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What Are The Legal Rights of a Father?

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 23 Mar 2017 | 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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My son of 10 years has been diagnosed with ADHD. His mother has agreed that he will go on prescribed medication. I have not been informed or consulted on any of this. I don't know what medication has been prescribed, the side effects or how this may change my son. I'm also concerned about the long term effects. Can she do this without my consent?
B - 23-Mar-17 @ 3:31 PM
Brina - Your Question:
My ex husband and I divorced in2013 we have 3 children. We agreed that he can have as much contact as he wants as long as it's not 3am. I have had problems getting csa money out of him from the start. His excuse at the moment t is his boss then it out of his wages but she doesn't forward it onto the csa. Since let August he has seen the kids 3 times and had them over for 1 night twice. Which is included in the seeing them 3 times since August. Our middle child is 8 and he keeps getting upset wanting to see his dad but at the same time thinks his dad don't care and don't want to see them. I am the one always contacting him to find out when he is going to see the kiss and he always gives me excuses like he has to ask his mom or he is out with the guys for pool. Is there anyway I can legally cut him out of their life as it's causing the emotional upset

Our Response:
Unfortunately there is no easy way to force contact or to completely stop it unless the effect on the children is damage or a risk to them.Why not try asking him to have contact on specific days rather than just whenever he likes?
LawAndParents - 23-Mar-17 @ 2:30 PM
tee - Your Question:
Hi my brother is a registered blind and his wife is from abroad she trapped him into having a baby for her visa and stay in the uk.she has gone into early labour and asked hospital not to, let him know that she has given birth to a baby girl what can he do

Our Response:
It's worth seeking professional legal advice on this. We don't know the terms of the visa, or your brother and his wife are separated etc
LawAndParents - 23-Mar-17 @ 2:03 PM
My life was destroyed when my husband sent me packing, after 13 years we have been together. I was lost and helpless aftertrying so many ways to my husband back to me. One day at work, I was distracted, not knowing that my boss called me, so hesat and asked me what it was all about, I told him and he smiled and said it was no problem. I never understood what hemeant by it was no problem getting back my husband, he said he used a spell to get back his wife when she left him foranother man, and now they are together till date and initially I was shocked hearing something from my boss. He gave me anemail address of the Prophet Abuvia which helped him get his wife back, I never believed that this would work, but I had nochoice coming into contact with the sayings that I get done, and he asked for my information and that my husband was ableto propose to throw him the spell and I sent him the details, but after two days, my mother called me that my husband waspleading that he wants me back, I never believed, because it was just a dream and I had to rush off to my mother's placeand to my greatest surprise, was kneeling my husband beg mefor forgiveness that he wants me and the child back home, whenI gave prophet Abuvia a conversation regarding sudden change of my husband and he made clear to me that my husband willlove me until the end of the world, that he will never leave for another woman. Now me and my husband is back together andstarted doing funny things he has not done before, he makes me happy and do what it is supposed to do as a man withoutnagging. Please if you need help of any kind need, please contact Prophet Abuvia for help. His email is prophet.abuvia AT gm a i l . com his website is prophetAbuviasolutiontemple . webs . com
Sarah Coleman - 23-Mar-17 @ 12:20 PM
My ex husband and I divorced in2013 we have 3 children... We agreed that he can have as much contact as he wants as long as it's not 3am... I have had problems getting csa money out of him from the start.. His excuse at the moment t is his boss then it out of his wages but she doesn't forward it onto the csa.. Since let August he has seen the kids 3 times and had them over for 1 night twice... Which is included in the seeing them 3 times since August.. Our middle child is 8 and he keeps getting upset wanting to see his dad but at the same time thinks his dad don't care and don't want to see them.. I am the one always contacting him to find out when he is going to see the kiss and he always gives me excuses like he has to ask his mom or he is out with the guys for pool... Is there anyway I can legally cut him out of their life as it's causing the emotional upset
Brina - 22-Mar-17 @ 7:23 PM
Hi my brother is a registered blind and his wife is from abroad she trapped him into having a baby for her visa and stay in the uk..she has gone into early labour and asked hospital not to, let him know that she has given birth to a baby girl what can he do
tee - 22-Mar-17 @ 4:10 PM
Bubbles - Your Question:
My children are 13 & 15 & haven't spoken to their father for 2 years and he doesn't have parental responsibility. We're planning on moving to another part of town. Do I have to inform him of our new address?

