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Ex Wants to Take Child to Live in an EU Country: What Are My Rights?

By: Guest Article - Updated: 21 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Guest Article Child Eu Father Birth

People are much more international now. It is not uncommon for people to spend periods of time working abroad or to have relationships with someone from another country. International families are now common, but the international element can cause problems if the relationship ends and there are children. What if one parent wants to take the children to live in another country?

Thankfully most couples who separate are able to agree arrangements for their children between them, without the need for the help of solicitors, mediators or the court. Shared arrangements are becoming increasingly common, where the children spend similar amounts of time with their mother and father. Obviously this requires an element of cooperation between the parents and usually a close geographical proximity for it to work. The further apart the parents live the harder it is to make sure that the children have a full relationship with both parents, which is in their best interests in the vast majority of cases. This is particularly difficult to achieve if one of the parents decides that they would like to move to another country with the children. Given how easy it is to move within the EU, this is happening more and more. If this happens it is important that you know your legal position.

Do you have parental responsibility?

The first thing you must consider is do you have parental responsibility for your child? This allows you to have a say in the important decisions in your child's life, such as consenting to medical treatment, and more importantly, as in this case, a say in whether your child can move abroad permanently with your ex. As the law stands at present, all mothers automatically have parental responsibility for their child as soon as they are born. All father's married to the mother of their child also automatically have parental responsibility. Unmarried fathers whose child was born before 1st December 2003 do not have parental responsibility for their child unless it is formally granted by the court or a formal agreement is entered into with the child's mother in a prescribed form. Thankfully the law was changed in 2003, to take into account the fact that many unmarried couples now have children, and any father named on the birth certificate of a child born on or after 1st December 2003 automatically has parental responsibility for that child. If you are not named on your child's birth certificate as the father, you can obtain parental responsibility with the agreement of your child's mother or through the court.

If you have parental responsibility and your ex wants to take the child to live abroad, your ex needs your permission. If you are agreeable to this, it is always recommended that you obtain a court order confirming your agreement and also detailing your contact with the child once the child moves abroad. Once the English court order has been made, a "mirror" order should be obtained from a court in the EU country that the child is moving to, as once the child moves abroad, any issues regarding the child would be dealt with by a court in the country where the child lives and not by an English court. You will need a lawyer in the country that your child is moving to, to deal with this. Although this can be expensive and time consuming, if your ex later reneges on the agreement you will find it much easier to deal with this issue in the foreign court as there will be a formal record of the arrangements that were agreed.

What if you do not agree?

If you do not agree to your child moving abroad, your ex will need to apply to court and ask the court to make an order agreeing to her request. Every case of this nature is fact specific, so it is important that you obtain specialist legal advice so that you present your case in the best possible light to the judge. If the judge does agree to the child moving abroad, they will usually insist that the court order include details of the time that the child will spend with you. You will then be advised to obtain a "mirror" order in the country that the child is moving to.

If your ex takes the child abroad permanently without your consent, this is technically parental child abduction and there are international legal agreements between Britain and the other EU countries, which would hopefully facilitate the return of the child to this country. If this happens you must contact a specialist lawyer immediately as it is important that an application is made to court as soon as possible for the child's return. Once the child has been returned, the English court will have to decide if it is appropriate for the child to move abroad permanently with your ex.

If you are separated from your child's mother, there will inevitably be many issues that arise regarding your child. Hopefully you will be able to deal with these between you, but if not it is important that you obtain the advice of a specialist family lawyer, which will then enable you to consider the best way forward for you and your child.

About the Author

This was a guest blog written by Fiona Wood, Family Law partner at specialist divorce solicitors, Pannone Law Group.

