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What are my Ex-Partners Visitation Rights?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 10 Nov 2017 | 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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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
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
Eyebrows - 23-Jun-17 @ 2:15 PM
Ash - Your Question:
My daughters dad hasn't seen or text my daughter for 3 weeks now he's asking for over night stays and holidays abroad I'm just asking if he will get this if it was to go court hoping it won't go that far what can I do

Our Response:
We can't really say what the courts will decide - but they always try and make their decision based on the best interests of the child.
LawAndParents - 26-Apr-17 @ 12:48 PM
Mydaughters dad hasn't seen or text my daughter for 3 weeks now he's asking for over night stays and holidays abroad I'm just asking if he will get this if it was to go court hoping it won't go that far what can I do
Ash - 25-Apr-17 @ 10:14 AM
My partners has a child with his ex, over the past 3 years she has been refusing to let her stay for more than one day at a time he also takes her to a gymnastics group once weekly and has her for tea twice a week. He pays child support Recently she has stated he must have her Friday-Sunday and is stating he has to be there despite knowing that he works Mon-Sat night and is threatening to stop him from seeing her if he does not do this and is threatening him with court and being abusive in messages. She also calls him names to their daughter, and has told her once she's married she can call her boyfriend dad. They are both on the birth certificate, can she make demands like this and if he went to mediation/court would they automatically rule in her favour like she is saying ?
Tnt154 - 13-Apr-17 @ 9:59 PM
My son has a 6 year old son to an x partner He has his son visit our home every weekend and during the week one day , all sorted by them selves My son has a new partner and its been about a year now ,my son has moved in with his new partner , And his sons mother will not allow his son stay over night in their home , but is happy for their son to vome here to my house , as before ,and my son leaves his partner for the weekend to come to my house to spend weekends with his son , Is this the way the courts would see it
Jmc - 7-Feb-17 @ 9:00 PM
Hi, I have a little girl of just over 18 months now. I want to leave her dad because he is abusive to me mentaly and physicaly. He told me that if I ever wanted to leave him it would be without our little girl and if I try to take her with me he would kill me and my family. I am scared for this, I am from belgium and moved here to be with him and start a family. ( he is from uk) my little girl only has a british pasport and she caries his surname, we are not maried. He did not allow me to aply for a belgian identitycard/ pasport for her and he would not allow me to register at the belgian ambassade for meor her. I want to take her back to Belgium with me because I have my whole family and friends there for support. Please tell me what my rights are, can I do this? I am not working anymore since we both decided that it was in her best interest that I stayed at home to take care of her. If I leave him do I get full custody, since he is abusive to me even when she is around and sees this?He is not abusive to her. Can I take her back to Belgium with me to raise her there? Please help me with this, I am so lost and scared to lose her.
Restless - 4-Feb-17 @ 8:26 PM
I have a 6 year old daughter who is living with her dad in Staffordshire she as beenwith him since we separated I've got my 18 and 16 year old living with me as he no longer wants anything to do with them but he fetuses to let me have are little girl he said she is settled and I won't have her I can see her but she can't live with me I don't no what to do as she cryed everytime she goes back .
Sally - 21-Jan-17 @ 8:34 AM
Lpft - Your Question:
I need some advice. My ex has moved 15 miles away (I know that's not far) but he expects me to drop our 4 children off every Sunday and collect them too. He makes no effort to pay towards costs of fuel he also doesnt drive. How do I stand legally if I refuse to take them

Our Response:
You need to come to an agreement whereby you share this task. If you cannot do this between you, you need to use a mediation service or the courts. It's not fair to your children to simply refuse to take them.
LawAndParents - 18-Jan-17 @ 1:47 PM
I need some advice. My ex has moved 15 miles away (I know that's not far) but he expects me to drop our 4 children off every Sunday and collect them too. He makes no effort to pay towards costs of fuel he also doesnt drive. How do I stand legally if I refuse to take them
Lpft - 17-Jan-17 @ 9:40 AM
Loulou - Your Question:
I want to go back to work, on a weekend. I split from father o my baby for domestic abuse. He sees his son once a week supervised. I'm scared if I work he will want out son at the weekend but he lives with family in a crowded house and they all smoke weed and drink. Would social allow my son to stay over if they did cannabis outside? I don't want my son any where near that environment!

Our Response:
If domestic abuse has occurred in the past, social services may be willing to look into this for you and check that the environment is suitable.
LawAndParents - 5-Jan-17 @ 11:38 AM
I want to go back to work, on a weekend. I split from father o my baby for domestic abuse. He sees his son once a week supervised. I'm scared if I work he will want out son at the weekend but he lives with family in a crowded house and they all smoke weed and drink. Would social allow my son to stay over if they did cannabis outside? I don't want my son any where near that environment!
Loulou - 4-Jan-17 @ 1:48 PM
Hi. My ex has decided to move in with his girlfriend 120 miles away and expects ne to meet him half way on his return after having the children am i being unreasonable refusing to do this and is it up to himto return them safely
Beverley Mcintosh - 27-Dec-16 @ 6:53 PM
Me and my husband are splitting up, we have twins age 12 , he works full time im on Disability due to back injury I do suffer with depression but iv made massive forward steps and would never put my kids at risk they are my number 1. Im the only person on tennacy so I know I can get him to leave where do I stand with twins they are settled here have school friends everything and are happy. He works full time , he has no family etc down here and my parents are heavkly involved in my children they love them to bits so I have tremendous support with them. Do I have the right as the one who carried them to keep them with me, under no circumstances would I stop him from seeing the kids he is there dad where do I stand please desperate tk know so I can approach it all with a cool head for my kids. Thanks CR
CR - 18-Dec-16 @ 1:27 AM
Baby2016LR - Your Question:
My little girl is just over a week old and before she was born the father and I agreed that if he would want to see her it would only be a contact centre and with supervised visitation this is because of the use of drugs and that I cannot trust him for many past reasons. This was his only thing to sort out for her. However now he just ignores me everytime I ask if he's sorted it out and I'm getting messages from his family constantly asking to see her. I just don't feel safe meeting him or his family in a non supervised environment. I let him and his mum come and see her whilst we were at the hospital but now I don't know what to do they are making me feel so guilty.