Our Response:
If he doesn't have parental responsibility you do not need to inform him.Please see our article on Parental Responsibility for more information and to check.
LawAndParents - 21-Mar-17 @ 12:29 PM
My children are 13 & 15 & haven't spoken to their father for 2 years and he doesn't have parental responsibility.We're planning on moving to another part of town.Do I have to inform him of our new address?
Bubbles - 18-Mar-17 @ 4:23 PM
Myself and my ex partner have a child of 2. His name is Harvey, about 2 years ago we had an argumentwhich leaded to a break up and she had promised I could still see my son, still to this day I have not been allowed, she's blocked me on all social media and even my phone number too. I should think that citizens advice could help but I need to know exactly how the process works so I have a successful chance of seeing him. Please help!
Mikey - 16-Mar-17 @ 8:03 PM
Sunflower - Your Question:
Hello, 4wks ago I was contacted by a disgruntled friend of a woman my husband had worked with. She informed me that my husband had a 1 night stand on a works seminar which entailed an overnight stay/free bar!! This person went on to say she believed I should know, and further informed me that the ex-friend receives £300 per month from my husband. This happened in 2006. I confronted my husband. He confirmed its true. She promised to abort the child but didn't. She herself was in s relationship. She informed my husband that she had told her partner she was pregnant, and let him believe he was the father. He is on the birth certificate. She said she wanted no involvement from my husband. (I can't have children, this has broken my heart) 3yrs later she split from her partner and then went to my husband for money! No DNA was ever taken. He was so worried that I found out, he opted to pay her. Clearly now we have contacted her to ask for DNA testing (she agreed) she is now in a new relationship and living together. We are to have the DNA done with a solicitor present. We want no involvement in this child's life. She said she's worried we would seek custody/visit rights. She also wants something in writing to say we won't try to seek visitation. Which is something we are going to do, but surely that would allow us to stop paying her? I have several questions. 1. Do we have rights if we pay her maintenance. 2. Is it not fraud that she takes money from us and the man who believes he's the father? 3. Can we opt out of paying/reduce payment? This is very hard for me. It's devastated me. I've tried to keep this brief. Apologies.

Our Response:
What a sad situation for you to be in. Unfortunately maintenance and visiting rights/contact are unrelated. A biological father can be made to pay maintenance but that does not necessarily give him any right to contact unless it's thought that it would be in the interests of the child. Likewise a father cannot absolve himself of maintenance paymens in return for not contacting a child, so he can't simply opt out of payments, that's just not how the law works, unfortunately for you. We hope you manage to work something out...or that the DNA test proves negative and the mother is forced to repay the money she's claimed so far.
LawAndParents - 13-Mar-17 @ 12:01 PM
Hello, 4wks agoI was contacted by a disgruntled friend of a woman my husband had worked with. She informed me that my husband had a 1 night stand on a works seminar which entailed an overnight stay/free bar!! This person went on to say she believed I should know, and further informed me that the ex-friend receives £300 per month from my husband.This happened in 2006. I confronted my husband. He confirmed its true. She promised to abort the child but didn't. She herself was in s relationship. She informed my husband that she had told her partner she was pregnant, and let him believe he was the father. He is on the birth certificate. She said she wanted no involvement from my husband. (I can't have children, this has broken my heart) 3yrs later she split from her partner and then went to my husband for money! No DNA was ever taken. He was so worried that I found out, he opted to pay her. Clearly now we have contacted her to ask for DNA testing (she agreed) she is now in a new relationship and living together.We are to have the DNA done with a solicitor present. We want no involvement in this child's life. She said she's worried we would seek custody/visit rights. She also wants something in writing to say we won't try to seek visitation. Which is something we are going to do, but surely that would allow us to stop paying her?I have several questions. 1. Do we have rights if we pay her maintenance. 2. Is it not fraud that she takes money from us and the man who believes he's the father? 3. Can we opt out of paying/reduce payment? This is very hard for me. It's devastated me.I've tried to keep this brief. Apologies.
Sunflower - 10-Mar-17 @ 12:42 PM
JJ - Your Question:
Hey all quick question for other half basics of it is 10years ago he got a girl preggs she didn't tell him and gave up his son he then has only just found him 2months ago after searching after last year after running in to one of her family member who let t slip his in foster care but my partner and I would like to bring him home with us we have three children ourselfs and just think he should be home with us my partner did not sign anything when he was born to give her the right to just give him away didn't even tell him he had a son what do we do to get him home where he belongs

