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The UK's leading Shared Parenting charity

Read Me First

This page is the best place to start and find out some answers to your initial questions. To use this page click on the 'Q' to reveal the answer 'A'. To clear the answer click again on the yellow 'Q'. If there is something you don’t understand please call the FNF National Office on 0300 0300 110 or the National Helpline 0300 0300 363.

General Enquires

How do I join?

Joining is easy and you can do it by the click of a button. Go to Join Us to find out more.

Anyone can be a member of Families Need Fathers. Our members include fathers, mothers, resident and non-resident parents, grandparents, new partners and friends as well as people who agree with what we do.

What do I get if I am a member of Families Need Fathers?

• Access to the members’ area of the FNF website
    o Download all our factsheets for free
    o Download court forms and read instructions on how to fill them in and make an application to court
    o Download parenting plans
    o Access to workshop videos and much more!
• McKenzie magazine - keeping you up-to-date on all developments in the family law field 
• List of local telephone contacts and referral to panel of members with in-depth knowledge on matters ranging from child maintenance to CAFCASS
• Discounts on publications and books
• Access to our online forum
    o Receive support and advice from other members
    o Share your story and hear from others in similar situations

Members help us to get changes made so that both parents can share the care of their children after they separate.

How can you help me?

Have you separated from your partner or do you think you will? Are you worried about not seeing your children or about the effect the breakdown of your relationship might have on them? If you are, Families Need Fathers can help you with the support and information you need.

We help mothers, fathers, grandparents, new partners and extended families. We are here to help parents and their families go on giving the love, care and support that their children need after separation - and we support parents and families to do this - especially if you are having problems in coming to an agreement on your own.

Support and information is available in a number of ways:

  • National telephone helpline - available from 9am - 10pm Monday to Friday, 10am - 3pm at weekends on 0300 0300 363.
  • Local branch meetings - where you can get face-to-face advice, talk through your situation with others in similar circumstances and be with other people who know how you feel and can give you ideas. (You can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend).
  • Factsheets and publications - from dealing with CAFCASS, making decisions about money, getting welfare reports and how to represent yourself in court which means you don’t need to pay for a solicitor.
  • Online forums - where you can 'chat', ask for the advice and experience of other members and get feedback all the time.


There are more things you get if you are a member. To find out more click here.

There are other places where you can get the information, services and help you need. Click here for links to other help and support.

Where is my nearest branch?

We have branches across the country from Newcastle to Exeter, click here to find out where your nearest one is. You can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend.

Can I talk to someone?

You can phone the helpline on 0300 0300 363 (9am - 9pm Monday to Friday, 10am - 3pm at weekends). If you are a member you can also call one of your local contacts.

 

I need help with the law, the courts etc. How do I find this?

the helpline, visit your local branch meeting, post a question on the e-mail forum or go to law and information section on this site.

I don’t understand some of the terms and phrases used. Where can I find out what they mean?

Resident parent – parent that the child lives with most of the time.

Non-resident parent – the parent that the child doesn’t live with most of the time.

Court order – what the judge decides at the court.

Child Arrangements Order – an order made by a judge saying that sets out who the child lives with, when they spend time with the other parent, and so on.

Contact – the time the non-resident parent spends with the child, also called parenting time.

Direct Contact – is when you see your child face-to-face.

Indirect Contact – is talking to your child on the phone or sending them letters.

Contact issues – are problems with contact or parenting time

Interim contact – contact before a decision is being made at the next court hearing.

Mediation – is talking to the other parent with someone else there to help you make decisions, and not always in the same room.

Parental responsibility - a legal definition, and means you are able to make decisions about your child and get information about them from schools and doctors.

Shared Parenting – means both parents look after the child for some of the time.

Cafcass- Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service

Hearing – going to court so that a judge can make a decision.

First directions hearing – the first time you go to the court.

Interim hearing – when you go to the court, not for the first time, but before a judge makes a final decision. This might be while the judge is waiting for a Cafcass officer to write a report.

Final hearing – is the last time you go to court. The judge will make a decision about you and your child.

Cafcass or Section 7 report – the judge can order a report about you and the other parent before he makes a decision.

 

 

Contact/Parenting Time

I have just broken up with my partner and I am worried about not seeing my children. What can I do so I don’t stop seeing them?

Families Need Fathers can help you. We can give you general information about seeing your children (these are called contact issues) or help you with your own situation.

 

There are three different ways we can provide you with help:

The best way to receive help from us is to become a member. Then you can get help in different ways including factsheets, information books and our internet forums, where you can 'chat', ask for the advice and experience of other members and get feedback all the time.

