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Do I Have the Right to Know Where My Children Are?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 15 Apr 2018 |
 
Contact Child Parental Responsibility

Q.

My ex-partner left me with the care of our 2 children a year ago. He has a new partner whom he doesn't live with and my children stay at her house every other weekend. My ex-partner frequently turns his mobile phone off or has it on silent, so if there was an emergency I have no way of contacting him and getting a response.

I've asked him to provide me with details of where our children are staying on these weekends, just in case anything happens and he is refusing to give them. He has parental responsibilty for our 3-year-old but not for our son. Am I within my rights to know where my children are?

(C.M, 26 May 2009)

A.

This does sound like a difficult situation. You are trying to ensure your children continue to spend time with your ex-partner, and he – for whatever reason – won’t give you the address of his new partner. It must be hard not knowing where your children are.

Parental Responsibility

To answer your question, I’ll first explain some principles of Parental Responsibility. As you know, more than one person can have parental responsibility at any one time. The essence of The Children Act implies that it is not practical for a person with parental responsibility to have to ask another person’s permission about everything to do with the child. There are certain exceptions to this, however, that do require everyone’s consent, such as sending a child to boarding school.

Relevant Case Law

There is case law that supports this: in the judgment of the case of D. v D. (Shared Residence Order) [2001] 1 F.L.R 495, Lord Justice Hale said that where a child is being looked after by one parent, that parent must be allowed to take the decisions relating to the child. While this parent has care of the child, the other parent should not try to interfere with matters relating to this time during which they don’t have care of the child. This does not, of course, extend to taking decisions that contravene a court order. However, where possible, flexible and practical arrangements should be made.

Delegation Of Parental Responsibility

Although your ex-partner does not have parental responsibility for your other child, you are delegating care of your child on a temporary basis. I do not know the details of your former relationship (such as whether you were married) or the age of your elder child, so I will not speculate here.

Suggestions

Your ex-partner has made it clear that he does not want to disclose his new partner’s address. Although he is within his rights not to want you to interfere with the time he spends with the children, it does not seem fair that you have no means of being able to contact them if there is a genuine emergency.

Talk to your ex-partner about this issue, and try to work out a compromise. Reassure him that you are not trying to interfere with his time with your children, nor are you seeking to abuse any contact details he gives you. If there is a genuine emergency with either of the children while he is in their care, make sure he understands that he must contact you. However, if you suffer an emergency, you need to be able to contact him, too.

Explain that you will not be contacting him during his time with the children unless there is a real and immediate emergency. He may be more willing to pick up his phone then. In the alternative, is there a trusted third party that you can contact in the event of an emergency? For example, could you arrange to contact one of your ex’s relatives, who would then contact your ex?

I hope you have found these suggestions useful, and wish you luck with resolving this issue.

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Lee - Your Question:
Hi, my partners ex wife is becoming very threatening over his contact with his children, she refused contact last week unless he agreed to keep them in her area or give her my address. We live about an hour away. The children used to come to my house regularly, early on they used to stay over (she put a stop to this over a year ago) she never wanted an address then but now she does. He only sees them once fortnightly for a day (about 6 - 7 hours) he would bring them to my house where they have an awesome time, and would always eagerly ask if they were coming to my house (I think that this is the crux of the issue). So in sum, there are no over night stays, she doesn't drop them off or pick them up, he drives an hour to collect them, an hour to return them and the same in the evening. They are always home by 6. She has his contact number for emergencies. The reasons given for wanting my address are because she doesn't know what I look like, she wants to vet me, she wants to tell me what I have to do with her children. She was very abusive and manipulative with my ex partner and I have heard this in action over the phone and seen it in texts. I have children of my own and I do not want them to be a party to her behaviour. I do not want her to have my address, I own my home and have worked hard to pay for it by myself, worked full time and raised my children by myself. I have created a happy environment and I don't want that turned upside down with this. In every blog I seem to read, the sympathy is with the mum and interpretations seem to be that she is always the victim. This is not the case here and I am really struggling to find out my rights to protect my children, my home and my life. I love my partner dearly, and he has beautiful children who I always treat as my family when they visit, but his relationship with his ex and their parenting roles are theirs, if there was shared care I.e. they stayed over regularly then I could understand the need for an address, but they dont, my happy home was established long before I met my partner and I feel I have a right to not be involved with his ex and to maintain my privacy for the sake of my children (surely they have rights?). I hear it said that if the the ex lives with a new partner then she doesn't have a say and that the ex wife has a right to her address? That makes no sense to me? I am the new (ish) partner, it's my home, surely I have rights? I really hope you can help me by clarifying the law on this for me please, I would be most grateful. Thank you

