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Your Separated Father's Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 14 Aug 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 friends ex partner has just had a their baby. She is refusing him to see his daughter and says she isn't putting him on the birth certificate either. She claims he's an unfit father but this isn't true as he as 2 other daughters and has then every weekend and holidays. She's using this child as a weapon and it's completely wrong because she doesn't like him she isn't letting him see her. What's the best route to go down for him as she won't sign a parental responsibility agreement which would give him rights if he isn't been put on the birth certificate. Any help would be appreciated. Thankyou for reading.
Kezza - 14-Aug-18 @ 9:06 PM
@robbie.you hit nail on the head you only have court left you will get rights .my x does the same thing she laughed at me when i called her years after she left hey didn't except anything less from her .her hobby when i was when with her was to sleep with as many man as she could before i left her it back fired on her i stayed and told i love to share my girlfriend i was only child for 12 years so i wasspoiled and me sharing my girlfriend was a way of giving back .she told me to grow up and that she needed a real man i said i am sorry to hear thisyou have my blessing to be free .then i went to court and got some visitation sorted .now me andmy daughter areto peas in a pod doing the old every other weekend and half the holidays[ maybe}sum dads do have to work for a living and are single so holidays are hard when children are young when they are teenagers it could work if they can be [trusted home alone] why you are at work and not get up to to much trouble .
c.laurie - 14-Aug-18 @ 8:23 PM
Hi , I have been refused contact with my little girl for about 8 months now , I've missed out on her last birthday and surely her next Christmas at this rate. I have tried to contact the mother but she refuses me access to see my child as she sees me as irresponsible and unfit to look after her. She has changed her mobile number and blocked me having other forms of communication , I don't know her address , I have tried to talk to her about mediation so we can come to some sort of middle ground and speak on an equal level but she just laughed at me. Am I right in thinking the only thing left for me to try is a court order ? Help please and thank you :)
Robbie - 14-Aug-18 @ 4:53 PM
Luc - Your Question:
Hi I recently got with my best friend my partner who I grew up with since I was little and his ex had a child with him and she uses the child against him in so many different ways she hasnt put him on the birth certificate the child hasn't got my partners second name and she only lets my partner have him when she wants him to have him and the only reason she's letting my partner see his son is becuase her new boyfriend told her too and she was fine me being around the child and now all of a sudden after some months she doesn't want me near him for no reason at all now she has found out me and and the child's father are together and is now threatening to not let him see the child I personally don't know her all I know is she has a few personal issues and she was quite verbally abusive to my partners mother at one point saying that she didn't want her to have anything to do with her grandson she got my partner on drugs through their one year relationship she cheated on him twice but now we can't be happy becuase she's got the child to put a hold on him and if he's got the child for weeks like he has done before where she's had mental problems that means I can't be with my partner for weeks what is there that he can do that he can also make a decision who goes around that child aswell and has equal rights as he's not on the birth certificate

Our Response:
Your partner can apply for both parental responsibility (please see the link here ) and access, (please see the link here), which should help answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 10-Aug-18 @ 2:18 PM
Chaz - Your Question:
My partners 7 year old son refuses to come round we have had him every other weekend since he was 8 months old and always paid csa. 2 n half months ago he stopped coming round and his mother simply says he does not want to come and that he is 7 and can make his own descions where do we stand with this as his father is at his wits end on knowing what to do without going to court as we feel this could make him jut want to come even more.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Your partner's only recourse would be to suggest mediation if his ex will not discuss the matter and try to work around it. Court is always considered the last resort when all other negotiation fails, please see the link here . If his son is adamant he doesn't wish to see his father, Cafcass is likely to get involved to try to establish what the issues are and resolve them, please see the link here . You don't say why this may have happened, whether it is a possible case of parental alienattion (please see the link here ), or whether there is another reason. 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 - 9-Aug-18 @ 9:57 AM
L - Your Question:
Is there a minimum amount of time my baby has to spend with his father? We are not on good terms and my mental health is deeply affected by my son being away from me. I'd really rather not have him taken from me more than I have to. I appreciate your help.

