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How Visitation Rights Work For Fathers

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 10 Apr 2018 | 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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Ez - Your Question:
This is a question:I have recently entered into a relationship with someone I have known for 15 years. I did not inform my ex about this but now she knows she doesn’t want our child to have any contact with my new partner and has threatened to remove my access if her ‘demands’ are not adhered to. She claims that our child’s anxiety is caused by my new relationship which conflicts with the behaviour of my child. My access to my child consists of Thursday to Sunday for 3 weeks out of 4 (month). This access is non court ordered and non family mediation but verbally agreed between me and my child’s mother. What are my rights as the father? Can my ex stop me from seeing my child? Please help as this is stressing me out.

Our Response:
Please see the link here, and here which shows you the process you would need to go through. If you have had good access to your child to date, then a court is likely to re-instate your access. Plus, unless there is a provable reason why your new partner should not be in your child's life, the court should allow you to choose who you wish to be part of your child's life. However, the court will expect you to have attended/considered mediation first before you can apply. Therefore, the quicker you respond to the denial of access the better.
SeparatedDads - 12-Apr-18 @ 2:09 PM
This is a question: I have recently entered into a relationship with someone I have known for 15 years. I did not inform my ex about this but now she knows she doesn’t want our child to have any contact with my new partner and has threatened to remove my access if her ‘demands’ are not adhered to. She claims that our child’s anxiety is caused by my new relationship which conflicts with the behaviour of my child. My access to my child consists of Thursday to Sunday for 3 weeks out of 4 (month). This access is non court ordered and non family mediation but verbally agreed between me and my child’s mother. What are my rights as the father? Can my ex stop me from seeing my child? Please help as this is stressing me out.
Ez - 10-Apr-18 @ 10:07 PM
Ch - Your Question:
I have a 15 month old child my ex lives 2 and a half hours drive away and is insisting on having her for weekends. I have never met most of his family or anyone that he socialises with I don't agree that she should be taken so far and out of her routine or until she can at least talk and tell me if there is any issues but I do obviously want her to have a good relationship with her dad it's so hard as I know if it was the other way around I would want the same thing but don't feel it's in her best interest at the moment?

Our Response:
Your ex will be allowed to pursue the matter through court if you refuse to negotiate through mediation, please see link here. If the matter goes to court, then the court will decide what it thinks is in your child's best interests. If you can come to a plan to work towards between you, this is always a best option.
SeparatedDads - 9-Apr-18 @ 1:00 PM
I have a 15 month old child my ex lives 2 and a half hours drive away and is insisting on having her for weekends. I have never met most of his family or anyone that he socialises with I don't agree that she should be taken so far and out of her routine or until she can at least talk and tell me if there is any issues but I do obviously want her to have a good relationship with her dad it's so hard as I know if it was the other way around I would want the same thing but don't feel it's in her best interest at the moment?
Ch - 7-Apr-18 @ 3:35 PM
Jmac82 - Your Question:
I have two kids from different mums and live approx 120miles from each of my kids.The mums moved away over the course of time and it’s now up to me to travel/get hotels etc in order to see how kids. I do take them back to my house as often as I can but sometimes the 6hr round trip is just too much.I now work a job doing 2weeks on 2weeks off and that kind of helps as it isn’t such a rush to squeeze everything into my weekends with them, particularly on the holidays from school.Recently however one of my children’s mum has stopped overnight contact which now means I have no choice but to visit on the Saturday and Sunday only, we go out and spend the day together and I return my child in the evening.This has put massive emotional strain on myself and my other child who now has to stay with me in guest houses and hotels in order for us to spend time together. Also this has put a massive financial Strain on myself with added costs to entertain, eat, sleep etc not to mention travel costs.all I can hope for now is to get overnight contact back and get back to normality otherwise I may have to give up my rent to buy home and move to areas I would rather not be in.Why is it so hard when it could be so easy?

