with any housekeeping yet takes food and eats what he wants. The room is a smelly tip, with dirty laundry on the floor - he expects his mother to wash, iron and put it away with no thanks given. we have asked him several times to leave and even refused to open the door when he returns home, but he will repeatedly knock on the door - making the dog bark, disturbing us all - until someone lets him in. How can we kick him out if he refuses to leave? We need rest and recuperation, not stress and constantly worrying about him staling goods or maybe even the car.
andyj123456 - 21-May-18 @ 1:26 PM
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
My daughters boyfriend is 16 yo. His mom left the country and left him to basically fend for himself. He has nowhere to go, no food, no money. What do I do?
LMM - 22-Mar-18 @ 3:19 AM
Distressed mum - Your Question:
My son is 15 and not only smoking weed but now also selling it. He’s violent and unpridictable, he’s damaged my property in anger several times and threatens to smash things up. I no longer feel safe in my own home. Is there anything I can do?

Our Response:
We can't really give specific advice on individual cases but it might be worth your while seeking advice from an organisation such as Family Lives
LawAndParents - 19-Feb-18 @ 1:52 PM
My son is 15 and not only smoking weed but now also selling it. He’s violent and unpridictable, he’s damaged my property in anger several times and threatens to smash things up. I no longer feel safe in my own home. Is there anything I can do?
Distressed mum - 18-Feb-18 @ 6:30 PM
Indie - Your Question:
I am 16 and recently moved in to my boyfriends parents as my mother is aggressive and has hit me is there any help I can get benefit wise so I can help pay my way I am currently in 6th form.I have no money as am not entitled to bursary as they count parents income and mother does not contribute to feeding clothing etc.

Our Response:
Try the Turn2 Us benefit search to see if there's anything you can claim. If your parents are still claiming Child Benefit, they should be using this to provide for you.
LawAndParents - 9-Feb-18 @ 3:38 PM
I am 16 and recently moved in to my boyfriends parents as my mother is aggressive and has hit me is there any help i can get benefit wise so i can help pay my way i am currently in 6th form . I have no money as am not entitled to bursary as they count parents income and mother does not contribute to feeding clothing etc .
Indie - 9-Feb-18 @ 1:48 PM
Hi I have two children 2 and 6 yr old me and there father are married but have never lived together.. in two years he’s never seen his children or spoke with them (they don’t even speak the same Language) he also has never payed a penny for the children. He was offered to see them but refused now they have hissurname is there anyway I can take away hisparental responsibility as we just wish to be free of him!! And I would like to travel with them but as it is I cannot as I’m told I need hispermission? Please what can I do?!
Shaz - 8-Feb-18 @ 6:45 PM
I have a sixteen half year old son i am getting pissed off with him.If he can not get his own way he kicks of and hurts his siblings.Can i kick him out.
bea - 21-Jan-18 @ 4:39 PM
Kat - Your Question:
If a child is 16 and not lived with parents for over 6 mths do they still have parental responsibility.

Our Response:
You need to supply more information about this situation before we can answer it effectively.
LawAndParents - 19-Dec-17 @ 12:05 PM
If a child is 16 and not lived with parents for over 6 mths do they still have parentalresponsibility.
Kat - 16-Dec-17 @ 9:32 PM
Charliebrown - Your Question:
Hi all I’m needing a bit of advice. I live with my fiancé and her 17 year old son. He is very verbally abusive to her every day and has sometimes resorted to violence towards her. If he doesn’t get his own way he threatens to smash things up in the house(which he has done previously) social services and the police have been involved and both pass the buck to each other. What can we do before someone gets really hurt?

Our Response:
It's really difficult if the police and social services cannot do anything. There may be something that can help the son with his anger and your fiancé with her parenting. Try the Family Lives helpline and website . Is he still at school/college? If so ask if there is someone there who can talk to that he trusts and can talk out his problems with. There are also other ideas such as Relate counselling
LawAndParents - 15-Dec-17 @ 10:35 AM
Hi all I’m needing a bit of advice. I live with my fiancé and her 17 year old son. He is very verbally abusive to her every day and has sometimes resorted to violence towards her. If he doesn’t get his own way he threatens to smash things up in the house(which he has done previously) social services and the police have been involved and both pass the buck to each other. What can we do before someone gets really hurt?
Charliebrown - 11-Dec-17 @ 7:14 PM
Drbz - Your Question:
My daughter us 15 and has lived with her dad for the last couple of years. I pay maintenance but now know he has taken her out of school and is planing on taking her to spain to live in the next few months. When will I have to pay maintenance till. As I am worried that he will still say he is home schooling her when he isent

Our Response:
Maintenance is payable until school leaving age 16 or or 20 if they’re in full-time education up to A-level or equivalent).
LawAndParents - 13-Nov-17 @ 10:04 AM
My daughter us 15 and has lived with her dad for the last couple of years. I pay maintenance but now know he has taken her out of school and is planing on taking her to spain to live in the next few months. When will I have to pay maintenancetill. As I am worried that he will still say he is home schooling her when he isent
Drbz - 10-Nov-17 @ 1:18 AM
I have 2 girls aged 2 and 9. I need to leave UK due to 2 reasons: 1. My husband already filed for divorce and Decree Nisi is coming. It is dangerous for my life to continue in UK as he has done done domestic voilence 2.I have a job offeroutside UK. Now when I asked him to give consent order to take children, he denied my request asking me tocontinue in UK.I need a solution soon, otherwise my job offer will become invalid. Now my questions are : 1. I am still breastfeeding my young child aged 2, can I get help to take her with me, if yes how. 2. If I leave my children in UK with their father, am I violating law? if yes, If I write a letter to court , is that sufficient?
MumofgirlsD - 2-Nov-17 @ 9:57 AM
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