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Your Separated Father's Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 12 Feb 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]
G29980 - Your Question:
Hi there. I separated from my wife 3.5 years ago and have 2children, my son age 9 and daughter age 6. I have remained in the village where we all lived and bought a house here, my ex wife now lives 15 miles away and moved in with her new husband 18 months ago and is pregnant with their first child. I have my children 3 nights per week including every other weekend, they have remained at the same primary school since we split up. My ex wife has said that when my son goes to high school she wants him to move schools over to where they live. My son doesn't want to, he wants to go to a school close to our village where his friends will go. At age 10/11 can he make the decision? Do I need to go to court to apply for him to live with me? Can my ex move him anyway even if I object? Thanks for any advice you can give.

Our Response:
Mutual discussion as a family is the first option to take. If your ex refuses to negotiate, then you can suggest that you both attend mediation (if you wish to pursue the matter). You can see what mediation entails via the link here . If your ex refuses to attend mediation, then court would be your next option nearer the time secondary school placements are considered. The court will consider your son's wishes. However, 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. Hopefully, this matter will be able to be fairly negotiated without having to resort to court.
SeparatedDads - 13-Feb-18 @ 9:38 AM
Hi there. I separated from my wife 3.5 years ago and have 2children, my son age 9 and daughter age 6. I have remained in the village where we all lived and bought a house here, my ex wife now lives 15 miles away and moved in with her new husband 18 months ago and is pregnant with their first child. I have my children 3 nights per week including every other weekend, they have remained at the same primary school since we split up. My ex wife has said that when my son goes to high school she wants him to move schools over to where they live. My son doesn't want to, he wants to go to a school close to our village where his friends will go. At age 10/11 can he make the decision? Do I need to go to court to apply for him to live with me? Can my ex move him anyway even if I object? Thanks for any advice you can give.
G29980 - 12-Feb-18 @ 1:49 PM
Nigetheonion - Your Question:
I'm paying maintenance to my daughter who has just turned 18. She is currently at 6th Form but is only undertaking one A' Level. I believe that maintenance is payable up to the age of 20 if a child is in full-time study, is that right? But, does one A' Level actually class as full-time? It can only be around 6 or so hours of tuition. I just want to know my actual legal obligation so I can make a decision either way. Thanks

Our Response:
You can see the courses your daughter is eligible to study via the link here.
SeparatedDads - 9-Feb-18 @ 3:45 PM
Matt - Your Question:
I am separated from my wife who has residency with our two and a half year old daughter. My contact with my daughter is good (every weekend) and I make strong financial contributions to their maintenance, but she refuses to tell me day-to-day things, like when she misses nursery through illness, and most recently about a hospital visit involving an x-ray after a fall at ice-skating, which meant I couldn’t visit the hospital to be there with them. Can I insist that she share this kind of information with me?

Our Response:
You can see what having parental responsibility actually means via the Child Law Advice link here. However, if you cannot agree with your ex, then mediation should be considered as a way of resolving such issues. If you cannot come to an agreement, then court is the final option to consider.
SeparatedDads - 9-Feb-18 @ 1:01 PM
Ipsy - Your Question:
My ex girlfriend is keeping our children off school unofficially and taking them on holiday, I no longer live in the family home (haven't done for almost 3.5 years now) I have received a letter threatening me with court action and imprisonment, what can I do? She has another boyfriend now, I cannot force her to send our children to school.Iain Smith

Our Response:
You would have to contact the school directly specifying this. If you have Parental Responsibility, you are deemd jointly responsible for the welfare of your children.
SeparatedDads - 8-Feb-18 @ 3:43 PM
My ex girlfriend is keeping our children off school unofficially and taking them on holiday, I no longer live in the family home (haven't done for almost 3.5 years now) I have received a letter threatening me with court action and imprisonment, what can I do?She has another boyfriend now, I cannot force her to send our children to school. Iain Smith
Ipsy - 8-Feb-18 @ 10:42 AM
I am separated from my wife who has residency with our two and a half year old daughter. My contact with my daughter is good (every weekend) and I make strong financial contributions to their maintenance, but she refuses to tell me day-to-day things, like when she misses nursery through illness, and most recently about a hospital visit involving an x-ray after a fall at ice-skating, which meant I couldn’t visit the hospital to be there with them. Can I insist that she share this kind of information with me?
Matt - 6-Feb-18 @ 1:58 PM
Boo - Your Question:
I purchased a house with my partner back in 2005. We then separated nearly 6 years ago in May after having 2 children, the breakup was down to me not being able to live with her anymore.It has been a battle ever since.I have a new partner & we have a baby together & my ex has moved into a large family house with her new partner whom bought the house for her, himself & my 2 children.Our house that we had bought is now empty & I have asked twice for a doorkey so I can enter the property, she refuses to give me back my key.We both want to sell the house.Where do I stand???