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Hi I live in Ireland but from England I've split from boyfriend and we have a 2 year old daughter .. I want to bring my daughter over to my family in England for a small 2 week holiday to get a brake but my ex won't let me Wat can I do
Zoe - 21-Aug-17 @ 10:47 AM
Hi I'm living in Ireland but I'm from England I'm broken up with the father of my baby she 1 and I want to go to England for a small 2 week brake but my ex won't let me what should I do
Zoe - 21-Aug-17 @ 10:45 AM
After divorce, the court granted me the parental responsibility, and it was taken away from my ex partner. Can I in this case immigrate to Germany with my 10 years old daughter? Or do I still need my ex partner's permission? If yes, is there a way go abroad without the permission of my ex partner? We were married and both our names are on the birth certificate.
Eid - 12-Aug-17 @ 3:39 PM
As - Your Question:
I m living in u.k with my 11 year old daughter I ve her custudy and she does not see her dad as court decided can I move to canada with her

Our Response:
If the father has Parental Responsibility of your child, you would still need to ask for his consent. If he refuses, you would have to apply to court, please see link here , which will explain all you need to know.
SeparatedDads - 3-Aug-17 @ 12:29 PM
I m living in u.k with my 11 year old daughter i ve her custudy and she does not see her dad as court decided can i move to canada with her
As - 2-Aug-17 @ 12:34 AM
Lucky Phil - Your Question:
Hi, my ex is Spanish and when she found out she was pregnant with my child, she moved back with her parents to Spain. My son was born 2 months ago, but she refused to name me as the father stating that she would be entitled to more benefits in Spain if she didn’t. I returned from Spain a few days ago and met my son for the first time. I would like to begin the fight for my rights as a father. Where is the best place to go for advice for a British citizen? I rang the Citizen’s Advice Bureau months ago but they weren’t able to help me. What is the name of the court where I should begin action? Thanks In Advance!

Our Response:
Firstly, the fact your ex has allowed you have some sort of access to your child is a start. As with any family law matter, court is always seen as a last resort and mediation as the first and less costly option, please see link here . Even in international cases it is possible to come to an overall agreement through mediation. However, if you cannot agree through mediation, then you can start court proceedings from the UK. Please keep in mind that litigation in international cases can be expensive due to the fact there may have to be legal proceedings in more than one country. Therefore, is is worth paying for some legal advice regarding this to find out what it might cost and the procedure you will have to go through. If you are looking for some free initial advice, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 20-Jul-17 @ 10:19 AM
Hi, my ex is Spanish and when she found out she was pregnant with my child, she moved back with her parents to Spain. My son was born 2 months ago, but she refused to name me as the father stating that she would be entitled to more benefits in Spain if she didn’t. I returned from Spain a few days ago and met my son for the first time. I would like to begin the fight for my rights as a father. Where is the best place to go for advice for a British citizen? I rang the Citizen’s Advice Bureau months ago but they weren’t able to help me. What is the name of the court where I should begin action? Thanks In Advance!
Lucky Phil - 18-Jul-17 @ 4:24 PM
Zel2002 - Your Question:
All my life Iv been bought up in Spain Iv had the luxury and have had a very fortunate up bring. my 1st daughter now 15 has had a very fortunate up bringing also in Spain. her father is Spanish. my mother and father moved to Spain 7 years ago. it at this time I had just got into a relationship in uk , my father said he would buy me a house for us both there in Spain with them. I refused to make relationship In uk work.my father passed suddenlyOn his way home to Spain leaving my family shatterd and my mother in Spain I a big house by herself, this was 2 years ago. now since then I had a baby girl now 3 with my now ex. we have 2 year ago split up, we had a violent situation whilst I was grieving and had postnatal depression. I had to be put with my 2 girls in a room whilst a house was found for me. now in the house for a year I have been told I have to move within a month as landlord is selling. I speak with my mother everyday, and after taking my girls over there I feel it's my time to maybe move to be with her. Iv nothing here, well a pt job.my ex sees her 1day a week because he works to much I struggle by my self. I no that my life now would Benifit myself and also my girls.15 year old starts college next sept and 3 year starts school also next sept. colleges are amazing., I no my ex won't let me leave without a fight. what's yr advice?

