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What Are The Legal Rights of a Father?

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 22 Sep 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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My wife & i have split up because she was having an affair. I have 2 kids aged 6yrs & 3yrs. We are currently using lawyers to divide assessts & we had agreed exact days & times for me 2 have my kids (3 over nights per week) Now my ex wife wants to change this to 2days per week as of this week however i have not agreed to this as i want 2 see my kids. So where do i stand if i just go to collect them as usual? Can i just take my kids? I have a letter from the laywer with the original agreed terms. Can she actually stop me from taking my kids on that day? I normally collect them from our marital home where they live at present with my ex wife. Please help??
Kym - 22-Sep-18 @ 10:15 PM
Hi I need a bit of advice regarding a situation I am in, i am a first time mom and am currently living with my partner who is soon to be a first time dad as I am pregnant. I have been told not to put him on the babies birth certificate as he can take the baby off me if we argue? I could drop the baby to him and has not got to give the baby back? Is this true? I have been told by others that this is not true and that he will have no reason to take the baby off me if I am a good mother? But I’m worried and he can be very evil on times please help
Kwts123 - 20-Sep-18 @ 1:18 PM
I haven’t seen my childrenfor over five years and despite this my ex wife still brought a restraining order against me last year. I would like to give up all my parental responsibility so the children are happy and I have no contact at all with them- can I do this?
Momc - 16-Sep-18 @ 5:47 AM
Hi I have recently split from my sons dad and we all lived in a house that was solely owned by my ex ( he was very clever not to put me on the deeds) He is now saying that he will either sell it, or will start charging me rent. Its a big house and would cost a fortune for me to run as I don't earn decent wages. I really don't want to move nor does my son. Does his dad have a legal obligation to provide a roof over his sons head. He is saying he will be doing that when he has him on the weekends and he doesn't have to provide one for me. He's turned very nasty which I knew he would. I don't have the money for solicitors fees only for them to tell me I have no rights. I don't know where to turn. Im so scared of the future. Please help.
jo - 8-Sep-18 @ 3:14 PM
My daughter is 13 now. Her dad is an alcoholic. A year ago due to a drunk incident if him (he kicked the door in while she was in the bath and scared her and screamed at her) I stopped her from staying with him. She goes for dinner or days out but he knows he is not allowed to drink when she is there. In the last year she has stayed there xmas night and NYEand he drunk behind his daughters back. Last week i gave in and allowed him to take her to a theme park and stay over night on the understanding that he doesnt drink... he drunk. Ive now stopped him Seeing her without my presence as he cant be trusted. What do i do from here? He refuses to believe he has a problem and told me its none of my business if he drinks!
Distressed mum - 6-Sep-18 @ 1:40 PM
Iv paid my child maintenance ever since me an my ex broke up. I’m on my little girls birth certificate. I have her at least a day every week. The problem is when it comes to me taking trips away with my little girl. My ex is so paranoid about bad things happing I’m not allowed to take her an where. I’m not allowed to take her to London in case of a terror attack. I’m not allowed to take her on holiday in case the plane falls out of the sky. It’s getting out of hand. Last year my parents booked a holiday to take them an my little girl to Spain for a week. My ex agreed to it so it was all paid an booked then a week before she said she couldn’t handle it an wouldn’t ler her go. My little girl is missing out because of her mums paranoia. I need to know where I stand an what rights I have as her father.
Little bob - 28-Aug-18 @ 1:56 AM
3 years ago i left the martial home and my wife and 2x children found a property to rent. Although not legally obliged i paid for their fees and deposit by borrowing money off family.Although never verbally agreed for her to keep the money. She now is moving and i have requested for at the least my deposit back.I am aware it goes into a holding scheme however she can pay me in monthly instalments back. She says it was my legal responsibility to put a roof over my kids head and still is. However i beg to differ surely is maintenance money i am legally obliged to and where she chooses to live and under what budget is up to her. I now have a new partner and baby and in a worse off finacial situation than she is and need at the least my deposit money back. I paid everything to get her in that property something i didn't need to do. Do you know based on this situation if it would stand up in a small claims court?
Ri - 27-Aug-18 @ 1:06 PM
Chunki - Your Question:
My daughter is 8 years old at 6 week her dad walked out our life. He has no contact never interested I had to contact his family who too never ask about her to get her passport sorted. He wrote his details in a letter for a passport and put in the letter he doesn't have contact and he agreed with change of name. The letter was sent to me and still he has never asked or sent a penny for her. I had another child 1 year ago and she's started calling my partner dad and is asking if he can become her real dad and adopt her( he has been there and support her for 5 year's) how would I go about doing this for her ?

