Home > Legal > Separation Rights for Fathers

Separation Rights for Fathers

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 20 Sep 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Separated Dads Separation Rights

If you have a child with your partner but aren’t married, you do have rights and responsibilities. Since the new law in 2003, if you were present when the birth was registered and your name is on the birth certificate as the child’s father, your position as a parent is equal to the mothers.

That law supplemented the 1989 Children Act, which was intended to emphasise parental responsibilities over rights, and believed that arrangements which were best for the children could be made without things having to devolve into court actions. It was idealistic, and the reality has often proved different from the intention.

The Problems

However well-intentioned the law, it can contain some nasty surprises for you. If you weren’t married to your partner and your name isn’t on the child’s birth certificate, although you know you’re the biological father, you could find you have no right to see your children unless your former partner allows it.

If your name isn’t on that birth certificate, you’ll need a Parental Responsibility Agreement. Once signed and properly filed with the court, this will give you full parental rights and responsibilities. Of course, if your former partner won’t sign, then you’re stuck, and be forced to take the case to a hearing in court. If the mother continues to assert you’re not the father, the legal bills could become very high indeed. You’ll need to apply for a Parental Responsibility Order. The court will consider the welfare of the child, and you’ll find that an Order will be granted only if it’s better than not granting an Order at all.

Fathers’ Rights

In recent years, there have been protests regarding Fathers’ Rights in the UK (witness some of the antics of Fathers4Justice, for instance). However, according to government statistics, the vast majority of arrangements for contact (90%) are made informally, and in 2003, only 2% of the applications to court for contact orders were refused. In other words, in spite of the horror stories, you should have a good chance of contact, especially if your child was born after 2003, or you have yours and your former partner’s signatures on a Parental Responsibility Agreement.

Types of Orders

You should be familiar with the types of orders you’ll encounter once you’re separated. A Residence Order determines which parent the children will live with – which in most instances is the mother, although you can apply for a Residence Order (this is possibly even if you don’t have Parental Responsibility). Realistically speaking, though, don’t hold your breath. A Contact Order specifies when and under what circumstances you can see your children. The court has to consider the welfare of the children when granting, or not granting, a contact order.

A Prohibited Steps Order prevents someone (not necessarily just a person with Parental Responsibility) doing certain things with your children, such as removing them from the country.

Specific Issue Orders are drawn up to deal with particular items, where you and your former partner can’t reach agreement. They’re often requested for education and medical issues. You’ll need to use a solicitor to apply for any of these orders.

What next?

There are several ways to arrange contact between you and your children, ranging from an agreement between you and your ex to a Contact Order from the family court. Our article How Visitation Rights Work for Fathers gives information on how the orders work and what to expect from them.

This article, explains about the specific process you'd go through to get a contact order put in place.

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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Titan- Your Question:
Hi,I don't know if anyone can help because this is a difficult one I've recently come out of a relationship, it was a good relationship we was happy, or so I thought, she fell pregnant it wasn't planned but I would say it wasn't an accident either we're both adults and knew what the results of unprotected sex could be. When she told me she was pregnant I was so happy we hadn't been together long but I knew I loved her then literally overnight she decided she didn't want me anymore and has been trying to cut me out ever since I had to beg and plead for her to let me come to the first scan and with the second scan coming up soon I'm afraid that if I ask to come to this one she's not going to let me and I really want to go this is my first child and I want to be involved as much as possible. Can anyone please help me?