Our Response:
There are no rules or regulations, it is generally something which is sorted out between both parents (if they can do it amicably). If they cannot, please see the link here, which will help further answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 9-Aug-18 @ 9:44 AM
Is there a minimum amount of time my baby has to spend with his father? We are not on good terms and my mental health is deeply affected by my son being away from me. I'd really rather not have him taken from me more than I have to. I appreciate your help.
L - 8-Aug-18 @ 12:31 PM
My partners 7 year old son refuses to come round we have had him every other weekend since he was 8 months old and always paid csa .. 2 n half months ago he stopped coming round and his mother simply says he does not want to come and that he is 7 and can make his own descions where do we stand with this as his father is at his wits end on knowing what to do without going to court as we feel this could make him jut want to come even more.
Chaz - 8-Aug-18 @ 10:06 AM
Hi I recently got with my best friend my partner who I grew up with since I was little and his ex had a child with him and she uses the child against him in so many different ways she hasnt put him on the birth certificate the child hasn't got my partners second name and she only lets my partner have him when she wants him to have him and the only reason she's letting my partner see his son is becuase her new boyfriend told her too and she was fine me being around the child and now all of a sudden after some months she doesn't want me near him for no reason at all now she has found out me and and the child's father are together and is now threatening to not let him see the child I personally don't know her all I know is she has a few personal issues and she was quite verbally abusive to my partners mother at one point saying that she didn't want her to have anything to do with her grandson she got my partner on drugs through their one year relationship she cheated on him twice but now we can't be happy becuase she's got the child to put a hold on him and if he's got the child for weeks like he has done before where she's had mental problems that means I can't be with my partner for weeks what is there that he can do that he can also make a decision who goes around that child aswell and has equal rights as he's not on the birth certificate
Luc - 7-Aug-18 @ 5:00 PM
K - Your Question:
Hi I am looking for advice I left my ex a year ago. which we have a daughter together. when I first left I was getting to see my little girl everyday up at my ex's house until she found out that I was in a new relationship then she started with the being funny about me seeing my daughter and the whole family started threatening me through Facebook and whatsapp. I phoned the police to get them to give them a warning and when they came out a read the messages they arrested her and wanted to prosecute. due to that I wouldn't go to the house to see my child and wanted the visits to be at my mum's house who still gets my daughter every week. but she wouldn't allow it and because of the debt I was left in and can't get legal aid I have had to make do with spending 5 hours with my little girl everyweek without my ex knowing. now I have recieved a letter saying she wants to change my daughter's surname and that I haven't seen my daughter in nearly a year so I musnt be interested. my daughter Is my life and everything to me. I hate that I don't get enough time with her. I hate that I don't get to put her to bed and be there when she wakes up in the morning everytime I leave her it kills me knowing I have to wait another week to see her again. but right now I don't know what else I can do my ex is trying everything she can to get at me and it's working and nothing I can do to stop it

Our Response:
If your ex will not allow you to see your child, then you would have to apply to court. If you cannot afford legal representation you can self-litigate, please see the link here. I also suggest you join our Separated Dads forum and speak to some dads who have been through similar experiences and who can help you with advice and support. There are options for you to address this matter. But if your ex will not allow and arrangement through mediation it would have to be through court, please also see the link here.
SeparatedDads - 6-Aug-18 @ 1:42 PM
steph - Your Question:
Hi i've just had my baby and I would like to not be with my partner anymore. we aren't married and in past have history of violence on his part. I am scared as he is good at pretending he is doing good at being dad and that he will take me to court. I've been reasonable of letting him and his family around baby so far but feel trappedcan someone advise me thanks

Our Response:
The link here should explain all you need to know regarding both yours and your partner's options. If your partner has been charged with domestic violence or you have had reported incidences, then you should relate this to Cafcass (if your partner takes the matter to court). You can see more about the Cafcass process here.
SeparatedDads - 6-Aug-18 @ 10:05 AM
Hi I am looking for advice I left my ex a year ago..... which we have a daughter together..... when I first left I was getting to see my little girl everyday up at my ex's house until she found out that I was in a new relationship then she started with the being funny about me seeing my daughter and the whole family started threatening me through Facebook and whatsapp.... I phoned the police to get them to give them a warning and when they came out a read the messages they arrested her and wanted to prosecute.... due to that I wouldn't go to the house to see my child and wanted the visits to be at my mum's house who still gets my daughter every week.... but she wouldn't allow it and because of the debt I was left in and can't get legal aid I have had to make do with spending 5 hours with my little girl everyweek without my ex knowing.... now I have recieved a letter saying she wants to change my daughter's surname and that I haven't seen my daughter in nearly a year so I musnt be interested... my daughter Is my life and everything to me.... I hate that I don't get enough time with her... I hate that I don't get to put her to bed and be there when she wakes up in the morning everytime i leave her it kills me knowing I have to wait another week to see her again.... but right now I don't know what else I can do my ex is trying everything she can to get at me and it's working and nothing I can do to stop it
K - 5-Aug-18 @ 2:07 PM
hi i've just had my baby and I would like to not be with my partner anymore. we aren't married and in past have history of violence on his part. I am scared as he is good at pretending he is doing good at being dad and that he will take me to court. I've been reasonable of letting him and his family around baby so far but feel trapped can someone advise me thanks
steph - 5-Aug-18 @ 8:57 AM
Mim - Your Question:
I'm very unsure what to do, myself and my daughter's father broke up many years ago due to many reasons he immediately got into a new relationship and didn't see his daughter despite the countless efforts I made for them to have contact. I am now requesting money from him as I am struggling and he's basically blackmailed me saying that if he has to pay he wants her overnight. can he do this what is his rights? he is on her birth certificate but he hasn't seen her from the day he walked out and she doesn't want to know him. He has never paid a penny for her or sent her any gifts over the years. He left and started a new family. She is a lot older now and has read messages and solicitors letters and she doesn't want contact with him. Very unsure what to do next.

