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How Visitation Rights Work For Fathers

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 10 Aug 2017 | 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.

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@Brooke249 - if you have tried mediation and you cannot get a regular order in place, then court is the best option here. If a court order is awarded - your ex will have to keep to it or he will be in breach.
Matty - 10-Aug-17 @ 3:52 PM
Me and our little ones dad broke up a year ago it's been a constant struggle with him and his family! So last month we was meant to go to mediation (FOC because of the benefits I currently receive - start work again next month yay!) but a few days before withdraw consent. Iv had enough and with advice from my solicitor to stop contact and let him take me to court so something consistent can happen. So I messaged him the other day saying look I don't want to stop seeing our little one but we need something in place that is consistent for her. Well we went round and round in circles saying how the old agreement for him worked great which in fact it didn't because him and his family wouldn't see her because they would give me 'notice' so would only see her once a month instead if the agreement he put in place of every weekend. So I kept having to repeat myself saying it's not fulfilling for LO and that a new one had to be arranged. So I said every other week, once a month, once 3 monthly or once a year you tell me so we can work around you and your work. Got a message back saying once a month will do! Gob smacked so I sent a message saying ok last weekend of the month have him the dates for the next six months to then get a message back going nope Iv got pre made plans, I messaged back saying she shall see you end of sept then. His reply was in having her Christmas!! Again gob smacked! My reply was the next 6 month dates are there and unfortunately Christmas doesn't fall on any of them and your wish was to have her once a month. Little one is nearly 2 once a month really is not fulfilling for her and trying to get a decent conversation out of him is like getting blood out of a stone. He tells me I'm the bully and nasty one when really it's him and his family and only them lot can't see it. So shall I go with the advice from my family law solicitor and stop contact and get a court order or keep doing what I'm doing which is no good for my little one or me!
Brooke249 - 10-Aug-17 @ 1:56 PM
I a separated from my ex wife, I moved out the house in February before i moved out we lived for a year in the same house but no longer in a relationship as she said it would effect the two children (father on birth certificate) if they knew that we had ended our relationship, I work full time with a rotating day off meaning in work 4 out of every 5 Saturdays, unfortunately I could only afford to move to a room in a shared house so I can not accommodate the children or take them to my accommodation, . But moving out everything has been on her terms. initially as I work full time I was seeing the two children three days during the week on one week and three days during the week with either a Saturday or Sunday as an extra day for the following week. But she changed this and said that I need to do three days during one week and two days during the next as well as Saturday and Sunday, if I didnt agree to her days then she would refuse to let me see our children altogether, I had not choice but to agree but with work and travel to my new pace this leaves me very drained, tired and little time to administrate myself not to mention petrol and food costs when I take them out, I'm sort of digging a bank balance hole, but my main issue is the fact she has refused to allow me to take them to see my family my sister or the grandparents she is happy taking them but will no allow me to , she has no problem with me taking them anywhere else. But my parents do not want to see her and they live 5 hrs away my mum is ill and may not last another year she knows this but still refuses on the basis she does not trust me to have them for a period that extends 12 hours? This make no sense whatsoever, but I compromised and said i would drive us all to see the grandparents so she would have joint care of the children also would have her own room, but she refused saying she would only visit on her own with the children. And does not allow permission to take the children to see either my sister or grandparents, legally I have every right to but if I did I'm sure she would stop me seeing the kids alltogether, or call the police saying I had abducted them or was worried about my state of mind, which would not bide well with any possible future custody orders she knows I can not afford mediation or a solicitor and I am not entitled to legal aid(also paying her agreed maintenance Weekley) and now she she introduced her new man to the kids (I'm not allowed to introduce anyone) she also wants me to find new accommodation that accommodates children for rainy days...i can not afford to, and is pushing for me to extend my visiting hours, I feel frustrated and at a loss at her becon call . And when Ido have the kids she regular changes pick up location within a hour of collecting the kids
mark77 - 10-Aug-17 @ 9:08 AM
Louielou13 - Your Question:
Me and my partner have a very very rocky relationship and things are quickly going down bank. We have a 5 month old baby together and to be honest I'm staying with him as I don't trust him at all with my baby. He is snappy, short tempered, when he is drunk he is violent. He also is addicted to prescription drugs which he is seeking help for. What do I do and who do I see for help?

