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Your Separated Father's Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 25 Apr 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Rights Parental Responsibility Civil

When you've split up with your ex it's important to know what your rights and responsibilities are regarding your children. The most important thing is to determine whether or not you have parental responsibility for your children. In the case of married couples, you're responsible for any children born in wedlock.

Unmarried Couples

In general terms, an unmarried mother is deemed to have "parental responsibility" for her children. For births registered in England or Wales; as a father you have parental responsibility if:
  • The child's birth was registered after December 1st, 2003 and your name is on the certificate as the father.
  • If the child was born before that time with no father listed on the birth certificate, but the birth was later re-registered with you named as the father.
  • If you and the child's mother sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement.
  • If you're given a parental responsibility order by the court, or a Residence Order for the child to live with you.
  • If you marry the child's mother.

If the parents are not married, parental responsibility does not automatically pass to the natural father if the mother dies.

Same Sex Couples

With same sex couples, after a civil partnership, you have parental responsibility if you have a parental responsibility agreement or a parental responsibility order from the court.

What Parental Responsibility Means for your Rights as a Dad

If you have parental responsibility, you have a say in the upbringing of your children, even if they don't live with you any more.

However, this doesn't apply to the general, day-to-day life of your children; that will lie with the mother if they live with her. But in other questions, such as religion, upbringing, medical treatment and so on, you have the same rights in making decisions as the mother.

So what rights does parental responsibility give you?

Important Decisions - we've already mentioned that decisions on everyday matters lie with the parent who has residency. But if you have parental responsibility, even as the non-resident parent - you have the right to be consulted over important issues such as:
  • Changing schools
  • Going on holidays with others/other organisations etc
  • Serious medical issues
  • Changing surname
  • Emigration
  • Their marriage
  • Adoption

Once your child gets older, he or she may express their opinions and you may feel that your parental responsibility rights are reduced. At this stage, it is therefore important to consider the wishes of the child in major decisions too.

For more details on parental responsibility, take a look at our guide and letter templates.

If you feel your rights are being ignored and you have parental responsibility, you can apply for a specific steps order or a specific issue order. More information about those can be found here:
Specific Issue Orders.

Applying to the Courts

As a father you can apply to the court for parental responsibility. The court will consider:
  • How committed you are as a father
  • The attachment between you and your child
  • Your reasons for applying for the order

Based on what the judge believes to be in the child's best interests they will either accept or grant your application for parental responsibility.

If you've been part of a couple where the children are yours and you don't have parental responsibility, you can still apply to court for certain types of orders, mostly Contact Orders to see the children, but even for a Residence Order to have the children live with you (if granted, you'll then have parental responsibility).

Note that if your former partner has a Residence Order, she can take your children abroad for up to a month without your consent. However, if the trip is longer, or she plans on moving abroad with the children, she will need the consent of both you and anyone else who has parental responsibility for the children. However, if you wish to take your children abroad for a holiday, it's a tougher issue, and legally you're advised to have her agreement first. (Taking a child abroad without the mother's consent can be deemed as abduction in the eyes of the law. Read our article What is Abduction? for more information).

Child Maintenance

Parental responsibility also means you have the duty to support your children financially. If you already have a case ongoing this will probably be done either through the Child Support Agency (CSA) or by an arranged agreement between you and the child's mother. In general terms, you'll pay 15% of your net income for one child, 20% for two and 25% for three children. However, there are adjustments, depending on how much time the children spend with you. If you move abroad, support will be done through the court rather than the CSA. Note that from 25 November 2013, the Child Support Agency (CSA) no longer takes on new cases but will continue to deal with existing cases. The new body handling maintenance issues is the Child Maintenance Service.

When Does Parental Responsibility End?

Your parental responsibility to your children ends when they turn 18 and become legal adults. However, if they're over 16 and marry, it ends with the marriage. If you've obtained parental responsibility through a Residence Order, though, and that Residence Order changes, you don't lose parental responsibility.