Our Response:
If your ex will not give his permission for you to move, then you would have to apply to the courts. The court will always make a decision on what it thinks is in the best interests of your children. However, your older enough being age-16 would be allowed to voice her opinion regarding where she would prefer to reside.
SeparatedDads - 17-Jul-17 @ 3:15 PM
All my life Iv been bought up in Spain Iv had the luxury and have had a very fortunate up bring.. my 1st daughter now 15 has had a very fortunate up bringing also in Spain.. her father is Spanish ... my mother and father moved to Spain 7 years ago..it at this time I had just got into a relationship in uk , my father said he would buy me a house for us both there in Spain with them. I refused to make relationship In uk work..my father passed suddenly On his way home to Spain leaving my family shatterd and my mother in Spain I a big house by herself, this was 2 years ago.. now since then I had a baby girl now 3 with my now ex.. we have 2 year ago split up, we had a violent situation whilst I was grieving and had postnatal depression .. I had to be put with my 2 girls in a room whilst a house was found for me.. now in the house for a year I have been told I have to move within a month as landlord is selling.. I speak with my mother everyday, and after taking my girls over there I feel it's my time to maybe move to be with her.. Iv nothing here, well a pt job..my ex sees her 1day a week because he works to much I struggle by my self... I no that my life now would Benifit myself and also my girls..15 year old starts college next sept and 3 year starts school also next sept.. colleges are amazing.., I no my ex won't let me leave without a fight... what's yr advice?
Zel2002 - 16-Jul-17 @ 3:31 PM
Hi I am currently living in China with my wife we have changed from England to China a couple of times this is the China stint, we have hit problems where we both say we want divorce but we have two sons who were born in England so have British nationality and there visa for China is because I have visa. She wants to keep the children in China where I say she can share custody but she will have to move back to England to do that as there is no point for me to stay in this country for her. Does anyone know where I would stand and our marriage certificate is Chinese. Thanks
Danny - 25-Jun-17 @ 4:25 PM
I live in the u.s. and my fiance lives in England she is recently divorced. We are trying to work out with the children's dad two children 7 and 10 for them to come and live with us in the USA we are filing K1 visas which is on back log about six months. He does not pay child support he barely sees the kids we don't know if he's going to cause issues what the next step
Homer - 21-Jun-17 @ 7:08 PM
Swifty - Your Question:
I have 2 daughter's with my ex girlfriend aged 2 and 3 me and my ex are both born in the uk before we met she lived in Spain for 2 years she came back to the uk and I met her we was in a 5 yr relationship and had 2 beautiful daughters we split up we made agreements that I would have my daughter's every weekend which I did she recently took my girls back to Spain on holiday she met up with a old flame out there now there in a relationship which honestly doesn't bother me but what does is she is now saying she is moving back there with my kids and says because she worked there she is a Spanish resident and there's nothing I can do about it the children obviously has my name on there birth certificates and passports has she got the right to do this? What can I do to prevent my kids moving to another country?

