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How Visitation Rights Work For Fathers

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 16 Jun 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Separated Dads Visitation Rights Contact

As a father you want to stay in close touch with your children, even after you and your partner have separated. Obviously, the best and simplest way to do this is an agreement between you and your ex, which can be made legally binding by solicitors. This means it doesn’t have to go through the courts, and will work when relations between the pair of you are amicable.

If you have Parental Responsibility, either by being married to the mother when the child was born, being present when the birth was registered and having your name on the birth certificate as the father, or through a Parental Responsibility Agreement or Parental Responsibility Order, you have rights and responsibilities to your children.

Obviously, part of that is support in financial terms, but also in emotional and legal terms, too. In return, you have contact with your children. Family Courts have a principle called “presumption of contact”, under which they have to do everything possible for fathers to see their children.

Contact Orders

Very often, Court-issued Contact Orders prove unnecessary, since arrangements will have been worked out privately or in mediation between the two parents. However, even where a Contact Order is issued, often the parents are allowed to work out the details for themselves. Before any Contact Order is issued, however, the court must take several things into consideration:

  • What the child wishes, if he or she is old enough to make any kind of decision
  • The educational and emotional needs of the child
  • Whether there’s any risk of harm to the child
  • Whether you’re capable of meeting the child’s needs during contact

These might seem possibly weighted against you, but the sole intent is for the welfare of the child. In the vast majority of cases – well over 90% – Contact Orders are granted. If it’s come to a hearing, one important factor will be the report by the Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) officer. Both parents, as well as other carers and teachers, will have been interviewed, and in most cases the court accepts the report as it stands (although you can challenge part of it or even ask for a new report from a different officer if you disagree).

Residence Order

A Residence Order determines who the children should live with. If none has been issued, then the children will stay with their mother. You can apply for a Residence Order to have full custody of your children, but realistically speaking, unless there are pressing reasons they should not stay with their mother, it’s unlikely your request will be granted custody.

Things Not To Do

When you have contact with the children, you should not attempt to take them out of the country without written permission from their mother. Even if it’s for a holiday, this needs to be discussed and permission in writing given. While you have the children, don’t say negative things about your ex-partner. It creates confusion and a bad atmosphere for the children. You have more positive things to concentrate on during your time with them, anyway.

