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How Visitation Rights Work For Fathers

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 27 Jun 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.

Separated Dads Chat Room & Forum

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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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
Unknown- Your Question:
I am a parent of two boys the youngest being 16 months, and am trying to have them stay with me over night in the week witch is what they used to do. I have them every other weekend but I now live 45/50 minutes away and the mother says it's to far for our children to travel there and stay over night and to travel back the next morning to school in the week put I can still take them out for tea but need them back at 6pm, she is not moving on this matter and we are going back to mediation to try and resolve it but this may go further if I don't back down, there has been no abuse in anyway to me/her and has been for the amicable but mostly on her terms we are both great parents can she stop me doing this and What is my legal right as a father? Is this unacceptable distance and not in the best interest of the children? I don't want our children being upset or stressed in any way and if it's to far then of course I'd do what's best for them.

Our Response:
You only have two options here; mediation and if you cannot resolve the matter through mediation, then you will have to take the matter to court. However, it is very difficult to anticipate what the court may decide and/or whether it thinks the contact you have already is adequate. Every other weekend and one night in the week is considered fair/standard. Therefore, it's a tricky position you are in as you do have contact and so it makes it impossible to anticipate what a court may decide. I know this is not really an answer to your question - but there isn't a straightforward one. You might wish to seek some legal advice regarding this to see whether you have a good case to argue.
SeparatedDads - 25-Apr-17 @ 10:06 AM
I am a parent of two boys the youngest being 16 months, and am trying to have them stay with me over night in the week witch is what they used to do. I have them every other weekend but I now live 45/50 minutes away and the mother says it's to far for our children to travel there and stay over night and to travel back the next morning to school in the week put I can still take them out for tea but need them back at 6pm, she is not moving on this matter and we are going back to mediation to try and resolve it but this may go further if I don't back down, there has been no abuse in anyway to me/her and has been for the amicablebut mostly on her terms we are both great parentscan she stop me doing this and What is my legal right as a father? Is thisunacceptable distance and not in the best interest of the children? I don't want our children being upset or stressed in any way and if it's to far then of course I'd do what's best for them.
Unknown - 24-Apr-17 @ 6:05 AM
Shaz - Your Question:
My ex hubby walked out 5months ago to live with girl half his age(18) who is 5 months pregnant.no contact with kids for 3 months and has seen them once in last 2 months phones when it suits him but from pruvate number so kids can never contact him. He is now demanding kids and will not see them without her kids are not ready for that. So he is taking me to court what rights has he ? Kids are over 11 so will have their say but im worried they will get hurt all over again.

Our Response:
In circumstances as this it is best to try to avoid court and try to resolve the issue through mediation. A court will always act upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your kids regardless of whether their father left the family home etc. If he had a good/close relationship with them up until the time he left, then the court will try its best to help this relationship to continue. Unless you can come up with a good reason why your ex's new partner shouldn't see your children, then it is unlikely a court would try to prevent this. Likewise, as you say, now your children are over the age of 11, then their opinions will count. However, the court will still always decide upon what 'it' thinks is in the best interests of your children. I know you are trying to look out for your kids, but you need to put away any past hurt you personally may feel and decide whether you think your kids having a relationship with their father is better than them not. Your kids are the main focus here and you may wish to talk to them directly and take on board their opinions and ask them what they personally wish to do. Negotiation is the most important way through this. If access is arranged via a court order, then you will have to strictly adhere to this. If you negotiate through mediation, then you at least have room to re-negotiate as you see fit, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 20-Apr-17 @ 1:50 PM
My ex hubby walked out 5months ago to live with girl half his age(18) who is 5 months pregnant .no contact with kids for 3 months and has seen them once in last 2 months phones when it suits him but from pruvate number so kids can never contact him . He is now demanding kids and will not see them without her kids are not ready for that . So he is taking me to court what rights has he ? Kids are over 11 so will have their say but im worried they will get hurt all over again.
Shaz - 20-Apr-17 @ 2:36 AM
Frustrated - Your Question:
Hi, I was wondering if I could get some advice if possible. I am divorced from my husband and I am the primary carer of our child aged 6 who he sees at weekends when he is able. There is no set arrangement in place because he works shifts and so his pattern is unpredictable so he will see him usually for the day at weekends and / or some nights straight from school. The problem I am having is that he is refusing overnight stays, which I feel are necessary to enable them to spend good quality time together, it also gives me an opportunity to have a break now and again. We have tried mediation but it did not resolve anything. Is there anything I can do through the court system to force him to take him overnight? I am not asking for every weekend or second weekend, just once a month or so.