Another way to get help and support is our helpline on 0300 0300 363 (7am-midnight, 7 days a week).

 

Or if you go to a local branch meeting you can receive face-to-face advice from local members. Go to http://www.fnf.org.uk/help-and-support/local-branch-meetings to find the closest one to you.

My children don’t have any contact with me, what can I do?

You have come to the right place; FNF can give you help and support. The best way to get help from us is to:

Join and become a member.

Or phone our helpline.

Or go along to your local branch meeting (you can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend).

We may also have information that will help you in our factsheets. These are free to download if you are a member.

 

I have been stopped from seeing my children, can you help?

Unfortunately the parent that the children are living with can sometimes stop the other parent from seeing their own children. You can get help from us.

Join and become a member.

Or phone our helpline.

Or go along to your local branch meeting (you can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend).

We also may have information that will help you in our factsheets. These are free to download if you are a member.

 

My children need to see me, what can I do?

You have come to the right place; FNF can give you help and support. The best way to get help from us is to:

Join and become a member.

Or phone our helpline.

Or go to your local branch meeting (you can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend).

We also may have information to help you in our factsheets. These are free to download if you are a member.

Is anyone allowed to stop my children from seeing me?

Only a court can officially stop you from seeing your children. If anyone else tries to stop you, you can do something about it. Please call our helpline on 0300 0300 363 (7am-midnight, 7 days a week) to get support over the phone.

I am a grandparent and I have not seen my grandchild since their parents broke up. What can I do?

You can get help and support from us by:

Join and become a member. (You can get help for your son or daughter from us.)

Or phone our helpline.

Or go to your local branch meeting (you can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend).

We also may have information to help you in our factsheets. These are free to download if you are a member.

 

 

 

Legal Issues

Do I have a responsibility to see my children?

Yes your children need you to be part of their life. Please read our parental responsibility factsheet: http://www.fnf.org.uk/publications-and-policy/factsheets-and-guides

You can also find out more by:

By becoming a member, phoning our helpline or by going to your local branch meeting (you can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend).

We also may have information to help you in our factsheets. These are free to download if you are a member.

 

Do I have any legal rights as a father?

Do you have Parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is a legal label tying a parent to their child. For more information please download our factsheet at: http://www.fnf.org.uk/publications-and-policy/factsheets-and-guides

Go to http://www.fnf.org.uk/law-and-information/parental-responsibility for more information.

Or phone our helpline and speak to someone.

 

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility is a legal label tying a parent to their child. For more information please download our factsheet at: http://www.fnf.org.uk/publications-and-policy/factsheets-and-guides

Go to http://www.fnf.org.uk/law-and-information/parental-responsibility for more information.

Or phone our helpline to speak to someone.

 

Do my children have any legal rights to see me?

Yes they do. Children have the right to see both their parents if it is safe.

Most important is Section 9 of the UN Convention on Rights of the Child:

"Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child's best interests."

 

 

 

What can I do to see my children?

There are different ways of getting to see your child:

- Mediation. This means talking to someone with or without the other parent there, who will try to help you both sort out the problems. 

- A family member or friend could help you talk about problems. You don’t have to be in the same room if it is difficult.

- Contact Relate and see if they can help you.

- Collaborative law is a good idea for some people. This means using solicitors to help you sort out your problems without going to court.

- Try to talk to your ex partner if you can. Or try writing a letter. Suggest what you can do together to help your children. You can get help to write letters from our forum http://www.fnf.org.uk/help-and-support/fnf-online-forum. Solicitors and going to court can cost a lot of money.

I feel like I’ve tried everything. Do I have to go to court so I can see my children?

It’s always best not to go to court, but if you have tried everything to sort out the problems then you may have to go to court. Contact our helpline or go to a localto discuss this.

I can’t afford to go to court again to see my children, what can I do?


You don’t have to have a solicitor. You can go to court on your own. FNF can give you a lot of help if you decide to do this. To find out more information click here.

You can apply to have the court fees rebated, using form EX160 available from the court or from here.

If you need more help, phone our helpline

 

 

 

Shared Parenting

What is Shared Parenting?

Shared Parenting means both parents look after their children and make decisions about them even when they don’t live together. The children don’t have to be with both parents for the same amount of time. Please see our guide to shared parenting.

 

 

 

Child Maintenance and Money Problems

I am having problems with child maintenance; what can I do?

Go to one of our branch meetings to talk to other parents who may be able to help you. Or you can also call the helpline.

You can also get advice from NACSA who help people in this area.

CM Options give information on the maintenance options available to parents.

How do I provide for my children?

