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What Are The Legal Rights of a Father?

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 25 Apr 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Divorce Rights Fathers Custody Legal

As a general rule the mother will always have what is referred to as ‘parental responsibility’ for her children regardless of the father’s presence or absence. This is something that many think needs to be addressed by the government and legal institutions of the United Kingdom.

What are My Rights as a Father?

You have rights as the father of your child if:
  • If the child was born on or after December 1st 2003 and you are named on the Birth Certificate as the child’s birth father
  • If a Parental Responsibility Agreement is signed
  • If the birth certificate for the child held no father’s name but was later renewed to show yours
  • If a Magistrate or Justice of the Peace (JP) at the Family Court has granted you parental responsibility or an Order Of Residency

I Want to Enter Into a Parental Responsibility Agreement (PR) – Is This A Good Idea?

If you want to have a say in your child’s upbringing, then yes, it is a good idea. It is unfortunate that sometimes relations between both parents become so strained that the children will become the unfortunate tools that parents use to hurt each other.

If both parents can enter into such a PR agreement, it should ensure that both parties have a say in how their child are brought up. This does not necessarily cover the day-to-day living arrangements but it certainly includes larger concerns, such as what school their child should go to, the medical treatment they receive, what religion they should be taught, etc.

In some cases, the parents’ split is an amicable one and there will be no need for such an agreement. But often it is a necessity if a relationship has turned sour and neither party can agree without the intervention of the courts.

Financial Responsibilities

You have a financial obligation to help provide for your child’s upkeep. If a relationship breaks down, you have to expect that you will be required by law to pay something towards caring for your child and providing them with what they need.

This can be done by mutual consent between both parents – and if this is agreed upon it is important to have something written down so that all parties know exactly where they stand. If no agreement is made, or if you simply prefer it, Child Maintenance can be handled through the Child Support Agency.

The Child Support Agency requires that you pay 15% of your net income towards your child’s care and this increases to 20% cent for two children, 25% for three children and so on.

Visiting My Child

If you are named on the birth certificate as the father of the child, you have a legal right to see your children. This is sometimes tested to the limit if parents split under less than agreeable circumstances, and it can ultimately mean the involvement of the courts and family services to help mediate towards agreeable visiting rights for the father.

If you are in any of the above situations and feel you need advice, it is wise to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau or your local family services court for more information and support. It should be noted, however, that it is best – where possible – to try to resolve any issues between both parents with resorting to courts and solicitors as this can be as traumatic for the child as it can be for the parents. Read up about parental responsibility.

