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Paternity and the Law

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 19 Nov 2016 |
 
Paternity Law Fathers Employment Leave

As an expecting father you are filled with a huge range of emotions, from excitement to anxiety. With everything on your mind as you prepare for your child, one thing you don’t want to worry about is how becoming a dad will affect your job. If you take the time to plan your paternity leave, liaise with your employer and keep the lines of communication open, you should be able to enjoy the arrival of your new born without the pressure to go back to work. As a separated dad you can access the same rights, as long as you follow the procedures.

Who Can Take Paternity Leave?

Every employee has a right to paternity leave, but there are rules as to who is eligible for paternity leave, and you will need to check that you fit in the criteria to ensure you are able to access paternity leave pay. First of all, you MUST be an employee, not self-employed. You must also be taking the leave with a view to supporting the initial stages of childrearing. You must ensure that:
  • The child is biologically your own or;
  • You are adopting a child.

As long as you satisfy one of these criteria you can apply for paternity leave, as long as you are employed and have been an employee of the same company for at least 26 weeks before either:

  • The end of the 15th week of pregnancy before the week of the due date or;
  • The end of the week when you are told that you are matched with an adoptee.

How Much Paternity Leave Can I Have?

Paternity leave is taken in addition to paid holiday. Paternity leave can be taken for up to a maximum of 2 weeks. If you choose to take this amount of time, you have to take the time in consecutive weeks. You can choose to take a single week instead of two, but you cannot choose to take a second week at a different time if you choose to take a week. The week is based on your standard week, that is, if you work 3 days a week, you will get 3 days paternity leave in the week, if you work 5 days per week, you will receive 5 days of paternity leave.

It is important to note that you cannot take paternity leave for antenatal appointments, and if you want to be at these appointments you will need to talk with your employer, and probably take holiday time to cover the appointments. You should take the time to discuss time off with your employer, as many companies have more generous paternity leave schemes for their employees.

You must take the paternity leave within 56 days of your child’s birth, and it cannot start before the baby arrives.

What Paternity Pay Am I Eligible to Receive?

Standard paternity leave is called Ordinary Paternity Leave. If you satisfy the above criteria you may qualify for Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay. This is paid for the length of your paternity leave, and is paid at a rate of £128.73 per week, or 90% of your average weekly wage, if this happens to be the lower amount.

How Do I Take Paternity Leave?

It is essential that you open communications with your employer as early as possible once you know that you are expecting a child. You must inform your employer of:
  • The expected date of your new arrival;
  • The number of weeks you intend to take leave on;
  • When you want the Ordinary Paternity Leave to begin.

You will need to inform your employer in writing about your choice to take paternity leave. This must be done in enough time to give your employer adequate notice. This must be:

  • At least 15 weeks prior to the due date week;
  • Within a week of being told that you are going to adopt a child.
To inform your employer of your paternity leave choice, you can use a ‘self-certificate’ form, known as an SC3, which is available from the direct.gov website.

If you are unable to give your employer sufficient notice for a valid reason then you should still give as much notice as possible. Valid reasons might be an early arrival or a lack of notice from your adoption agency. If you simply forget to inform your employer, you will lose any entitlement that you might have. You can change your Ordinary Paternity Leave date if you wish, as long as you give 28 days’ notice to your employer.

What is Additional Paternity Leave?

Since April 2011 some new parents have the right to take up to 26 weeks extra paternity leave. This will depend on the working circumstances of your child’s mother, and so you should investigate this further if you think that you will need to take time away from work once your child’s mother begins working again.

Problems With Paternity Leave?

If you find you’re having issues with your Ordinary Paternity Leave you need to talk to your employer in the first instance. They will be able to give you the best advice regarding your employment. If you feel that you are not getting the help you require, you should make use of your company grievance policy. Remember you have the right to Ordinary Paternity Leave, and if you follow the procedures properly and make sure you give adequate notice, you should be able to enjoy the first precious days of being a father.

