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What are my Ex-Partners Visitation Rights?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 15 Aug 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Visitation Children Custody Parental

Q.

My partner and I were never married, we have two children and have recently separated. We are both British, I live in France with the children, one of which was born here.

He has a house in France but is not resident here as he works abroad based in London and Dublin. I would like to know what my rights are with regards to custody of the children and visitation rights for their father.

At the moment he turns up in the country without notice and expects to keep the children with him, if that is for a day or three weeks, and they are very confused. Can I make him regularise his visits? Who do I speak to, an English lawyer or French?
(Miss M.K, 16 October 2008)

A.

Parental Responsibility

As the mother of the children you automatically have what is known as parental responsibility for them. This gives you both rights and responsibilities for the children. These include providing a home for the children, protecting them, making decisions about their welfare and education, and deciding where they live.

The unmarried father of a child will only have Parental Responsibility for that child if he entered into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother or obtained a parental responsibility order from a court. For children born after 1st December 2003, unmarried fathers may acquire parental responsibility by jointly Registering The Child’s Birth with the mother. If none of these apply, you have sole parental responsibility and the right to make any decisions involving the children.

Custody of Your Children

It seems that, either by an agreement with your ex-partner or just because it seemed the natural thing to do, you have custody of the children. It would appear that this arrangement also suits your ex-partner’s lifestyle. This is also compatible with you having parental responsibility.

Visitation Rights

Your real concern seems to be the way your ex-partner has taken to arriving unannounced and expecting the children to stay with him. If you have sole parental responsibility, you are entitled to say how and when these visits should take place. If your ex-partner also has parental responsibility, he will be equally entitled to say what he thinks it should happen. However, it sounds as if the only consideration your ex-partner gives to these visits is what suits him. It is unlikely to be in the children’s best interests to have no idea from one minute to the next what will happen.

UK or French Law

Asking the courts to resolves issues involving children should always be a last resort. In England, the law which governs children’s issues, the Children Act 1989, specifically states that the children’s welfare is always paramount when a court decides what order to make and whether it should make an order at all.

If there is any possibility that this issue can be resolved through discussion with your ex-partner, this should be the first step. Perhaps your ex-partner has not given much thought to how his arrangements impact on the children’s wellbeing. Stability and routine may be of paramount importance to them after the trauma of a break-up.

If you and your ex-partner cannot reach a mutually acceptable agreement regarding visitation and /or custody, you may still wish to consult a lawyer. If you and the children are permanently based in France, it would almost certainly be appropriate to consult a French lawyer. Conducting legal proceedings in the UK from France would be time-consuming and expensive.

Under European Law, the decision of a court in one EU state regarding issues of parental responsibility should be recognised by the courts of all other member states. Therefore a decision reached in France should be binding in the UK.

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Hi, my daughters dad has never really made an efford he fits her in when he can be bothered, he has recently started dating a drug addict, he himself hates drugs but has decided to make a go at things with her, he hid this from me because he knows how much i hate drugs, i do not want my daughter around that kind of life style and i do not trust that he will keep the girlfriend away or that he wont start taking himself, what grounds do i have to keep her away from them?
Meens - 15-Aug-18 @ 1:53 PM
My son's father and I came to an amicable agreement when we first broke up, that he would have custody of him on the weekends. We were never married and he's on my son's birth certificate we split up about 8 years ago. My ex partner now quite often keeps him over night on a Sunday, with the promise to take him to school on the Monday. He has consistently not taken him into school saying that our son is ill, but my son has told me, he was fine. He has often decided to pick him up and just take him for several days whenever he feels like it. What can I do to get his father to adhere to a schedule? We don't have any legal agreement, and I'd like to keep things amicable. It's making me very anxious, I don't know what to do.
Donska - 25-Jun-18 @ 7:10 PM
My sons dad is a drug dealer therefore I don’t let my son go to his house as it’s not a good environment, I have stopped him coming into my home as he got agressive with me, I still want my son to have a relationship with him so agree that he can take him to a park etc but now he’s threatening me with court to get him to stay every weekend, will he have any rights?
Jane - 18-Jun-18 @ 9:00 PM
Me and my split up 1 year we got two kids together he wants to see his kods but i dont trust him in the sense if he doesnt return the back to me even though I do want the kids to see their dad but im only scared if he doesnt return the kids back to me as his name is on the birth certificate
Amy - 31-May-18 @ 2:57 PM
Sam - Your Question:
My son has a 16 month old son which his ex-girlfriend only allows him to see him for four hours every second Saturday she also says that he's not allowed to bring him to London to see his other family and now he has a new partner she said he's also not allowed to meet her where does my son stand on this thank you