Our Response:
You would have to seek legal advice regarding this. If your ex wishes to move out of the country and you have parental responsibility, then by law she should request your permission. I can only suggest you seek legal advice about trying to get your children home, as effectively it is classed as child abduction. But, be prepared this may not be easy.
SeparatedDads - 20-Jun-17 @ 3:34 PM
I have 2 daughter's with my ex girlfriend aged 2 and 3me and my ex are both born in the uk before we met she lived in Spain for 2 years she came back to the uk and I met her we was in a 5 yr relationship and had 2 beautiful daughters we split up we made agreements that I would have my daughter's every weekend which I did she recently took my girls back to Spain on holiday she met up with a old flame out there now there in a relationship which honestly doesn't bother me but what does is she is now saying she is moving back there with my kids and says because she worked there she is a Spanish resident and there's nothing I can do about it the children obviously has my name on there birth certificates and passports has she got the right to do this? What can I do to prevent my kids moving to another country?
Swifty - 17-Jun-17 @ 11:24 PM
My husband and divorced 7 years ago, we have two children.He has since moved to Australia where he married again. Since then he has failed many times to pay maintenance, he tells our daughter that he doesn't like her, which upset her. She is 11. He calls our 10 year old son and grills him about me, his mum and puts me down. This then affects my children immensely. He hasn't visited them for 3 years and makes ridiculous excuses to why not. He legally has parental responsibility, but he doesn't live under British law. If I decided to move my children to Spain for a better life, would he still be able to block is? He currently does not adhere to his legal responsibilities, so should I?
Pip - 8-Jun-17 @ 9:33 AM
I am hoping a piece of advice. I am an Indian national who used to live in Hungary with my girlfriend, we have a childborn on 1st september 2016. On 18th November i went to meet one of my friend to the city centre in Budapest and wanted to go back to the house where we lived (her parents home), I tried to contacted her on phone to let me in the house but it was switched off, so i stayed at my friends home to spend the night. Next day when i tried to call her, her phone was off so i went directly to that building and i saw that my luggage is waiting for me outside the apartment..So i pleaded, cried, beggedknocking on her door for more than an hour but of course no one came out and even responded, i just wanted to see my child who was hardly 3 and a half months old at that time. Eventually, I went back to India on 2nd of December and since then I have written her 1000 emails approximate where in most of the emails i requested her to share some pictures of my child, whom i havent seen growing up for last 7 months and the other thing was that whenever i would visit her city, she should let me meet my child whether she brings the baby or through a third party involvement, but my girlfriend never replies to those emails. I think I dont need to mention the trauma, pain I am going through when someones baby is seperated in a snap. I havent even seen my child pics that i have with me because it send chills down my spine. This all pain is literally inexplicable. I have no words left. My child has Ventricular Septal defect and the doctors had advised to undergo a surgery if it doesnt fill up, i am so much worried about but of course i have no news about her health at all.
ATK - 28-May-17 @ 1:43 PM
Bex - Your Question:
Hi I have a fiancé from Poland I'm British we live in the U.K. With our 2 children (aged 3 and 1) and my 3 children aged (17 13 10) from my previous relationship all the children have always resided in the UK and only ever been to Poland on holidays no longer than 2 weeks none of the children speak polish or have a relationship with my fiancée family in Poland other than the occasional Skype I am poorly and it's not looking good I have a fear my fiancé will leave to live back in Poland when I pass away leaving my 3 other children here with their father meaning the family ties will be damaged broken even can you please advise if there is anything I can do before I die to ensure my family are together my eldest child is 17 so not old enough to make a guardian decision for my other children but I feel it would devastate them all to loose their mum and siblings all at once

Our Response:
I am very sorry to hear this. You can appoint a guardian in your will, if you do not wish for your children to reside with their father, should anything untoward happen. If you do wish to appoint a guardian then your last will and testament should reflect this.You must include, in as much detail as you can, the reasons why you wish your designated guardian/s to take on the role of caring for your children. However, this does not mean your wishes will be granted. Much depends upon your children's father and whether he wishes to challenge your wishes in court. However, it does mean your wishes will be reflected in court. I can only suggest you seek legal advice, as much also depends upon your fiancee and his wishes regarding yours and his children. Both fathers have viable and valid rights and opinions with regards to caring for the children, should unfortunately the worst happen.
SeparatedDads - 23-May-17 @ 1:51 PM
Hi I have a fiancé from Poland I'm British we live in the U.K. With our 2 children (aged 3 and 1) and my 3 children aged (17 13 10) from my previous relationship all the children have always resided in the UK and only ever been to Poland on holidays no longer than 2 weeks none of the children speak polish or have a relationship with my fiancée family in Poland other than the occasional Skype I am poorly and it's not looking good I have a fear my fiancé will leave to live back in Poland when I pass away leaving my 3 other children here with their father meaning the family ties will be damaged broken even can you please advise if there is anything I can do before I die to ensure my family are together my eldest child is 17 so not old enough to make a guardian decision for my other children but I feel it would devastate them all to loose their mum and siblings all at once
Bex - 22-May-17 @ 7:01 PM
Surf - Your Question:
Me and my wife went to spain to live short term and said if either one doesn't like it we will move back to the UK and now she wants to split from me and stay in Spain with my 2 children to which I have said no way are the children living in a different country to me. My wife is on anti depressants and drinks every night and it worries me the state of her mind when I work away as my children end up going to bed late no routine at parties and bbq till late and spend time at a pub. Also she only has a part time job and could not support them over in spain please help on advise.