Take at look at our article Making the Most of Your Time With Your Child for some ideas about what you can do together.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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I feel I was in a abusive relationship and I had to step away daughter now two son three. It's been one year and I seen them 28 times I missed birthdays and almost everything. I try to make it work but had to go to court I never married but sign birth cirtificate. Today was the first day I was to see them court told me 12-5 she left before I arrived. Now I have to keep going there every weekend to get my heart broke because she doesn't care for me to be I there life. Court again July 12 she been trying to change the children names and leave the country I'm fear full I will not see them again. Honestly I excepted that I have no control over then situation and she can careless what court says because she leaving country. Tells me I do nothing for them and she lets me do nothing for them.
Single daddy - 16-Jun-19 @ 5:16 AM
I split up with my partner 10months ago we got a 3 yr old son that she’s totally refused me to be in contact with,she’s blocked me in all possible ways so that i cannot find where they live,before we went separate ways she had agreed for me to be seeing him,little did I know it was all a lie,my heart is completely shattered,i cry everyday thinking of my boy.i have givenher time thinking she’s going to get back but all in vain.Im here requesting for the best contact or a mediation team or who can help me and guide so i can be able to be visiting my son.Thanks alot ??
Kenny - 4-Jun-19 @ 7:33 AM
If a father wants to see his child should he be arranging to pick them up and drop them back?
Mummey16 - 16-May-19 @ 6:41 PM
My issue is slightly different, the father of my children only comes and sees them when he feels to. He can go weeks without seeing them and when he decides to come see them he has attitude like he doesn’t want to be here! I would rather he stayed away personally but my children ask for him and I look like the bad guy all the time, I try and protect my children from heartache by not telling them the truth ‘that there dad really don’t care’ and I feel I’m forcing him to come see them to save them from pain! What is the best thing for me to do?
Mummy85 - 5-May-19 @ 3:58 PM
I see so much hurt and pain on these posts. Though you all give me strength as I am not alone in this. I am also going through the pain of not seeing my son 3yrs old. The pain is the worst in the world. It's like living with bereavement. Be strong Dads and don't give up. It's a hard rocky road but it's worth it in the end.
StrongDadz - 15-Apr-19 @ 6:05 AM
It’s to (late for me )but you younger men with (young children)have more off a fighting chance with blogs like this .i can put this behind me now .and officially let go once and for all .
Chris - 8-Mar-19 @ 1:26 AM
I wish I went to (court for visitation )and was more (daughter focused)years ago .but (I wasn’t) it is want is now there is (no bond) I must (let this go now) for my sanity .i grieved for my child it is the (worst experience off any parents life) .but life goes on and what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger .my ex is difficult they all are but .
Chris - 7-Mar-19 @ 11:17 PM
Hi My daughter is staying with me (dad) from September 2018, mum left us. Mum sees her 2 night per week 19:00 to 8:00, plus maybe 1 or 2 time per week during the day as well. So far I have tried to be accommodating with times, being flexible in letting my daughter sees her mum whenever the mum puts the times "available" for the week. However the mum has been abusing the arrangement, treating us as a spare wheel, modifying time at the last second, or just plainly coming at different times. Often with reasons like "my friend is coming to visit". I am not happy about this. It's offensive and inconvenient. I can't plan my own life because whatever time she says can change at the last second, and my daughter suffers from it when these changes happen. I am also not happy with her coming to my place to pick her up, as in the past she has come here and after having understood that my new girlfriend was inside she has written me a message insulting her. I would like times to be fixed every week, something like she picks her up from school on friday, and she takes her back to school on monday. Or something like that. Without the possibility for her to (a) change time at will, and me having to put up with it, and (b) her coming to my place to pick her up, so that I can live my life in private without worrying about her reactions. What are the steps I can take to make this happen? Money is not a concern. Regards MR1974
Mr1974 - 7-Mar-19 @ 7:38 PM
Ok! so since splitting with my ex two years ago she has done pretty much everything she could to have me arrested and is desperately trying to get me incarcerated. Luckily as I have video of all our interactions I've been able to disprove her allegations.So a couple of weeks ago, after months of not seeing my daughter I spend a great weekend with her, we have a lot of fun and my daughter was in tears saying goodbye for the next two weeks.Two days later I get a call from my daughter making allegations of me grabbing her and causing a bruise on her arm, my daughter and her mother actually called the police again, luckily I had witness who confirmed that I hadn't grabbed by little girl. Now my daughter is wanting to see me again and I'm scared to spend time with her alone incase any other allegations are madebut she is refusing to have supervised visits, I'm at wits end I desperately want to see her but I'm scared her mother will manage to convince her to make another complaint to the police. Any advice or thoughts I really need help!
Desperate Dad - 4-Mar-19 @ 6:04 PM
I've had my daughter 2 weekends out the month since she was 2. She is know nearly 11. We have had no problems and always have a good time going swimming bowling etc. As from two weeks ago my ex has said she does not want to come and visit me or her step sister. Her mum has thrown accusations along the lines she says you have adult time and she isn't aloud in the front room she has to baby sit her sister who by the way is 8yrs old? And body shaming no idea where that one comes from. However most weekends we take the dogs out go to soft play /swimming etc then pjs and popcorn for a movie on the sofa. I've spoken to my daughter and she cannot answer why she doesnt want to come down. Ive asked what we can changeto make it more comfortable for her and she just says "i dont know". I am beginning to think she is unaware what's going on and possible believes I am the one saying she cant come. So confused as what to do next.
Wozza - 24-Jan-19 @ 9:31 AM
Hi. I have recently separated from my wife of 10 years. I am moving into a 2 bed flat where a friend will be renting the small room to help with the finances. Because someone else will be living with me. My ex wife is now saying my children cannot sleep over even though they will be in my room! What can I do?
Gizzi - 23-Jan-19 @ 8:36 PM
We have a contact order in place o have children live with me when my partner takes them over night he doesn't always have them he leaves them with other people i don't know or know where they are or live he wont let me talk to them ihis time either. Do i have a right to know where my children are sleeping if not at his address and if he is not there with them. Uk.
Edana - 16-Nov-18 @ 11:33 AM
My daughters mother has cut down the times I see my daughter and I hardly see her. We have a good relationship but her mother controls when I see her. Mediation didn’t work and I have now put a court application in to sort out access. My question is if my child’s mother brings up that I have been to jail (nothing child related AND been seen by Social services to confirm I’m ok with having my daughter by myself) will this affect my access? My daughter has stayed with me 1000s of times over night and gone away with me out of town. I’m just wondering what things could go against me if any. I also pay maintenance. My ex is trying to say I don’t call my daughter enough and that’s why I can’t see her... however my ex blocks my number on purpose. I want my daughter every other wkend Friday to Sunday but she is saying sat to Sunday every other wk.. I would also like to share birthdays and Christmas what are my chances? Thanks in advance.