Our Response:
Talking to the likes of Family Lives may help you further, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 7-Aug-17 @ 2:34 PM
Me and my partner have a very very rocky relationship and things are quickly going down bank. We have a 5 month old baby together and to be honest I'm staying with him as I don't trust him at all with my baby. He is snappy, short tempered, when he is drunk he is violent. He also is addicted to prescription drugs which he is seeking help for. What do I do and who do I see for help?
Louielou13 - 5-Aug-17 @ 9:00 PM
hello, i broke up with my childrens father about a year and a half ago. Since then I have met somebody else and recently moved in with him. Before the move I lived in the same town as my ex but now i live 25 miles away. From the town he lives in there are regular busses every 20 minutes to the nearest larger town which is half way between where he lives and where I live. We agreed to him having the girls aged 3 and 4 friday after nursery until 4pm on a sunday. He was fine with this unyil I moved but now he is saying he wont come and meet me to get the children as it was my choice to move. I also said that on a sunday my partner and I will drive the full 25 miles to pick the girls up from him.therefore we would be doing 3 quaters of the journeys. the childrens father is unemployed and there is no reason why he cant collect them.My partner however works a 9 and a half hour shift on a friday so it would be unfair to ask him to drive 45 mins on a friday to drop the girls off and drive 45 mins back. This is the reason i asled the ex to meet me halfway on a friday. I also have family living in the same town as my ex so a sunday is an ideal time to spend the day visiting them and taking the girls to see them once i have them back. The kids dad says i am being unreasonable because he doesnt want to bring his other child he has acess to on the weekends, on the bus to meet me at 5pm to get the children. I just wanted to know if it would seem i am being unreasonable or if i am being as fair as i think i am. I just want him to make some effort to see his children, is that fair? Any help would be much appreciated. thankyou so much for reading. nicole
niki - 26-Jul-17 @ 12:39 PM
Donna Louise- Your Question:
Hi my ex and I broke up before I found out I was pregnant. He has been seeing her once a week but has t seen her since fathers day as he don't get the same day off each week. He lets me know a day before and I already have plans so ca t commit to it. He has now said he has a letter to send to me and I'm worried what it is. He said this situation reds to move forward. I'm worried as she is inly 4mo this and has never been left without me and he has never fed her or changed her nappy. I have never once said he can't see her it's always been the opposite but I'm so anxious about this letter.

Our Response:
If you do not agree with the contents of the letter and to your ex's suggestions, you can refuse. However, it sounds as though you may need to make other arrangements if the current ones are not working. Therefore, if neither of you can agree to a suitable arrangement then mediation should be the next port of call, please see link here . If you refuse to attend mediation, then your ex will have the option to apply to court.
SeparatedDads - 11-Jul-17 @ 11:59 AM
Hi my ex and I broke up before I found out I was pregnant.He has been seeing her once a week but has t seen her since fathers day as he don't get the same day off each week.He lets me know a day before and I already have plans so ca t commit to it.He has now said he has a letter to send to me and I'm worried what it is.He said this situation reds to move forward.I'm worried as she is inly 4mo this and has never been left without me and he has never fed her or changed her nappy.I have never once said he can't see her it's always been the opposite but I'm so anxious about this letter.
Donna Louise - 10-Jul-17 @ 6:23 PM
My ex is going for supervised visits to see our children as myself and social servicesbelieve there are safeguarding issues my ex was told in front of me by a solicitor that he would not have to pay as he is in full receipt of benefit is this true if so how does he get it?
Emma - 9-Jul-17 @ 10:04 PM
Kells - Your Question:
HI I been separated from my partner for about a month and have 3 kids with her, I am currently homeless and sleeping at different friends houses. My partner is actually letting me see my kids but because I'm homeless I have no where for them to stay overnight, I am trying to get accommodation from my local council but they won't help me unless I get an official document saying we have shared custody. My ex can simply write a letter stating this but is refusing, I offered mediation and she refused that as well. She knows perfectly well I can't afford a three bedroom house as I have 2 boys and 1 girl and is doing this out of spite. I fear this situation will cause problems regarding my relationship with my kids in the future.Any advice on what I can do would be much appreciated