Our Response:
No, the ex partner has no right to an address - as you say there is a contact number for emergencies - not does she have a right to "vet" you etc. If she is worried that you are risk to her children (i.e if you are on the sex offender register etc) then she can ask the police to run a check under the Sarah's law rule.Your partner has parental responsibility (we assume) and therefore has responsibility/care of the children while they're with him (i.e not the mother).
LawAndParents - 18-Apr-18 @ 9:50 AM
Jim - Your Question:
My ex wife and I spit up at the back end of 2016 and are now divorced.There are many reasons for this and none of them I feel relevant to this subject.Im totally lost and hope that someone can help advise me with the situation I find myself in.i haven’t had any contact with my son in over a year.The soliciter I used during the divorce proceedings advised me not to attempt to gain access to my son whilst the divorce took place as it might cause my ex wife to try and drag out the matter and cause unnecessary issues.Since our divorce has taken place,her and her entire family have moved away and I have no idea of the new address of my son.One thing that I’m sure will cause me difficulties is that I have two years left on a restraining order so that I can’t have any contact with her.Im in no way interested in causing her or her family any pain or stress.I only wish to have a relationship with my son,who I miss very much and I have know idea what to do or where to start.i know that somewhere there are still good and honest people on this earth and if one of them could help me I would be ever so grateful.Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this

Our Response:
You should apply to the courts for contact with your son. Just because there is a restraining order preventing contact with the mother, doesn't mean that applies to your child. A third party could be used for handovers etc. The court form you need is C100 - it's worth using a different solicitor as it looks like you were poorly advised during your divorce.
LawAndParents - 16-Apr-18 @ 10:36 AM
Hi, my partners ex wife is becoming very threatening over his contact with his children, she refused contact last week unless he agreed to keep them in her area or give her my address. We live about an hour away. The children used to come to my house regularly, early on they used to stay over (she put a stop to this over a year ago) she never wanted an address then but now she does. He only sees them once fortnightly for a day (about 6 - 7 hours) he would bring them to my house where they have an awesome time, and would always eagerly ask if they were coming to my house (I think that this is the crux of the issue). So in sum, there are no over night stays, she doesn't drop them off or pick them up, he drives an hour to collect them, an hour to return them and the same in the evening. They are always home by 6. She has his contact number for emergencies. The reasons given for wanting my address are because she doesn't know what I look like, she wants to vet me, she wants to tell me what I have to do with her children. She was very abusive and manipulative with my ex partner and I have heard this in action over the phone and seen it in texts. I have children of my own and I do not want them to be a party to her behaviour.I do not want her to have my address, I own my home and have worked hard to pay for it by myself, worked full time and raised my children by myself. I have created a happy environment and I don't want that turned upside down with this. In every blog I seem to read, the sympathy is with the mum and interpretations seem to be that she is always the victim. This is not the case here and I am really struggling to find out my rights to protect my children, my home and my life. I love my partner dearly, and he has beautiful children who I always treat as my family when they visit, but his relationship with his ex and their parenting roles are theirs, if there was shared care I.e. they stayed over regularly then I could understand the need for an address, but they dont, my happy home was established long before I met my partner and I feel I have a right to not be involved with his ex and to maintain my privacy for the sake of my children (surely they have rights?). I hear it said that if the the ex lives with a new partner then she doesn't have a say and that the ex wife has a right to her address? That makes no sense to me? I am the new (ish) partner, it's my home, surely I have rights? I really hope you can help me by clarifying the law on this for me please, I would be most grateful. Thank you
Lee - 15-Apr-18 @ 12:21 AM
KAB - Your Question:
Me and my husband have separated and I have moved out of the family home with our two children and currently living with my parents. I am hoping to get a council house soon (I have been told banded) but my ex is being very awkward about where the house is. He only wants specific areas in the county and doesn’t want his kids being brought up in a dump (his words). He is saying he has the right to take the kids if he doesn’t like the new houses location!!! Is this true?

