Parenting NI

Parenting NI has been a leading organisation for supporting parents in Northern Ireland since 1979.    In a guest blog for Life Law NI, Emma Lyttle from Parenting NI provides us with some information about the organisation and the services they provide:-


Since being established in 1979, Parenting NI has become a leading parenting support organisation committed to delivering high quality services to parents throughout Northern Ireland.

At Parenting NI, our primary aim is to contribute to the well-being of children and young people by supporting parents and to influence policy and practice on parenting.

Our values are underpinned in all of Parenting NI projects, including the following:

  • The safety and well-being of children is paramount
  • Parenting should be valued
  • Parents need to be supported
  • Support services for parents should be universal and accessible
  • Parents have the right to expect high quality services
  • All families should be valued equally, regardless of their structure or background
  • Parents and young people are entitled to be able to talk confidentially
  • Parents have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and not to be judged
  • Parents have the right to expect organisations with whom they are involved to be open, honest and accountable
  • The rights and responsibilities of parents, children and young people should be protected and respected

The Work We Do

All of Parenting NI services have been developed based on the needs of parents.  Our focus is primarily on prevention and early intervention in order to ensure the best outcomes for children and young people.

At Parenting NI, we envisage a future where parenting is highly valued, and family members receive the support and resources they need to provide a happy and safe environment in which children and young people can achieve their potential.

As an organisation, we try to do achieve this goal in many ways and by providing a number of services:-
  1. Parenting Helpline

The Parenting NI Helpline offers a free phone service based in Northern Ireland. Our helpline team have been specifically chosen to ensure that all callers receive the most appropriate support and guidance in relation to family issues.  The Parenting NI helpline team also have knowledge of local services that are available regionally to ensure that all families with any additional needs can access other support if required.  Call us on 0808 8010 722 to avail of our helpline service.

  1. Counselling Service

 Our Parent’s Counselling service focuses on finding realistic, manageable solutions for you and your family, empowering you to meet your own needs and goals. Parent’s Counselling offers a confidential, professional service, in a warm, friendly atmosphere, where you will be listened to and given space to explore any issues relating to parenting.

  1. Programmes & Workshops

We offer a range of parenting programmes throughout Northern Ireland to help parents build on their skills and knowledge about parenting.

We aim to keep our programmes fun and interactive through participation and group work, in a setting where everyone feels safe and supported. Participating in one of our programmes is also a great way to meet other parents experiencing similar issues, build confidence and improve family relationships.

  1. Parental Participation

We believe that it is important that parents have their voices heard.  We have been engaging parents through consultation since 1999. The consultation process is an important opportunity for parents to share their views. In consulting with parents, it enables our organisation to highlight the key issues and needs of parents in order to influence policy, planning and service delivery.

For more information on Parenting NI, visit our website on WWW.PARENTINGNI.ORG

Father’s Rights


Father’s Day is a celebration of fatherhood, paternal bonds and the influence of fathers in our lives.  It’s a day when children lavish daddy with cards, gifts, hugs and kisses and where fathers celebrate both the joys and rewards of having children.

Of course, the role of being a dad extends above and beyond one particular day and as any dad will know, along with the rewards of having children comes a lifetime of responsibility. It is the job of both parents to ensure that this responsibility is taken seriously and exercised in the best interests of their children.

This can sometimes be difficult to achieve when the parent’s relationship breaks down. Separation, particularly when the father and child no longer live together, can leave daddy feeling like his role in his child’s life is somehow diminished and less important.

This does not have to be the case. As a father, you can have Parental Responsibility for your child

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental Responsibility is the legal term for the rights of each parent to be involved in making decisions in the best interest of their children.

It is defined in the Children (NI) Order 1995 as ‘all rights, duties, powers and responsibilities and authority which by law a parent has in relation to the child and his property.’

Do I have Parental Responsibility?

If you are married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, you automatically get Parental Responsibility.

If you and the child’s mother are not married, Parental Responsibility is not automatic but you can get it n the following ways:-

  • If your child is born after December 2003 and you are named on the birth certificate
  • Through a formal written agreement with the mother
  • By obtaining a Parental Responsibility Order from the Court
  • By having a Residence Order in respect of your child.

What difference does having Parental Responsibility make?

Parental Responsibility is not a label to be worn by a father.

In practical terms, this responsibility gives you as the child’s father the right, for example,

  • To be involved in choosing their school
  • To be kept informed of their progress at school and sent copies of school reports.
  • To give consent to medical treatment
  • To determine your child’s religion
  • To be involved in choosing their child’s name and to agree any change in surname.

I have separated from my child’s mother – do I still have rights?

The short answer is yes.

Parental Responsibility goes some way to ensuring that you can continue to have a pro-active and beneficial input into your child’s life.

Where parents separate, it will often be the case that they can work out themselves where their children are to live and how much time they will spend with each parent.

However, if you cannot agree arrangement with your child’s mother, then you can apply to the Court and ask it to make decisions that are deemed to be in the best interests of your child.

  • The Court can decide where and with whom your child should live. This is known as a Residence Order.
  • In some cases, the Court may make a Joint Residence Order in favour of both parents, where the contact arrangements are such that your child will be spending time living in both your home and their mum’s home.
  • If your child lives with mum, the Court can decide on how much contact you can have with your child. This is known as Contact Orders.
Although in an ideal world it is better where possible for parents to agree issues concerning their children, the law is there to guarantee your child’s right to enjoy a relationship with both parents where this is in their best interests.

For further information on this topic, please feel free to contact Karen or Claire or alternatively leave us your comments below.