Our Response:
If you cannot negotiate a solution to the matter between you, you would have to take the matter to court for the court to decide. However, you may find because of your move your children are under Spanish jurisdiction as your country of habitual residence is no longer the UK.
SeparatedDads - 18-May-17 @ 10:18 AM
Me and my wife went to spain to live short term and said if either one doesn't like it we will move back to the UK and now she wants to split from me and stay in Spain with my 2 children to which I have said no way are the children living in a different country to me. My wife is on anti depressants and drinks every night and it worries me the state of her mind when I work away as my children end up going to bed late no routine at parties and bbq till late and spend time at a pub. Also she only has a part time job and could not support them over in spain please help on advise.
Surf - 17-May-17 @ 8:37 AM
Referring back to the rights about my partner moving to another country with our child. What if she is from the UK and I am from Madrid. And our child was born in Ibiza when we was living there together. Now she wants to move back to England because she can't afford to live in Ibiza?
PedroAA - 13-Dec-16 @ 10:37 PM
I know this is an old thread but wondering if anyone could give me some advise. I was with my ex partner back in 2002, we had our gorgeous son together but unfortunately the relationship broke down. We spilt when my son was 2. I kept in contact with my son, even with the frosty relationship I had with his mother. A year later she met her new partner, and then everything went to s**t for me. My sons mother stopped contact and told me if I wanted to see my son I would have to go to court...no reason at all, but still wanted me to pay child maintence every month which I did. I got myself a solicitor and done the only thing I could, fight her for access in court. This was a lengthy, stressful and expensive time let me tell you. My sons mother represented herself so had no solicitors or court fees to pay, which she took to her full advantage. Everytime we went to court she prolonged the case,turned up late, cried wanting to take breaks knowing it would be costing me more money. She tried everything to stop me seeing my son, told the judge I was dangerous, she was afraid I was going to a kidnap my son and even stooped so low as to say I raped her (this claim she later admitted in court was not true) I had to obtain doctors letters, attend classes to prove this was not the case. The whole court process went on for years. Eventually the court said enough was enough and granted me access in a contact centre. Because I hadn't seen him for so long this was the only and the best way they thought would build our relationship and bond between me and my son back together. Another lengthy process with just two 2 hour visits a month, cafcass reports, some times his mother wouldn't show up and other times saying my son was ill. Obviously moving forward was taking a lot longer and I still wasn't seeing him very often. After a year of contact centres I was allowed to take him out of the centre for a couple of hours.... To cut a long story short a year after that the court agreed I was not a danger, showed commitment and responsibility and was granted access to my son every other weekend. Everything was going amazingly seeing my son. Myselfand my partner had a child things couldn't of been any better....apart from still paying off the thousands of pounds of debt I racked up in court. In 20011 my ex called me to her house for a meeting. The worst thing that could every happen happened! She told me she was emigrating to Australia with my son and her new family, I was literally crushed and devastated. I went back to court to see what my options were only to be told my son is nearly 10 so able to stand up in court and make up his own mind where he wants to live. I couldn't put my son in that situation as to pick , as he resides with his mother and his two other brothers I knew he was going to end up moving. He left in 2012, I had an agreement with his mother that I would not have to make any child maintence payments as I would use this m
Help please - 26-Nov-16 @ 10:46 PM
i need an advice; my son is 6 yrs. old now and his mother don't let me see him, she is married now and has another child, she told me she will change my son last names and probably gave him the husband now...she is refusing to answer and advice me to get a legal advice or go to court...well, I have tried but she lives in Russia and my son was born there, and I live in the states....I dont know what to do to prevent her to change my kid last name...also she wants to travel with her new family, she knows that my permission is needed, but what about if she take him anyway without letting me know....what can I do to preventthis also? I know it's a difficult situation, I need to find a legal advice, I will appreciate if someone here can provide any info. so I can be ready in case she makes any moves....any lawyer? thanks!
joe - 20-Nov-16 @ 4:55 PM
Hi, My ex partner moved from Poland 3 years ago to live in England with our daughter who was 3 at that time. Since then my daughter has learnt English and have settled into school and is almost at the top of her class, she attends a private dance class and swimming club which I all pay for. I also forgot to mention that I have parental responsibility as my name is was placed on her birth certificate. I have maintained her financially since birth until present. Now my ex partner spoke two days ago when she informed me that she was going to be returning back to Poland to be with her new partner and she will be taking my daughter. I spoke with her and tried to explain the importance of our daughter to have the best possible start in life by maintaining her education and development as it is because she is very happy. Just also to mention here that my daughter is dual heritage and one of the reasons her mom came back to England was that she felt that her daughter would face difficulties growing up in Poland due to her ethnicity. Also having spoken with her I quickly gather from her that she has been planning this for awhile now and have even purchased plane tickets for her return just after school breaks up in December. I tried convincing her to leave my daughter here to continue her schooling and development and that because she was going off to be with her boyfriend that she could have her on all the holidays and national holidays but not to deny our daughter her education and stability she is experiencing at this point. Also that she is not working and possibly will be depending on her new partner who I understand is living in a one bedroom apartment. I have asked her what she plans to do and she couldn't give me any answers. This morning I received a text message to say that she has made the decision and that she will be taking our child back to live in Poland. Is there anything I can do to stop this from happening?
Albert - 20-Nov-16 @ 12:53 AM
I am married to an Ecuadorian man. He has a baby mama back to his country and she is threatening my husband that she make lawyer to stop my husband from leaving his country. Can she do that. And what can I do. Concern married woman who dearly love's her husband.
Macy Fipe Wooching v - 15-Nov-16 @ 1:27 AM
Hello,advise is needed please. I'm going to give birth in January. Me and my partner live in London but we are not married. We are Eu citizens. My question is : will my son be able to take his father's name or he will be registered on my name ? Thank you! Ok
Mady - 13-Nov-16 @ 10:45 PM
Barrie - Your Question:
Hello my son is 14 months old and im expecting a baby next year with a filipina. We recently broke up. We havent been getting along well. She promised I would be able to see my son come to the uk but she now continues to deny me access to my son. She is very unstable as a person and can change her mind without even discussing things. Communication is broken so how can I apply for access to my son.

