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

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 22 Jun 2023 | comments*Discuss
Child Parental Responsibility Legal Duty


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)


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 will like to seek for your advice regarding my stepson whom I contribute larger percentage of my finance to their monthly upkeep allowance since I started living with their biological mother. They don’t want to do any housework but to eat, have fun. Myself and their mum works a lot and the eldest daughter who’s 25 years and eldest son who is 21 years are so disrespectful and both are working and never put little from their wages down to support us in the house but they prefer to spend their wages on going on holiday but I don’t think their mum is helping them by not making them realise that they are an adult and they are supposed to be living on their own. As a stepfather do I have legal rights to let them know that if they continue with their unacceptable behaviour they will have to leave the house.
Ollytony - 22-Jun-23 @ 9:23 PM
My daughter is 15.16 in three weeks she is vile t agressive she has been kicked out of school as no intentions of going to collage or getting a job I have 4 younger children at home who are all terrified or her we are walking on egg shells not boing what is next with her she is on a waiting list to see pedestrians I rang social services and every other service I can think of there a waste of space I’m really considering kicking her out when she is 16 but read I have parental responsibility until 18 what other help can I get who do I ring ?????
Vi - 15-Jun-23 @ 1:18 PM
My sister an her husband has thrown their 17 year old adopted son out of the house an he is now in my home. I no longer speak with my sister to talk about him being thrown out, should I call the social services for him or what can I do as I can't really keep him at my home
K - 26-Apr-23 @ 8:37 AM
My 16 year old has been physically violent towards me with knives and punching, verbally abusive too and its been going on for years, school kicked her out, she refuses college or to get a job because she knows nobody will do anything. She laughs at me and tells me theres nothing i can do and she’s right because I've called police, social, everyone and nothing happens. If it was the other way round id be in prison but because its the child to the parent it’s dismissed. I want her out my house my mental health is destroyed I can’t cope anymore and no-one will help
FedUp - 9-Oct-22 @ 12:23 PM
This is the perspective of a child of a b*st*rd Hi, I am the child of the person who wanted to kick me out. It is an extremely pathetic reason, for it was when I was ten years old. My sister was staying the night while visiting, and me and my father had to go to the veterinarian for my pet rabbit. I didn’t get ready in time, and instead of saying “It’s okay, be ready on time next time.” My father started an argument with me. And saying “I’m going to kick you out of the house!” I angrily agreed and ran into my sister on the way out. She had told me off, because of the argument which was started by my father. Which was very common, as I was mistreated as a child. People usually stood up for my adult sister when I was a kid. And she was going to go to University. So, kicking YOUR child out is ILLEGAL. It is considered child abandonment. NEVER KICK YOUR CHILD OUT.
R. Kap - 5-Apr-21 @ 2:26 PM
I have a 21yr old step son, who has only lived with is for the past 1 year, at his mothers request. He has attacked me few times and disrespects me at every turn, but most unbelievable is that he completely disrespect his own mother any possible ways. I have tried everything to resolve this from sit down talks, but nothing worked. He says we are nothing to him. Few years ago he was in trouble with law enforcement for stealing. 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. He damage my property, also few years ago the same happen in our previous house (widows was smashed, doors damage). What rights do I have as a step parent? Can I kick him out since legally its MY house? I put lock into our bedroom door, because of thefear of what he may do. I work nights, so I'm very stressed because I don't know what he may do. Help.
KSPU - 19-Mar-21 @ 5:48 AM
My 16 year old son often argues with his girlfriend on the phone-it’s always late at night and he gets angry and aggressive-trashes his room and scares his younger sibling. What can we do to break this cycle of behaviour-I have a duty to protect both.
Liza - 15-Mar-21 @ 12:01 AM
Can I get some advice about evicting my 24 year old daughter from my home.
El - 22-Sep-20 @ 12:08 PM
My partner daughter came to live with him 2years ago she is 15 going to be 16 in 3weeks. She has coursed nothink but problems thiefs been arrested mouthing off does what she wants doesn't roll in till early in mornings and some off the lies she has told are sickening I mean really sickening. She talks to random men and woman that are married. My partner and I carnt cope anymore she says she wants the help but she has been offered it so many times and refuse. My partner wants to know if he can kick her out at 16 take her to social and say he doesn't want her living with him no more she has brought his depression back on...
Jackz - 14-Jun-20 @ 4:05 PM
We want to evict out 17 year old adopted daughter. She is violent and extremely abusive. Has been thrown out if school and college for abusive and violent behaviour. We have tried years of therapy and support, but nothing works as she just doesn't care. She found her birth family on the internet, and went to stay with them for 6 weeks, but each of the three siblings she stayed with subsequently threw her out because of her behaviour. Now she is back with a vengeance and our life is a misery. She has been arrested previously for assaulting my wife, and has hit her on several occasions. Our younger daughter is fearfull of her, and her natural sister, also adopted, wants nothing to do with her. She turns 18 in Feb. We cannot live another 9 months in this state of anxiety. She can charm anyone, but is an habitual liar and thief. How do we get her out of the house?
Debman - 18-May-20 @ 11:21 AM
My 17 yr old 18 in October has become very abusive and when ranting does not make any sense at all if I try to talk to her she does not engage, I have put up with her behaviour and just walk away as I really cant go into battle with her let alone choose when to.The last argument was that I would not let her boyfriend come and stay in this Covidlockdown her pregnant sister is staying and looking to be housed by the council as she is homeless.So as you see its not practical, I have reached the end of the line and would like her to live somewhere else when she is 18 shiv
Shiv - 10-May-20 @ 2:53 PM
Hi I have a 15 year old daughter who turns 16 soon ,and she's living with her dad, so when she turns 16 in August would she come back to live with me or is my ex allowed keep her at his house or is she legally allowed to make her own choice at 16 where she lives,because at moment she doesn't want anything to do with me because my ex has told her a lot of bad lies about me, so she has been getting brainwashed and she believes everything bad about me
Angie - 4-May-20 @ 4:14 AM
My bf is 19 and is autistic his mom is taking his pip(400 pounds) and also demanding he pay her rent every month a 100 pounds and if he doesnt do something right he gets thretened to be thrown out. Is she even allowed to do that
MiNi - 22-Apr-20 @ 11:24 PM
I completely understand ’parental responsibility’ but we have a 16 year old and 2 younger children (8&4). The 16 yo is violent, causes criminal damage, steals anything in sight from us and threatens violence towards us all. We are living in fear from our own child!! We report everything we can to the police, yet we have no choice but to allow him back into our home due to ‘parental responsibility’ !!!! How is this acceptable?? I hate the UK system and law. Children are allowed to behave however they want and know they won’t be punished. In the space of 8 days, he’s stolen a car (& caught in it) , assaulted his Dad and put our windows through (all on cctv), stolen my engagement and wedding rings, threatened to assault his 8 yo brother and threatened to burn our house down. How much more should parents and families have to take!!???
Kimi - 11-Apr-20 @ 2:37 AM
My nephew is 17 and has been thrown out by his parents, they say he is badly behaved. They adopted him and his sister when he was 9 months old but they have never been happy with him and none of the children know they are adopted or have siblings elsewhere. I love them and just consider them as our flesh and blood, always have always will. No parents are perfect, the same as no child is perfect. I know he has played up at times but when he never gets praise, gets locked in a stone shed and doesn't get cooked meals except Pot noodles, I can understand some or most of his behaviour. Am I ok to take in my nephew legally? He is at college but doesn't enjoy it and wants to try to get an apprenticeship, am I legally allowed to support him? Do you know if I have any rights please?
PJL - 10-Apr-20 @ 2:24 PM
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
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