Our Response:
You can find the information you need in this government page
LawAndParents - 24-Aug-18 @ 3:06 PM
My daughter is 8 years old at 6 week her dad walked out our life. He has no contact never interested I had to contact his family who too never ask about her to get her passport sorted. He wrote his details in a letter for a passport and put in the letter he doesn't have contact and he agreed with change of name. The letter was sent to me and still he has never asked or sent a penny for her. I had another child 1 year ago and she's started calling my partner dad and is asking if he can become her real dad and adopt her( he has been there and support her for 5 year's) how would I go about doing this for her ?
Chunki - 22-Aug-18 @ 11:03 PM
My ex has refused to have anything to do with his son because he has special needs. We left due to domestic violence and he kept telling family members that i ran aways with another man. He earns up to £400 daily and pays child maintenance of 250 every month. How can i get him to pay more for child support since he doesn't want to have anything to do with the boy. He is 7 now and i need to put that money away for him every month.
Andy - 22-Aug-18 @ 6:00 PM
My daughter's father and I split before she was born..i made sure he has always had access to her, right from the beginning he chose to have her one night a week (he lived up until recently) on his mothers property and my daughter stayed in her Grandmas house for this visit.. (he has her when he chooses for very odd weekends/holidays..a week away here or there..but few and far between) he never helps for school hols etc or if she is off school for sickness and in 10 years had never put up her maintenance money.. (he was also supposed to pay me more than he does following mediation 10 years ago..but never did put the money up)..in fairness he does go halves on school shoes, her glasses, school trips etc! It has suited me and my daughter that she is only disrupted once a week..when she goes over he doesnt spend quality time with her..she sits in with her Grandma..however he has got married a couple of weeks ago and is on the verge of moving in with his new wife..he advised me today that moving forward he wishes to still have her on a Thursday eve and his wife can drop her to school on the Friday bit Grandma still also wishes to see her and he proposes Grandma picks her up Friday p.m until Saturday!..or he wants her every other weekend!! (Said as a bit of a threat...as he feels that he shd spend more time with her (now that he is settled 10 years later!!!) My daughter broke her heart as she doesn't enjoy going to Grandma's and doesn't want to be away from her home with me anymore than 1 night a week also..but she also doesn't want to offend her dad and Grandma by saying that she doesn't want to go! I also fear the disruption and feel peeved that after 10 years he has the cheek to change the order of things!! Where do I stand? I work a Saturday(1:3) is suggesting grandma has her fri nt until sat 1:3 a good compromise?? Any advice of how I stand legally will also be gratefully received.. Thanks
Mushyebt - 14-Aug-18 @ 10:54 PM
RjNottm - Your Question:
I haven’t seen my son in 8 years due to no contact with my ex I have now managed to find myself in a position to be able to look after him and welcome him into my life as I had him at 17 years old. I am now 26 I have 2 step sons and also 2 other boys I now have with my new partner, I work 40 hours a week and have continuously paid maintenance for my son for the last 8 years where do I stand in regards to seeing him and making up for all those irresponsible years I missed out on? HELP!!

Our Response:
Take this slowly - you'll need to communicate with your son's mother to try and negotiate a phased start to contact. Our sister site has a forum where you may get help from other dads who've been in the same situation. Take a look at the Separated Dads forum
LawAndParents - 14-Aug-18 @ 12:51 PM
My sons ex didn't want the child rung social services told them she didn't want the child my son brings the child up but just found out the woman has had another child hasn't bothered with the first child for a couple of years can she if she wants to start seeing the first
Nani - 9-Aug-18 @ 11:00 AM
User27 - Your Question:
My ex hasnt seen our son for 16 months and previous to that hes seen him twice in 12 months. We split when he was 1, Our son is now 6. I havent recieved any money from him after I cancelled csa payments 3 months ago (was only recieving 13.43 every 2 weeks). Can I apply to have his parental responsibility stripped? My fiancee wants to adopt our child once we are married and id like to know if this is possible also.