The money you pay for your child (child support) can be agreed with the other parent.

It is worth contacting CM Options if you have any questions about how to provide child support.

What is child maintenance?

Child maintenance is what one parent pays the other parent who looks after the child most of the time.

The definition from CM Options:

“Child maintenance is regular, reliable financial support that helps towards a child's everyday living costs. The parent without the main day-to-day care of the child pays child maintenance to the other parent.”

http://www.cmoptions.org/en/maintenance/index.asp

I am separating. When can I sort out what I need to pay for my child (child maintenance)?

Go to a branch meeting to talk to other FNF members who may be able to help you, you can also call the helpline.

See the CM Options website for more information:

When do I stop paying for my child? How long do I have to pay child maintenance?

Usually until the children are aged 16, or 19 if they go on to further education (e.g. A-levels). However ask CM Options about your child.

My children live with me half the time. Can I get any benefits?

This doesn’t often happen. Look on directgov and see if you will be able to get anything.

 

 

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  • New conference on #SharedParenting from #ICSP - It's in Strasbourg on Nov 22/23 https://conference.twohomes.org/Home The Fourth International Conference on Shared Parenting: Shared Parenting, Social Justice and Children´s Rights
  • A study just published concludes that over-controlling parenting harms children's development. Another reason for supporting greater involvement of fathers in the care of their children, particularly after separation? The research did not focus on separated families, but it seems likely to follow may well follow that exposing children to the diversity of two parenting styles will of itself better equip them for life. Family separation seems to also bring out more controlling behaviours, not least denying involvement in parenting by ex partners when there is not an adequate reason for this. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jun/18/over-controlled-toddlers-grow-up-unable-to-cope Please support FNF by following us on Facebook, liking our posts, registering for free, making a donation or becoming a member.
  • Father’s Day is our opportunity to celebrate fatherhood. It is a chance for all dads to be reminded that they are loved. It is a recognition of the unique and vital role that fathers play in their children’s lives. Tragically, at Families Need Fathers, we all too often work with dads whose children will not be able to celebrate Father’s Day with them. Many will have court orders to see them that will not be obeyed. Other fathers will have no hope at all of seeing their children on Father’s Day, because they have been “awarded” indirect contact - to send them a letter a few times a year – in the hope that it reaches them. Worse still, many of their children will feel pressurised to reject their much-loved dads. Sometimes this will happen through coaching, but more often it will be because their main carers make coldly clear to these young minds their feelings towards their ex-partners. Why do they do this – could they have valid reasons? More often than not it is because they would not accept that the relationship had ended, because they started a new one of their own, because they were upset that their ex has started a new relationship or because they fear that their ex’s new partner will somehow usurp or diminish their role as a mother. Of course, these reasons are driven by adult emotions and it is harmful to burden the children with them. Children have more than enough capacity to love both their parents and extended families whether they live together or apart. Parents collaborating can do so much to help children to get over their parents' divorce or separation. It is amazing that in 2018 there are still Cafcass Family Court Advisers, judges and social workers who don’t recognise alienating behaviours or appreciate their effect – putting a child in a position of having to suppress and deny their love for their father - a love that dare not speak its name. Over the last year or two Cafcass have accepted that parental alienation is child abuse and they are beginning to develop pathways and tools for identifying it and hopefully for dealing with it too. That said the message has not reached all of them yet. Only last week we heard from an entirely reasonable, good dad whose child has been turned against him - yet neither the Family Court Adviser nor the judge showed any interest in why this might be. Incredibly, they described the father as arrogant and naive for challenging the professionals' views when they had considered the wishes of his brainwashed child. The judge’s decision was horrifying – condemning a father simply for loving their child above all else – for wanting to remain part of the child’s life. They should do better. They need to be better trained. They need to have a far better understanding of research into child psychology and the long-term impact on a child of having to keep secret or trying to destroy their own love of a parent in order to protect themselves from the fear of loss of the other parent. It is amazing that, despite alienating behaviours being recognised by Cafcass nationally and by many experienced judges there are still those who look out to the horizon and conclude that the earth is flat. ‘Professionals’ who ignore all the evidence from those who have sailed those seas. Why for example might a child phone and say "I really wanted to see you on Father's Day, but mummy said no" and then a few weeks later, having not seen him, say "I never want to see him again"? Why do some 'professionals' not exhibit curiosity as to why this child suddenly changed their mind? Of course, there are abusive men and women and a small minority