You should be aware that if you weren't married to the mother of your children, you're on slightly trickier ground, even if you have your name on the birth certificate or a parental responsibility agreement or order. In that case, any other person with parental responsibility can apply to court to have your parental responsibility ended. Even your children can do that, if they acquire permission from the court.

Court

To help prepare you for going to court for residency or contact, we have a free, comprehensive guide to the whole process here.

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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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hi,my daughter was born 30th December 2015 and my name is on the birth certificate but my ex gave her last name to my daughter and not mine can I change it to my last name?and now she’s just over 2 and her mum is getting her christened without telling me so do I have a say in it?
JayJay85 - 25-Apr-18 @ 10:21 PM
Hi i m father , i have child contact case in East london family court i m student here i Don't have work rights at the moment even i don't have money but my child contact case in East london family court please help me i m soooooooo worried about this my mob number is 07475262123
Sunny - 25-Apr-18 @ 10:04 PM
I have a question for my friend we will call him bacon deluxe .he ex has got herself a new chap and he is very over zealous of her and wants to adopt my friends kids .can they do that to my friend ?
cheese Burger - 25-Apr-18 @ 4:14 PM
Just an enquiry about my new partner of a year now. It’s concerning her ex and their kids, I was just wondering whether the ex has any right or say in whi his kids live with?? Obviously I want them to live with me and the mother (my partner) but can he have a right in saying no?? They have been split up for 5 years now and hasn’t lived with them for the same duration and he sees them from time to time but also pays no maintenance for them. Thank you, Josh
Whopper - 25-Apr-18 @ 12:59 PM
Advice please. I have three children with my ex-partner. I see the older two every other weekend for the full weekend. Sunday’s on the weekend I don’t have them overnight. My ex will not let me take the youngest. Stating that if I wish to see him I have to visit him at her house. Please help. I am on the birth certificate. Have parental rights. Yet she will not let me leave her house with him. But all is okay with the younger two.
Sam123 - 20-Apr-18 @ 2:14 PM
Paul C - Your Question:
I got divorced from my controlling ex over 2 years ago and we have 2 children that I see 2-3 times a week.I have just told her that I am going on holiday for a week in May (my first holiday in the 2 and a half years since we split). I told her that she would need to get childcare for the days when I normally see the children. She hit the roof and said it was my responsibility to get provide childcare on those days as they are the days when I look after them. What is the legal situation here. Whose responsibility is it to sort out the childcare? I take days off work to look after the kids during the holiday so surely it's reasonable to expect that she can take time off for me to go away?

Our Response:
There is no 'legal' situation here - it should be agreed between you. However, if you normally have the children on those particular days, it is not up to your ex to supplement your holiday by paying for and/or arranging childcare. As the children's co-parent, it is theoretically your responsibility.
SeparatedDads - 20-Apr-18 @ 12:28 PM
M Wolek - Your Question:
Advice please.Im recently divorced from narcissistic controlling woman. We have 50/50 custody over children. Last weekend my 4yo become ill during her shift. Next day, on my shift she emailed me at 6am asking how is our son. I haven’t seen her mail till 10am, responded 10.34am. She was already calling the police and now the whole week stacking me and accusing of parental alienation.What are my obligations to inform her on my son condition. I divorced her for the reason that I could not be her servant any more. Now she is abusing me believing my obligation is to report her everything immediately. I believe I’m providing best care in my time. How does my rights look here, advice please? I appreciate

Our Response:
There are no rules or regulations governing what you should do with regards to parental responsibility. Much is based on gut instinct and always thinking and acting regarding what you think is in the best interests of your children. Anything you disagree on should be resolved via discussion and/or mediation in order to try to resolve the situation between you. However, there will always be times when parents fall out and/or disagree, such is life. If either of you can attempt to resolve this without any game-playing, then this will help all concerned.
SeparatedDads - 17-Apr-18 @ 2:08 PM
Concerned - Your Question:
Im in need of some advice , I found out 2years ago my partner had been cheating on me , I then tried to make it work for our kids sake though she wasnt having it and I left the home , since the split ive been subjected to abuse from her friends and she hasnt helped me in any way to secure my kids so it resulted in me having to use solictors , my daughters birthday is appraoching and yet again these issues are starting. Me and my daughter share the same surname. What can I do to keep myself right and the stress ive encountered on behalf of my ex has left me with health coniditions. Please help !!!