Our Response:
Can you or a family member ask social services about contact centre provision? You may have to seek a formal agreement via mediation or the courts in order to ensure that this is adhered to.
LawAndParents - 1-Dec-16 @ 2:44 PM
My little girl is just over a week old and before she was born the father and I agreed that if he would want to see her it would only be a contact centre and with supervised visitation this is because of the use of drugs and that I cannot trust him for many past reasons. This was his only thing to sort out for her. However now he just ignores me everytime I ask if he's sorted it out and I'm getting messages from his family constantly asking to see her. I just don't feel safe meeting him or his family in a non supervised environment. I let him and his mum come and see her whilst we were at the hospital but now I don't know what to do they are making me feel so guilty.
Baby2016LR - 1-Dec-16 @ 9:04 AM
Hiya my daughter is 7 weeks old and I split from her dad way before she was born, I had no help or support from him whilst I was pregnant and has only seen his daughter for the 1st week she was born (hasn't bothered asking how she is or even visited for 6 weeks) hes not registered on the birth certificate but has stated he is going for sole custody of our daughter, can he do this? He is only saying this because I do not trust him with our daughter alone as he has a temper and health issues and have stated I will not have my daughter dropped off to any drop off centre, if he wishes to see her he can come to my house to see her, I won't be in the same room as him, but would be close by to keep an eye on him.
Queeny - 3-Nov-16 @ 9:44 PM
Clewis - Your Question:
Hi I have recently Seperated from my ex partner. as his sister attacked me whilst I held my daughter in my arms.Can I stop my daughter from having contact with my ex partners family ? As I feel uncomfortable leaving my daughter in her care.Just want to know my rights before taking my ex partner to court.

Our Response:
This would be up to the court to decide - you'd have to specify it as part of your child arrangements order.
LawAndParents - 3-Nov-16 @ 12:21 PM
Hi I have recently Seperated from my ex partner .. as his sister attacked me whilst I held my daughter in my arms .. Can I stop my daughter from having contact with my ex partners family ? As I feel uncomfortable leaving my daughter in her care .. Just want to know my rights before taking my ex partner to court .
Clewis - 2-Nov-16 @ 10:21 PM
Titch - Your Question:
My partner and his ex have an autistic son. They split 8 yrs ago now she wants him to have contact with their son but does not want me involved in her sons life. I have been with my partner 2 and a half years and we're very happy. I also have 2 teenage kids 15 and 16. Had is as got the right to keep me from having any involvement in his life. I know autistic kids need time to adjust to 1 day at a time methods and that some don't like change. But can she tell my partner I'm not to have any part of that part of his life.

Our Response:
It's up to your partner to decide this really. His ex could apply to the courts for a prohibited steps order or a specific issue order to try and prevent/add conditions on to the contact arrangements. She would have to prove that any new arrangements would be detrimental to her child's wellbeing etc.
LawAndParents - 17-Oct-16 @ 12:40 PM
My partner and his ex have an autistic son.They split 8 yrs ago now she wants him to have contact with their son but does not want me involved in her sons life.I have been with my partner 2 and a half years and we're very happy.I also have 2 teenage kids 15 and 16.Had is as got the right to keep me from having any involvement in his life.I know autistic kids need time to adjust to 1 day at a time methods and that some don't like change.But can she tell my partner I'm not to have any part of that part of his life.
Titch - 16-Oct-16 @ 12:28 AM
Valrose77 - Your Question:
Hi this is a question my children are now 19 and 15 my daughter has depression and anxiety attacks and my son has got autism and ADHD and they chose to live with their dad about 18 months ago. But now I have found out he is going to Spain to see a girl and leaving my children at home there is another person also living in the house on the sofa and he smokes weed and drinks and sleeps all so my daughter is being left to look after my son. I'm not being told that he's leaving them to go to Spain if he'd told me I'd have had the kids with me. I also know their dad drinks a lot and smokes weed. I'd like to know what my rights are and is there anything I can do as I'm worried sick about my kids being left on there own. Is there anyone I can contact to look into this as I don't think they are being looked after if he's swanning of to Spain when he feels like it. Thank you

Our Response:
The 19 year old is responsible for themselves but the 15 year old isn't. You might want to contact the father and make some kind of agreement between you. If that isn't successful - apply to the courts for a residence order.
LawAndParents - 14-Oct-16 @ 2:35 PM
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