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Hi need advice me and my ex partner split nearly 4 years ago and she’s not let me see my daughter since, she got a non malestation order under false pretences so that I couldn’t have contact for a year, since then I’ve tried to make contact with her tried going to mediation but I just can not afford the court costs that come with it to take her to court she always said if iever got someone new she didn’t want to be replaced by my new partner but she’s now raising my child for think that someone else is her dad ? I’m not even mentioned by anyone or shall I never be named it’s eaten away at me for nearly 4 years now but I don’t know where to start any advice ?
Brad1710 - 25-Apr-18 @ 7:05 PM
Please help. Advice desperately needed. I have a child with an ex and he’s in my full custody for the 11 years, split for 7. Never had any issues with arrangements. I have a new boyfriend on the scene were 8 months in, my son and boyfriend can not get along. I’m being forced to choose! My kid comes first of course but I feel he’s playing god. They’ve had their disagreements and arguements and called each other names, my son thinks he can demand my partner to leave the house. His dad is now taking him from me without concent. I feel so low. I don’t know how to fix anything. All I want is a happy family with my kid and my partners kid but my son refuses to let anything progress, he saying my boyfriend attack’s him which is far from the truth! I feel my 11 yr old I’d playing god. I don’t want to loose my son. I don’t want to be given an ultimatum either or have to fight through courts. I wish someone can give me some advice ?? S187x
S187x - 24-Apr-18 @ 6:22 PM
Timbo - Your Question:
My wife and I separated May 2017, on our daughters 16th birthday, at my wife's request.I was in regular contact with my daughter for 6 months after the split, days out, sleep overs, daughter over for dinner & 1 weeks holiday in August.In October I received a telephone call from my sister in law, asking me for a short period if time not to see or contact my daughter, as she was struggling and blaming herself for her parents split. She has anxiety issues and has been receiving therapy during this period. How could I refuse!! Last thing I want is to go against my daughter's wishes. Anyway it's now been 6 months since I've seen or spoken to my daughter. She lives with her Mum, I ask her mum via email ( it's the only communication source we have) how our daughter is getting on. Her welfare, College etc.but her responce towards me isn't nice.The Ex that is. Yesterday I received an email from my ex saying my daughter doesn't want to even think about seeing me. Not until she is an adult.I've asked my ex, if I'm such a bad Dad, then why did my daughter stay with me, holiday, days out etc. Why did you allow that to happen. No responce from my ex.Our daughter apparently has been having nightmares about me. This stems from me using my key and going into our matrimonial home back in August when they were not in.At that time my ex had no issue with me doing this, I had her permission.One in which I did not abuse. House is owned by the 2 of us. Daughters nightmares are because, apparently I broke into our house and went through their stuff.Again a question my ex refuses to comment on when I have asked her about this. I have constantly asked my ex to draw a line in the sand and do what's best for our daughter as responsible parents. no reply.I feel my ex has turned my daughter against me. Filling her head with all sorts. I believe Parental Alienation is going on here, but because of her age I don't know what I can do about this. Solicitors say, give her time, she will come round one day.Please Help

Our Response:
Ask your solicitor about parental alienation and court action. The court may order a CAFCASS report...CAFCASS workers are familiar with parental alienation and the harm that it can do.
LawAndParents - 24-Apr-18 @ 2:37 PM
Nannyconcern - Your Question:
My son is split from his partner and lives with me. We have his son several days a week and he sleeps here regular. His mum works fulltime and my son takes to school picks up gives him tea and puts to bed. The mum is abusing her strong pain medications and is taking prohibited drugs which she did when they first met and is doing again. It has come to the point the child sees very little of his mother and because of her behaviour and his safety a decision has been made to keep the child with us. What are my son's rights and how should we proceed.

Our Response:
If both parents agree, they can draw up an agreement to that effect. If the mother doesn't agree, your son will need to apply for mediation and then (if mediation fails) a court order for full residency.
LawAndParents - 24-Apr-18 @ 2:21 PM
Ste - Your Question:
So the mother had an emergency c section with our second child and is laid up now, can I as the father and my name is on the birth certificate, look after our first son, as he is currently with her mum and they won't let me see him, do I have the rights to just go and get him?