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[Add a Comment]
My friends have just had a baby ( now 5 wks old)and mother has walked out leaving the baby when it was 9 days old. She is still taking maternity leave while he is struggling ( he is signed off work sick).I am sure he is entitled to shared paternity leave as he is the sole carer of the baby, for the foreseeable future anyway. Anyone been in the situation and can offer advice regarding the law? Thanks
Alli - 19-Nov-16 @ 4:02 PM
I split with my pregnant ex a couple month ago. She refuses to update me on the pregnancy and she has informed me I won't be at the birth. The mother is emotionally unstable, smokes cannabis and brigs her kids around the company of heavier drugs. Would I have a good chance of getting custody of my soon to be daughter or will it be an expensive waste of time?
Aj - 21-Oct-16 @ 9:42 AM
I am married and we have one child aged 4 who has just started school.We have a five bedroom house worth about £1.1 million with a £450k mortgage.I earn £82k and my wife earns £90k, a nanny looks after our child when he gets back from school.If we were to break up would I have any rights to the money in the house if we shared responsibility for looking after the child?
CDoodle - 3-Oct-16 @ 2:24 PM
Alm90 - Your Question:
My partner of 3 years has 3 children to a previous relationship. One aged 5, one aged 4 and one aged 2 (when we met he was under the impression his ex partner had had a termination, when she found out we were together she didn't go ahead with this and failed to tell him he had another child on the way until 1 month before her birth). Only the past year he has had regular contact with his children despite paying regular mainentence and pleading for more time with them. My partner and I are now expecting our first child and she has stopped all contact between him and his 3 children dispite the fact she has no real reason to do so. He pays regular maintenance (more than necessary but he wants them to have the best), he buys anything they need from clothes to activity fees, takes them whenever she asks and always pleads to see them more. It is although she doesn't want him having contact with them because he has another child on the way. What would you suggest we do? Do we apply for a contact order? Thanks in advance

Our Response:
Please see link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here. The courts will prefer your partner to have suggested mediation in order to sort out the issue, which he should do so (but, be aware any agreement made through mediation is not enforcable by law). If his ex refuses, then he will be able to take the matter to court. If a court order is awarded, the times will be structured and his ex will be legally bound to the order. In the first instance, your partner may wish to seek legal advice regarding his options. However, after this he can choose to be represented by a solicitor, or save money and self-litigate, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 2-Aug-16 @ 12:36 PM
My partner of 3 years has 3 children to a previous relationship. One aged 5, one aged 4 and one aged 2 (when we met he was under the impression his ex partner had had a termination, when she found out we were together she didn't go ahead with this and failed to tell him he had another child on the way until 1 month before her birth). Only the past year he has had regular contact with his children despite paying regular mainentence and pleading for more time with them. My partner and I are now expecting our first child and she has stopped all contact between him and his 3 children dispite the fact she has no real reason to do so. He pays regular maintenance (more than necessary but he wants them to have the best), he buys anything they need from clothes to activity fees, takes them whenever she asks and always pleads to see them more. It is although she doesn't want him having contact with them because he has another child on the way. What would you suggest we do? Do we apply for a contact order? Thanks in advance
Alm90 - 1-Aug-16 @ 8:56 PM
Hi I am a father of 3 kids. Recently separated from my wife of 12 years. I have also recently been released from jail back in October. My ex has a court order to have no contact with her but I am able to see my kids through a third party court order. Things have seemed to be great when I have the kids but recently notice they don't like to go home and just found out that there step brother who is 19 has recently threaten my oldest daughter who is 12 that he would take her life was more like uttering threats with a deadly weapon. So guess my question is with only visitation rights and not seeing the act only hearing what happened from my daughter am I able to press charges?
Jeffy - 15-Jul-16 @ 6:33 AM
Hi, my ex hid my daughter's registration from me, so I am not on the birth certificate, she then call the cops and had me arrested after we argued at a playgroup, no charges were filed. Now she is married to another man and has moved away. My daughter is now 8. I haven't seen her in 6 years. What if anything can I do to get contact with her? Ps. I have Bern trying to find her and have never given up hope, but her mother has done nothing but lie to me since the day we met. Please help me I'm desperate for some direction.
Jebus - 11-Jul-16 @ 11:28 PM
amyyb82- Your Question:
I am currently going through the mataince people and my sons father is refusing to do dna he thinks my son ant his he also isn't paying a penny I've been waiting nearly 2years for something to get done I want to know what action I can take!!!