Our Response:
If you own your house jointly in a ‘trust for sale’ you may be able to force the sale of the property. This is done by applying for a court order that would in effect allow for the property to be sold, and would provide a timescale within which it should be sold. At this stage, you should make a note of the way in which your ex-wife is being un-cooperative, and in as much detail as possible. A solicitor's letter outlining your rights to have access to your 'jointly' owned house may work in the first instance. Plus, if it outlines your rights to force the sale of the house and financial implications on both of you if you have to take the matter to court, then this may encouarge her to agree. However, if she doesn't, then court is your only option.
SeparatedDads - 2-Feb-18 @ 10:47 AM
I purchased a house with my partner back in 2005. We then separated nearly 6 years ago in May after having 2 children, the breakup was down to me not being able to live with her anymore.It has been a battle ever since.I have a new partner & we have a baby together & my ex has moved into a large family house with her new partner whom bought the house for her, himself & my 2 children.Our house that we had bought is now empty & I have asked twice for a doorkey so I can enter the property, she refuses to give me back my key.We both want to sell the house.Where do I stand???
Boo - 1-Feb-18 @ 12:55 PM
Gods truth when you meet me you where right I not marrying material I stayed because of do the right thing I’m been real no game i was never attracted to you I stay because it was a cover I didn’t care who you cheated with because I’m (gay).there you have the truth I’m been real.terminate my rights .
Sam - 29-Jan-18 @ 9:47 AM
for record sam i dodge the bullet sucker ha ha.
not dead yet - 29-Jan-18 @ 7:58 AM
and to my ex who i kwon see reading this .you have my permission to terminate my right as a father [like you where going to do before i call back in 2015] .and have your husband adopt my child as his own so you can be a real family .it is my choice to not want contract .signed chris laurie .goodbye old friend
to sam - 29-Jan-18 @ 2:06 AM
the letter to the mother of my child .i don't want you feel guilt for not letting me see my child .you did[ nothing wrong] i made my [own life choices] no one forced me into the life i have lead.if i could turn back the clock i would have fought for rights to our daughter straight away .but we can't turn back the clock .i wish you happiness with your new baby and husband [happy days].for my daughter if i don't ever get to meet you and i think its going to turn out that way .i want you to no that[ i love you].and i will leave everything i to you.i wish i could have been the [father i always wanted] i apologise to you i failed you as a father i will leave a journal for you .take care and god bless .goodbye xo
sam - 29-Jan-18 @ 1:24 AM
the mother of my child is having a baby to another men .witch i am happy for[ her and him] .she wants to raise my childwith there new baby as a family and doesn't want me to have contact with my child .its been a long time anyway so good luck to them .i wish them all the[ happiness in the world] .i hope he makes a honest women out of her .i will see my daughter at [18] or something if [she wants] if not thats ok .i don't want to play the games anymore .im [getting old and feel it] I'm slipping quick .if don't get to see my child child again .the money i have and its not much [is all hers ].god bless.ps to my ex[ been fun ]this thing we had .i wish you luck in the future with your new baby and husband.dot forget to look after ours to .
sam - 29-Jan-18 @ 12:05 AM
Hello i have a quick question... the mother of my daughter and me are separated. ... she have a new bf amd is pregnant in the 9.month with him... with i dont have a problem with... she moved with her bf together and i wanted to know where cuz my daughter lives with her and as a father i have the right where my child lives... but she refuse to tell me where . Reason she said is she doesnt feel comfortable if i know where she n her bf lives... thing is iam a calm person i never beat her or did something wrong to her tht might could give her any legal reason to not telling me. It is not about her or her bf its about my child tht i know where she is.... what can i do
Chris - 28-Jan-18 @ 8:50 PM
Hi, my ex (not married) wants to move my son 350 miles away (same country). Can I stop this happening? Thanks
In0007 - 28-Jan-18 @ 11:48 AM
My friends x is going to lose the kids she is unfit to parent takes drugs .and is letting her boyfriend sexually abuse her 13 year old daughter .my friend is going to take the law on to his own hands he and he’s brothers and cousins are going after both of them .im on hear for legal advice for someone seriously gets hurt your advise please?
Help - 28-Jan-18 @ 10:06 AM
What are the chances of getting full custody of my child she is a crack head junkie I have proof .and film her having sex with wild street dog in marital bed .she run off with jobless bogan with a mullet who is convicted sex offender called mark .i have no contract what do I do ?
Stanley - 27-Jan-18 @ 9:48 AM
My ex run off with a another man .years ago I got in contract back in 2015.well one phone call anyway.the ex is married now she put my daughter on the phone and she told me she doesn’t want to meet me she has a father.i excepted it its been a very long time it was something I had to do for my own conscious I was rasied that way .im happy she has a father that loves her and are happy .i can let go now I did the right thing I have found my peace it was something that bothered me terribly.but now I no she is happy and doing well in life .im happy I did my part .if she looks up later in life great if not that’s cool to.thanks god bless .
Chriso - 26-Jan-18 @ 10:52 PM
Rights4dads - Your Question:
Hi, I need some advice about what rights I have to take my two kids (11 & 8 years old) abroad for holidays. I have been living in France for 3 years now and my kids are living in Devon with their mother, and haven't been able to bring them here for a holiday because my ex wife refuses.My parents and other family members live in South Africa and this too has not yet been possible since we separated and divorced.I would like to know what my rights are as father to bring my children to France and South Africa although my ex outright denies us. She is using all excuses possible such as there's too many terrorist attacks, her child from her new relationship will suffer separation anxiety if my kids are away on holiday.My children would love to come and are always asking but I feel that my hands are tied, what children wouldn't love to go to Disneyland?More concerning is that my son feels he'll be happier if lived with me than with my ex and her partner.I feel that mediation and the court proceedings are the only option as trying to be amicable or to discuss anything reasonable with her is simply futile.Please advise me what the best route or course of action for my situation is.Thank you.