Our Response:
No - you should make appropriate arrangements for contact/residency/shared residency between you. If you can't agree, you will need to attend mediation to try and create an agreement. If that fails, you can apply to the courts for a child arrangements order.
LawAndParents - 13-Apr-18 @ 12:28 PM
My ex wife and I spit up at the back end of 2016 and are now divorced.There are many reasons for this and none of them I feel relevant to this subject.Im totally lost and hope that someone can help advise me with the situation I find myself in.i haven’t had any contact with my son in over a year.The soliciter i used during the divorce proceedings advised me not to attempt to gain access to my son whilst the divorce took place as it might cause my ex wife to try and drag out the matter and cause unnecessary issues.Since our divorce has taken place,her and her entire family have moved away and I have no idea of the new address of my son.One thing that I’m sure will cause me difficulties is that I have two years left on a restraining order so that I can’t have any contact with her.Im in no way interested in causing her or her family any pain or stress.I only wish to have a relationship with my son,who I miss very much and I have know idea what to do or where to start.i know that somewhere there are still good and honest people on this earth and if one of them could help me I would be ever so grateful.Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this
Jim - 13-Apr-18 @ 1:05 AM
Me and my husband have separated and I have moved out of the family home with our two children and currently living with my parents. I am hoping to get a council house soon (I have been told banded) but my ex is being very awkward about where the house is. He only wants specific areas in the county and doesn’t want his kids being brought up in a dump (his words). He is saying he has the right to take the kids if he doesn’t like the new houses location!!! Is this true?
KAB - 11-Apr-18 @ 11:02 PM
My partner left me and took our son with her 4 weeks ago. She has been residing with my ex girlfriend. I keep trying to contact my partner so I can have regular visits with my son.but she's always fobbing me off saying she's tired. Or she's going to meet her family. Then if I try and press the issue I'm just ignored. Today I find out after asking to see my son that he in fact had not been in school all day due to illness. Surely I should of been notified so I can have the option if caring for him. It feels like my partner is relying on my ex girlfriend who cares for him most of the day due to my partners work commitments. She never takes him to school and pick him up and I'm never offered the chance or informed of anything.I'm not happy with any of this and not being able to properly talk with my partner am not sure how to proceed.
Darren18 - 27-Mar-18 @ 11:39 PM
My ex wife is taking my son abroad and has until now, been giving me details of where she is taking him with flight numbers and I have been signing permission forms for this. This trip however she will not tell me anything except the country. Where do I stand legally as I want to know when and where my son is going and when he will be back.
GJ - 27-Mar-18 @ 11:23 AM
Fay - Your Question:
I have 2 children with my separated husband who was abusive emotionally and physically. He's getting his own place with the person he had a affair with. But won't let me know the address. Says I don't need to know he will call me if there was any emergency. If this was the other way round he would kick off big time. Surely I have rights to know where my children are staying when he have them for sleepovers??

Our Response:
Your ex is not obliged to give details of the address. It's useful for him to provide a contact number that you can call/message if there is an emergency on your side.
LawAndParents - 13-Feb-18 @ 3:19 PM
I have 2 children with my separated husband who was abusive emotionally and physically. He's getting his own place with the person he had a affair with. But won't let me know the address. Says I don't need to know he will call me if there was any emergency.. If this was the other way round he would kick off big time. Surely I have rights to know where my children are staying when he have them for sleepovers??
Fay - 12-Feb-18 @ 5:39 PM
Tol - Your Question:
I have tried or near 3 years to track my son sowncand have done so with the support of a Solicitor, Judge and Private investigator. Neither of them have been successfull in tracking her down and I have this on writing by the judge in a sense that we have exhausted all avenues. Should I still have to pay for my child if I am unaware of his where abouts? I have joint parental responsibility and my name is on the birth certificate. I feel my only avenue to entice her to come out of hiding is to stop payments yet CMS have basically said I need to pay regardless even thought the legal team I have cannot locate. What steps should you suggest I take to sort this issue?