Our Response:
Your ex should only write a letter stating you have shared care of your children, if that is the arrangement you have agreed to. Your only recourse is to seek legal advice regarding this matter.
SeparatedDads - 6-Jul-17 @ 2:02 PM
HI I been separated from my partner for about a month and have 3 kids with her,I am currently homeless and sleeping at different friends houses. My partner is actually letting me see my kids but because I'm homeless I have no where for them to stay overnight, I am trying to get accommodation from my local council but they won't help me unless I get an official document saying we have shared custody. My ex can simply write a letter stating this but is refusing, I offered mediation and she refused that as well. She knows perfectly well I can't afford a three bedroom house as I have 2 boys and 1 girl and is doing this out of spite. I fear this situation will cause problems regarding my relationship with my kids in the future. Any advice on what I can do would be much appreciated
Kells - 5-Jul-17 @ 9:26 AM
Ash - Your Question:
Hi, my son has just split from his partner. She kicked him out of the house last week. Since then she has prevented my son from. Seeing his 3 month old baby. She says that she will never leave the babies side because she's a mum. When my son lived with her, he did all the night feeds, day time feeds, washed, dressed and played with him. He was being a good daddy. Now she's changed and doesn't want him to have access. She's turning up at his work place with the baby and asking for money. He got paid on Friday and has been saying he'll pay maintenance but could we agree on a days access. But she's still not slowing him. He's going to contact CSA and pay that way. But how can we get acces?Thank you.

Our Response:
Your son would have to suggest mediation to his ex in order to try to sort out the issue via a third party (if they cannot resolve it between themselves), please see link here. If his ex refuses mediation, then he would have to apply to take the matter to court. This can be a slow and painful process, so if he can attempt to sort the matter out without having to resort to court it will be best all round, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 27-Jun-17 @ 3:39 PM
Hi, my son has just split from his partner. She kicked him out of the house last week. Since then she has prevented my son from.Seeing his 3 month old baby. She says that she will never leave the babies side because she's a mum. When my son lived with her, he did all the night feeds, day time feeds, washed, dressed and played with him. He was being a good daddy. Now she's changed and doesn't want him to have access. She's turning up at his work place with the baby and asking for money. He got paid on Friday and has been saying he'll pay maintenance but could we agree on a days access. But she's still not slowing him. He's going to contact CSA and pay that way. But how can we get acces? Thank you.
Ash - 27-Jun-17 @ 9:56 AM
My sons has recently split from his ex, he has had to move back home, he has two children with her and recently she has started to become nasty, making detrimental comments on social media about his lack of good parenting- he sees the children every other weekend and one day during the week, they are only 3&1.He is a good dad, he works hard all weekMy son and pays full maintenance for the children,her family especially the mother also make nasty comments, when he asks her to stop, she gets worse - I would like some advice where we can go to get things put in writing legally to stop this.It is making things very difficult and I'm worried she will stop letting his have kids, she has also starting introducing different "friends" to the children and when my son objected, she became very unreasonable and said she tough basically.Sorry for babbling some advice would be good, thank u
Desperate - 21-Jun-17 @ 11:05 PM
None - Your Question:
Hi I am separated from my partner.I tried to resolve through mediation but she didn't come to mediation.nd at first hearing she said that I tried to kill my kids and her.which I never imagine in my life.she is got v bad depression nd on tablets is well. The next hearing is on 26 of July.nd court ask for police record my immigration which is in process.nd her nhs report.can you tell me plzz can I get visitation or no.your opinion plzzz.my solictor said hopefully you will get it.What your answer.is.?

Our Response:
Unless there is a very good reason that visitation/ access should not be awarded, and if you have had a good, continuous relationship with your kids to date, then there is no reason why a court would not award you contact with your children. The courts will always decide upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your children and having a relationship with both parents is seen as important. If a court order is awarded, then your ex will be obliged by law to keep to it.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jun-17 @ 3:44 PM
Hi I am separated from my partner.I tried to resolve through mediation but she didn't come to mediation..nd at first hearing she said that I tried to kill my kids and her..which I never imagine in my life..she is got v bad depression nd on tablets is well. The next hearing is on 26 of July..nd court ask for police record my immigration which is in process..nd her nhs report...can you tell me plzz can I get visitation or no...your opinion plzzz...my solictor said hopefully you will get it.. What your answer..is . ?
None - 19-Jun-17 @ 4:11 AM
bigdaddy- Your Question:
My brotherinlaw is divorced but going through a messy legal problem to separate properly however he is adamant that he is going to ask for visitation rights which include every other weekend plus having the two children for up to five weeks when he is on vacation. I am assisting him but am really concerned that his expectation of annual holiday time with the children is far too ambitious. Is there any hard and fast rule about annual holiday time thanks