Our Response:
I am very sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, there is little you can do until your child is born. You can see the process you will need to go through via the link here .
SeparatedDads - 21-Sep-18 @ 11:45 AM
Hi, I don't know if anyone can help because this is a difficult one I've recently come out of a relationship, it was a good relationship we was happy, or so I thought, she fell pregnant it wasn't planned but I would say it wasn't an accident either we're both adults and knew what the results of unprotected sex could be. When she told me she was pregnant I was so happy we hadn't been together long but I knew I loved her then literally overnight she decided she didn't want me anymore and has been trying to cut me out ever since I had to beg and plead for her to let me come to the first scan and with the second scan coming up soon I'm afraid that if I ask to come to this one she's not going to let me and I really want to go this is my first child and I want to be involved as much as possible. Can anyone please help me?
Titan - 20-Sep-18 @ 3:35 PM
Jo - Your Question:
I wonder if someone might be able to help in a very desperate situation.Long story short, 15 years ago, my brother had a brief fling with a girl for a couple of months, which ended soon after and he didn’t see her again. The woman went back to her husband and two children. 14 years ago, the woman turned up on my brothers doorstep with an 8 month old baby saying the baby was his. It appeared she had left her husband again and so came looking for my brother. He did what he could, started a relationship for the sake of his son. Four months later, the day before his sons birthday, she disappeared. When he tried to contact her, she called the police and got harassment warning. We approached her mum who advised us to pretend the boy didn’t exist as her daughter was a vile horrible human being and would use the child to rip my brothers world apart. The woman disappeared, but before she did, she sent my brother a scan of twins saying they were His and he would never see them. We have spent 13 years trying to find her. We didn’t know enough about her. She seemed to disappear off the face of the earth. Until now. She has contacted me through Facebook (don’t know how as I have different name now as married and we have no mutual friends other than my brother) saying she has spent years trying to get in touch to no avail.and wants to speak about the three kids. I excitedly tried to email back, but her account is blocked so I can’t. I’ve therefore stalked her account a bit and friend a friend and her older daughter (21) both who have have contacted. No response. I know her and from what I know, she is playing a sick game. What I have found is my nephews Facebook, but he is only fifteen. Does anyone have any ideas about what we can do? All we know (from Facebook) is the city she now lives in. I’m at my wits end. And desperate for us to see our son/nephew/grandson. Any ideas???

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Your brother's only option would be to apply to court for access by filling in a C100 form which is a contact order. Then he can fill in a C4 form which is an application for the disclosure of a child's whereabouts. This will allow the courts to put a trace on the mother in order that your son can bring the matter to court. You can see more via the link here and here . If your brother cannot afford legal representation he can self-litigate, please see the link here . If he is on a low income or no income he may get a reduction in court fees, please see the link here. Our Separated Dads forum may also help your brother further.
SeparatedDads - 17-Sep-18 @ 2:04 PM
I wonder if someone might be able to help in a very desperate situation. Long story short, 15 years ago, my brother had a brief fling with a girl for a couple of months, which ended soon after and he didn’t see her again. The woman went back to her husband and two children. 14 years ago, the woman turned up on my brothers doorstep with an 8 month old baby saying the baby was his. It appeared she had left her husband again and so came looking for my brother. He did what he could, started a relationship for the sake of his son. Four months later, the day before his sons birthday, she disappeared. When he tried to contact her, she called the police and got harassment warning. We approached her mum who advised us to pretend the boy didn’t exist as her daughter was a vile horrible human being and would use the child to rip my brothers world apart. The woman disappeared, but before she did, she sent my brother a scan of twins saying they were His and he would never see them. We have spent 13 years trying to find her. We didn’t know enough about her. She seemed to disappear off the face of the earth. Until now. She has contacted me through Facebook (don’t know how as I have different name now as married and we have no mutual friends other than my brother) saying she has spent years trying to get in touch to no avail...and wants to speak about the three kids. I excitedly tried to email back, but her account is blocked so I can’t. I’ve therefore stalked her account a bit and friend a friend and her older daughter (21) both who have have contacted. No response. I know her and from what I know, she is playing a sick game. What I have found is my nephews Facebook, but he is only fifteen. Does anyone have any ideas about what we can do? All we know (from Facebook) is the city she now lives in. I’m at my wits end. And desperate for us to see our son/nephew/grandson. Any ideas???
Jo - 16-Sep-18 @ 10:20 AM
I have been separated from my son's dad for 6 years ... we cannot get on at all ... he changes all arrangements made at will and pays no maintenance.... I live in spain and my son was born here.... what do I have to do legally to get back to the UK... if I get the fathers permission does this have to be a legal paper...
Shelley - 14-Sep-18 @ 11:05 PM
Hi, it was brought to my attention last year that my ex wanted to change my sons name to her new married name. I declined and she said she will do it anyway even without my consent i looked up and believed she couldnt do this without my sayso. My son recently told me about him getting a new passport with his step dads name on it. Im not stupid i know when my son moved school recently my ex has given the name of my sons step dad as ive also seen on some books thats what it is but i just ignored it thinking whatever thats not his real name anyway. But how will i know if his passport has changed or if my ex is actualy going through the process of changing my sons name behind my back
Dad328 - 26-Jul-18 @ 10:42 PM
Micky - Your Question:
Need some info. my girl who lives with her mum wants to change my daughters surname officially, she already as unofficially with schools, doctors etc. If I agree, which I don’t do I lose any rights?