Our Response:
Links such as the one here and here may help. However, if your ex refuses to negotiate, or attend mediation, then court may be the only remaining option. As stressful as going to court may be, sometimes it can work for the better, especially where an ex is manipulative and controlling with regards to access to your children. If a court order is put in place, your ex will have to adhere to it. Please also see link here. If you do apply for a court order, it is better to try look to the long term rather than short-term gain.
SeparatedDads - 17-Apr-18 @ 9:42 AM
Im in need of some advice , i found out 2years ago my partner had been cheating on me , i then tried to make it work for our kids sake though she wasnt having it and i left the home , since the split ive been subjected to abuse from her friends and she hasnt helped me in any way to secure my kids so it resulted in me having to use solictors , my daughters birthday is appraoching and yet again these issues are starting. Me and my daughter share the same surname . What can i do to keep myself right and the stress ive encountered on behalf of my ex has left me with health coniditions. Please help !!!
Concerned - 16-Apr-18 @ 1:46 PM
Advice please. Im recently divorced from narcissistic controlling woman. We have 50/50 custody over children. Last weekend my 4yo become ill during her shift. Next day, on my shift she emailed me at 6am asking how is our son. I haven’t seen her mail till 10am, responded 10.34am. She was already calling the police and now the whole week stacking me and accusing of parental alienation. What are my obligations to inform her on my son condition. I divorced her for the reason that I could not be her servant any more. Now she is abusing me believing my obligation is to report her everything immediately. I believe I’m providing best care in my time. How does my rights look here, advice please? I appreciate
M Wolek - 13-Apr-18 @ 6:12 PM
Hi Can anyone please point me in the right direction...as we are at our witts end ! My son has a little 3yr old boy who up until recently has been seeing every other day and every other weekend he sleeps over. The mother has decided that he can no longer see or even speak to him on the phone. This came about as we contacted Child Services regarding the health and care of the little boy...whom we have serious concerns about. My son raised his concerns frequently with the mother but he was always dismissed so Child Services were our only option. They called the mother to tell her and also contacted the nursery he attends and they backed her up...so Child Services dropped the case. We are all fearful that something terrible will happen to this little boy...but shes such a good liar that she has everyone fooled. I only want to do whats best for the little boy..but i constantly seem to be coming up again a brick wall....how can i get people to believe us !! Please help !!
TJ - 10-Apr-18 @ 1:54 PM
Grandkids- Your Question:
My son has started a new job were he works 4 on 4 0ff so is unable to have his son ever other weekend as decided by the courts. Can he legally ask his employers to honour this arrangement?