Our Response:
If his son has not been formally adopted, your partner could apply to the courts for a residency order. To stand any chance, he would have to be sure his name was on the birth certificate, or would need to apply for a Statutory Declaration of Parentage from the courts (a DNA test is needed to prove paternity) in order to have his name added to the certificate.
LawAndParents - 10-Mar-17 @ 11:19 AM
Hey all quick question for other half basics of it is 10years ago he got a girl preggs she didn't tell him and gave up his son he then has only just found him 2months ago after searching after last year after running in to one of her family member who let t slip his in foster care but my partner and I would like to bring him home with us we have three children ourselfs and just think he should be home with us my partner did not sign anything when he was born to give her the right to just give him away didn't even tell him he had a son what do we do to get him home where he belongs
JJ - 9-Mar-17 @ 9:03 AM
Im contacting you on behalf of my son he has a 3 yearold child he is named on the birth certificate and pays regular monthly payments for the child .he split from the childs mother 18 months ago he now has and lives with a new partner.His old partner dose not want his new partner to have any contact with the child and refuses to allow the child to be in his home or stay overnightwhat rights dose he have
None - 8-Mar-17 @ 2:59 PM
Hi I have a 9 month old daughter and her father and I split when I was 6 months pregnant due to a affair on his part he was seeing his daughter until 7 months ago when I advised him to make arrangements at a contact centre due to his inconsistency in contact which he could go weeks without seeing his daughter then she would become very upset as she was so young he done nothing to arrange this I put it in writing through my lawyer to which he did not respond I offer contact every week since then and he has now told me to stop contacting him and he will contact me when he is ready whither that be months or a year I only contact him vea e-mail my question is do I stop offering contact and if so if he ever does want to see his daughter whaere do I stand legally as how can someone decide when to be a father and when not to be would a court see that or not
Buffy - 4-Mar-17 @ 3:30 PM
Hi! I am Portuguese my ex wife Brazilian, last year we end after 20 years our married. We divorced in Portugal but we live in UK. The children are live with me, in my house, girls of 11 (may she do 12) and boy 7 old. My ex lose behaviour and also bit and pitching my daugther and I reported it last year when the children live with her. She is arrested and after sleep on Police she go out, she have the record. After this because mum not provide a place and stay living in a room inside of a friend house, the children move to my home, my ex wife wrote a declaration that the children will live with me because She dont have conditions. I register the children in school near my home, I have my new partner that wake up every morning and prepar the children to school and do all, my parentes 74 old also always leave kids in school etc etc we live together but the children have his room. NOW my are doing throubles fights and ask for children, but she not have home, she NOW start work and not have time to leave and collect in school. I want hace a official papper about the children guardian because Yesterday she said that will get the boy and running far or to Brazil. My daugther 11 old said thatnshe want go to court and ask to stay leave with dad and not with mum, my boy 7 just say that is hard but love mum and live dad. I ask to my wife fo it friendly without expose the children but she are overcontrol. I am afraid, I want ask to residential and for parental legal, to keep my children safety to mum not abduct my children. What I need do? Many thanks
GFB - 2-Mar-17 @ 2:34 PM
emc - Your Question:
Hi quick question, I have a 4 month old baby and his father and I have split under bad circumstances. He is an alcoholic and I've had to get a non molestation order out against him as he was harassing me and was arrested due to breaking windows in my property and threatening me with an offensive weapon. He has since broke this non molestation order and his baim agrements twice and was arrested for this too. We are having to go through court as he wants to have our son twice a week. How likely is he to get this. I'd prefer him to get help for his alcoholism and other issues professionally before having our son with him being so young. My second choice if that's not possible would be supervised contact in a contact centre as unfortunatley his mental state is not to be trusted.How likely are either of these?

Our Response:
We really can't predict what the courts would decide in a case like this. They courts will have far more information available (or order further reports) than you've given us. Make sure you make your own thoughts about your son's safety clear in the courts.
LawAndParents - 27-Feb-17 @ 11:57 AM
Hi quick question, I have a 4 month old baby and his father and I have split under bad circumstances. He is an alcoholic and I've had to get a non molestation order out against him as he was harassing me and was arrested due to breaking windows in my property and threatening me with an offensive weapon. He has since broke this non molestation order and his baim agrements twice and was arrested for this too. We are having to go through court as he wants to have our son twice a week. How likely is he to get this. I'd prefer him to get help for his alcoholism and other issues professionally before having our son with him being so young. My second choice if that's not possible would be supervised contact in a contact centre as unfortunatley his mental state is not to be trusted.How likely are either of these?
emc - 24-Feb-17 @ 9:59 PM
Charlie22 - Your Question:
There is a defined contact order stipulating the contact my child has with dad. Dad, so far in 12 months, has breached this order 24 out if 49 occasions, either by being excessively late or making other plans and being a no show. My child has ASD and struggles with both transition and change, so is struggling with the lack of consistency. It's manifesting itself in aggressive and really challenging behaviour, to the point where school have become involved and spoken with dad. I have been told I can't ask a court to enforce the contact order, because the child lives with me and need dad to agree to a reduction in contact. Is this right given the impact it is having?