Our Response:
If the other mother has stopped overnight contact, then you can apply to court to have the contact reinstated. The court will also take on your the logistics you have to jump through. You can ask CMS to take into account certain expenses you pay. These are called ‘special expenses’ and can reduce the gross income figure that is used when child maintenance is worked out, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 6-Apr-18 @ 12:16 PM
I have two kids from different mums and live approx 120miles from each of my kids. The mums moved away over the course of time and it’s now up to me to travel/get hotels etc in order to see how kids. I do take them back to my house as often as I can but sometimes the 6hr round trip is just too much. I now work a job doing 2weeks on 2weeks off and that kind of helps as it isn’t such a rush to squeeze everything into my weekends with them, particularly on the holidays from school. Recently however one of my children’s mum has stopped overnight contact which now means I have no choice but to visit on the Saturday and Sunday only, we go out and spend the day together and I return my child in the evening. This has put massive emotional strain on myself and my other child who now has to stay with me in guest houses and hotels in order for us to spend time together. Also this has put a massive financial Strain on myself with added costs to entertain, eat, sleep etc not to mention travel costs. all I can hope for now is to get overnight contact back and get back to normality otherwise I may have to give up my rent to buy home and move to areas I would rather not be in. Why is it so hard when it could be so easy?
Jmac82 - 5-Apr-18 @ 9:04 PM
I left you a message on your pubic photo about the donation.. have a read before they take it down .it sums up how I feel about you Gordon and big Tyson.
chriso - 30-Mar-18 @ 1:08 AM
Last thing before I go .big shout out to my x sister thank you for putting the thought of me taking my daughter off my x and thanks to the x for feeling guilt for cheating and not wanting money and becoming someone else issue I am blessed .and shout out to my x daughter see ya when I see ya .I hope you don't turn out like your mother .and x you caused all the issues in your life do blame me .and one final shout out to my x lover I feel sorry for you bro I hope you like getting cheated on and screamedat .I wish you luck sucker.
chriso - 30-Mar-18 @ 12:30 AM
I get no access to my daughter from the mother .and I refuse to go to court .but I am lucky I don't pay thank goodness .her affairs guilt her so I dodged a bullet .I am not sad over it I see my daughter one day .I seen a photo off my x wow she got ugly with age big age gap I guess.anyway I scored a new bird so my attention will be on her for awhile to I lose interest. Thanks
chriso - 30-Mar-18 @ 12:09 AM
I’m not getting access to my children at all. Even after an order from the court. The ex won’t answer calls she lets the kids talk to me vary rarely. She lets them talk to me like dirt. Basically I’m prevented from seeing them. I’m desperate to see them. I pay for them and have done since I left and now she has got the CSA involved. I’m falling to pieces with sadness
Matty - 29-Mar-18 @ 8:20 PM
Dezzzzzz - Your Question:
For the past 5years my kids dad has had them every weekend after we split, we went to mediation last year as he only wanted to have them every other weekend and this is something I didn’t agree with. With guidance from the mediator we came to an arrangement that he has them 3 weekends of the month with a weekend to himself that he can choose by notify me before 4pm on a Wednesday. This was working out until October 2017 when he decided to have them as and when he wanted I recently had taken him back to mediation where we couldn’t come to an agreement on what’s best for the children so I’ve decided I’m going to take it to court. After giving you a rough idea I’m wanting to know where I stand in asking for him to have the children every weekend as I believe he need to be as present as possible in the boys lives as they need a positive male role model to look up to. Do you think the court will go in his favour as I don’t think 48 days out of 365 will benefit the boys. Could you give me some pointers on how to make sure the boys see there dad every weekend as this is what they want as they love there dad

Our Response:
A court will not force an unwilling non-resident parent to have the children. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question. The court will always put the children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. As a standard rule, the courts usually award every other weekend with one night in the week, which is deemed fair. There is no guarantee the court will opt in your favour, regardless of the argument you put forward.
SeparatedDads - 27-Mar-18 @ 12:48 PM
For the past 5years my kids dad has had them every weekend after we split, we went to mediation last year as he only wanted to have them every other weekend and this is something I didn’t agree with. With guidance from the mediator we came to an arrangement that he has them 3 weekends of the month with a weekend to himself that he can choose by notify me before 4pm on a Wednesday. This was working out until October 2017 when he decided to have them as and when he wanted i recently had taken him back to mediation where we couldn’t come to an agreement on what’s best for the children so I’ve decided I’m going to take it to court. After giving you a rough idea I’m wanting to know where I stand in asking for him to have the children every weekend as I believe he need to be as present as possible in the boys lives as they need a positive male role model to look up to. Do you think the court will go in his favour as I don’t think 48 days out of 365 will benefit the boys. Could you give me some pointers on how to make sure the boys see there dad every weekend as this is what they want as they love there dad
Dezzzzzz - 20-Mar-18 @ 10:41 PM
Cloud1 - Your Question:
My sons father hasn't wanted to know Jim for 5 years and has recently got into contact I've alowed him to see my son under my supervision he's now wanting him on his own. Where do I stand? What rights does he have? He's not paid a single penny towards him. We werent married and hes not on the birth certificate.

Our Response:
Child access and child maintenance are not connected. If your child's father does not pay child maintenance, you should contact CMS via the link here. Child access should be dealt with as a separate issue. If you cannot agree between you regarding access, then mediation may be the way foward, please see link here. If you don't agree via mediation, then your child's father will have the option to apply to court. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
SeparatedDads - 20-Mar-18 @ 3:20 PM
Cjmc7 - Your Question:
I devorced my ex wife over three years ago And she decided to move back to our home town 74miles away. I was at the beginning picking both of my children up every two weeks. (They are now 12 and 16)Over a period of time my ex has turned my eldest against me and is trying once again to turn my youngest. She now is trying to stop me collecting my youngest for weekends with her dad. She has even made her block me on her phone. I pay maintainance and I also travel the 280 mile round trip. The mother is trying her best to turn another one of my children against me. Has anyone got any help. ?