Our Response:
While you have parental responsibility, you could theortically do this, it's never advisable. We suggest you try and negotiate with the mother and explain that a child should be with the other parent with parental responsbility. Try mediation followed by the courts if you can't come to an agreement.
LawAndParents - 24-Apr-18 @ 11:18 AM
My wife and I separated May 2017, on our daughters 16th birthday, at my wife's request. I was in regular contact with my daughter for 6 months after the split, days out, sleep overs, daughter over for dinner & 1 weeks holiday in August. In October I received a telephone call from my sister in law, asking me for a short period if time not to see or contact my daughter, as she was struggling and blaming herself for her parents split. She has anxiety issues and has been receiving therapy during this period. How could I refuse!! Last thing I want is to go against my daughter's wishes. Anyway it's now been 6 months since I've seen or spoken to my daughter. She lives with her Mum, I ask her mum via email ( it's the only communication source we have) how our daughter is getting on... Her welfare, College etc......but her responce towards me isn't nice.The Ex that is. Yesterday I received an email from my ex saying my daughter doesn't want to even think about seeing me. Not until she is an adult. I've asked my ex, if I'm such a bad Dad, then why did my daughter stay with me, holiday, days out etc. Why did you allow that to happen. No responce from my ex. Our daughter apparently has been having nightmares about me. This stems from me using my key and going into our matrimonial home back in August when they were not in.At that time my ex had no issue with me doing this, I had her permission.One in which I did not abuse. House is owned by the 2 of us. Daughters nightmares are because, apparently I broke into our house and went through their stuff. Again a question my ex refuses to comment on when I have asked her about this. I have constantly asked my ex to draw a line in the sand and do what's best for our daughter as responsible parents..... no reply. I feel my ex has turned my daughter against me. Filling her head with all sorts. I believe Parental Alienation is going on here, but because of her age I don't know what I can do about this. Solicitors say, give her time, she will come round one day........ Please Help
Timbo - 23-Apr-18 @ 10:41 AM
My son is split from his partner and lives with me. We have his son several days a week and he sleeps here regular. His mum works fulltime and my son takes to school picks up gives him tea and puts to bed. The mum is abusing her strong pain medications and is taking prohibited drugs which she did when they first met and is doing again. It has come to the point the child sees very little of his mother and because of her behaviour and his safety a decision has been made to keep the child with us. What are my son's rights and how should we proceed.
Nannyconcern - 23-Apr-18 @ 10:10 AM
So the mother had an emergency c section with our second child and is laid up now, can I as the father and my name is on the birth certificate, look after our first son, as he is currently with her mum and they won't let me see him, do I have the rights to just go and get him?
Ste - 23-Apr-18 @ 8:59 AM
Ive recently split up with my partner and its not on great terms, its only been 3 days since we parted and he is pestering me constantly to see his son. I have agreed that he could see him on saturday with a third person present' he agreed eventually. But im not sure legally how often i should let him see his son? Hes not a bad dad but not being very repectful atall in conversation when i am trying my best to keep things civil for my kids ??
Mother - 20-Apr-18 @ 6:49 PM
MrsS - Your Question:
My brother split from his partner almost four years ago and has been allowed to see his two children every other weekend since he moved out of the family home I believe this is a written agreement, but he isn’t allowed any extra time outside of this is there anything he can do to change this agreement, he would like to take them on holiday in the UK not out of the country and have them for extra time during the school holidays but the mother refuses to allow this unless he pays her for the privilege of having them?? He’s named on the birth certificate and pays maintenance for them

Our Response:
They could try mediation to come up with an alternative arrangement. The agreement should not relate to finance/paying for the children. If they can't agree, your brother can apply to the court for a child arrangements order for more contact or even shared residence if he chooses.
LawAndParents - 20-Apr-18 @ 2:41 PM
Can’t believe my life right now my girlfriend of 7 year as walked and left me widare son I don’t understand what I’ve done but it’s been over two month and she hasn’t been and sorted arrangements out she even changed her number n I have to go through her full family to tell becs simple and practical living and money arrangements but she told her Mam am getting nothing she was bank rupt and I got wid her And was working to provide for my family full time she as my car and owes me £2000 in all but all in my name (loans ) now she just left me I had to pack my job in and getting no money yet or housing benefits cozshe is dragging her feet I have been in touch but there waiting on her to change things over we have gone two month wid no money no help and I have just taken my contact phone of her and found messages saying she is going to take my son away from his home n me I have been in touch wid child maintenance so am yet again waiting but wer getting debt by the day and rent not been paid for 2 month as the money I didn’t get just went on bills I cud break down am heart broken and so is my boy I have done nothing wrong to her I am I’ll wid my ptsd and she is making me feel ill
Ads - 19-Apr-18 @ 4:25 PM
My brother split from his partner almost four years ago and has been allowed to see his two children every other weekend since he moved out of the family home I believe this is a written agreement, but he isn’t allowed any extra time outside of this is there anything he can do to change this agreement, he would like to take them on holiday in the UK not out of the country and have them for extra time during the school holidays but the mother refuses to allow this unless he pays her for the privilege of having them?? He’s named on the birth certificate and pays maintenance for them
MrsS - 18-Apr-18 @ 12:15 PM
Karlos - Your Question:
I split up with my sons mum about 6 years ago and to this day she has always dictated when I can and can’t see my son. I’ve tried to be apart of his life but she keeps trying to stop me by saying he needs stability, she’s the main carer and pretty much says it’s up to her what happens with him. She has also changed his last name without my knowledge and as far as I’m aware as a patently guardian I should of been involved especially when I only live half a mile away and was contactable. What can I do to get more access?