Our Response:
He should ask the mother to attend mediation with him in order to try and reach a mutually acceptable arrangement for contact. If this does not resolve things, he could consider apply to the court for a child arrangements order (court form C100). The judge will listen to all the facts and make a decision based on the son's best interests.
LawAndParents - 22-May-18 @ 3:15 PM
My son has a 16 month old son which his ex-girlfriend only allows him to see him for four hours every second Saturday she also says that he's not allowed to bring him to London to see his other family and now he has a new partner she said he's also not allowed to meet her where does my son stand on this thank you
Sam - 16-May-18 @ 5:44 PM
Chezza- Your Question:
Hi me and my partner split 2 years ago (technically 4 years but remained constant emotionally) anyway we have 2 children together 5 and 3 years old so still babies. He took it upon himself to turn up at random times when it suited him and at first I allowed this but hes moved on with someone else and thinks he can call them early morning before the mad rush to school and calling somerimes lunchtime at weekends but I have always kept to the strict 6pm each night for him to speak to our girls which is fine with me. Am I doing the right thing? We don't get on, and as I have the children it's my parental responsibility what works best ? He can't just ring when it suits him ? And he definately can't just turn up surely for a quick kiss and cuddle and to give girls a little present or something when it suits him?

Our Response:
Why don't you agree more contact at a specific times? You can formalise this in the courts if necessary. Being alloweed to "speak to them" at a certain time each evening doesn'tseem like it will help the father/children bonding. Perhaps he could take them to school on certain days? Have them for tea/overnight on a few days each week etc.
LawAndParents - 14-May-18 @ 2:05 PM
Hi me and my partner split 2 years ago(technically 4 years but remained constant emotionally) anyway we have 2 children together 5 and 3 years old so still babies . He took it upon himself to turn up at random times when it suited him and at first i allowed this but hes moved on with someone else and thinks he can call them early morning before the mad rush to school and calling somerimes lunchtime at weekends but i have always kept to the strict 6pm each night for him to speak to our girls which is fine with me . Am I doing the right thing? We don't get on, and as I have the children it's my parental responsibility what works best ? He can't just ring when it suits him ? And he definately can't just turn up surely for a quick kiss and cuddle and to give girls a little present or something when it suits him?
Chezza - 14-May-18 @ 9:09 AM
Can his name still be added to the bc even if he's involved with drugs drink and domestic abuse
Ty - 1-May-18 @ 1:41 PM
Ty - Your Question:
My ex hasnt seen his 3 month old for 2 months he hasn't bothered to come and visit I don't trust him with her he's previously done drugs and other stuff and is expecting me to stop breastfeeding so he can have her on his own he isn't on the birth certificate I didn't put him on for certain reasons what rights does he have to take her and make demands to just walk back into her life and start asking me to take her out

