HMRC internal manual

Child Benefit Technical Manual

CBTM12090 - Guardian's Allowance: Entitlement - Whereabouts of surviving parent

Social Security Contributions & Benefits act 1992 section 77(2)(b)

Only one parent need be dead if the claimant can show that

  • at the date of death the whereabouts of the other parent was unknown


  • all reasonable efforts to discover the whereabouts of the other parent have failed, or
  • the other parent is in prison

“Parent” includes an adoptive parent

There is no legal definition of “whereabouts” or “reasonable efforts”. The terms should be given their normal everyday meaning.


This should be taken to mean knowledge of a person’s residence, employment, or place of attendance by habit (such as a public house).


Knowledge of a person’s residence will always mean residential address, whichcould include temporary accommodation (hostel or caravan), or a street or block of flats where the number is not known, but the claimant is aware of the person’s physical appearance.


Knowledge of a person’s employment would include any precise place of employment,such as a particular factory, shop, office or market stall.

General knowledge of a person’s employment may also demonstrate knowledge of a missing person’s whereabouts. If the person works for the armed forces, or a particular travel company, the claimant could reasonably expect to make contact with them.

Knowledge only of a person’s skill, for example bricklayer, market trader, oil rigworker, would not in itself demonstrate knowledge of a person’s whereabouts.

Place of attendance by habit

Knowledge of this should be taken to mean that if the claimant knows that the missing person will be in a particular place, at regular intervals, when contact could reasonably be made, this would constitute knowledge of whereabouts.

The place of attendance should be somewhere that person to person contact can reasonably be made. It would not include places where it would be difficult to contact one person in a large crowd.

“Attendance by habit” implies that a person must be in such a place at regular, relatively short intervals. Where intervals of more than 5 weeks occur, this would not constitute attendance by habit.

Knowledge that a person attended a certain team’s football matches, shopped at a certain shopping centre, or had holidays in the same resort each year would not be sufficient to demonstrate knowledge of whereabouts.

If the claimant knows that a missing person visits a specific person at the same address every few weeks, or regularly attends a specific church on a weekly or monthly basis, this would constitute knowledge of whereabouts.

Subsequent disappearance of surviving parent

R(G) 2/83

If the claimant discovers the whereabouts of the surviving parent and the parent then disappears, the claimant is still treated as having discovered the whereabouts of the surviving parent. It is not necessary to consider what efforts the claimant had made to discover the whereabouts of the surviving parent.

Meaning of “all reasonable efforts”

As a minimum, the claimant is required to show that they have attempted to contact the last known address, family and friends of the surviving parent.

If the claimant has done this, or has valid reasons why they have not, for example they do not know the last address, family or friends, or they have good reason for not making contact, it can be accepted that reasonable efforts have been made.

Meaning of “good reason”

If the claimant can show that there is a danger of harm or undue distress being caused to either them or the child if they attempt to find the surviving parents then they will be treated as having made reasonable efforts. For example, the surviving parent could

  • be a “schedule 1” offender
  • have a history of violence towards the deceased parent or the child
  • be a threat to the claimant or child’s physical safety or emotional well being
  • have a history of violence or sexual offences
  • have been denied contact with the child by a restriction or court order


  • the child may be on the “at risk” register in relation to the surviving parent.