Our Response:
If the CSA/CMS is dealing with this, then the 'named' father should pay until the results of the DNA test come through. If parentage is assumed, the agency will work out a child maintenance amount. The person named as the parent has to pay this until they can prove that they’re not the parent. Please see gov.uk link here. I suggest you contact the CSA/CMS to see why your son's father is not paying, if he has been named as the father.
SeparatedDads - 29-Feb-16 @ 10:12 AM
I am currently going through the mataince people and my sons father is refusing to do dna he thinks my son ant his he also isn't paying a penny I've been waiting nearly 2years for something to get done I want to know what action I can take!!!
amyyb82 - 28-Feb-16 @ 2:23 AM
Hi, Ex-girlfriend cheated on me with my mates brother.. With the dates baby can be mine or his. Can I still take maternity leave?Even though through my maternity leave I'll be liaise with my solicitor due to being in doubt of the biological father (Work know that she's pregnant but not that the baby might not be mine, do I have to tell them? Work in a professional business so wouldnt look good on my behalf). Also won't show me any scans picture nor the genre of the child when found out, is this legal? What our my rights; Currently 19 weeks pregnant
Unknown - 7-Jan-16 @ 9:42 PM
H - Your Question:
Hi, my partner has been separated from his wife for 3 years now and she is refusing to sign the divorce papers. She is also in a new relationship, but is very controlling and refusing to let my partner have his children come and stay because she does not like fact he has moved on and started a new relationship. He only gets to see the when she says so and at her house. He is going to go to court but is there anything he can do in the mean time? Can he simply take them, they are his children and if he was still happily married he wouldn't have been asking permission to take them out. It would have been considered normal. This is definately having an effect on the children and their bond with their father. I'm trying to support him the best I can, any advice would be appreciated, thanks

Our Response:
I would never advise that a person just 'take' their children, as it could be more detrimental to your partner's future chances when applying for access, should the police get involved. The most straightforward way would be to either suggest mediation to his ex, of if she refused, take her to court. Please see article: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 30-Nov-15 @ 12:04 PM
Hi, my partner has been separated from his wife for 3 years now and she is refusing to sign the divorce papers. She is also in a new relationship, but is very controlling and refusing to let my partner have his children come and stay because she does not like fact he has moved on and started a new relationship. He only gets to see the when she says so and at her house. He is going to go to court but is there anything he can do in the mean time? Can he simply take them, they are his children and if he was still happily married he wouldn't have been asking permission to take them out. It would have been considered normal. This is definately having an effect on the children and their bond with their father. I'm trying to support him the best I can, any advice would be appreciated, thanks
H - 29-Nov-15 @ 3:28 PM
My ex husband doesn't want anything to do with my youngest child, he only wants to see my older two. He left me back in November 2011 for another woman, my youngest was born December 2011, he turned up at the hospital stoned and drunk and midwife was really unsure about letting him in the room until I pleaded he should witness the birth of this daughter. Anyway, he started off having contact with her, had her one night and that was completely unsuccessful, he climbed out of his mothers front room window with her, he hadn't dressed her, she was only wearing a vest, hadn't strapped her in her car seat, threw a blanket over her and hadn't even put a seat belt over the car seat and drove to my house in his mothers car without a drivers licence, no insurance etc. A few months later, he was meant to have all three for 2 hours during the 6 weeks holiday, he only asked for the older two, I forced him to have all three, an hour and a half later he demanded I pick them up...anyway, he hasn't paid child maintenance for three years now, he doesn't see my youngest and doesn't want to either. He is on all birth certificates, however, we were only married at the time of my youngest being born. Since last year I have been in a new relationship, my ex husband has said that if my new partner wants to adopt my youngest then he can as he is the only father she has ever known...my new partner is happy but obviously I would rather wait until we are married before this happens. My question is, even now after everything, would a court still consider my ex husband and the father of my youngest child to still have parental responsibility given the way he has been with her? He doesn't know her and she doesn't know him at all, hasn't seen him since being only a few months old. Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated.
MissyG - 24-Oct-15 @ 9:13 AM
Kertlyj- Your Question:
Hiya, I am now 27 weeks pregnant but my ex walked out on our 5 year relationship 7 weeks ago. He intends on taking 2 weeks paternity leave as he wants to be involved. However I am going to be having a c-section and will need a lot of support yet he is refusing to stay at mine to help with the baby.Does this class as him not fulfilling his paternity duties?Some advise would be great