Our Response:
Unfortunately there is not much you or the courts can do to enforce contact. It might be worth trying to discuss this with the father (did the school have any effect?) and showing him how badly it's affecting your child's development etc. Maybe if you suggest that you will apply to reduce the contact time to minimise disruption to your child, the father will make more effort? Is there another family member or friend who could talk to the father perhaps?
LawAndParents - 24-Feb-17 @ 11:46 AM
Kazza - Your Question:
Please could you advise me on an issue my son no longer lives with his sons mom they are always arguing, we see our grandson on Sundays he is 4yrs when my son comes is he allowed to take his son out

Our Response:
If there are no court orders in place that prevent it, this should not be an issue.
LawAndParents - 24-Feb-17 @ 11:11 AM
The Kids dad has chang his phone number dose he have to give it to me
Vee - 24-Feb-17 @ 8:14 AM
Nikki - Your Question:
Hi. I hope when you read this I won't be judged. My ex partner and myself split up in 2011 my daughter now nearly 9 has always remained in my care and he has had weekend visits and school holidays split. I went through a tough year last year and I hung my self I know very selfish of me and I regret it so much. I came out of hospital 28 th January and my ex partner has got our daughter I understand he is concerned about everything but Iv been home now nearly a month he hasn't let me see her and Iv rang the social worker that's involved nearly every day since Iv been home. She hasn't returned any of my phone calls. I want my daughter home. I don't think it's right that I'm being ignored I understand what I did was wrong and I am truly sorry. Can some one plz advise me thankyou x

Our Response:
You shouldseek advice from a support group like Family Lives - try their helpline.If you apply to the courts, the judge will probably order further investigations and will listen to the social worker's opinionas well as yours, but decide based on the best interests of your daughter. It seems very odd that they won't even allow supervised contact.
LawAndParents - 22-Feb-17 @ 2:22 PM
There is a defined contact order stipulating the contact my child has with dad. Dad, so far in 12 months, has breached this order 24 out if 49 occasions, either by being excessively late or making other plans and being a no show. My child has ASD and struggles with both transition and change, so is struggling with the lack of consistency. It's manifesting itself in aggressive and really challenging behaviour, to the point where school have become involved and spoken with dad. I have been told I can't ask a court to enforce the contact order, because the child lives with me and need dad to agree to a reduction in contact. Is this right given the impact it is having?
Charlie22 - 21-Feb-17 @ 9:26 PM
Please could you advise me on an issue my son no longer lives with his sons mom they are always arguing, we see our grandsonon Sundays he is 4yrs when my son comes is he allowed to take his son out
Kazza - 21-Feb-17 @ 5:09 PM
Hi.. I hope when you read this I won't be judged. My ex partner and myself split up in 2011 my daughter now nearly 9 has always remained in my care and he has had weekend visits and school holidays split. I went through a tough year last year and I hung my self I know very selfish of me and I regret it so much. I came out of hospital 28 th January and my ex partner has got our daughter i understand he is concerned about everything but Iv been home now nearly a month he hasn't let me see her and Iv rang the social worker that's involved nearly every day since Iv been home. She hasn't returned any of my phone calls. I want my daughter home. I don't think it's right that I'm being ignored I understand what I did was wrong and I am truly sorry. Can some one plz advise me thankyou x
Nikki - 18-Feb-17 @ 12:35 PM
My husband has a child with his ex wife who is now 9. He has always paid maintenance every month of £300 plus. When the child was 6 months old she stopped allowing him visitation. She moved house & changed numbers. Took 18 months via court to get to see the child again. From 2 years old he has only seen his child once a week for between 3-5 hours. We now have 2 children of our own. So not only is she not getting quality time with my husband but with her siblings. His ex is very difficult & wont allow overnight or any extra time. What are his rights? Could he get over night if taken back to court? His ex works in law & it very manipulative. His child has indictaticated they would like to stay over but after speaking with her mom she changes her mind. Can she be forced to stay with us? It's her moms influence as she is very happy & content when she's is with us
Lou - 16-Feb-17 @ 9:20 PM
David3379- Your Question:
I have custody of my 13 year daughter since she was born she's carrys her mother sir name not mine so if the school was to take me to court would my daughters mom also be finded even though she lives with me only ???????

Our Response:
In theory both parents with parental responsibility are held "responsible" but generally, the main carer will be the one who has action taken against them.
LawAndParents - 14-Feb-17 @ 10:00 AM
I have custody of my 13 year daughter since she was born she's carrys her mother sir name not mine so if the school was to take me to court would my daughters mom also be finded even though she lives with me only ???????
David3379 - 12-Feb-17 @ 5:16 PM
My ex partner os expecting oir baby. I have grave concerns about the safety of our unborn child. I discovered that she has a serious problem with prescription drugs and have recently found evidence of this. She is saying at her parents house where there is daily violence, drugs and a person that is not safe to be around children (i was informed by the police and social services about this person in the past). Could you please inform me of my best course of action.
Gibo - 10-Feb-17 @ 3:17 AM
My son who is now 10 his father has not bothered with him for a few years now he used to pay maintenance but has stopped can i refuse parental rights to him as he isn't bothering to help
Missy - 9-Feb-17 @ 4:26 PM
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