Our Response:
There are no rules. If you disagree your best option is to try and resolve the issue via mediation, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 25-May-17 @ 1:34 PM
my brotherinlaw is divorced but going through a messy legal problem to separate properly however he is adamant that he is going to ask for visitation rights which include every other weekend plus having the two children for up to five weeks when he is on vacation . I am assisting him but am really concerned that his expectation of annual holiday time with the children is far too ambitious . Is there any hard and fast rule about annual holiday time thanks
bigdaddy - 20-May-17 @ 8:00 PM
Mummabear - Your Question:
Hello I was wondering if my ex goes to court what are the chances of him being offered only 24 hours every 2 weeks with my son?It's a funny question but he has another son who he has Fridaythorpe Sunday night every other weekend but only wants my son who is younger sat evening to Sunday afternoon,it makes me angry that he doesn't have more time with his dad and it makes things hard for me with my work and other children so I've asked him to make arrangements to have my son the whole weekend or not to bother as I cannot arrange everything around his times. I'd rather my son feel wanted and treated the same as his brother then feel like he's loosing out on time and the brother is getting more.Am I being unreasonable If he goes to court are they going to accept my son being second best or am I am correcting thinking they should have the same amount of time

Our Response:
It is impossible to predict what a court may decide. However, a court will never force a non-resident parent to have a child where the NRP doesn't want to, as it would not be seen to be in the child's best interests.
SeparatedDads - 12-May-17 @ 1:37 PM
Just wondering if a father goes to court due to not coming to an agreement with the mother,can the mother ask for a drug testing to be done, there is a police report and crime number due to unreasonable behaviour and the police said this was classed as domestic abuse nothing else came of it after that but the reason behind the breakup is due to alcoholism and drug use Imy all for father's seeing thier kids but I'd like to know of the mother can request proof that drugs aren't being used and is this something that would be done straight away or would there be warning enough time to clear the body of all traces.
Mitch - 12-May-17 @ 1:59 AM
Hello I was wondering if my ex goes to court what are the chances of him being offered only 24 hours every 2 weeks with my son? It's a funny question but he has another son who he has Fridaythorpe Sunday night every other weekend but only wants my son who is younger sat evening to Sunday afternoon,it makes me angry that he doesn't have more time with his dad and it makes things hard for me with my work and other children so I've asked him to make arrangements to have my son the whole weekend or not to bother as I cannot arrange everything around his times.... I'd rather my son feel wanted and treated the same as his brother then feel like he's loosing out on time and the brother is getting more... Am I being unreasonable If he goes to court are they going to accept my son being second best or am I am correcting thinking they should have thesame amount of time
Mummabear - 12-May-17 @ 1:43 AM
I am participating in supervised meetings with my Son hundreds of miles from my home. My ex moved away from my local area to make visits as difficult as possible. These supervised visits are a precursor to a court hearing for regular visits, hopefully spaced a reasonable amount of time apart for me to be able to afford to travel. Unfortunately, the visits currently arranged are either every week or every other week. I cannot afford to make these visits before we go to court. Can I get any assistance from anyone to help with the expense of travel? I am currently driving from Kent up to Burnley. I am currently on benefits. Any advice would be hugely appreciated.
Cris - 8-May-17 @ 6:23 PM
Anonymous- Your Question:
Hi, I have an almost three year old daughter who lives an hour and a half away and I see every weekend apart from one as we agreed I'd have a weekend off when we broke up. She goes to nursery school in September and her mom wants to cut my contact down to every other weekend and some times during school holidaysI do not think this is fair as she will have my daughter before and after nursery and every other weekend and I will only get her every other weekend (friday night to sunday evening) but she is sticking to her guns. What can I do? she is saying mediation but I can't see it being resolved as she's not going to change her mind