Our Response:
You should explain that it's not in your baby's best interests to have strangers popping in at random and taking her out. Agree regular amounts of contact at this stage and say you will not stop breastfeeding until you're ready. Advise him that he must stick to the regular contact agreement before you will consider increasing it as the baby gets older. The fact he's not on the birth certificate is not especially relevant as he can apply to the courts to have his name added if necessary.
LawAndParents - 1-May-18 @ 10:23 AM
My ex hasnt seen his 3 month old for 2 months he hasn't bothered to come and visit I don't trust him with her he's previously done drugs and other stuff and is expecting me to stop breastfeeding so he can have her on his own he isn't on the birth certificate I didn't put him on for certain reasons what rights does he have to take her and make demands to just walk back into her life and start asking me to take her out
Ty - 30-Apr-18 @ 12:21 AM
My Ex and I have had an arrangement since we split two and a half years ago that our son stays with him at his parents house every other weekend. This has always worked for us other than on the occasions that he doesn’t show up or decides to go on holiday or nights out on his weekend instead. Our son had his own room with a bed, books and all of his toys etc at his paternal grandparents house. My ex has now started renting a 1 bedroom flat with his girlfriend, he lied to me and told me that our son had his own room there and so I even encouraged him to go and see it and choose how to decorate it. When he returned from his weekend with my ex he told me that he doesn’t actually have a bedroom or a bed there and he’ll either be sleeping on the sofa or sharing a bed with my ex and his girlfriend. After speaking to my ex about this he’s admitted that his in fact true. I’ve told him that our son won’t be staying overnight there as it’s not right for him to have no space to call his own or even his own bed but I’m still happy for the day visits to continue. My ex is disputing this and won’t back down. Am I within my rights to suggest that this set up isn’t Inclusive of my sons best interests? He’s been through a lot of change already in a short time, is being assessed for a possible processing disorder and struggles with change as well as suffering with severe asthma that I fear will only be worsened by sleeping on a sofa or mattress on the floor. I also don’t think that it’s right for him to share a bed with his father and his girlfriend at 5 years old.
Ellie - 22-Mar-18 @ 9:11 AM
My ex and I have have been separated for 6 years. The children visit every second weekend Friday to Sunday evening at his home an hours drive away. He makes no attempt to contact them any other time and does not have any involvement in their lives his choice. He’s started a new contract and wants to change the weekends I defiantly over. To my weekends. We have planned and booked activities that the kids want to do in these weekends. We have only ever changed weekends due to a School camp or off party. Less than a dozen times in 6 years. I work the weekends the children are with him as he pays no child maintenance and hasn’t for 3 years. This means all the activities, sleepovers, sorting activities and social times the children partake in have to go also. Of course I have no problems with visitation and I have always changed even when he lies and wants to do something with his gf or has a lads weekend he just cancels his weekend last minute. He’s now threatening court Please can someone advise. He’s quite abusive and the kids are scared of him but so sometimes enjoy their time with him Does his job trump mine?
Alli - 15-Feb-18 @ 4:56 PM
Saram - Your Question:
My ex partner has had my daughter every weekend since birth, this was an arrangement we came to together. She starts school full time this year and I work full time , I won't get any free weekend time to spend with her. I'm going to put to him that we both share weekend's one week she stays at home with me and the following weekend she stays with him. I don't think this will go down well and need some advise as to what is the best way to a solution for us all without having to go through court

Our Response:
It's a common arrangement to have alternative weekends. Perhaps you can agree to share some time in the week (if you don't already) so your ex partner can do a couple of school drops or collections and have your daughter overnight etc. Explain that you want your daughter to have quality time with both her mum and her dad and that you still want 50/50 but want to arrange it differently, so are suggesting alternate weekends and alternate two/three night weeks? Mediation is a great if you need help drawing up an agreement that works. Let us know how you get on.
LawAndParents - 13-Feb-18 @ 11:43 AM
My ex partner has had my daughter every weekend since birth, this was an arrangement we came to together. She starts school full time this year and i work full time , I won't get any free weekend time to spend with her. I'm going to put to him that we both share weekend's one week she stays at home with me and the following weekend she stays with him. I don't think this will go down well and need some advise as to what is the best way to a solution for us all without having to go through court
Saram - 11-Feb-18 @ 3:19 PM
Tbf - Your Question:
If our child is taking a week to stay with his father for visitation, can the father still carry on going to work leaving the child with his new girlfriend