Our Response:
You would not lose 'parental responsibility' if you agree to allowing your ex to change your child's name.
SeparatedDads - 18-Jun-18 @ 10:05 AM
Need some info... my girl who lives with her mum wants to change my daughters surname officially, she already as unofficially with schools, doctors etc. If I agree, which I don’t do I lose any rights?
Micky - 17-Jun-18 @ 10:55 AM
Hey I’m a father well I don’t if you can call it that now .its been a decade.the mother never picks up the phone if she does changes her number if I find out where they are staying she moves .if done it’s over I give up .i will never get to meet my child or have a relationship with her.i quit trying .im moving on with my life and starting over .the last time I tried to see my child her mother laughed at me and made fun of me and then moved house again and changed number.i don’t no why she gets over off on this must be power or a control thing .at least my child was older enough this time to realise I tried with everything I had to be apart of her life .she even went to police after all these years to try and jail me again.this women has so much hate for me it’s not funny.anyway I done now .thanks for reading.
Cwl - 24-Jan-18 @ 11:38 PM
nad - Your Question:
Hello,I am currently filling for a divorce as my husband and I have been separated for 2years and I found out that he was cheating on me and his mistress is expecting a child from him. Our 2year old son has my surname and as my husband knew I was planning to move to the USA he wants to change our son's surname to his own one. He said it will be difficult to me to travel if my son has his name while when I was pregnant he agreed that I can choose the name.He was not involved in the pregnancy. I was alone in the UK till today and he lives in France with his mum. I am the only one caring for my son and he comes here rarely and sometimes I go to france so thay my son can see his dad.Please can you tell me if he can change the name of the child without my consent?I always wanted to move to the USA , can I still do it without his consent?I'm filing the divorce on the ground of 2years separation because I know he will be angry if Im using the adultery but I have all the proof. He wants me to stay in the UK or in Europe so that he can visit the child but he does it rarely and most of the time I spend my money to visit him. I want to progress in my career and move where I will be happy without fighting with him.

Our Response:
If the father has parental responsibility of your child, then you cannot change your child's surname or leave the country without consent from him. If he refuses, you would have to take the matter to court. Please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 17-Jul-17 @ 11:23 AM
Hello, I am currently filling for a divorce as my husband and I have been separated for 2years and I found out that he was cheating on me and his mistress is expecting a child from him. Our 2year old son has my surname and as my husband knew I was planning to move to the USA he wants to change our son's surname to his own one. He said it will be difficult to me to travel if my son has his name while when I was pregnant he agreed that I can choose the name. He was not involved in the pregnancy. I was alone in the UK till today and he lives in France with his mum. I am the only one caring for my son and he comes here rarely and sometimes I go to france so thay my son can see his dad. Please can you tell me if he can change the name of the child without my consent? I always wanted to move to the USA , can I still do it without his consent? I'm filing the divorce on the ground of 2years separation because I know he will be angry if Im using the adultery but I have all the proof. He wants me to stay in the UK or in Europe so that he can visit the child but he does it rarely and most of the time I spend my money to visit him. I want to progress in my career and move where I will be happy without fighting with him.
nad - 15-Jul-17 @ 3:03 AM
Lloydy - Your Question:
Will I loose all responsibilities if my daughters name is changed by dee polland do I still pay maintence once her name as changed

Our Response:
A change of name by Deed Poll will not affect your parental responsibility of your child, nor the fact you will still be eligible to pay child maintenance.
SeparatedDads - 17-May-17 @ 12:31 PM
Will i loose all responsibilities if my daughters name is changed by dee polland do i still pay maintence once her name as changed
Lloydy - 13-May-17 @ 8:48 AM
Tali - Your Question:
Hi. My ex and I separated when my son was 6 months old. He's nearly 10. She's just sent me a solicitors letter saying she is taking him 100 miles away to start a new life with her new partner, I have shared custody of my son all his life, I've only ever introduced him to 1 woman, who I am now married too. We have a stable relationship, own our own house. His mother has had more boyfriends than I can count, all have been introduced into my son's life, he's seen all the breakdowns of her relationships, I am regular at the school for pick ups, drop offs, parents evenings. School plays, I pay maintenance to his mum, always have, I buy his clothes, I do all of his out of school activities with him, she does none,. My son also wants to live with me. Any one have any advice for me???