Our Response:
Can the courts not force the CMS to divulge the mother's whereabouts for the purposes of the courts contacting them only? Unfortunately contact and maintenance are entirely separate issues, so you can't simply stop paying.
LawAndParents - 22-Nov-17 @ 11:05 AM
I have tried or near 3 years to track my son sowncand have done so with the support of a Solicitor, Judge and Private investigator. Neither of them have been successfull in tracking her down and I have this on writing by the judge in a sense that we have exhausted all avenues. Should I still have to pay for my child if I am unaware of his where abouts? I have joint parental responsibility and my name is on the birth certificate. I feel my only avenue to entice her to come out of hiding is to stop payments yet CMS have basically said I need to pay regardless even thought the legal team I have cannot locate. What steps should you suggest I take to sort this issue?
Tol - 18-Nov-17 @ 2:06 AM
jase - Your Question:
Me and my ex split 18 months ago and we have a 5 yr old boy whom I adore.i was at every hospital apointment while see was pregnant,i was there at the birth and ive been a massive part of his life.he adores me.i used to take him to school every morning and also collect him every day,he stays with his mum monday to thursday ( 4 nighs) a week.now all of a sudern she doesnt want me to take him to school or collect him.her new bf does this.can she stop me from taking him to school etc? and also do I have the right to stop her bf from takin him to school as I feel it should be me doing this.niether of us have custardy of our son.

Our Response:
Are the current arrangements documented in a court order?
LawAndParents - 1-Nov-17 @ 3:21 PM
me and my ex split 18 months ago and we have a 5 yr old boy whom i adore..i was at every hospital apointment while see was pregnant,i was there at the birth and ive been a massive part of his life..he adores me..i used to take him to school every morning and also collect him every day,he stays with his mum monday to thursday ( 4 nighs) a week...now all of a sudern she doesnt want me to take him to school or collect him.her new bf does this.can she stop me from taking him to school etc? and also do i have the right to stop her bf from takin him to school as i feel it should be me doing this..niether of us have custardy of our son.
jase - 31-Oct-17 @ 12:56 PM
Mr D! - Your Question:
I have two boys, 13 & 9 who live with my ex partner. We never married, but I'm named on the birth certs & have PR. I have had regular contact on a daily basis taking them to school & they stay over night now & again. My 9 year old has just been permanently excluded form school. I have been at the forefront in meetings in the school, changed my shifts at work, home schooled him in the mornings & dropped him back in. I spoke to my ex a few days ago to try to get together for putting a letter into the governors to try to get them to reconsider giving him his place back. She told me that she doesn't want to speak to me about it. I received a text off her last night saying that any further contact to her is unwanted & will be classed as harassment & will be reported. Can anyone please give me some advise on if contacting my children's mother in relation to their well being/issues relation to schooling is harassment & can I be reported for it?