Our Response:
When a child is with a parent, who has parental responsibility, it is up to that parent to provide childcare arrangements if needed and as they see fit.
LawAndParents - 6-Feb-18 @ 3:17 PM
If our child is taking a week to stay with his father for visitation, can the father still carry on going to work leaving the child with his new girlfriend
Tbf - 6-Feb-18 @ 10:03 AM
I have a six year old son, my ex and I both have parental responsibility. His dad has our son every other weekend and one day in the week. My problem is my ex now trys to book things on my weekends with my son. It has led my son to become confused and unsettled. When I explained to my ex that he can not do this he bad mouths me to my son to make me to be the bad person. My dad has terminal lung cancer so on my days why my dad still can, we try and spend as much time as possible with him (my son being six) does not know his grandad has cancer but my ex does and as I have made plans for my birthday for us to go out with my dad and the rest of my family my ex has now told my son he is to go to his wedding even tho I have not agreed to this and it's again on my weekend. How can I stop this as my son never knows if he is coming or going. Myself and his dad have been to mediation before but I feel that even tho he agrees to things why we are at mediation it soon changes afterwards.
Janette - 12-Jan-18 @ 11:18 PM
My partners ex lives far from us and we have the child for half the school holidays. The ex has now stopped answering the phone when we call preventing my partner from speaking to the child. Is this allowed and what can we do? Thanks
Crazikat2002 - 10-Jan-18 @ 9:49 AM
My Ex husband has turned into a horrible person since getting with his latest girlfriend, he's moved in with her at the beginning of November after two months together. And he has changed visitation from every week to every other week. He also quit his job so she didn't lose her benifits and stopped maintenance. Things just turn nasty as soon as we are in each other's presents, such as today he was screaming in my face at Asda our mural meeting point, because he blames me for something my cousin did. My was shouting at me that much my son was shouting at him to stop. I can't deal with this anymore, the threats and pure way he speaks to me is sickening. He walked off today with my son screaming for me and I'm at my whits end. I've never stopped him seeing his son, he never contacts and asks about him, and gets his girlfriend to message me when he has him, and when I have him she also messages me asking how my son is. I honestly don know what to do anymore.
Ms.Soderberg - 24-Nov-17 @ 11:28 PM
My ex cheated back in June we have a 2.5 year old daughter. We have been amicable and I have been very understanding and fair. But he continues to let us down even , when he set up the schedule himself. Turns up late. Stays up late and isn’t responsible or prioritising his daughter. I’m at my whits end as what to do as there’s no trust he tells lies that he was working nights but if his is true you would re schedule your visiting I’m very fair and accommodating. He then turns up and is abusive to me in front of my daughter and kicks the door.
L - 20-Nov-17 @ 7:25 PM
Ildi - Your Question:
My ex lives 250 miles from my home. He insists on taking my daughter every other weekend, which would result in her spending 12+ hours on a train. Furthermore, he thinks he can force me to take her to halfway, which would take me 2 6-hour journeys over every other weekend. As a full-time working mother, I am simply unable to do this. He even wants me to pay for these journeys. He can afford to see her daughter. He does not want to hear about anything less as he blames me for ending the marriage.I want him to come over and rent an accommodation, as my daughter becomes very exhausted from the long journeys. Of course I don't mind if he takes her for the school holidays, I would even travel an hour, it would still be 4 hours over the weekend.