Our Response:
No. If your son feels the job will clash with the court order, then it is up to him to decide whether he wants to take the job. His only recourse in terms of the court order would be to try to come to an alternative arrangement with his ex, or arrange on via mediation, please see link here. If your son's ex doesn't agree with any changes, then your son would have to refer the matter back to court under a 'variation' due to the change in circumstances and allow the court to decide.
SeparatedDads - 10-Apr-18 @ 11:51 AM
Just requesting info for dads in the UK, If you can give addresses or contacts for organzations in the north, Scotland, Or South with advice for dads on legal issues of marriage separation, and child protection, I have not found as many resources I would like, So any help is appreciated, Thanks, Steven
Steven - 10-Apr-18 @ 11:04 AM
My son has started a new job were he works 4 on 4 0ff so is unable to have his son ever other weekend as decided by the courts. Can he legally ask his employers to honour this arrangement?
Grandkids - 9-Apr-18 @ 6:02 PM
My partners daughter lives in Scotland.She's 5. He's not being denied access but she wants him to go up there every 2 weeks take her out for a few hours and take her home. No overnight. This is costly with petrol and hotels and he doesn't even get quality time.The ex and his daughter have separation issues in that they find it hard leaving esch other.His daughter often says she doesn't wanna stay overnight but then sometimes is fine. This is why she's taken overnight off him. She spent a week here in Liverpool with him in the summer and loved it and met us but once his ex found out about this she is now saying she will do everything in her power to stop his daughter being part of his new family.I have two daughters too and is making excuses that it's too far for her to travel but we know it's cos she's jealous. His daughter hasn't seen any of his family since before Xmas.She's clearly using the child as a weapon.He's asked for half the school holidays and she's said no.The visits must take place in Scotland with just him and he must go every two weeks to build a bond before she will consider overnights again. The thing is whenever he goes here she's twists everything and causes arguments which his daughter sees and gets upset.If his daughter Juat says once I don't wanna go she says well she doesn't wanna go so your visit is cancelled after him travelling and paying for hotels. The next step is court but as it's all what's best for the child what are his chances of getting holidays in Liverpool.We are going to say how shes missing out on family life and the comfort of a homely environment with other children around her and she doesn't like the overnights in Scotland as she doesn't like staying in hotels which is understandable.
Lynds - 7-Apr-18 @ 2:40 PM
I got divorced from my controlling ex over 2 years ago and we have 2 children that I see 2-3 times a week. I have just told her that I am going on holiday for a week in May (my first holiday in the 2 and a half years since we split). I told her that she would need to get childcare for the days when I normally see the children. She hit the roof and said it was my responsibility to get provide childcare on those days as they are the days when I look after them. What is the legal situation here. Whose responsibility is it to sort out the childcare? I take days off work to look after the kids during the holiday so surely it's reasonable to expect that she can take time off for me to go away?
Paul C - 6-Apr-18 @ 11:02 PM
Ian Brooks - Your Question:
I see my daughter every Monday, Wednesday and alternate Fridays and Saturdays, in which she stays at mine.I'm I'm shared housing and rent a room, I work full time in a well paid job, I'm a dedicated father as this shows from how well me and my daughter get along.All has been going well until today.I saw my daughter Friday, has her stay and wasn't well. Her mother picked her up Saturday afternoon.I didn't speak contact my daughter's mum on bank holiday Monday as I was doing my own thing and had plans.Late afternoon I decided to see if they were free, they were and happens to turn up without notice to see me, which happens to be at the same time a woman I'm dating left my home.After seeing this, her mum has now said I'm not to have my daughter any more, I can't collect her from.nursery or childcare.She has also said she will be moving far away so I can't see my little one.Also saying that if she chooses to let me see my daughter, it will be supervised visits! I'm on the birth certificate, and we have been split for 2 years.All details between us have been fine, and now this.I also pay more than needed for maintenance, which I offer as I am her dad.What can I do? I need advice as I can't not see her. I'm a very hands on dad, and I do not want to lose this bond.