Our Response:
You don't say how old your daughter is, as if she is over the age of 11 she will be allowed her opinion if the matter went to court. Likewise, if the father of your child takes the matter to court it is highly unlikely he would be granted overnight or even unsupervised contact if he has chosen not to have anything to do with her in the past and is only now making an application on the back of you applying for child maintenance.
SeparatedDads - 2-Aug-18 @ 11:12 AM
I'm very unsure what to do, myself and my daughter's father broke up many years ago due to many reasons he immediately got into a new relationship and didn't see his daughter despite the countless efforts I made for them to have contact. I am now requesting money from him as I am struggling and he's basically blackmailed me saying that if he has to pay he wants her overnight. can he do this what is his rights? he is on her birth certificate but he hasn't seen her from the day he walked out and she doesn't want to know him. He has never paid a penny for her or sent her any gifts over the years. He left and started a new family. She is a lot older now and has read messages and solicitors letters and she doesn't want contact with him. Very unsure what to do next.
Mim - 1-Aug-18 @ 5:47 PM
Is it illegal for a parent(mother in this case)to stop all contact without a court order or any involvement from the police? There has been no crime committed by the father. The mother has issues with her ex having a new family of his own as he has been with a new partner for over a year and this all started shortly after the father announced that he was having another child with the new partner. Also the ex has been with a new partner for 3 years, they are married and also having a child as well. She is also accusing the father of being a domestic abuser which is nonsense to make her case valid. The father has sent the c100 form to the court but meanwhile the ex is not allowing any contact which must be emotionally damaging to the child? Is this illegal as a result?
Gd51 - 31-Jul-18 @ 7:51 AM
K - Your Question:
My step son (H) is 17 years old and has a son (E). He split from the mother (T) a few months after E was born. T stopped him from seeing E with no reason and H hasnt seen him since. H seems to believe that he cannot take any procedures to see E until H turns 18. I would like to know where to finds answers on what he can do. Surely it cant be true that he cant see his son just because of his age and the mother decided not to let him. Please any help and advice would be a weight off our shoulders

Our Response:
The links here and here should help answer your question. Your stepson has every right to apply to see his child if his ex refuses.
SeparatedDads - 30-Jul-18 @ 9:23 AM
My step son (H) is 17 years old and has a son (E). He split from the mother (T) a few months after E was born. T stopped him from seeing E with no reason and H hasnt seen him since. H seems to believe that he cannot take any procedures to see E until H turns 18. I would like to know where to finds answers on what he can do. Surely it cant be true that he cant see his son just because of his age and the mother decided not to let him. Please any help and advice would be a weight off our shoulders
K - 29-Jul-18 @ 12:31 AM
dranny - Your Question:
I have been with the mother of my 5 children for 23yr,I have been in all our kids lives from day 1,my ex partner over the years has been violent towards me in front of our kids,she has become very controlling with money,she will call me a dead beat and scum bag if I take to long going to the shops for our household items,I'm continuesley told to f##k off out of her house,she drinks all the time with makes matters worse,when I mention her drinking she tells me I can do what I want,she needs to drink putting up with me,she has tried to commit suicide 3 times in the past 6months,I stopped her with 20 gabapentin in a glass of wine,she is now saying go through court if I want to see me children,I'm at a loss as what to do than