Our Response:
If you can't agree on this, you should try mediation or if that fails, the family court can order a solution that they consider the best for the children. Usually they will order that both parties meet half way.
LawAndParents - 13-Nov-17 @ 12:15 PM
My ex lives 250 miles from my home. He insists on taking my daughter every other weekend, which would result in her spending 12+ hours on a train. Furthermore, he thinks he can force me to take her to halfway, which would take me 26-hour journeys over every other weekend. As a full-time working mother, I am simply unable to do this. He even wants me to pay for these journeys. He can afford to see her daughter. He does not want to hear about anything less as he blames me for ending the marriage. I want him to come over and rent an accommodation, as my daughter becomes very exhausted from the long journeys. Of course I don't mind if he takes her for the school holidays, I would even travel an hour, it would still be 4 hours over the weekend.
Ildi - 10-Nov-17 @ 4:05 PM
Caroline - Your Question:
Hi, I really would appreciate any help, my brother in law has been diagnosed with phycosis and is medicated acordingly, he has had to take his ex wife to court to have visitation with his children, he has had to cover the cost also as there is no longer legal aid. The judge gave him initially 4hrs every other Saturday supervised visitation, his ex's mother was to be the supervisor, this went on for several months and both my brother in law and his ex wife attended mediation to try and make arrangements without the cost of the courts. Due to my B.I-laws condition he cannot cope well with confrontation and expressing what he would like, he has no issues with supervised visitation but he would like his other son to meet his sisters and cousins and us Auntie and Uncle, we all had a relationship with the children and his ex wife before they split but now she flatly refuses any contact whatsoever. This has been brought up in mediation but nothing has ever changed, she has also been turning up when he has his visitation, her mother is the one who should be supervising the visit as per the court order and it has made it awkward and now she has started saying that the children are ill and he has not seen them for a month. We don't know what we can do without causing more animosity between them, it seems like his ex is holding all the cards and she knows it. Please pleas can someone advise us on the best course of action. THANK YOU

Our Response:
His ex wife is in breach of the court order if she refuses to allow the agreed contact. Your brother in law should be able to refer this straight back to court as a fairly straightforward matter, he may need support for you or other family members in view of his condition of course.
LawAndParents - 6-Nov-17 @ 2:15 PM
Hi, I really would appreciate any help, my brother in law has been diagnosed with phycosis and is medicated acordingly, he has had to take his ex wife to court to have visitation with his children, he has had to cover the cost also as there is no longer legal aid. The judge gave him initially 4hrs every other Saturday supervised visitation, his ex's mother was to be the supervisor, this went on for several months and both my brother in law and his ex wife attended mediation to try and make arrangements without the cost of the courts. Due to my B.I-laws condition he cannot cope well with confrontation and expressing what he would like, he has no issues with supervised visitation but he would like his other son to meet his sisters and cousins and us Auntie and Uncle, we all had a relationship with the children and his ex wife before they split but now she flatly refuses any contact whatsoever. This has been brought up in mediation but nothing has ever changed, she has also been turning up when he has his visitation, her mother is the one who should be supervising the visit as per the court order and it has made it awkward and now she has started saying that the children are ill and he has not seen them for a month. We don't know what we can do without causing more animosity between them, it seems like his ex is holding all the cards and she knows it. Please pleas can someone advise us on the best course of action. THANK YOU
Caroline - 5-Nov-17 @ 11:36 AM
Parisa kian - Your Question:
Hi everyone,first time commenting on here so any help and advice is greatly appreciated. My ex and I got married about 10 years ago providing I got him to the UK from middle east. We are now seperated for 17 months and we have a 6 year old son together. We made arrangement between us to have share responsibilities for our son where I was caring for my son 4 days out of 7 and he was doing 3 which made me continue my profession and he could also do his job on the days, he didnt have my son. Out of the blue one day he told me that he is no longer responsible for our son and that he wants to work, save up money and go back to his country of origin.He now decides that he can see him on sunday nights as it is his day off and it suits him best. I dont find this fair at all to my son and also to myself and my son needs more stability and consistency providing he broke out initial arrangement without any notice. Im completely lost as to what my next step is and what I should do for the best interest of my son. Thank you