Our Response:
You’ll need to apply to a court for permission to take a child abroad if you haven’t got permission from the other people with parental responsibility, please see link here . This should tell you all you need to know.
SeparatedDads - 26-Jan-18 @ 3:22 PM
I like this site what is the sentence for murder if you calm insanity?. Like this is going to happen your advise please .and i think you to a oath you lawyers so between us?.
sam - 26-Jan-18 @ 11:06 AM
Hi, I need some advice about what rights I have to take my two kids (11 & 8 years old) abroad for holidays. I have been living in France for 3 years now and my kids are living in Devon with their mother, and haven't been able to bring them here for a holiday because my ex wife refuses. My parents and other family members live in South Africa and this too has not yet been possible since we separated and divorced. I would like to know what my rights are as father to bring my children to France and South Africa although my ex outright denies us. She is using all excuses possible such as there's too many terrorist attacks, her child from her new relationship will suffer separation anxiety if my kids are away on holiday. My children would love to come and are always asking but I feel that my hands are tied, what children wouldn't love to go to Disneyland? More concerning is that my son feels he'll be happier if lived with me than with my ex and her partner. I feel that mediation and the court proceedings are the only option as trying to be amicable or to discuss anything reasonable with her is simply futile. Please advise me what the best route or course of action for my situation is. Thank you.
Rights4dads - 26-Jan-18 @ 11:03 AM
B f- Your Question:
Hi I’m (stuck ).i raised with morals and have strong beliefs.same might say (old fashioned ).the mother of my child is very (promiscuous sexual deviant).how ever I have child to this thing.a part of my beliefs is to run away and never talk to her again.how can I get contract with my child and not she this women?