Our Response:
Write to her asking her to attend mediation so that you can discuss progress with your son. Speak to the school yourself if your ex is not willing to cooperate especially since you have changed your working pattern to accommodate his education needs. If your next alternative has to be court, you will have evidence that you have tried to communicate to no avail. You have PR so have every right to be involved in major decisions concerning your children - those kind of decisions certainly include changes in education provision etc.
LawAndParents - 30-Oct-17 @ 2:25 PM
I have two boys, 13 & 9 who live with my ex partner. We never married, but I'm named on the birth certs & have PR. I have had regular contact on a daily basis taking them to school & they stay over night now & again. My 9 year old has just been permanently excluded form school. I have been at the forefront in meetings in the school, changed my shifts at work, home schooled him in the mornings & dropped him back in. I spoke to my ex a few days ago to try to get together for putting a letter into the governors to try to get them to reconsider giving him his place back. She told me that she doesn't want to speak to me about it. I received a text off her last night saying that any further contact to her is unwanted & will be classed as harassment & will be reported. Can anyone please give me some advise on if contacting my children's mother in relation to their well being/issues relation to schooling is harassment & can I be reported for it?
Mr D! - 28-Oct-17 @ 9:27 AM
We haven't seen our 17 son for nearly 4 weeks. He was staying with his girlfriend who is now 18 and her mum. He said it was to sort his head out as I upset him when (after a week of him not being home, not being able to contact him and not attending college) I jokely posted on Facebook about a room to rent...we actually discussed it after so he knew it was a joke. Apparently his girlfriend decided he needed to teach me a lesson. Since then we cant call him (he broke his phone & passes him messages n calls on when and if she chooses) we have no idea if he is ok physically or mentally. He saidto younger brother that he has sold some drugs to earn cash, he has now got a part time job quite far from our home, so not feasable if he did come home. College have him on a warning for attendance. And keep asking me to give him message re coursework and classes that he has. We have begged the girlfriend to let him call. We are now art a loss, and heart broken and unsure of what our rights as parents are and do we need to inform anyone other than inland rev & child benefits. Can someone advise us. Thank you advance Vic60
Vic60 - 15-Oct-17 @ 9:18 AM
Been a stay at home father for over a year taking care of three children under the age of five. There mother decided she did not want to live in a small town, was unhappy with our relationship, and just took my kids to go live with her brother and will not let me know where! She says I have been verbally and physically abusive when in fact the exact opposite is true . She took my children, cash card, and left me high and dry.
Moe - 13-Oct-17 @ 10:32 PM
My sons father and I seperated over 5 years ago and have had a fairly amicable relationship. He now has a new partner and there have been threats to not bring my son home if I don't agree to certain pick up times as they've moved a significant distance away, over two hours drive. I have no intention to stop acccess as I feel this is just a threat. However I would like some evidence to where he is? He won't give me the address and now I feel fearful about that. Is there anything that I can do?
Racer - 9-Sep-17 @ 10:17 PM
Do I have a right to know where my son is when his with my ex partner? And if I send her messages stating that I'm concerned about his safety and well being due to her leaving him with someone does she have to reply ?
Mikka - 1-Sep-17 @ 9:54 AM
E - Your Question:
I have placement placement for my sonew with joint custody. Me and my girlfriend just moved in with each other. My question is do I have to tell his mother my new address ? According to child support I only have to report it to them(child support). no where in my case does it say I have to report it to her. Child support says I do not have to tell her

Our Response:
No there are no laws, that say you must provide an address to the other parent, but most do so out of courtesy.
LawAndParents - 4-Aug-17 @ 12:51 PM
I have placement placement for my sonew with joint custody. Me and my girlfriend just moved in with each other. My question is do I have to tell his mother my new address ? According to child support I only have to report it to them(child support). no where in my case does it say I have to report it to her. Child support says I do not have to tell her
E - 1-Aug-17 @ 10:44 PM
Jay - Your Question:
I stay in London during the week and go home at the weeeknds. My ex says that she wants to know exactly where the kids will be with me every weekend. She has all the address details of both residencies and contact numbers. Am I legally obligated to tell her my movements with the children every time I am with them if I remain in England? She is saying that no matter where I go with the kids she has a legal right to know. I would not take them out of the country without consent, and I have parental responsibility as named on the birth certificates although never married. She has said that I am not allowed to take them to London which I feel is unreasonable.