Our Response:
As you have shared care and you think your ex may take your child to live away without your consent (which is needed by law), then you would have the option to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. A PSO is an order granted by the court in family cases which prevents either parent from carrying out certain events or making specific trips with their children without the express permission of the other parent. This is more common in cases where there is suspicion that one parent may leave the area with their children. 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. However, if you think your child would suffer significant disruption, then there is no reason why you cannot apply to have your child live with you. If your ex disagrees with this suggestion and will not consent to mediation to sort the matter out, then you can apply for a child arrangement order, please see link here . You may also wish to seek legal advice in order to explore your options.
SeparatedDads - 5-May-17 @ 2:55 PM
Hi. My ex and I separated when my son was 6 months old. He's nearly 10. She's just sent me a solicitors letter saying she is taking him 100 miles away to start a new life with her new partner, I have shared custody of my son all his life, I've only ever introduced him to 1 woman, who I am now married too. We have a stable relationship, own our own house. His mother has had more boyfriends than I can count, all have been introduced into my son's life, he's seen all the breakdowns of her relationships, I am regular at the school for pick ups, drop offs, parents evenings. School plays, I pay maintenance to his mum, always have, I buy his clothes, I do all of his out of school activities with him, she does none,. My son also wants to live with me. Any one have any advice for me???
Tali - 5-May-17 @ 11:28 AM
Hi..i have 2 kids 8&9 yo,with my ex-liven partner.my kids under the surename of my exliven partner.since he cant gived all the needs of my child i dicide to leaved him.till i meet my husband now a stepfather of my kids he take all the responsibility to us morethan 7yrs.my husband and i want to change the surename of my kids by given his surename.how could i change it with out the concern of my exliven partner?
Che - 12-Jul-16 @ 1:52 PM
Hi my 13 year oold daughter wants to change her name to my married name, is the possible ? She has her biological fathers name but doesn't see him or get on with him any more. She was born 2012 .
Menda75 - 8-Jul-16 @ 6:04 PM
Hi I know this site is aimed at fathers but I was just looking for some advice really please. Bit of background is that I split from my kids dad around eight years ago. He was very abusive both physical and verbal and the police were called numerous amounts of times and actually ran into my flat once and caught him in the act of smashing my house up. when he saw them he made a run for the balcony as if to jump off and I was very very high up. Took me three years years to finally get rid of him. I have always allowed contact although at times during his drink and drug benders I have refused contact for a few weeks. anyway at xmas the children aged 14,12 and 11 came home and broke down crying and told me and my new partner he had forced them to get in a car whilst extremely drunk and having no license to bring them home. he has been taking them on the railway tracks where he tried to commit suicide a few years ago and pretending to get his laces stuck so the children have to run on and free him. He has been stealing from shops whilst they are with him and using them as a detour. and keeping them in the pub all night amongst a lot lot more emotional things. The children told m and my partner they hate him and never want to see him again and due to the danger he is putting them in they have not been since. this has prompted him to harass me and turn up to our home. I involved police and the schools and now I have a ex parte non mol and prohibited steps order. My concern is that the courts may force me to send the children to see im one he's too much of a danger and two they are refusing to ever see him again. I do not even want him being allowed supervised contact I want no contact ever again. will it be likely that he gets supervised or unsupervised. what happens at the hearing we have in two weeks. im so scared he is going to hurt them
concerned mom - 8-Apr-16 @ 6:07 PM
Hi I know this site is aimed at fathers but I was just looking for some advice really please. Bit of background is that I split from my kids dad around eight years ago. He was very abusive both physical and verbal and the police were called numerous amounts of times and actually ran into my flat once and caught him in the act of smashing my house up. when he saw them he made a run for the balcony as if to jump off and I was very very high up. Took me three years years to finally get rid of him. I have always allowed contact although at times during his drink and drug benders I have refused contact for a few weeks. anyway at xmas the children aged 14,12 and 11 came home and broke down crying and told me and my new partner he had forced them to get in a car whilst extremely drunk and having no license to bring them home. he has been taking them on the railway tracks where he tried to commit suicide a few years ago and pretending to get his laces stuck so the children have to run on and free him. He has been stealing from shops whilst they are with him and using them as a detour. and keeping them in the pub all night amongst a lot lot more emotional things. The children told m and my partner they hate him and never want to see him again and due to the danger he is putting them in they have not been since. this has prompted him to harass me and turn up to our home. I involved police and the schools and now I have a ex parte non mol and prohibited steps order. My concern is that the courts may force me to send the children to see im one he's too much of a danger and two they are refusing to ever see him again. I do not even want him being allowed supervised contact I want no contact ever again. will it be likely that he gets supervised or unsupervised. what happens at the hearing we have in two weeks. im so scared he is going to hurt them
concerned mom - 8-Apr-16 @ 6:07 PM
My brother has been summoned to a court in Ireland over a surname change of his daughter. His daughter was born and registered in England after 2003 and my brothers name is on her birth cert. I'm wondering if his parental rights will still stand in a court in Ireland as they would in England. He is in regular contact with his daughter and doesn't want her surname to be changed she's only 3. Any advice at all would be great. Thank you
laura52k - 15-Mar-16 @ 8:37 PM
Tivvy- Your Question:
Hi, I have 2 sons with my wife, a month ago she left whilst I was at work over a phone dispute. Had no contact sins as don't know where they are living, inlaws are refusing info and her phones are switched off. My birthday today an want to see the boys. Mediation in process as letter Gona be sent to inlaws. But am thinking of going seeing them in school, don't know what she's told school but can they stop me seeing them for 5min, cuz am missing um too much not to be able to see um on me birthday would be bad. Any advice