Our Response:
You can suggest mediation to see if that will help bring about an agreement, the courts will require mediation to have taken place before they will consider a child arrangements order. If mediation is not successful, that is when you can apply to the court for a child arrangements order using for C100. You can find a mediator using this search facility - if your son's mother refuses to attend, do not worry, you can go alone and still get the MIAM (Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting) report needed for court.
LawAndParents - 17-Apr-18 @ 3:07 PM
I split up with my sons mum about 6 years ago and to this day she has always dictated when I can and can’t see my son. I’ve tried to be apart of his life but she keeps trying to stop me by saying he needs stability, she’s the main carer and pretty much says it’s up to her what happens with him. She has also changed his last name without my knowledge and as far as I’m aware as a patently guardian I should of been involved especially when I only live half a mile away and was contactable. What can I do to get more access?
Karlos - 17-Apr-18 @ 8:56 AM
Nan - Your Question:
My son has separated from his partner last year. They have 2 children 18months and 5 year old. He left her as she was abusive toward him for few years. And he found out later she was cheating on him with another man. He left her few times before because she was abusive. He just didn't like to argue in front of the children. And only stayed for children. This made him very ill. During the relationship he was like a dad to her other 2 from previous relationship. She never got up to give them breakfast. Sometimes made them fend for themselves. He used to go to hers to see the children but she kept giving him jobs to do. Like get kids dressed. Take them to school. Take bins out etc. He didn't have time with the baby. When he went to hers the baby bottles wasn't even sterelized. Finally she's announced she's seeing someone and that we can keep them with us 2 days a week. My son works. Now over school holidays. We had them as normal but she decided to have bad back. And making excuses every day for us to keep them longer. We are in middle of trying to pack for movin home. Had to take them to our appointment we had and couldn't pack. She gets money from him for the children. But still we feed and clothe them. She keeps making excuses why she won't come pick the children back up. We have now had them a week. Can we take her to court and get custody of the children?

Our Response:
Your son can apply for a residence order - it might be more difficult for you to do so as grandparents. The fact that the mother is not keen to have them back may be in your/your son's favour.
LawAndParents - 11-Apr-18 @ 3:03 PM
MrsB - Your Question:
My husband and I have one year old twins, and my husband is of course on the birth certificate. He has never bathed our children or cared for them on his own. When he tries to dress the boys he gets very stressed and throws their clothes down saying he can’t do it. He tells the boys off and speaks to them as if they’re older children, for example, if they’re playing with a toy roughly and hit themselves and start crying, he’ll say “well it’s your own fault, what did you expect?” He point blank admits that he’s a bad dad and can’t handle the children. I’m at the point now where he’s walked out because he “needs a break” and to be honest, I’m not willing to stand for his attitude or temper any longer. My issue is, I am petrified of leaving the twins on their own with him, without me, espesically since he admits he can’t manage them. He has previously said that if we split he would take them to his mother’s house for her to have them with him, although his immediate family are a tad dysfunctional. they’ve never met the twins, threatened me and bullied me for years (I have proof of this). I just don’t know what to do or where I stand. He’s also stated that if we split he’d transfer all of his money (we have a joint account and I don’t work - he is the bread winner) into a separate account so that I cannot have access and that he will give me money for the children providing I give him receipts of what I’m spending?I hope this makes sense.