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Hopefully, this matter will blow over and you will be able to arrange to see your children on a regular basis. However, if your ex continues then please see the link here and here , which will show you what you need to do. If you cannot afford legal representation, you can self-litigate, please see link here. If you are on a low income you can also get a reduction in court fees. Our Separated Dads forum will also help with any questions you have, as many of our dads have been through similar situations before. I hope your situation manages to resolve itself and you can agree between you and your ex what the best way forward is for you both and your kids.
SeparatedDads - 27-Jul-18 @ 10:46 AM
@Deno9999 - that's a tricky situation. Can you not try to communicate more and try to come to some sort of truce while living under the same roof? If you move out it doesn't mean things would get better either and you would be able to enforce your PR, if your wife wants to be awkward believe me she can. Try a bit of reverse psychology and try to get some sort of commuincation going. Sometimes thinking of a different way around a solution can work.
AdamV - 26-Jul-18 @ 10:21 AM
I have been with the mother of my 5 children for 23yr,I have been in all our kids lives from day 1,my ex partner over the years has been violent towards me in front of our kids,she has become very controlling with money,she will call me a dead beat and scum bag if I take to long going to the shops for our household items,I'm continuesley told to f##k off out of her house,she drinks all the time with makes matters worse,when I mention her drinking she tells me I can do what I want,she needs to drink putting up with me,she has tried to commit suicide 3 times in the past 6months,I stopped her with 20 gabapentin in a glass of wine,she is now saying go through court if I want to see me children,I'm at a loss as what to do than
dranny - 26-Jul-18 @ 2:15 AM
Hi to all those on here. I have a situation and would welcome some advice or thoughts.... I'm still married and living with my two kids (7/10) and wife. I feel that I have very little influence in their lives or connection due to my wife's controlling behavior with them. The marriage has been broken for many years and we do argue from time to time,these arguments have got worse and we can go weeks without any form of communication. This means I miss out on important children news or not involved in decisions to do with them. I have tried mediation (MIAMS) as a route to obtain a C100 form and apply to court for a child arrangement order, but was refused due to the fact we are still marries and no separation is on the cards as yet. I went to see a solicitor yesterday who reiterated that the courts cant intervene as long as we remain a married couple, so It seems that as a married living together dad I have no way of enforcing my parental responsibilities unless I divorce/separate, I feel this is very unfair and unreasonable. Ye some may say 'divorce' but its not that simple as this would destroy the family home and much financial protection which we all enjoy. I feel at a complete lost, I'm sure I'm not the only one in this situation but It would appear that the system is not designed to handle 'modern' relationships where the marriage has broken down but you still remain as a couple living together with the children.
Deno9999 - 25-Jul-18 @ 1:08 PM
I'm afraid my partner will leave me and will take my daughter who is less than 6 months old out of the country (Wales) to Derby and restrict my access. I love my daughter and i don't want to lose her.
Ky - 24-Jul-18 @ 10:20 PM
My child lives with her mother and i pay maintenance, My ex wants me to have my daughter 1 weekend day instead of in the week when i am not at work. i am working weekends now as cant afford to live without the weekend work.I have my child on the day in the week i am off work. she is saying it doesn't give her a break so wants a court order.Can she stop me having my daughter on my day of in the week while she is at work and make me only see her on the weekend days ?
Step - 23-Jul-18 @ 1:29 PM
D - Your Question:
My wife has walked out on me and took my two kids with her ive tried ringing texing and fb in her but shes ignoring everythink I do I just wanna no my kids r ok and wanna see them dont no what to do Help me please

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Your only option would be to apply directly to court for a contact order, please see link here . You can also fill in a C4 form, which is an application for an order for disclosure of a child's whereabouts, please see link here . Unfortunately, if you have to take this route (if your ex continues not to respond) then it will take time. There is no short route if your ex attempts not to be found. I hope the situation manages to resolve itself and you get to see your kids before it comes to this.
SeparatedDads - 23-Jul-18 @ 12:14 PM
My wife has walked out on me and took my two kids with her ive tried ringing texing and fb in her but shes ignoring everythink i do i just wanna no my kids r ok and wanna see them dont no what to do Help me please
D - 22-Jul-18 @ 12:41 PM
@Hutch1224 - You could apply to court, if your ex won't allow mediation. The standard court access is every other weekend and one or two nights in the week (but not overnight).
Hi5 - 19-Jul-18 @ 2:37 PM
Jay - Your Question:
Hi my ex partner has asked me to have my 6month old son and I agreed she then said I could only have him if I take the other 2 children which are not biologically mine and has now told me my little boy will be staying with her mother and grandmother for a bit so do I have the right to have him stay with me instead of being passed between grandparents

Our Response:
The link here , should help answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jul-18 @ 12:31 PM
D - Your Question:
Hi. We have booked the date of our wedding and by some random act of fate my partners ex has said that his kids can't come as their grandads getting married the same day and its more important for the kids to be their than at their own fathers wedding. We were just wondering if you had any advice on how to apply for them to be there. Or if she is right and we're not entitled to them.

Our Response:
If your partner's ex is refusing, then your only recourse would be to apply through court, please see link here . I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jul-18 @ 10:21 AM
Hi. We have booked the date of our wedding and by some random act of fate my partners ex has said that his kids can't come as their grandads getting married the same day and its more important for the kids to be their than at their own fathers wedding. We were just wondering if you had any advice on how to apply for them to be there. Or if she is right and we're not entitled to them.
D - 18-Jul-18 @ 9:02 AM
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