Our Response:
It depends whether your ex has prevented access via the school. Another route would be to apply for an interim court order, please see link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 25-Feb-16 @ 12:34 PM
Hi, I have 2 sons with my wife, a month ago she left whilst I was at work over a phone dispute. Had no contact sins as don't know where they are living, inlaws are refusing info and her phones are switched off. My birthday today an want to see the boys. Mediation in process as letter Gona be sent to inlaws. But am thinking of going seeing them in school, don't know what she's told school but can they stop me seeing them for 5min, cuz am missing um too much not to be able to see um on me birthday would be bad. Any advice
Tivvy - 24-Feb-16 @ 9:21 AM
I please guilty for domestic violence turning wife face towards me to talk, it came into assault so I plea guilty. Also she alleged me to beat children time to time. Now we are separated we have three daughters my wife does not allow me to see the kids. I want know what courses should I do to get access to kid ASAP (ei anger management, risk assessment domestic violence etc)
Ali555 - 4-Feb-16 @ 11:38 AM
Can my ex partner marry and change my sons surname or add a 2nd surname without my permission? I am on the birth certificate and have 50-50 access to my son.
BigAl - 30-Jan-16 @ 3:14 PM
Hi. My partner seperated from his wife nearly 2 years ago. She had a seperation deed drawn up which stated she would receive all proceeds when the house sold but she would continue to make all mortgage payments. We have just foundout she has defaulted on 6 mortgage payments in the past 12 nths although the house has now sold. This has really affected his credit rating which is preventing us buying a house. He wishes he had never signed it but felt he had to at the time. Is there anything he can do?
lizzie - 7-Jan-16 @ 5:46 PM
garr - Your Question:
Hi my wife left one monday night when I returned home from work. She has never stopped me seeing the kids but in the last week she has stopped answering her phone and I haven't been able to see kids please advise

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Please see link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here. If your ex is preventing access, then you would have to go through this procedure and apply through the courts.
SeparatedDads - 5-Jan-16 @ 11:55 AM
Tetron - Your Question:
My son has not seen his daughter for the last seven month, he use to have her on a Saturday till Sunday as his ex-partner wouldn't allow him to have her for two nights, she is now with someone else and has another child by another man, he has tried to contact his daughters mum but she has switched off her mobile plus his daughters mobile, I miss my Granddayghter/ daughter we are at a loss my son has phone and emailed her family and no one knows anything, what can we do to find her, we have checked the electoral register and she is not on it, any help would be grateful.

Our Response:
Your son can apply through the courts for access and at the same time fill in the 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 his daughter to allow him to apply for contact. I am sorry to hear this - but if your son has parental responsibility then he also has a right to be a part of his daughter's future, and hopefully he will be able to fight for that.
SeparatedDads - 5-Jan-16 @ 11:16 AM
Hi my wife left one monday night when I returned home from work. She has never stopped me seeing the kids but in the last week she has stopped answering her phone and I haven't been able to see kids please advise
garr - 4-Jan-16 @ 8:38 PM
My son has not seen his daughter for the last seven month, he use to have her on a Saturday till Sunday as his ex-partner wouldn't allow him to have her for two nights, she is now with someone else and has another child by another man, he has tried to contact his daughters mum but she has switched off her mobile plus his daughters mobile, I miss my Granddayghter/ daughter we are at a loss my son has phone and emailed her family and no one knows anything, what can we do to find her, we have checked the electoral register and she is not on it, any help would be grateful.
Tetron - 4-Jan-16 @ 5:43 PM
Laura - Your Question:
Hello. I have 3 kids! My eldest is from previous relationship she's 4! Her biological dad hasn't seen her since she was 6 months old!! My other 2 kids are with my current partner who is now my husband. I want to look into him adopting her as he's been there since she was 6 months old but was wondering am I going to have a fight on my hands with her biological father refusing to let this Happen? Or will the courts over rule him?

Our Response:
Please see Family Lives article here for more advice on this topic. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 8-Dec-15 @ 9:58 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments