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Do You Know Your Rights as a Father?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 16 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Rights Father Child Ex Child Support

Having never planned to be in this position before, you are probably unsure of exactly what your rights as a father are. You want to do your best as a father but what are your legal responsibilities? Here are some questions that you may ask to find out exactly where you stand.

Do You Have Parental Responsibility for Your Kids?

If you were married to your partner when your child was born, you have automatic Parental Responsibility. If you are not married and your child was born after 1st December 2003 and your name is on the birth certificate, you automatically have parental responsibility. If you are the biological father, you can still file for parental responsibility which gives you legal rights and responsibilities for your child.

Can You Make Decisions Concerning Their Upbringing?

With parental responsibility you have the right to be involved in all major decisions in your child life. This can be anything that significantly affects their upbringing such as education, medical treatment or religion. (For more information, see our article Making Joint Decisions About Your Child's Future on this site.)

Who Decides on Everyday Things?

Everyday decisions are left up to the parent who has residence of the children. Generally, the mother is given residence unless you or the courts decide differently. This means that she does not have to consult you about any day-to-day decisions.

Do You Have to Pay Child Support?

As a parent you are legally bound to Pay Child Support. The amount that you pay is worked out by the Child Support Agency (CSA) and will depend on a number of things including how much you earn and how you have split custody.

What Visitation Rights do You Have?

You may decide to organise your visitation independently with your ex, and this is fine as long as you are both happy with the arrangement. If not, you will need to apply for a contact order and be assessed to determine what visitation you are given.

Can Your Ex Take Your Children Out of the Country?

If your ex has residence of your children, she can take them out of the country for up to one month without your permission. If she wants to take them for longer or move abroad permanently, she will need your consent. If you have serious concerns about her taking them out of the country, then you can apply for an order to stop it.

When Does Parental Responsibility End?

Your parental responsibility and child support continues until your child leaves school or further education, which can be as young as 16 or finish when they are 19 and at university.

Finding out about your rights and responsibilities as a father is important so that you know what you are entitled to and what you need to do. If you can keep relations civil and handle the details with your ex then this can be better but, if not, you will have to go through the legal system to clarify things. Your ex has no right to stop you seeing your children and with a little bit of compromise and willingness you can both come to an agreement that is best for your children.

Making Things Easier

When you first split up it's easy for battles to ensue and for the children to take the brunt of it, even though this is never your intention. One way to make things easier is to draw up some kind of agreement at the outset - see our sample separation agreement.

Separated Dads Chat Room & Forum

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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[Add a Comment]
Steve - Your Question:
My situation is extremely complicated, my ex has had depression to the point of she was going to ring up social services and have them sent away because she couldn't handle the situation, luckily family members (of hers) took them in so it didn't end up going down that road. I'm paying my child maintenance to the people looking after my son directly, the other kid is not mine. She is a gambler so all her money ends up going on gambling instead of the kids, she is now threatening to have the kids back so she gets more money, which is wrong, she isn't in the right situation to have them back. My problem is, I don't want to go through child services as I don't want to destroy her, but I want what's best for my kid, so what options to I have to stop her (temporarily) from taking back the kids to which she isn't fit for? Thanks

Our Response:
You would have to seek legal advice regarding this. If you have parental responsibility, you should have a case. Please see Specific Issue Order link here.
SeparatedDads - 20-Jun-17 @ 10:30 AM
My situation is extremely complicated, my ex has had depression to the point of she was going to ring up social services and have them sent away because she couldn't handle the situation, luckily family members (of hers) took them in so it didn't end up going down that road. I'm paying my child maintenance to the people looking after my son directly, the other kid is not mine. She is a gambler so all her money ends up going on gambling instead of the kids, she is now threatening to have the kids back so she gets more money, which is wrong, she isn't in the right situation to have them back. My problem is, I don't want to go through child services as I don't want to destroy her, but I want what's best for my kid, so what options to I have to stop her (temporarily) from taking back the kids to which she isn't fit for? Thanks
Steve - 16-Jun-17 @ 11:53 PM
Danny - Your Question:
Hi I separated from my ex around 18 months ago and since then I've been seeing my son every weekend until we had an argument and she stopped me seeing him for a while for 6 weeks. I did get contact again and thing wer going ok then everytime he was getting dropped off or I was pickin him up she would coz arguments and 10 months ago she stopped all contact and is with a new partner. Since then she hasn't replied my calls or messages. I've been to a lawyer there going to send a letter out. I am on his birth certificate. What I need to know if she decides to ignore the letter and not go to court what would happen? Just need as much advice as possible just to get my mind at ease. Thanks

Our Response:
You don't say why there has been a gap of 10 months before you have applied for access again. However, in the first instance, it is likely that mediation will be requested, please see link here . If your ex refuses to attend mediation or mediation breaks down, then you would be able to apply to court. The court can adjourn the hearing until a later date, or issue a court order for access in your ex's absence if she refuses to attend.
SeparatedDads - 15-Jun-17 @ 3:27 PM
Newdad1502 - Your Question:
Hi guys, so I have very recently split up with the mother of my child, 2 weeks ago to be exact! We have been in a relationship for just over 4 years and have broken up once during! Unfortunately our baby wasn't planned, but was a huge blessing. But this lead to post natal depression, and a very uncomfortable time indeed. Due to this we ended parting with the intention of a break. Irregardless of this now she is finding it very hard to look after hour 6 month old child, I have been more than accommodating and have tried to be as best of a father as I can in this situation, taking our baby for a couple of days a week to give her rest and have sent more than ample amounts of maintenance. Just recently she has stopped communicating with me, and have found out that she often has her friends look after our child. We had another arguement about this as I feel it's imperative that I know who is caring for our child, and she obviously doesn't share the same opinion. Sorry for it being long winded. But where do I stand with this?

Our Response:
If you have separated, the preferred way to decide upon who cares for your child is generally through mutual agreement. If your ex is refusing to contact you and negotiate care/contact/access then you should suggest mediation to your ex in order to try to come to a resolution via a third party, please see link here. If your ex refuses to negotiate via mediation, then your next option would be court, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 15-Jun-17 @ 2:01 PM
Hi I separated from my ex around 18 months ago and since then I've been seeing my son every weekend until we had an argument and she stopped me seeing him for a while for 6 weeks. I did get contact again and thing wer going ok then everytime he was getting dropped off or I was pickin him up she would coz arguments and 10 months ago she stopped all contact and is with a new partner. Since then she hasn't replied my calls or messages. I've been to a lawyer there going to send a letter out. I am on his birth certificate. What i need to know if she decides to ignore the letter and not go to court what would happen? Just need as much advice as possible just to get my mind at ease. Thanks
Danny - 15-Jun-17 @ 2:11 AM
Hi guys, so I have very recently split up with the mother of my child, 2 weeks ago to be exact! We have been in a relationship for just over 4 years and have broken up once during! Unfortunately our baby wasn't planned, but was a huge blessing. But this lead to post natal depression, and a very uncomfortable time indeed. Due to this we ended parting with the intention of a break. Irregardless of this now she is finding it very hard to look after hour 6 month old child, I have been more than accommodating and have tried to be as best of a father as I can in this situation, taking our baby for a couple of days a week to give her rest and have sent more than ample amounts of maintenance. Just recently she has stopped communicating with me, and have found out that she often has her friends look after our child. We had another arguement about this as I feel it's imperative that I know who is caring for our child, and she obviously doesn't share the same opinion. Sorry for it being long winded. But where do I stand with this?
Newdad1502 - 14-Jun-17 @ 9:45 AM
Andy - Your Question:
Hi I've recently moved home do I legally need to tell my ex wife where I have moved to a new home ? She has residence of my daughter but I see her every other weekend but my ex is now claiming I need to tell her ? Is this true ?

Our Response:
You are under no obligation to tell your ex where you are now living. However, if if you are having your daughter overnight it is understandable your ex wishes to know where your daughter is staying. If your ex decides to try to withdraw access on the back of that reason, you would have to try to resolve the issue via mediation or court, which unfortunately can be a long haul.
SeparatedDads - 13-Jun-17 @ 4:19 PM
Gaz - Your Question:
Hi, I have split from my partner of which we have a 1.5 yo child. Im am on the birth cert. I also have a 7 year old daughter from a past relationship. The 7 yo daughter of mine did not get on with my recent ex and she is saying that my eldest daughter cant see her half sister. Is this legal ? Can she stop them from seeing each othet. My eldest daughter has never hirt her and only been loving towards her. She wasnt nice to my recent ex becuase she was always nasty to me.