Our Response:
There is nothing to monitor what a parent does and does not do regarding paternity leave or duties. Neither are their any rules governing what parental responsibility involves on a day-to-day basis, this is something you will need to work out between yourselves. If the fathers chooses not to stay with you in order to help post-birth, this is his perogative.
SeparatedDads - 6-Oct-15 @ 11:26 AM
Hiya, I am now 27 weeks pregnant but my ex walked out on our 5 year relationship 7 weeks ago. He intends on taking 2 weeks paternity leave as he wants to be involved. However I am going to be having a c-section and will need a lot of support yet he is refusing to stay at mine to help with the baby. Does this class as him not fulfilling his paternity duties? Some advise would be great
Kertlyj - 5-Oct-15 @ 12:07 PM
thanks for your reply aidy my son dose look like me a little and we are a lot a like personality wise buti have been there since the day he was born i was there all therough the pregnancy so he is bound to be like me in some ways ok the looks couldnt be explained buti realisically dont think he is mine reason i say this we was trying for a baby for a year or 2 then she cheats and boom then we have since been trying for last 3 years and no availif the bllod in hes vains isent mine he is still my son if she went to court could she force me to do one couldi not continue to have access to my son with out doing a test and if not shouldi do one could i in any way have access to my son he the other petential farther has no idea of the questions and he has never asked surely regardless of the result it is in the childs bestintrest for me to be hes father i will fight for him and i love him regardless of the result nothing will change
unknown - 17-Sep-15 @ 2:36 PM
@unknown - If she took it to court, in a bid to disprove paternity and as a result access, then the court could order you to have one. But, you would not need to comply, unless the condition was that unless you had a test, no contact/access would be granted, in which case you might want to consent. Plus, you might well be the child's father. Does he look like you? Have your mannerisms? I think we all kind of know whether we are genetically related to our offspring or not. But good on you for standing by a child that might not be yours- there are many men that don't even stand by their own!
Aidy - 17-Sep-15 @ 1:49 PM
thank you for your reply :) and i would like to know if i refused the dna would she haveto take me to courtfor the courts to order one and if that is the case could i not defend my self as i am on birth cert and i have been in the childs life for 5 years end of the day i m the childs dad blood or not
unknown - 16-Sep-15 @ 1:38 PM
unknown - Your Question:
Hi I would like to ask a question and hope you guys could help sorry if it seems long windedi have a son I have raised him in a family enviroment for the lt 5 years sadly me and mum have split up I am on birth cert and have joint perental responsibilitys not the brake up had turned nasty so hear is the question there is a chance my son is infact not my son as she cheated I have always known this and it dose not bother me now can she do a dna test behind my back or will she need my concent if o is there a way she can do it with out my concent

Our Response:
Your ex can have a DNA test done on your son without your consent. However, she may need to use an approved testing labroratory if she wanted it to stand up in court. If was is the case then the DNA testing company would send an information pack to the parent the child lives with and the person named as the parent. For your information, I have included an extra link to the gov.uk site regarding paternity testing here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 15-Sep-15 @ 1:46 PM
hi i would like to ask a question and hope you guys could help sorry if it seems long winded i have a son i have raised him in a family enviroment for the lt 5 years sadly me and mum have split up i am on birth cert and have joint perental responsibilitys not the brake up had turned nasty so hear is the question there is a chance my son is infact not my son as she cheated i have always known this and it dose not bother me now can she do a dna test behind my back or will she need my concent if o is there a way she can do it with out my concent
unknown - 14-Sep-15 @ 2:26 PM
Whatever - Your Question:
Hi my partner has just been told that his ex had his baby and did not put his on the birth certificate and has adopted this child how can he find out if this is true as all he knows is she lives in London somewhere Thanks for any help