Our Response:
You can attempt to keep any contact minimal i.e by using solicitors only. However, this is a costly and frustrating way to try to get access. Alternatively, you can try to put your personal opinions of your ex aside and take advice via the link here. However, if you cannot see yourself doing this, then you would have to request mediation as a way of trying to sort contact issues out. If your ex refuses to attend mediation, then the last option is to apply to court.
SeparatedDads - 25-Jan-18 @ 2:14 PM
S j b - Your Question:
How can I terminate my rights and remove my last name from my (fake )daughters birth certificate?her mother was a (night worker).i was only 20 a (kid ).she lied to me when I wasn’t the biological father.i was smittened with her( body).and agreed to go on birth certificate so her kid didn’t have father unknown on birth certificate.now she wants (money ).please help I was young.

Our Response:
Your only recourse would be to prove that you are not the biological father via a DNA test, please see link here . The CMS may help to organise this for you. If the mother has named you as the father and you are certain you are definitely not the father, then you may be able to halt child maintenance payments until the result is confirmed. However, be warned, if you are confirmed as the father, then you will be expected to pay this money back as arreas, and this amount can mount up to a sizeable sum. Alternatively, you may be asked to pay child maintenance until the result is confirmed either way. If you are confirmed not to be the father payments will stop and you may be entitled to claim these payments back. If it is proved that you are the biological father, then you will continue to pay child maintenance until your child leaves full-time education. Please also note that child maintenance payments are based on your taxable earnings, meaning you have to be earning to be eligible to pay.
SeparatedDads - 25-Jan-18 @ 12:26 PM
Rich - Your Question:
Hi - my wife is insisting on having the children 60:40. I am living in the family home and looking after the children after wife moved out with another man. I simply want 50:50 for benefit of the children. I earn more than my wife. Am I liable for child maintenance and who would have the main parental Responsibility? Thanks

Our Response:
If you cannot agree these issues between you, then mediation should be considered, please see link here. There are no set rules and therefore if you can agree between you, and keep it amicable this is preferred. Otherwise, one parent becomes the primary carer and the other the non-resident parent. The primary carer can claim child maintenance from the NRP, and other benefits. This does not mean you can still share the day-to-day care of your children. If you can balance the care and financial arrangements fairly, then this is the best way forward. However, currently you are the primary carer by the nature of looking after your children day-to-day, you have the leverage to continue in this role. A court will generally opt for continuation and stability and what it thinks is in the best interests of your children. If you need to find out more about your rights/options, you might wish to seek some legal advice. Joining our Separated Dads forum may also help you further, as most of our contributors and members have been through similar issues before, so can give you some sound advice.
SeparatedDads - 25-Jan-18 @ 10:23 AM
Hi I’m (stuck ) .i raised with morals and have strong beliefs.same might say (old fashioned ).the mother of my child is very (promiscuous sexual deviant).how ever I have child to this thing.a part of my beliefs is to run away and never talk to her again .how can I get contract with my child and not she this women?
B f - 24-Jan-18 @ 7:56 PM
Hi - my wife is insisting on having the children 60:40. I am living in the family home and looking after the children after wife moved out with another man. I simply want 50:50 for benefit of the children. I earn more than my wife. Am I liable for child maintenance and who would have the main parental Responsibility? Thanks
Rich - 24-Jan-18 @ 2:18 PM
How can I terminate my rights and remove my last name from my (fake )daughters birth certificate?.her mother was a (night worker).i was only 20 a (kid ).she lied to me when I wasn’t the biological father.i was smittened with her( body).and agreed to go on birth certificate so her kid didn’t have father unknown on birth certificate.now she wants (money ).please help i was young .
S j b - 24-Jan-18 @ 4:56 AM
I speak for my boyfriend.hes ex cheated all the time .they have a daughter .hes ex wants him to see the child .but my boyfriend is not the same men she new .i would like to tell her to give up because he will never see that child again even when the child is 18 or older it will never happen .please (believe my words.)it is (heartbreaking) .he wants hes (last name removed )he is serous.i would like to say I feel sorry for the child .
Vanished - 23-Jan-18 @ 7:40 PM
@ataloss - it can take time. There is no saying how long. Did the court not give your partner access when putting the court order together?
Mil - 23-Jan-18 @ 2:31 PM
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