Our Response:
No parental responsibility may not be removed, surrendered or transferred.
LawAndParents - 8-Aug-18 @ 3:11 PM
My ex hasnt seen our son for 16 months and previous to that hes seen him twice in 12 months. We split when he was 1, Our son is now 6. I havent recieved any money from him after i cancelled csa payments 3 months ago (was only recieving 13.43 every 2 weeks). Can i apply to have his parental responsibility stripped? My fiancee wants to adopt our child once we are married and id like to know if this is possible also.
User27 - 7-Aug-18 @ 4:34 PM
Loulou - Your Question:
My step son is 14 and we haven't seen him in nearly a year. It started off that he was going out with friends and doing the tennage thing but now it's been to long. When asked what's up we got told by his mum it's because he had to do housework and as its 'our house' he doesn't want to come round. I'm sure his mum has more to do with it than made out as it's not the first time she has done this. My husband still sees his daughter often. He has spoken with his ex and she just says it's up to him if he doesn't want to come round but doesn't seem to help the situation. His son came to live with us a few years ago for 6 months and his ex stopped him coming round for a further 6 months. My question is can we go to court and get a court order? My husband is a broken man and needs to see his son. Any help would really be appreciated. Tia

Our Response:
There's nothing to prevent your husband applying for a court order. A court will take a 14 year old's viewpoint into consideration when making an order but will also know if a child is being "coached" by the resident parent.
LawAndParents - 3-Aug-18 @ 10:27 AM
I haven’t seen my son in 8 years due to no contact with my ex I have now managed to find myself in a position to be able to look after him and welcome him into my life as I had him at 17 years old. I am now 26 I have 2 step sons and also 2 other boys I now have with my new partner, I work 40 hours a week and have continuously paid maintenance for my son for the last 8 years where do I stand in regards to seeing him and making up for all those irresponsible years I missed out on? HELP!!
RjNottm - 1-Aug-18 @ 9:25 PM
Fishy2607 - Your Question:
HiI currently have a 4 year old daughter but am separated from her mother but she has now decided she is going to be moving away from where she currently lives to a city 25 miles away, the current arrangement is because I work 5-6 days a week and alternating shifts I have my daughter every weekend but because of this move this will no more than likely change and will result in me seeing my daughter less is there anything I can do where I am to still constantly see my daughter under the current arrangement

Our Response:
25 miles may be seen as near enough to continue every week by a judge if you were take it to court but if you feel that it's going to affect your contact, you could consider a prohibitive steps order to prevent the move. It's worth try to come to an agreement via mediation first.
LawAndParents - 1-Aug-18 @ 2:51 PM
My step son is 14 and we haven't seen him in nearly a year. It started off that he was going out with friends and doing the tennage thing but now it's been to long. When asked what's up we got told by his mum it's because he had to do housework and as its 'our house' he doesn't want to come round. I'm sure his mum has more to do with it than made out as it's not the first time she has done this. My husband still sees his daughter often. He has spoken with his ex and she just says it's up to him if he doesn't want to come round but doesn't seem to help the situation. His son came to live with us a few years ago for 6 months and his ex stopped him coming round for a further 6 months. My question is can we go to court and get a court order? My husband is a broken man and needs to see his son. Any help would really be appreciated. Tia
Loulou - 31-Jul-18 @ 6:19 PM
Hi I currently have a 4 year old daughter but am separated from her mother but she has now decided she is going to be moving away from where she currently lives to a city 25 miles away, the current arrangement is because i work 5-6 days a week and alternating shifts I have my daughter every weekend but because of this move this will no more than likely change and will result in me seeing my daughter less is there anything I can do where I am to still constantly see my daughter under the current arrangement
Fishy2607 - 31-Jul-18 @ 11:12 AM
I have a boy living with his mother. I have 3 to 4 people saying to me shes smoking weed in the house and taking strong pain kills which I know she has previous of this and I've had my suspicions.If i don't take him back to her can she get the police to come round and take him off me or will she have to wait to it's gone though court ?
Tay - 30-Jul-18 @ 6:13 PM
Mike - Your Question:
I pay child child maintanence to the mother. Every year she goes away for a two week holiday and leaves child with me, why should I pay her for those two weeks and why shouldn’t she pay me? Also I do all the driving between our houses and it’s an hour drive why should it just be me that drives

