This article adds to theoretical debate among British sociologists of families and relationships by considering the analytical potential and positioning of intimacy and care as concepts. Drawing on qualitative data from a study of fathering after separation or divorce, it explores the conceptual value of care as a means to advance understanding of fathering relationships. Raising the question of labour and the question of power, the discussion demonstrates the distinctiveness of care as an analytical tool, alongside, but not equivalent to, intimacy. I argue that intimacy and care are not interchangeable concepts and that care should not be limited as a purely descriptive term. The article presents care as a valuable concept which sheds particular light on the interplay between practical, ethical and emotional dimensions of family relationships, arguing that it has a deeply embedded ethical dimension which lies at the heart of its analytical potential.