Our Response:
The only way this can be addressed is via court, please see link here . However, despite there being a crackdown on parents turning the children against the other parent, (please see link here), it remains a difficult thing to prove. As your children are older, they will be asked their preference if Cafcass get involved, which makes the situation a tricky one to try to negotiate.I can only suggest you seek legal advice regarding exploring your options.
SeparatedDads - 20-Mar-18 @ 1:46 PM
My sons father hasn't wanted to know Jim for 5 years and has recently got into contact I've alowed him to see my son under my supervision he's now wanting him on his own. Where do I stand? What rights does he have? He's not paid a single penny towards him. We werent married and hes not on the birth certificate.
Cloud1 - 20-Mar-18 @ 12:22 PM
Chris because he did not give a damn about the baby for a year and I don't trust him. He never gave him a bath, never fed him never put to sleep. Did not see each other for a month now. I want my baby to be safe and happy.
Vero - 20-Mar-18 @ 10:36 AM
Vero - Your Question:
I have a 1 year old child. We split up with his dad about a month ago. Now he wants to see him but does not want to see me. He wants to ask his friend to take our child to his place. Can I refuse it? Can I make conditions like he cannot see the child without my presence? Thanks!

Our Response:
If you cannot agree between you, then perhaps mediation may be an option to consider, please see link here. If you don't agree to make an arrangement through the courts, then your ex will be able to apply to court.
SeparatedDads - 20-Mar-18 @ 10:18 AM
@vero.out of curiosity I would like to ask you why would want to be present when your ex wants to see the child ?.you to are (broken up )why would you want to be present?.is it because he doesn’t want to see you?.
Chris - 19-Mar-18 @ 7:39 PM
I have a 1 year old child. We split up with his dad about a month ago. Now he wants to see him but does not want to see me. He wants to ask his friend to take our child to his place. Can I refuse it? Can I make conditions like he cannot see the child without my presence? Thanks!
Vero - 19-Mar-18 @ 5:37 PM
I devorced my ex wife over three years ago And she decided to move back to our home town 74miles away. I was at the beginning picking both of my children up every two weeks. (They are now 12 and 16) Over a period of time my ex has turned my eldest against me and is trying once again to turn my youngest. She now is trying to stop me collecting my youngest for weekends with her dad. She has even made her block me on her phone. I pay maintainance and I also travel the 280 mile round trip. The mother is trying her best to turn another one of mychildren against me. Has anyone got any help. ?
Cjmc7 - 16-Mar-18 @ 8:28 PM
Concern Mother - Your Question:
I have I 16 month old baby girl. I left the dad due to constant cheating (he cheated on me). I have given him the right to visit his child with me being present at all times. Due to the fact that I wont allow anybody else but myself to change her diapers since se is a girl. Now he wants to see my child without me being present. What rights do I have? I wont allow this. We weren't married but did live together. He only wants to pay a R1500 per month which is ridiculous since it costs way more than just a R1500.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, as we are a UK-based site we cannot answer your question, as South Africa family law differs to the UK's.
SeparatedDads - 16-Mar-18 @ 3:15 PM
@NG - If your ex is not interested in seeing your child, then you do not have to make the effort to take your child to see him. I'd just step back and see what happens. There's not much you can do to force the issue. If he wants to see him. He'll make the effort. As you say, if he's taking drugs, you might not want to try to force the issue anyway.
AidenT - 16-Mar-18 @ 2:33 PM
I have I 16 month old baby girl. I left the dad due to constant cheating (he cheated on me). I have given him the right to visit his child with me being present at all times. Due to the fact that I wont allow anybody else but myself to change her diapers since se is a girl. Now he wants to see my child without me being present. What rights do I have? I wont allow this. We weren't married but did live together. He only wants to pay a R1500 per month which is ridiculous since it costs way more than just a R1500.
Concern Mother - 16-Mar-18 @ 8:34 AM
I am having an issue with my ex partner refusing to make an effort to see our child (aged 1). We split up due to his lack of interest in our child. He lives 15 minutes away and I started off taking him round and picking him up. Very quickly he started cancelling his visits and if I did take him round, he would text after 2 hours for me to pick him up as he 'wanted to watch football, go to the shop to get beer, having a house party'. I told my ex partner he would start making an effort if he wanted to see our child. His mother got involved and I gave him another chance with set days we agreed on. Less than 2 weeks later the cancellations and early pick up requests started again. I told him again he would need to come and make the effort. He doesn't think he should have to come and see him and says I am stopping his relationship by not taking him round. There are plenty of public transport links but he says he never uses public transport and won't start now. I'm not stopping him seeing our child but I'm also not taking him round anymore. My ex partner is also taking drugs, and I am not sure if the house is safe for my child to visit anyway. Can you please advise? Thankyou
NG - 16-Mar-18 @ 7:50 AM
Bubbles- Your Question:
My ex is threatening to take me to court for access to our daughter, even tho he see’s her every week he was homeless and then sleeping in his mates car and then moved in with friends who used to fight with each other in front of there baby so obviously with all that I said he couldn’t take her but could by all means come and see her he has moaned and coursed problems for the whole year but turns it on me he is verbally abusive every time we speak even to the point of calling me all kinds to my daughter in her pram, he is now saying he wants her every weekend Friday till Monday I have told him no as I have an older daughter (different dad) Who wouldn’t get to spend any time with her as she at school all week and he saying he don’t care about my daughter and that he won’t stop till he has full custody of our daughter (no reason for him to get full custody) and cuts me out of her life for good we’re do I stand if this dose go to court?