Our Response:
Child maintenance is based on a whole year. We imagine you also take holidays without the child? If there is an issue you with transport and hand/over times, costs then your should seek mediation or a court order to help come to some agreement.
LawAndParents - 30-Jul-18 @ 1:53 PM
I pay child child maintanence to the mother. Every year she goes away for a two week holiday and leaves child with me, why should I pay her for those two weeks and why shouldn’t she pay me? Also I do all the driving between our houses and it’s an hour drive why should it just be me that drives
Mike - 27-Jul-18 @ 10:42 AM
Hi, my ex is saying we should go to court for me to see my daughter, I work throught out the week and weekends to make ends meet. My only day off is a Friday. Can I apply to have my 2 year old every Friday day time?My ex is at work that day and thinks its unfair as she has no “free Time”.
Pom2 - 25-Jul-18 @ 2:50 PM
Hi, I’m currently in a relationship with my partner of 7 years we have 2 children together (3 years and a 2month) our relationship has turned quite sour and realising we are only together now for the sake of the children. Fathers name is in both certificates. I don’t agree with how he brings our children up disaplinary wise. Also I cannot trust him with doing the newborns night feeds as he always falls asleep during the feed! If we split up what I want to know is, can I deny him access just for having the kids overnight? I don’t mind him having them during the day I just can not trust him to have them over night.
Amz - 24-Jul-18 @ 5:31 PM
Fran - Your Question:
Hi! My partner left my with a baby. I was working but now I can't because I don't have care for my daughter. What should I do? Can I set a day, and obligate him to take care of the child in days of my work?

Our Response:
Unfortunately you can't force a father to have contact with his child. If the father is willing, you could create an agreement for certain times/days with each parent, this could be made into a legally enforceable child arrangements order at a later date if needed. You should also apply for child maintenance which may help with child care costs.
LawAndParents - 24-Jul-18 @ 3:20 PM
Sam- Your Question:
Hi guys, in some real need for some good solid advice here. I have a scenario where I feel that the mother of my daughter is trying to control me through certain ways and means when it comes to contact arrangements with my daughter. We broke up around 7 months ago and from the first day we agreed that I would have my daughter every weekend from Friday to Sunday but up until a couple of months ago after taking some advice off friends and relatives I decided to change the arrangements to 3 weekends and then 1 weekend free to try and attempt to do something with my own personal life like socialising with friends etc as those people close to me felt in order to be the best Dad I can be to my daughter I need to be doing things for myself also and allowing myself some freedom to do so. At first when attempting to make this arrangement my ex partner would say things to me along the lines of "What kind of dad wants to see his daughter less?" Etc, but knowing her well enough I saw through the emotional blackmail and had reluctantly accepted that perhaps those close to me were right about this. To cut a long story short, some of my friends have planned and booked a weekend camping trip away which they have included me in, the obvious dilemma came when I'd realised that this falls on one of the weekends that I would normally be seeing my daughter on. Fully aware that this trip is over a month away I have attempted to work out a civil arrangement with my ex partner in order to work something out that works for both of us and still means that I would have the same amount of contact with my daughter but just tweak the dates slightly to make things work out, allowing me to still be able to go ahead and go on the trip. The response I have recieved is that I have to stick to the 3 weekends and 1 weekend off as planned and that all dates should stay the same and that's it. Naturally I find this unrealistic and slightly daunting the thought of having the next 16 to 20 years of my life mapped out in terms of contact and dates. Every single suggestion I have made in regards to making this work for everyone involved has been rejected and instead if anything has made my ex feel the need to try making things even more difficult. I work 5 days a week and she feels that this should be enough for me to socialise etc but I'm 24 years young and naturally from time to time very rarely I feel that there may come another time like this where something with friends is planned in advance which may fall on a date which may have meant to be a weekend with my daughter, but unfortunately I cannot demand a different date because understandably it has to work for every one of my friends/relatives not just me. The mother of my daughter is now telling me to go to court. What do I do? I just want fair and reasonable contact which works both ways but I am starting to get the impression it may not be possible. If we cannot agree on dates and arrangements regardless of me trying my utmost