Our Response:
You don't give any reason why your ex is refusing to have his child overnight. If no resolution has been reached via mediation, in normal circumstances the next option would be to take the matter to court. However, a court will not force an unwilling or reluctant parent to take a child against their wishes. A court will always decide first and foremost what it thinks is in the child's best interests and would opt not to forceably place a child in this situation.
SeparatedDads - 19-Apr-17 @ 2:19 PM
Hi, I was wondering if I could get some advice if possible. I am divorced from my husband and I am the primary carer of our child aged 6 who he sees at weekends when he is able. There is no set arrangement in place because he works shifts and so his pattern is unpredictable so he will see him usually for the day at weekends and / or some nights straight from school. The problem I am having is that he is refusing overnight stays, which I feel are necessary to enable them to spend good quality time together, it also gives me an opportunity to have a break now and again. We have tried mediation but it did not resolve anything. Is there anything I can do through the court system to force him to take him overnight? I am not asking for every weekend or second weekend, just once a month or so.
Frustrated - 13-Apr-17 @ 2:11 PM
My ex and I split in the summer of last year and he is in the armed forces, he is on my child's birth certificate, however, my child lives with me throughout the year as he is based in Ireland and gets called abroad to serve. He has her when he is on leave, and he pays maintenance as a mutual agreement settled by us. However, I am a full-time student and so our child is in a nursery which we both chose before we split. The course and childcare are funded however I start university in September and to keep our child's place we have to pay for the holidays, which we have done since our child started nursery last September. Now he is not happy about paying half the cost of the holidays with me. However, his maintenance does not cover hardly anything let alone childcare costs. I am unsure what to do, if I pay for the childcare through the holidays on my own and go through CSA for maintenance.. when he is on leave I usually let him have her for the whole of his leave, which could be anything from a weekend to 3-4 to maybe 8 weeks. I feel like this isn't fair as his leave is never set dates and changes constantly, he never knows when or for how long is leave will be. I send him photos and videos constantly and I accept his facetimes on my phone whenever he is free so that he can stay in contact and apparently this is not enough. I need advice and I would like to know what the contact should be when he is on leave.
...111 - 12-Apr-17 @ 6:25 PM
Mom - Your Question:
I would like to know, how I need to go about for fixed visitations as currently I am seperated from my child's dad and he does get to see him every other weekend when it suits him. I would like my son to go to his dad every second weekend atleast as he is starting to grow very fond of him and always crying about his dad and I feel the dad should take responsibility too, as seeing your child once over a weekend is not enough and does not make you a father.

Our Response:
I'm afraid a parent cannot force another parent to take their child. If the non-resident parent does not wish to have a relationship with his child, then a court will never attempt to force this. You should speak with your son's father directly about organising visitations. If he cannot keep to days and times, then mediation is the next course of action in order to try to resolve the issues between you.
SeparatedDads - 11-Apr-17 @ 2:43 PM
I would like to know, how i need to go about for fixed visitations as currently i am seperated from my child's dad and he does get to see him every other weekend when it suits him. I would like my son to go to his dad every second weekend atleast as he is starting to grow very fond of him and always crying about his dad and i feel the dad should take responsibility too, as seeing your child once over a weekend is not enough and does not make you a father.
Mom - 11-Apr-17 @ 7:34 AM
My partner has cancelled all contact I have with my son. I am waiting on legal aid decision to proceed with court. In the meantime do I have any rights too see my son of 6 .
Scottish76 - 31-Mar-17 @ 5:45 PM
Zed - Your Question:
I would like to see my child. I have a restraining order (non-molestation order) against me from my ex-wife. I had a restraining order not to see my daughter but it expired in February 2017. How can I go about seeing my daughter. I do not have contact details for where she lives with the mother. Thank you for your help.

Our Response:
You would be advised to seek legal advice regarding this matter as you would have to apply through court. Along with the C100 contact form, you would have to apply for a C4 form, which is an application for an order for disclosure of a child's whereabouts. This will allow the courts to put a trace on your child to allow you to apply to court. The address can remain confidential if your ex wishes it, but it means the court can serve papers.
SeparatedDads - 28-Mar-17 @ 11:00 AM
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