Our Response:
Please see the link here and here, which should help answer your questions. Hopefully, this is a situation that will blow over. If it doesn't, then a court is likely to reinstate access if you have been a hands-on dad to date. Unless your ex can prove very good reasons why you should not see your child, then the court will act in your favour. 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. Keeping your child away from you as her father, is punishing your daughter as much as you, which will not be condoned by the courts.
SeparatedDads - 3-Apr-18 @ 2:12 PM
I see my daughter every Monday, Wednesday and alternate Fridays and Saturdays, in which she stays at mine. I'm I'm shared housing and rent a room, I work full time in a well paid job, I'm a dedicated father as this shows from how well me and my daughter get along. All has been going well until today... I saw my daughter Friday, has her stay and wasn't well. Her mother picked her up Saturday afternoon. I didn't speak contact my daughter's mum on bank holiday Monday as I was doing my own thing and had plans. Late afternoon I decided to see if they were free, they were and happens to turn up without notice to see me, which happens to be at the same time a woman I'm dating left my home. After seeing this, her mum has now said I'm not to have my daughter any more, I can't collect her from.nursery or childcare. She has also said she will be moving far away so i can't see my little one. Also saying that if she chooses to let me see my daughter, it will be supervised visits! I'm on the birth certificate, and we have been split for 2 years. All details between us have been fine, and now this. I also pay more than needed for maintenance, which I offer as I am her dad. What can I do? I need advice as I can't not see her. I'm a very hands on dad, and I do not want to lose this bond.
Ian Brooks - 2-Apr-18 @ 6:15 PM
K1994 - Your Question:
Please help. My partner has recently received a message from his ex partner saying she is not allowing him to see their son. She also refused to put him on the birth certificate, what can we do to get him on the birth certificate n get him his rights that he deserves?

Our Response:
You can see the link here, which should tell you and your partner all you need to know about requesting access. The link here , tells you how to apply for parental responsibility.
SeparatedDads - 29-Mar-18 @ 3:37 PM
Luke - Your Question:
I took my ex to court as she would not let me see or do anything with my daughter, went to court and unfortunately I was only able to gain ever other weekend. I know she needs to eat me know what’s going on with my daughter but she still refuses to tell me where she lives with my daughter which the court said she needs to tell me as I have the right but she still won’t, she barely communicates with me and when she does it seems good but then she starts all this head ache again. I’d take her back to court but I don’t see the point as when I was in court they seemed to take everything she said as word and didn’t care about what I said and my concerns. I don’t even have the money to take her back to court as I’m still paying off the court fees I had to take a loan out. I really don’t know what to do and it’s starting to take its toll on me. I just want to be a father to my daughter but I can’t with all these restrictions. Help please.

Our Response:
You can see more about breaching the contact order via the link here, which should tell you all you need to know. If you cannot afford legal representation in court, you can self-litigate, please see link here. In the first instance, if your ex has breached the order, a solicitor's letter reminding her of the terms of the order may work.
SeparatedDads - 29-Mar-18 @ 12:27 PM
I took my ex to court as she would not let me see or do anything with my daughter, went to court and unfortunately I was only able to gain ever other weekend. I know she needs to eat me know what’s going on with my daughter but she still refuses to tell me where she lives with my daughter which the court said she needs to tell me as I have the right but she still won’t, she barely communicates with me and when she does it seems good but then she starts all this head ache again. I’d take her back to court but I don’t see the point as when I was in court they seemed to take everything she said as word and didn’t care about what I said and my concerns. I don’t even have the money to take her back to court as I’m still paying off the court fees I had to take a loan out. I really don’t know what to do and it’s starting to take its toll on me. I just want to be a father to my daughter but I can’t with all these restrictions. Help please.
Luke - 28-Mar-18 @ 1:18 AM
Please help. My partner has recently received a message from his ex partner saying she is not allowing him to see their son. She also refused to put him on the birth certificate, what can we do to get him on the birth certificate n get him his rights that he deserves?
K1994 - 27-Mar-18 @ 10:15 PM
theroonster - Your Question:
Please help. My wife ended our marriage last May (We have 2 young children) but she was not prrpated to leave the house and after 2 weeks I could not bare it and moved out. Whike together all the bilks came out of my wsges and we lived on hers. Since I left the house I have still been paying the mortgage (I earn 1100 a month and the mortgage is 677) The house is on the market with plenty of equity. She has now dropped the bombshell that she is entitled to at least 70% of the profit. Is this right?