Our Response:
You would have to take the matter to court if your ex continues to deny you access. However, if you agree to her leaving the country and she stops access when abroad, then it will cost a lot more to have the access re-instated. I can only suggest you seek legal advice in order to explore your options, especially if your ex is considering leaving the UK (and has not yet), as you may be able to take steps to prevent this via a Prohibited Steps Order. A Prohibited Steps Order (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 or country with their children. If your ex is already based abroad, then the situation is more difficult and you would have to get help through an international family law solicitor.
SeparatedDads - 10-Nov-16 @ 11:28 AM
Hello my son is 14 months old and im expecting a baby next year with a filipina. We recently broke up. We havent been getting along well. She promised i would be able to see my son come to the uk but she now continues to deny me access to my son. She is very unstable as a person and can change her mind without even discussing things. Communication is broken so how can i apply for access to my son.
Barrie - 9-Nov-16 @ 3:30 PM
JWal - Your Question:
Does someone know what I can do if an ex girlfriend moved away to Ireland with a child that could possibly be mine but refuses to have a paternity test done? I am in the US and both mother and child are currently in Ireland.

Our Response:
Yes, dependent upon the circumstances, your ex could be forced to give a DNA test if a court ordered it. However, to bring this to court internationally would cost and there is no guarantee the court would order this. You would need to seek legal advice.
SeparatedDads - 18-Oct-16 @ 11:37 AM
Does someone know what I can do if an ex girlfriend moved away to Ireland with a child that could possibly be mine but refuses to have a paternity test done?I am in the US and both mother and child are currently in Ireland.
JWal - 17-Oct-16 @ 3:44 PM
None- Your Question:
Hi I have a child living in England but was born in Australia over here in 2015 for a couple of years but now want to return to Australia where my son was born and his mother keep him here even if I don't want him to be here and I want him to return to Australia with me as I am separated now from his mother

Our Response:
If you wanted to return to Australia with your son it would be a matter for the courts. You would need to seek legal advice in order to explore your options and regarding whether you have a case.
SeparatedDads - 27-Sep-16 @ 11:43 AM
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