Is it a legal duty to continue a caring role?

My dad, does not want to be my mums carer anymore. He is Ill physically and mentally and after 12 years of give give give and no help from anyone other than myself, he wants to leave and have some happy years with a new companion before he dies.

He has had no help from social services, mental units, brain injury units or his GP. Everything just gets passed on to someone else and then always ends up back at the GP having got nowhere.

he asked the GP what would happen if he walked away and the GP said he has a legal obligation to stay or there could be prosecutions involved - but he didn't know what. Does anyone know anything about this?

Surely he could not be prosecuted for leaving? He did not ask for any of this, it is not his fault and he has tried so hard for so long to make it work, has been open with all the services asking for help but being refused.....and yet if he walked away they might suddenly take notice only to charge him with something?!

He has spoken to headway a number of times and while they are always very lovely and understanding, they too do not have any answers either.

Can anyone help?

12 Replies

  • Legally your dad has no obligation to stay with your mum as her carer as she is an adult. Contact Carer Trust or Carers UK to find out about his rights, legally, as a Carer.

    Carers have Rights, and one of those rights is to stop caring, the above organisations will be able to help him.

    Good luck, and tell your dad to stay strong to what he wants.

  • If your dad wants reassurance ( and I feel that good advice has been given ) he can always get advice from a law centre or CAB etc

  • Do check with CAB but to the best of my knowledge the GP is misinformed.

  • Surely he only has a legal obligation if he is claiming Carer Allowance and if he is and he cancels that then he can separate from his wife and not be breaking the law. But I agree try checking it out with CAB or Carers UK. SS would then surely have to set up a care package just like has to be done for others who live alone. although I think there will be a cost involved for your mum depending on her financial situation.

  • Surely this can't be true :-(

    If your Dad was to separate from your Mum then it would be social services responsibility to assess her & perhaps for her to live in assisted accommodation (in my opinion)

    I really really feel for you all :-(

    Life is so very cruel. I completely understand how your Dad feels as my husband & I have had to separate due to very similar reasons. I could no longer cope after 3 years & had a breakdown. Please let me know if I can do anything to help xxxx

  • Hi, if you listen to Professor Luke Clements (Head of Cardiff School of Law) lectures at:

    You will see that the only persons responsible for caring for another adult is the local authority. This lecture is very useful and easily understood and is the definitive up-to-date law with regard to carers and disabled adults.

    Professor Clements' lectures are free on YouTube and are a massive help to people (like me) who can't afford to retain lawyers and who find it almost impossible to get straight, truthful answers from anyone.

    I am so grateful to Professor Clements for his series of lectures on this subject. I think you will find your answers there. Answers you can trust as he is a practising Solicitor.

    Good luck,


  • Thank you so so much for this Diana, a real peace of mind!

  • I really don't think he has a legal obligation to stay. I am a qualified Social Worker but haven't worked as one since my husband had an RTA but even so I don't think I am that out of touch. Under the Carers Services and Recognition Act Social Services had a duty towards your Dad. I think the law has been changed since that to make sure people who are caring are supported. Try the Princess Royal Carers Trust.

    So sorry you have had all this.

  • Hi Lilly. It sounds like your GP needs to do some brushing up on basic points of law. As Caroline has said, if your father were to cancel any care allowances he receives, he could walk away.

    No one should be condemned to a life of overwhelming duties, whether or not they have their own health problems. Some people choose to do so, which is always admirable, but it shouldn't be forced on those, like your dad, whose own health is threatened.

    If it were my mum I'd (albeit with a heavy heart) help my dad to arrange for full-time residential care where he could visit but step away from the carer's role.

    I'm sorry for your awful predicament & hope you can resolve it in a way which is fair to each of you. xx

  • Some good advice on here. I think it takes a brave person to make that move and that should not be underestimated at all.

    My sister had a brain aneurysm almost 3 years ago and now needs 24 hour care. Her husband ha been amazing - but he could have another 30 odd years of caring and that's hard for anyone to deal with.

  • Thank you so much everyone for your advice and kindness. You are all an amazing bunch of people xxx

  • Yes, people have said that if your dad isnt claiming carers allowance, he's clearly absolved. Marriage vows arent legally binding; your gp should stick to medicine, he is not your fathers jailor. Sorry for strong words. Youll all find a route through this.

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