Soph - 8-Nov-18 @ 1:09 PM
I need some advise, I have been having regular contact with my boys, I have them extra during the holidays and have never missed a CMS payment, their mother has now insisted that things change, that I must have them for her honeymoon etc etc! I have paid for mediation 3 times already! Has she got grounds to take me to court? Any help will be gratefully recieved Dan
Danwj7 - 6-Oct-18 @ 12:51 PM
@zic.yes I think it is suitable for the (14 year old ).the rest can stay with you .and myex said I couldn’t compromise .as for your daughter meeting the fathers women well just let them meet after a few stays overs they will be like mother and daughter to peas in a pod .she might even like step mummy more then you there is food for thought .ps are you judging the father because he lives in a flat ?.do you live in a mansion on snop hill looking down on the little people living in flats pondering weather it is suitable a father to see his own flesh and blood because of where he lives ?
Luciano - 1-Oct-18 @ 1:32 PM
Does anyone know if it is considered acceptable for 4 children aged 6, 10, 12 and 14 to stay regularly for weekend overnight visits in a 2 bed flat with their father and a partner they never met.
Zlc - 1-Oct-18 @ 12:00 PM
@vincent- @alexis - many mothers have issues about handing over their child to a parent the child is not familiar with, especially when the child is very young. Alexis doesn't have to justify any reasons why she doesn't drive. If she doesn't drive it is up to both the parents to try and work this out between them. You shouldn't jump to such knee-jerk conclusions Vincent.
JonB - 10-Sep-18 @ 10:33 AM
@vincent Firstly I never learned to drive, I have provisional and am planning to learn soon (finances allowing). Secondly, try keeping your own emotions about situations to yourself, to imply that the only reason I have trust issues or can’t drive is due to a medical issue or disability is incredibly insulting to those who suffer such things and is a stupidly ignorant statement. I am not using control as a weapon, my child’s father is welcome to see our child any time he likes. I’ve offered to allow him to stay in my house with our child (as I feel this would be better for our child) for a couple of nights whilst I stay somewhere else if necessary. My issue is with my child being taken out of his preferred environment and routine at such a young age.
Alexis - 9-Sep-18 @ 7:43 AM
@alexis.you [don't drive] do you have a medical issue or disabled ?is that why you have trust issues about handing your baby over ?or is it a control thing a weapon ?
vincent - 9-Sep-18 @ 2:21 AM
I have a 10 year old daughter with my ex and we split when she was 2 he goes months without seeing her sometimes promises her he will come then cancels at the last minute very upsetting and detrimental to her well being, while I want her to continue to have a relationship with her father I refuse to carry on with this last minute let downs as unfair on my child I have heard I can file for a residency order would this be suitable for the current situation or is it another order I need?, thanks, p.s he is not abusive or anything of that nature thanks
Andsoitcontinues - 22-Aug-18 @ 7:22 AM
@shezza .its wonderful hun that your child has a great step daddy .you best keep him away from the bio father drugs are no no and raided oh my god what a out law .i would keep my child away from that i would tell police and get social involved .there is no way i would allow my child around that .get step daddy to protect your family like man .
betty boo - 20-Aug-18 @ 11:17 PM
Hi i have a 10yr old son with autism who hasnt seen his dad in over 6years.he has a step dad now who is fantastic with him.i am just wondering what will happen if he trys to go to court to see him again as its been so long and my son doesnt like to go anywhere and has a stricted routine.when he used to see him 6years ago he was always late for him sometimes he never came i also have police reports of violence with him and also he was raided for drugs.please help thank you
Shezza - 20-Aug-18 @ 9:48 PM
Hello I have been suffering from depression for the last year. As I had a procedure on my eye which went wrong. I’m currently waiting for it to recover. I’m now doing a lot better on medication and doing general house work etc. The father My child and got a temp residence while the courts get evidence reports etc doctor records. I was under mental health for a brief time but discharged. At the moment I can’t go out as my eye is recovering and I feel self conscious but can look after my child at home. I do go shops etc but not places with people I know as yet. I’ve never suffered from depression in my life before and I had my child live with me 4 years before while me and partner split. I have people to help with school runs and taking my child out. What’s the likely hood I get full custody as the father is fighting me in court. I’m now getting better but suffered a injury and in recovery thank you
Emz1 - 18-Aug-18 @ 8:41 PM
@leo.people think i am autistic you no why because i never went legal or to court for my daughter and i rejected my x with good reason .i didn't[ want to be with her ].the reason i didn't go legal was because i was in that much[ trouble ]and made the choice to live the life i want and if that bothers people or they think i am autistic well good for them not everyone will like you .i just made the choice to change and will not have any part in the life i use to live or associate with people who i think bring nothing but drama into life wanting me to snap and carrie on like a pork chop . easy fixed in my view just wipe the lot start again .
laurie - 17-Aug-18 @ 7:44 PM
I'm only 2 months pregnant and my relationship has ended badly. I'm planning on keeping the baby but I'm worried about how access will work with a new born baby. I understand the baby seeing its father is very important but i will be breastfeeding and long times apart in the first few months from the mother is not good for the babys routine and bonding. My ex partner lives 1 hour away and has access 3 days a week to his serverly autistic son 14 years old. His son can be unpredictable and I'd worry if my baby was around him. In addition his son needs constant supervision so I wonder how he could care for the baby. Also I'd worry if he could care for a new born as his ex partner cared mostly for their son when he was a baby. Any advise would be appreciated.
Leo - 17-Aug-18 @ 6:16 PM
I have recently found out that i’m A father of a 9 year old that I never met and was told wasn’t mine at birth. I did the honourable thing and did a paternity test with no objections through CMS. I’m the father of a child I never met and the mother claims i’m Still not and if I ever do he will not know i’m The father. I’m seeking legal advise this week but please help and advise on CMS payments and my rights. Do I have any? Do I have to pay if the mother as said above and says he’s already got a father. She said before the test she wanted the truth and me and the wife agreed i’d get it done as the mother did not tell the truth on due dates etc.
Kev - 13-Aug-18 @ 6:51 PM
Salvatore - Your Question:
I have a son who’s turned five recently. My x partner moved away two hours away. I see him every other weekend then one Sunday the next. She’s using every excuse for me not to see him on that Sunday also won’t meet me halfway only meets me halfway when I drop him home as I refuse to drive two hours. What can I do financially and the time it takes is just stressful