Our Response:
You need to get some external help here. If you want to save your marriage, suggest counselling...your husband's threats amount to financial abuse. There are lots of organistions that could help with parenting. It sounds as though your husband needs some help in how to interact and parent the children. Please ask Citizens' Advice for details of groups local to you, or check organisations like Care for the Family
LawAndParents - 11-Apr-18 @ 12:36 PM
Misspres - Your Question:
We have just found out my daughters dad isn't her biological dad we are seperated and have never been on good terms this has come as a shock I always believed she was his what is the next step as I feel he shouldn't be on the birth certificate any longer as it will just confuse my daughter in later life also what rights does he has he has posted letters to all my family and a very nasty one to me which is understandable but for my daughters sake I feel we need to sort this sooner rather than later he has threatened to take me court and sue me and also continue with visiting I just don't know what to do

Our Response:
We can't comment on how your daughter and her (non-biological) father's relationship should continue, that is for you to decide. If you have results of a DNA test that prove the father's details are not correct on the birth certificate, you can apply to the General Register Office to have the birth certificate amended.
LawAndParents - 11-Apr-18 @ 12:09 PM
My son has separated from his partner last year.They have 2 children 18months and 5 year old. He left her as she was abusive toward him for few years. And he found out later she was cheating on him with another man. He left her few times before because she was abusive. He just didn't like to argue in front of the children. And only stayed for children. This made him very ill.During the relationship he was like a dad to her other 2 from previous relationship.She never got up to give them breakfast.Sometimes made them fend for themselves.He used to go to hers to see the children but she kept giving him jobs to do. Like get kids dressed. Take them to school.Take bins out etc. He didn't have time with the baby. When he went to hers the baby bottles wasn't even sterelized.Finally she's announced she's seeing someone and that we can keep them with us 2 days a week.My son works. Now over school holidays.We had them as normal but she decided to have bad back. And making excuses every day for us to keep them longer. We are in middle of trying to pack for movin home.Had to take them to our appointment we had and couldn't pack. She gets money from him for the children. But still we feed and clothe them. She keeps making excuses why she won't come pick the children back up. We have now had them a week.Can we take her to court and get custody of the children?
Nan - 11-Apr-18 @ 9:23 AM
My husband and I have one year old twins, and my husband is of course on the birth certificate. He has never bathed our children or cared for them on his own. When he tries to dress the boys he gets very stressed and throws their clothes down saying he can’t do it. He tells the boys off and speaks to them as if they’re older children, for example, if they’re playing with a toy roughly and hit themselves and start crying, he’ll say “well it’s your own fault, what did you expect?” He point blank admits that he’s a bad dad and can’t handle the children. I’m at the point now where he’s walked out because he “needs a break” and to be honest, I’m not willing to stand for his attitude or temper any longer. My issue is, I am petrified of leaving the twins on their own with him, without me, espesically since he admits he can’t manage them. He has previously said that if we split he would take them to his mother’s house for her to have them with him, although his immediate family are a tad dysfunctional... they’ve never met the twins, threatened me and bullied me for years (I have proof of this). I just don’t know what to do or where I stand. He’s also stated that if we split he’d transfer all of his money (we have a joint account and I don’t work - he is the bread winner) into a separate account so that I cannot have access and that he will give me money for the children providing I give him receipts of what I’m spending? I hope this makes sense.
MrsB - 10-Apr-18 @ 5:08 PM
We have just found out my daughters dad isn't her biological dad we are seperated and have never been on good terms this has come as a shock I always believed she was his what is the next step as I feel he shouldn't be on the birth certificate any longer as it will just confuse my daughter in later life also what rights does he has he has posted letters to all my family and a very nasty one to me which is understandable but for my daughters sake I feel we need to sort this sooner rather than later he has threatened to take me court and sue me and also continue with visiting I just don't know what to do
Misspres - 10-Apr-18 @ 4:02 PM
My children are under a court order to see their father for the weekend every other week. My children are now saying they dont want to go to their dads because he just spends all his time on his phone and screams at them. Ive tried to talk to him about it but he says that they are lying and he will do what he wants when they are in his care. My children told me yesterday that their dad is smoking in the company work vans he drives, whilst they are with him... dont know what to do, he will just say our children are lying. Even though i have asked why all there clothes stink off smoke and he just says im imagining it
Mum - 9-Apr-18 @ 10:54 AM
Shell - Your Question:
I have a two year old son and his dad has recently been seeing him. I had a written agreement before baby was born that the father can’t come anywhere near. His name was cleared and charges dropped. He’s a good dad and has changed a lot. Have I done the right thing by my son?