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, as he was not named as the father, then only the mother holds parental responsibility, please see Family Lives link here.
SeparatedDads - 11-Sep-15 @ 2:25 PM
Hi my partner has just been told that his ex had his baby and did not put his on the birth certificate and has adopted this child how can he find out if this is true as all he knows is she lives in London somewhere Thanks for any help
Whatever - 10-Sep-15 @ 11:11 PM
Hi my ex gave birth a few days ago and it could be mine. We broke up when we found out she was pregnant, wasnt my fault as she cheated. All the dates work out and the kid kinda looks like me. I want to do a dna test but she wont. I want to know if its mine or not. Please help can i take her to court to get a dna test done, what the other options. Ive tryed contacting her and her family.
gonzalez123 - 1-Jun-15 @ 12:38 AM
@Lol - I think in this case you need some external advice and how to approach things in the most cost-effective and productive way. Please contatct your nearest Citizen's Advice Bureau who can give you some help free of charge.
SeparatedDads - 15-Dec-14 @ 11:41 AM
Hi,my partner of 6years have a son. My partners ex has told my partner that his son is not his,he is not the father. For the best part of 3years of going to Family proceedings and 3 different solicitors,they all failed to mention that my partner would want a DNA test done and failed to note it down on paperwork. My partners ex has denied my partner of a DNA test to prove whether or not he is the father of the boy who is now 10years old. My partner is paying CSA. My partner went to see a solicitor 3weeks ago and paid £100 pounds to the solicitors to ask for them to write a letter to his ex for a paternity test. This took 3 weeks to arrive. We where both astounded to the cost off solicitor's fees. We are expecting a phone call on Monday morning to confirm and ask questions along with answers. This could cost both of us in the region of £1000.00/£1500 pounds. My partners ex can refuse the DNA and instead of it taking 1/2 weeks,it could be longer as my partners ex will/could ignore the letter. My main concern is this: How much is it if my partner applied for a form from the courts to ask his ex to attend or do we still have to see a solicitor? Or can we pay a judge to grant our DNA or do we have to hand over any paperwork that we have to the judge? How much is it going to cost us both?, as I am a carer for my partner through ill health as I feel my partner was slaughtered in a way that my partners ex used the court to her own advantage and lied on all paperwork and still got away with it all and made out my partner was unfit to have his child,but my partner still getting contact with his son,and my partners ex did not like it one bit. My partner has contacted the CSA,but they said that my partner would have to have a letter of the judge,in black and white that my partners ex has refused a DNA testing and once the CSA receive that letter,they can stop the payments from my partner as his ex has refused a DNA test. The solicitors also said to my partner,that you are vexation (looking for revenge),this is not true,as he is paying for his child,plus my partner will also be paying for a solicitor. We just don't get it. The only right my partner has is for a DNA and it just feels that these solicitors are putting my partner off.
lol - 13-Dec-14 @ 2:13 AM
@heather. No, if the biological father is not on the birth certificate, then he has no official rights to your child.
SeparatedDads - 15-Oct-14 @ 2:46 PM
If the biological is not on the birth certificate and im married to someone else can the biological father take the kids from me?
heather - 14-Oct-14 @ 5:23 AM
I have a 7 month old son who is under social services due to an ex of my sons mother, I do not have my name on the birth certificate and shes told me I cant have it on, I DID have a paternity test with the csa and also pay to them out of my benefits, I want to know how I go about getting my name on my sons birth certificate as the social services told me to seek advice, as it would be in my best interest and my sons just incase he is taken of her
John Creegan - 9-Jun-14 @ 11:43 AM
Hi my ex parner and i have split up and i have no access to my 2 children.Although my name is on my daughters birth cert but not sure if its on my sons what should i do next.She agreed a contact centre then ignored it.Then my solitor arrangediation and my ex she did not reply what would likely to happen from here.Thanks
daz - 30-Jan-13 @ 10:30 PM
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