will seek to hide their abuse with claims of alienation. This does not mean of course that alienation does not happen and experienced professionals can easily tell the difference. The earth is round, and no amount of denial will make it flat. Today our thoughts are with all the good dads out there, but most especially with all those children and their dads who are needlessly apart, failed by their main carers and failed by a broken family justice system that is behind the times. Those dads will continue to suffer every single day, as will their children, many of whom will grow up living with the effects of the daily guilt of having to deny their love for one parent in order to hold on to the love of the other. It will be very hard for these children and their alienated parents to forgive the Government and the courts for their obstruction and inaction. But if we all work constructively together, for the sake of all those children of separated families, progress can and will be made. We wish everyone a Happy Father's Day. If you are a father, and you are in touch or with your children - have a great day. If you are a father and for whatever reason you cannot be with your child or children, we hope that they will be happy and much loved and appreciated in your thoughts throughout the day and in the future. Please support us in our work to change things for the better. Support us by becoming a member, making a donation, or becoming a volunteer. You can register on our site to receive our Newsletters, surveys and other information - or just follow us on Facebook and share our posts.
  • It was refreshing to see the Women and Equalities Select Committee strongly supporting extending paternity leave. They proposed a month being offered at 90% of salary. Their reason was essentially to do with bridging the gender pay gap. But there are other excellent reasons for supporting them, Involving fathers more in care of their children brings wellbeing benefits to the children and in nations where paternity leave is more generous, fathers care for their children more not just whilst together, but also when parents break-up. The Government's rejection of the Committee's recommendations is dispiriting. Their claims of supporting equality seem hollow. They are letting mums, dads and children down whilst desperately hugging onto the past - failing to recognise that most families have two working parents and two caring parents. Most fathers are no longer to be 'providers' and mothers to be 'carers'. https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/women-and-equalities-committee/news-parliament-2017/fathers-workplace-government-response-17-19/ Please support FNF by liking our posts, following us, registering with us for free, making a donation or becoming a member.
  • Today we heard the news that an Education Select Committee report on school exclusions is due to be published soon. It is expected to be "damning" and will show that exclusions have reached 35 per day for every school day of the year! We very much hope that it will include statistics and will report on how many excluded children come from separated or "single parent" families where one parent or the other is not involved in a meaningful relationship with the child - broken down by parent and child gender. We are certainly a gender-inclusive charity, but we cannot condone ignoring the effects of increasing fatherlessness on society. We suspect that much of today's violence, knife-crime and many other public disorder offences could relate to offenders who have not benefitted from the involvement of their fathers when they were growing up. Let's see the media start to ask tough questions about this in future!
  • Child abduction is devastating for any parent from whom a child is taken. It is also damaging to the child. In the case reported here the six year old boy was living with his father, but was not returned after a weekend visit to the mother. Around 3 children a week are abducted by a parent http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5785797/Police-hunt-British-boy-6-feared-abducted-Spanish-holiday-resort.html If you have reason to believe your child might be abducted then make sure their passport is safe. If the child does not live with you, consider getting a Prohibited Steps Order, preventing the child from being taken abroad and ask for their passport to be held by a third party such as a solicitor. If your child has not been returned and is missing, inform the police as soon as possible and ask them to put out an All Ports Warning. If it is too late and the child is abroad the next step will depend on the country they have gone to. Some are easier to deal with than others. However, it is almost always easier to try to manage with these issues before the child has been taken to another country. Support the work of FNF by liking this page, following us on Facebook, registering for free, making a donation or joining and becoming a member.

FNF HSSF Kite Mark Award

Families Need Fathers has been awarded the Help and Support for Separated Families Kite Mark which is a new UK government accreditation scheme for organisations offering help to separated families.

Families Need Fathers work with a range of family law professionals, including Family Law Panel

 

Upcoming Events

25/06/2018 Mon: London Central Meeting
26/06/2018 Tue: Harrow Branch Meetings
27/06/2018 Wed: Cambridge Meeting
28/06/2018 Thu: London East (Tower Hamlets)
28/06/2018 Thu: Exeter Meeting
30/06/2018 Sat: Harrow Branch Meetings
2/07/2018 Mon: London Central Solicitor's Clinic
2/07/2018 Mon: Edinburgh Meeting
2/07/2018 Mon: Nottingham Meeting
2/07/2018 Mon: Northern Ireland Meeting
2/07/2018 Mon: Reading Meeting
3/07/2018 Tue: Leeds Central Meeting
3/07/2018 Tue: Newcastle Meeting
3/07/2018 Tue: Oxford Meeting (check day with branch)
3/07/2018 Tue: Northampton Meeting
4/07/2018 Wed: Manchester Meeting
4/07/2018 Wed: London West Meeting & Solicitor Clinic