Our Response:
You may be able to apply for a special expenses variation via CMS, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 27-Jul-18 @ 2:56 PM
I have a son who’s turned five recently. My x partner moved away two hours away. I see him every other weekend then one Sunday the next. She’s using every excuse for me not to see him on that Sunday also won’t meet me halfway only meets me halfway when I drop him home as I refuse to drive two hours. What can I do financially and the time it takes is just stressful
Salvatore - 27-Jul-18 @ 1:12 PM
Johnnyc - Your Question:
Hi everyone. Just wondered if anyone could have any information that may help me. I have a 10 yr old daughter I split up with her mum in 2013 and it was a bitter break up. She denied me access so it went through the courts where I was given contact every other weekend for 2 nights and mid week contact for her to come over for dinner. My ex then moved to Scotland without my consent I had phone contact with my daughter for a short while and was in contact with her school. At the end of 2014 she stopped all contact blocked my number and moved my daughters school. I have been looking for her ever since. I pay maintenance monthly and just really want to find her. So my question is legally where do I go from here?!? P.s I have full parental responsibility. Thanks in advance john

Our Response:
You would have to refer the matter back to court. If you do not have the address, then you can apply for a C4 form. This is an application for an order for disclosure of a child's whereabouts, please see link here. If you fill in this for along with the C79 enforcement order form it means the courts can put a trace on your child in order to allow you to bring the matter to court.
SeparatedDads - 17-Jul-18 @ 3:27 PM
Hi everyone. Just wondered if anyone could have any information that may help me. I have a 10 yr old daughter I split up with her mum in 2013 and it was abitter break up. She denied me access so it went through the courts where I was given contact every other weekend for 2 nights and mid week contact for her to come over for dinner. My ex then moved to Scotland without my consent I had phone contact with my daughter for a short while and was in contact with her school. At the end of 2014 she stopped all contact blocked my number and moved my daughters school. I have been looking for her ever since. I pay maintenance monthly and just really want to find her. So my question is legally where do I go from here?!? P.s I have full parental responsibility. Thanks in advance john
Johnnyc - 16-Jul-18 @ 10:21 PM
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