Our Response:
To be honest the court might be a better idea, they would rarely decide that one parent should have all the weekend contact. The usual practice favoured by judges would be something like alternate weekends and perhaps two week nights. Suggest a parenting plan whereby your contact is not reduced but you get equal "quality" contact with your child. So every other weekend, where you can do fun things and a couple of weeknights where you have to follow a routine (school, nursery etc). If your ex doesn't agree, be aware that you will have to attend mediation before going down the court route.
LawAndParents - 24-Jul-18 @ 2:22 PM
Hi! My partner left my with a baby. I was working but now I can't because I don't have care for my daughter. What should I do? Can I set a day, and obligate him to take care of the child in days of my work?
Fran - 24-Jul-18 @ 6:22 AM
Hi guys, in some real need for some good solid advice here. I have a scenario where I feel that the mother of my daughter is trying to control me through certain ways and means when it comes to contact arrangements with my daughter. We broke up around 7 months ago and from the first day we agreed that I would have my daughter every weekend from Friday to Sunday but up until a couple of months ago after taking some advice off friends and relatives I decided to change the arrangements to 3 weekends and then 1 weekend free to try and attempt to do something with my own personal life like socialising with friends etc as those people close to me felt in order to be the best Dad I can be to my daughter I need to be doing things for myself also and allowing myself some freedom to do so. At first when attempting to make this arrangement my ex partner would say things to me along the lines of "What kind of dad wants to see his daughter less?" Etc, but knowing her well enough I saw through the emotional blackmail and had reluctantly accepted that perhaps those close to me were right about this. To cut a long story short, some of my friends have planned and booked a weekend camping trip away which they have included me in, the obvious dilemma came when I'd realised that this falls on one of the weekends that I would normally be seeing my daughter on. Fully aware that this trip is over a month away I have attempted to work out a civil arrangement with my ex partner in order to work something out that works for both of us and still means that I would have the same amount of contact with my daughter but just tweak the dates slightly to make things work out, allowing me to still be able to go ahead and go on the trip. The response I have recieved is that I have to stick to the 3 weekends and 1 weekend off as planned and that all dates should stay the same and that's it. Naturally I find this unrealistic and slightly daunting the thought of having the next 16 to 20 years of my life mapped out in terms of contact and dates. Every single suggestion I have made in regards to making this work for everyone involved has been rejected and instead if anything has made my ex feel the need to try making things even more difficult. I work 5 days a week and she feels that this should be enough for me to socialise etc but I'm 24 years young and naturally from time to time very rarely I feel that there may come another time like this where something with friends is planned in advance which may fall on a date which may have meant to be a weekend with my daughter, but unfortunately I cannot demand a different date because understandably it has to work for every one of my friends/relatives not just me. The mother of my daughter is now telling me to go to court. What do I do? I just want fair and reasonable contact which works both ways but I am starting to get the impression it may not be possible. If we cannot agree on dates and arrangements regardless of me trying my utmost
Sam - 23-Jul-18 @ 9:53 PM
Dag - Your Question:
Hi there. I have 2 wonderful children and they live primarily with their mom (divorced) and stay with me 2\3 nights during a week. Arrangements are flexible and the relationship with the ex in general is a very positive one, always putting the children first. Out of the blue she has told me they are moving to a different area and will mean moving schools. I had barely 12 hours notice and asked to attend their new potential school to look round. I do not believe it is in their best interest to move from their current Outstanding primary school, but the ex has said as she is classed as the primary carer, she ultimately has the legal right to control the decision and I have no leg to stand on.Any advice would be appreciated. Many thanks.

Our Response:
She's wrong, as a parent with parental responsibility, you have a say in any important decisions affecting your child's life. If you want to try and prevent the move you could consider applying to the courts for a prohibited steps order.
LawAndParents - 23-Jul-18 @ 10:04 AM
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