Our Response:
There is no specific level of entitlement. If you cannot agree a division of your assets between you, then the only option you would have is to attend mediation or divorce arbitration/take the matter to court for the court to decide. Most separated parents come to an amicable decision as to take the matter to court can prove very costly. If the matter goes to court, the court will primarily decide upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your children and their financial needs. You may wish to seek professional legal advice.
SeparatedDads - 27-Mar-18 @ 1:41 PM
Jeff - Your Question:
I pay £150. A month child support for my daughter. But my ex is asking for more money £35 for shoes spending money to go on holiday is she been unreasonable or should I expect to pay this ?

Our Response:
It is not obligatory that you have to pay more on top of child maintenance (which is for the general day-to-day care of your child). Whatever you pay above and beyond child maintenance is at your discretion.
SeparatedDads - 27-Mar-18 @ 10:44 AM
Please help. My wife ended our marriage last May (We have 2 young children) but she was not prrpated to leave the house and after 2 weeks i could not bare it and moved out. Whike together all the bilks came out of my wsges and we lived on hers.Since I left the house I have still been paying the mortgage (I earn 1100 a month and the mortgage is 677) The house is on the market with plenty of equity. She has now dropped the bombshell that she is entitled to at least 70% of the profit. Is this right?
theroonster - 27-Mar-18 @ 7:35 AM
@Mf - she can't make you if you don't want to. Many dads would jump at the opportunity. There are two people in parenting - so why can't she be allowed to work as well as you? Try to come to an agreement through mediation if you can't agree yourselves. A mediatior will try to find a fair perspective.
Andyt - 26-Mar-18 @ 3:00 PM
Northwest54 - Your Question:
I left my ex wife due to domestic violence in 2014 since then I’ve only had contact with my daughter 4 nites a month I’m in the armed forces. A few weeks ago she assaulted me and gave me A Black eye police are dealing with it and I’mPressing charges.I’ve been to see a solicitor and I’ve decided to go down the 50/50 shared custody route I also informed children’s services about her and they have spoken to her and offered her help amd notes it down on file. Her anger worries me so that’s why I’ve decided to go for shared custody so I can have more of an influence on my daughter. As anyone got any advice.

Our Response:
Shared-residency will only be considered in situations where it is feasible and practical for your child and it fits in with both parents' lifestyles. The court will not offer shared-care as a punishment for your ex, in fact the court is not interested in the relationship between you and your ex. 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. Therefore, it is unlikely a court would award shared care if you have an army career which only allows for limited access and/or means that your lifestyle is not consistent and/or can offer stability and consistency to your child. A professional family law adviser would be able to tell you more regarding your chances of gaining shared-care. If you are in a career which means you move frequently then this may not be seen as logistically feasible by the courts.
SeparatedDads - 26-Mar-18 @ 10:54 AM
I pay £150. A month child support for my daughter. But my ex is asking for more money£35 for shoes spending money to go on holiday is she been unreasonable or should I expect to pay this ?
Jeff - 26-Mar-18 @ 12:55 AM
My ex has just taken on a full time job,we have two girls in primary school.I pay more than CMS rate ,,I have the girls every other weekend and also two weeks of their school holidays and half of the Christmas holidays,I can work this with my full time job,,,, but now my ex is expecting me to take the girls for 50% of their school holidays. She is still receiving benefits and housing allowance can she make me do this.
Mf - 25-Mar-18 @ 8:18 PM
I left my ex wife due to domestic violence in 2014 since then I’ve only had contact with my daughter 4 nites a month I’m in the armed forces. A few weeks ago she assaulted me and gave me A Black eye police are dealing with it and I’m Pressing charges. I’ve been to see a solicitor and I’ve decided to go down the 50/50 shared custody routeI also informed children’s services about her and they have spoken to her and offered her help amd notes it down on file. Her anger worries me so that’s why I’ve decided to go for shared custody so I can have more of an influence on my daughter. As anyone got any advice.
Northwest54 - 24-Mar-18 @ 2:41 PM
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