Our Response:
No, there is no "legal" right to be kept informed. However as a parent, it's natural to want an idea of where your children are etc. You don't have to give a specific address, but you could let her know roughly where the children are and whether they're at your home or staying with you at a relative's home etc. It is unreasonable to prevent you from taking them to your weekday residence in London.
LawAndParents - 25-Jul-17 @ 11:16 AM
I stay in London during the week and go home at the weeeknds. My ex says that she wants to know exactly where the kids will be with me every weekend. She has all the address details of both residencies and contact numbers. Am I legally obligated to tell her my movements with the children every time I am with them if I remain in England? She is saying that no matter where I go with the kids she has a legal right to know. I would not take them out of the country without consent, and I have parental responsibility as named on the birth certificates although never married. She has said that I am not allowed to take them to London which I feel is unreasonable.
Jay - 18-Jul-17 @ 8:02 AM
Clareclick - Your Question:
My childrens ages are 3 and 5, when he has them once a week after work the teachers have said on a few occasions that my oldest daughter has fell asleep in assembly I dont think this is fair at all and when I say anything about it to him he just says I cant stop him from seeing the kids

Our Response:
Can you ask the teachers to have a word with the father?
LawAndParents - 28-Jun-17 @ 10:48 AM
Clareclick - Your Question:
Me and my partner split a year ago he was hardly ever here at the weeeknds going to work on fridays not seeing him till sunday I was left with our 2 daughters. this past year he just sends a text saying I want the kids after work he lives across the road from me with his parents 44 years of age by the way he usually gets back around 5.15 but when he wants the kids he turns up at 6.6.30 says hes had his own things to do if they stay over he brings them back at 7.15 getting them up at 6am to get them ready still the friday night to sunday happens kids dont hear a thing he never has them now because ive said no its not fair on them never gets any time to spend with him just going over to sleep there n back first thing hes said hes taking me to court?? Will the courts allow him to only have the kids after work when they go to bed at 7/7.30 pm n for him to bring them back at 7.15am whenever he decides he wants them?? He wont let me have any set days or times or anything am I within my limits to say no??

Our Response:
The courts might recommend contact on certain days rather than via the current ad hoc arrangement. If he doesn't stick to it, they may recommend that contact is stopped only if it's considered that would be in the children's best interests.
LawAndParents - 27-Jun-17 @ 2:42 PM
My childrens ages are 3 and 5, when he has them once a week after work the teachers have said on a few occasions that my oldest daughter has fell asleep in assembly i dont think this is fair at all and when i say anything about it to him he just says i cant stop him from seeing the kids
Clareclick - 26-Jun-17 @ 3:04 PM
I meant he finished work on fridays went the pub and id never see him till monday when he txt to apologize.
Clareclick - 26-Jun-17 @ 2:51 PM
Me and my partner split a year ago he was hardly ever here at the weeeknds going to work on fridays not seeing him till sunday i was left with our 2 daughters.. this past year he just sends a text saying i want the kids after work he lives across the road from me with his parents 44 years of age by the way he usually gets back around 5.15 but when he wants the kids he turns up at 6.6.30 says hes had his own things to do if they stay over he brings them back at 7.15 getting them up at 6am to get them ready still the friday night to sunday happens kids dont hear a thing he never has them now because ive said no its not fair on them never gets any time to spend with him just going over to sleep there n back first thing hes said hes taking me to court?? Will the courts allow him to only have the kids after work when they go to bed at 7/7.30 pm n for him to bring them back at 7.15am whenever he decides he wants them?? He wont let me have any set days or times or anything am i within my limits to say no??
Clareclick - 26-Jun-17 @ 2:48 PM
My gf is having issues with her ex partner. She is the main carer. He gets to see every alternative weekend. They've been to mitigation agreed to things. He hasn't stuck to most where as she has. She wanted to get him into sport so he socialised with children, he the father isn't keen on this. He states as it's his time he doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to. Which I understand, but he never considers his son he's always selfish. We're getting concerned that he doesn't even look after him leaves it to his own father. While he lazes about. Lying about where he's taking him to avoid football. Shetries phoning and facetiming her son. Whereas when her sons here she will let him ring the father. He also doesnt respond to any messages or calls. She asks him to make sure he protected by suncream and give him medicines etc. He doesn't listenand does nothing. Is there anything she can do to sort this he's refused to go to mitigation again then claims to have spoke go a lawyer however this is a guy who moans about buying his son some clothes along with paying child maintenance. However he does stick to the time limits. It's just stressful for my GF as she wants her son happy and puts him first. The the father just will not do out go his own son.
Bernie - 29-May-17 @ 9:04 AM
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