Our Response:
It might be worth trying mediation and coming up withnew arrangements agreement that you can both agree on. If this is not successful, you can apply to the courts for a child arrangements order (form C100).
LawAndParents - 15-Sep-17 @ 12:44 PM
Hi everyone, first time commenting on here so any help and advice is greatly appreciated. My ex and I got married about 10 years ago providing I got him to the UK from middle east. We are now seperated for 17 months and we have a 6 year old son together. We made arrangement between us to have share responsibilities for our son where i was caring for my son 4 days out of 7 and he was doing 3 which made me continue my profession and he could also do his job on the days, he didnt have my son. Out of the blue one day he told me that he is no longer responsible for our son and that he wants to work, save up money and go back to his country of origin. He now decides that he can see him on sunday nights as it is his day off and it suits him best. I dont find this fair at all to my son and also to myself and my son needs more stability and consistency providing he broke out initial arrangement without any notice. Im completely lost as to what my next step is and what i should do for the best interest of my son. Thank you
Parisa kian - 13-Sep-17 @ 9:10 PM
Rhoda - Your Question:
Hi im having bit of disgreemant with my ex we split up 8 years ago iv had my son who is 13 years old now since birth his dad has been having him evey other weekend pick up on friday till monday he also had him on wensday bwcause of his swimming classes iv had txts from school that he took him in school late also my son dont go swimming any more I had to pay 46 pound out for that I have stop my son going on wensday has I think for his indres to be at home why he has school his dad has let him play on 18 year old games what has efeck my son ablety the way he tooks and how it effeck his head he has smash up tvs because of these games so I have stop his dad having him why hes at school I said to his dad he could have him evey weekend but he said he carnt but hes willing to take my son of me to live with his dad what rights have I got to keep my son liveing wuth me I want the best for my son fir schooling he suffers with autisum and im his fulltime carer sinc he was born and also have heart murmmer has his dad dose not take this sirously I keep his health good and his school to iv just found out that the school rings his dad up 3 days week for my son to talk to him I didnt no this till now can they do that ? When he his with his dad he is not allowed to ring me or talk to me si I got him his own phone his dad takes it off him could you help me to no what to do hes called me meltal unstable mother

Our Response:
If you want to change the arrangements, you should do so via mediation. If that fails, you may need to seek a child arrangements order via the courts. The courts will order whatever they consider to be in the best interests of the child.
LawAndParents - 28-Jun-17 @ 12:50 PM
Hi im having bit of disgreemant with my ex we split up 8 years ago iv had my son who is 13 years old now since birth his dad has been having him evey other weekend pick up on friday till monday he also had him on wensday bwcause of his swimming classes iv had txts from school that he took him in school late also my son dont go swimming any more i had to pay 46 pound out for that i have stop my son going on wensday has i think for his indres to be at home why he has school his dad has let him play on 18 year old games what has efeck my son ablety the way he tooks and how it effeck his head he has smash up tvs because of these games so i have stop his dad having him why hes at school i said to his dad he could have him evey weekend but he said he carnt but hes willing to take my son of me to live with his dad what rights have i got to keep my son liveing wuth me i want the best for my son fir schooling he suffers with autisum and im his fulltime carer sinc he was born and also have heart murmmer has his dad dose not take this sirously i keep his health good and his school to iv just found out that the school rings his dad up 3 days week for my son to talk to him i didnt no this till now can they do that ? When he his with his dad he is not allowed to ring me or talk to me si i got him his own phone his dad takes it off him could you help me to no what to do hes called me meltal unstable mother
Rhoda - 27-Jun-17 @ 11:07 AM
Eyebrows - Your Question:
My ex and I agreed shared care between ourselves and our 2 girls. We care for them on a 50/50 basis, but on the days I look after them she regularly turns up to swimming and insists on helping. This gets my youngest worked up (4 years old) but when I suggest she doesn't take come along she accuses me of trying to prevent access to my girls. It seems unreasonable that she keeps interfering. Is there anything I can do, or is it only if there is an order in place?Thanks

Our Response:
You may need to consider an official arrangement to cover this. You could try mediation to get an agreement drawn up, in which case the mother would need to agree not to attend swimming lessons etc. Alternatively you could adapt the arrangements so you and your ex alternate the days on whcih swimming lessons occur (one week each).
LawAndParents - 26-Jun-17 @ 12:06 PM
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