Our Response:
This is your decision. We don't know anything about the charges (what they were for etc), so can't really help. Research shows that children thrive where they have a good relationship with both parents, but if you feel your son to be at risk at any point then clearly you must decide based on that.
LawAndParents - 4-Apr-18 @ 10:14 AM
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monique - 3-Apr-18 @ 11:14 AM
Hi. What's the law on picking and dropping your child off? I have to drive 2hours (4hours round trip). She says if I want to see him I need to pick him up and drop him off. We both work and I understand the odd few times I need to do the whole journey. Surely this is not a thing??
Pc - 2-Apr-18 @ 7:33 PM
I have a two year old son and his dad has recently been seeing him. I had a written agreement before baby was born that the father can’t come anywhere near. His name was cleared and charges dropped. He’s a good dad and has changed a lot. Have I done the right thing by my son?
Shell - 1-Apr-18 @ 1:19 AM
My ex has mental health issues and is with a guy who caused her daughter to get taken away from them 19years ago by social services, I'm worried that she has lied to me about being pregnant with my baby! Can I legally find out if she is pregnant with my baby and force her to allow me to be at the birth of my baby if she is and force her to allow me to be part of my babies life?
Rj - 29-Mar-18 @ 4:31 AM
Bright side- Your Question:
My partner and I had a child 8 months ago and our relationship has now totally broken down. We live separately and I receive the child benefit and am named in the birth certificate as ‘full time father’. Originally I was the full time carer whilst the mum was at university. Since splitting I have had my child overnights once a week initially moving to three nights and four days a week. Now suddenly my ex has become very nasty and refused me contact with my child and insists I can only have one night a week provided I sign a document that says I will never ever drink an alcoholic drink and never take my child to a pub or restaurant, I feel this is unreasonable and controlling, there’s no implication that I’ve ever done anything wrong, it’s just being said to discredit me. We are currently attending mediation but she claims a court will not allow overnight access because our child is only 8 months old. Is this true? Surely a family court will also consider the status quo and previous child care arrangement? Any advice offered would be great.

Our Response:
A court would probably consider this very controlling, there aren't many parents who would never take a chld to a restaurant for example. The courts will take a number of circumstances into consideration when deciding on overnight stays (such as breast feeding etc),.
LawAndParents - 28-Mar-18 @ 11:56 AM
I've had no contact off my child's dad since she was 2months old she is now 13. I'm struggling with her passport as I changed her name by deed poll as she had his last name. It has always been just me and her. Does he have parental rights she was born in 2004 and he is on birth certificate
Christine - 27-Mar-18 @ 1:31 PM
James Womack-deane - Your Question:
Me and my ex cant stand each other kids live her all I want is to see my giels on my weekends but there refusing to come down to my place where do I stand.

Our Response:
You should try mediation to see if you can come some arrangement. If this doesn't work, you may need to apply to the courts for a child arrangements order to come to an agreement that is suitable for you all.
LawAndParents - 27-Mar-18 @ 12:05 PM
Shell - Your Question:
We were phoned my by my sons x girlfriend that he was a dad. He hadn’t seen her in over a year. We have done a dna test and my son is the child’s father. We really won’t to see her but she won’t let us, just wants money. Is there anything we can do. All communication has stopped as there is just arguments

Our Response:
If your son is the biological father, he can ask that his name is added to the birth certificate which then gives him parental responsibility. Unfortunately if the mother is unwilling, he will need to seek mediation or a court order to implement some arrangements for contact (and to have his name added to the birth certificate if the mother has not agreed).
LawAndParents - 27-Mar-18 @ 11:51 AM
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