Our Response:
If you wish to attempt to resolve the issue, then you should consent to mediation. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of mediation, you will then have the option to take the matter to court. This is the rational and preferred way of trying to reach and agreement, if you can't decide between yourselves. Please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 4-May-17 @ 2:20 PM
Hi, I have an almost three year old daughter who lives an hour and a half away and I see every weekend apart from one as we agreed I'd have a weekend off when we broke up. She goes to nursery school in September and her mom wants to cut my contact down to every other weekend and some times during school holidays I do not think this is fair as she will have my daughter before and after nursery and every other weekend and i will only get her every other weekend (friday night to sunday evening) but she is sticking to her guns. What can I do? she is saying mediation but I can't see it being resolved as she's not going to change her mind
Anonymous - 3-May-17 @ 11:21 PM
Chetty - Your Question:
Im a amazing dad who loves my son so much.Been split up with his mum for 3.5 years.I have him of a Tuesday from school, keep him overnight then Friday from school and take him back at 18.00 on Saturday.I've started a new job of a weekend and won't be able to have him Friday night.I said I'll take him Tuesday from school keep him overnight, pick him from school on Wednesday and drop him school on Thursday morning plus pick him up 10-4 of a Saturday.She has said no I can only have him of a Tuesday and that's it.Any advice please.

Our Response:
You would have to suggest resolving the matter via mediation and if your ex refuses, you would then have to apply to court.
SeparatedDads - 2-May-17 @ 12:34 PM
Im a amazing dad who loves my son so much. Been split up with his mum for 3.5 years. I have him of a Tuesday from school, keep him overnight then Friday from school and take him back at 18.00 on Saturday. I've started a new job of a weekend and won't be able to have him Friday night. I said I'll take him Tuesday from school keep him overnight, pick him from school on Wednesday and drop him school on Thursday morning plus pick him up 10-4 of a Saturday. She has said no I can only have him of a Tuesday and that's it. Any advice please.
Chetty - 1-May-17 @ 8:42 PM
saddad - Your Question:
Hi, I split from the mother of my daughter a year ago. I get to see her once a week but only with her mother and we have to go for trips out. It has got to the stage I want to see my little girl without her mum. There was never any violence and it wasn't a bad break up but she just won't let me spend alone time with my daughter. I don't know how I should go about trying to fix this as her mum is so stubborn. I am on the birth certificate. Any advice would be great. Thank you

Our Response:
In the first instance, you need to suggest mediation to your ex. You could say something along the lines of; 'This arrangement is fine for the moment, but I am the father and at some point soon I will want unsupervised access to my daughter. I'd like us to plan it between us, but if we can't agree we can either go down the mediation route (as I'm happy to come to a mutual/planned arrangement) - but if you say no to mediation I will apply to court.' In situations such as this, being fair and supportive is fine, but you also have to be firm. As the father, you do have rights and a court will want you to develop a relationship with your daughter. Currently, you are doing the right thing by maintaining this contact, but at some point it is only natural you will want time alone with your child. The articles here, and here should help. Plus, if you cannot afford the court process see link here. I will also put your question on our Separated Dads Facebook page and hopefully some of our dads will give you some helpful advice. Please see your answers via the link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 28-Apr-17 @ 11:04 AM
deejay - Your Question:
Hi im currently goin through a hard breakup with my sons mum. Ive asked her to allow me permission to pick my son up from nursery even tho im goin through a depressed stage, plus to have my surname added to his birth certificate my question is what rights n qhat legal help am I entitled to.

Our Response:
You would have to suggest mediation in the first instance, please see link here and if your ex refuses to consider this, you would have to apply to court. The courts do want fathers to have a relationship with their child, so unless there is a very good reason why you shouldn't have contact with your child, or parental responsibility (if your name is not on the birth certificate), then these orders will be put in place. However, in your case, if you are depressed and are finding the separation from your son difficult, then I suggest you perhaps join a group such as Families Need Fathers here where you can meet other dads in the same position and help build your confidence back up. Plus, it will also give you the strength to get through this tough time.
SeparatedDads - 27-Apr-17 @ 2:47 PM
Hi, I split from the mother of my daughter a year ago. I get to see her once a week but only with her mother and we have to go for trips out. It has got to the stage I want to see my little girl without her mum. There was never any violence and it wasn't a bad break up but she just won't let me spend alone time with my daughter. I don't know how I should go about trying to fix this as her mum is so stubborn. I am on the birth certificate. Any advice would be great. Thank you
saddad - 27-Apr-17 @ 2:12 PM
Hi im currently goin through a hard breakup with my sons mum. Ive asked her to allow me permission to pick my son up from nursery even tho im goin through a depressed stage, plus to have my surname added to his birth certificate my question is what rights n qhat legal help am i entitled to.
deejay - 27-Apr-17 @ 3:49 AM
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