Our Response:
Your ex would not be able to apply to court, unless you refuse mediation, or the mediation process breaks down. A court is not going to give your ex 'custody'. A court will only transfer a child to another parent where absolutely necessary. However, if you cannot agree between you via mediation, then your ex would be able to apply to court. Then a court will decide what it thinks is in the best interests of your child, and you both would have to keep to any order. Therefore, a mutual agreement or an agreement through mediation is always the best way to resolve any such issues, please see link here . The father does have rights to apply to the court to have unsupervised access to his child, and a court is likely to issue this unless there is a good/provable reason why he shouldn't. The benchmark standard access arrangement through court is overnight every other weekend, and one night in the week (not necessarily overnight). Of course, this can differ, dependent upon circumstances.
SeparatedDads - 15-Mar-18 @ 10:27 AM
My ex is threatening to take me to court for access to our daughter, even tho he see’s her every week he was homeless and then sleeping in his mates car and then moved in with friends who used to fight with each other in front of there baby so obviously with all that I said he couldn’t take her but could by all means come and see her he has moaned and coursed problems for the whole year but turns it on me he is verbally abusive every time we speak even to the point of calling me all kinds to my daughter in her pram, he is now saying he wants her every weekend Friday till Monday I have told him no as I have an older daughter (different dad) Who wouldn’t get to spend any time with her as she at school all week and he saying he don’t care about my daughter and that he won’t stop till he has full custody of our daughter (no reason for him to get full custody) and cuts me out of her life for good we’re do I stand if this dose go to court?
Bubbles - 14-Mar-18 @ 12:51 PM
Slightly different scenario. My sisters new partner has had parental visitation rights denied by a court for 2 kids from a previous marriage and is unwilling to tell the family why. Can I as a concerned brother, uncle and parent myself find out why, and if I should let him anywhere near my own 3 yr old?
Winston - 9-Mar-18 @ 12:20 PM
sj- Your Question:
Ok, so I have a three year old son. I met my partner when I was 12weeks pregnant with someone elses baby from then he was there and has brought my son up as his own which only happened after my sons real dad wanted nothing to do with my child three years later me and my partner are engaged and have another little boy today I got a message to say my sons dad wanted to see him what rights does my partner have since he has done all the work for three years and what rights does my sons real dad have (not named on borth certificate)

Our Response:
Your son's biological father has the right to apply to see his child. If you do not agree, you have the right to refuse. However, if you refuse mediation in order to try to resolve the issues, then your son's father will have the right to apply to court. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
SeparatedDads - 5-Mar-18 @ 3:09 PM
ok, so i have a three year old son. i met my partner when i was 12weeks pregnant with someone elses baby from then he was there and has brought my son up as his own which only happened after my sons real dad wanted nothing to do with my child three years later me and my partner are engaged and have another little boy today i got a message to say my sons dad wanted to see him what rights does my partner have since he has done all the work for three years and what rights does my sons real dad have (not named on borth certificate)
sj - 2-Mar-18 @ 11:44 PM
Amit - Your Question:
Hi,I have a 6 week old daughter, I was living with my in laws when they decided to kick me out due to an argument with my wife, my wife is not replying to my messages asking for an agreement to see my daughter or general welfare of my daughter. My daughter is due to have her first immunisation jabs and I was wondering do I have the right to attend this appointment and can the mother refuse me being in the surgery??

Our Response:
There is no rules to say that you have to attend your daughter's immunisation jabs. Any disagreements between parents have to be resolved via mediation, if the parents cannot resolve these issues between themselves, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 26-Feb-18 @ 12:17 PM
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