Our Response:
If your ex is trying to stop this and will not consider mediation in order to try to resolve the issue informally, then you would have to apply to court for a Specific Issue Order, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 13-Jun-17 @ 4:12 PM
Mike 626 - Your Question:
Me and my ex partner have been separated since shortly after the birth of my daughter for reasons I'd rather not discuss , I have my wonderful 6 year old daughter every weekend mostly without fail, the last couple of weekends I have not had her due to letting her play with her friends who live with her mother , however when I refused to let her this time as she'd just had a week off school to play with her friends her mother had refused to send her down "because she won't force my daughter to do anything she doesn't want to" , so I'd replied "so does that mean she doesn't have to go to school" , Does anyone know who is in the right and what I can do about this ? Many thanks

Our Response:
Where you cannot resolve the issue informally, your first option would be to suggest mediation to your ex, please see link here . If your ex refuses, then you would have the option to apply to court. Also, sometimes a solicitor's letter sent directly to your ex informing her of your rights might do the trick. In which case you may wish to seek legal advice. Please also see link here .
SeparatedDads - 13-Jun-17 @ 2:39 PM
Me and my partner been in a relationship for over 7 years now .we have 2 beautifull kids togather. We were never seperated but had few hardship in our relationship which causes arguments some times . We love each other alot but its difficult for us to be togather as i am living in a different country and not allowed back home . I do wants to be part of my kids life and be a normal father as everyone else .we do not have a choice but to carryon living appart from eachother several thousand miles away . My partner do not accompany good people but drug user and violent guys.i worry for my kids safety . Reason for arguments was always about company she keep . Is there any help i can get through you guys as i heard alot about you guys doing a great job in family reunion
Omez - 8-Jun-17 @ 10:22 PM
Hi, i have split from my partner of which we have a 1.5 yo child. Im am on the birth cert. I also have a 7 year old daughter from a past relationship. The 7 yo daughter of mine did not get on with my recent ex and she is saying that my eldest daughter cant see her half sister. Is this legal ? Can she stop them from seeing each othet. My eldest daughter has never hirt her and only been loving towards her. She wasnt nice to my recent ex becuase she was always nasty to me.
Gaz - 8-Jun-17 @ 9:51 PM
Hi I've recently moved home do I legally need to tell my ex wife where I have moved to a new home ? She has residence of my daughter but I see her every other weekend but my ex is now claiming I need to tell her ? Is this true ?
Andy - 8-Jun-17 @ 7:04 PM
Me and my ex partner have been separated since shortly after the birth of my daughter for reasons I'd rather not discuss , I have my wonderful 6 year old daughter every weekend mostly without fail, the last couple of weekends I have not had her due to letting her play with her friends who live with her mother , however when I refused to let her this time as she'd just had a week off school to play with her friends her mother had refused to send her down "because she won't force my daughter to do anything she doesn't want to" , so I'd replied "so does that mean she doesn't have to go to school" , Does anyone know who is in the right and what I can do about this ? Many thanks
Mike626 - 6-Jun-17 @ 2:44 PM
My partners ex has stopped him seeing his son a few years ago, way before we met. He has tried mediation which she attended once. A solicitor has sent her a letter in the past but she has moved since and he moved longer knows where she lives. He's tried social media which she has also ignored. She's set up home with another man and this all started when they got together. Its breaking my heart to see my other half like this. Completely broken. Court is a very expensive process for us, so I'm just looking for some advice as to where we could go. Thanks
Pickle - 5-Jun-17 @ 4:52 PM
Hi , It's my daughters birthday soon , she is 13 And wants to go to a show at the theatre , I have my daughter every weekend , but her mother stipulates she's home for 5pm on a Sunday , this was her idea on the times and not a court ruling , she is being very negative and it's just her being awkward , if I told her my daughter was going to be late back , what could she do ?
Marquis - 31-May-17 @ 9:22 PM
@Gully - it's not about the age difference - it's whether he is a decent man. If you don't have access and your ex wont let you have access - your only option is to go to court.
ACE - 31-May-17 @ 1:40 PM
My son lives with his mother and he getting to spend more time with her husband who is 65 and she is 26 ......Not to sure what to do I have done all I can and everything I can but no joy unfortunately
Gully - 30-May-17 @ 9:24 PM
Hello, I have been split up with my ex for about 2 years now and we had a kid together and since we have split up she has been making my life hell and stopping me from seeing our son.... Iv ask about mediation and still waiting for a meeting me me and my ex to mediate... I'm at my wits end have not seen our son for nearly a month and its my weekend with him... What do I do please ?
Gully - 30-May-17 @ 9:18 PM
Jawclipse9 - Your Question:
Hello, my ex keeps breaching the contact order for me to see our son. I'm meant to have them every other weekend and half of the summer holiday as well as alternate christmas day. I can't afford to take her to court to enforce the order and she knows it, I'm at my wits end.

Our Response:
If you can afford a solicitor's letter reminding your ex of her obligations to the order, this may work. If she ignores this and refuses to attend mediation, then you can represent yourself in court, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 25-May-17 @ 12:50 PM
I have been separated from my ex wife for 5 months and seen my children twice. She says that they don't want to see me.. But they have not told me themselves, I'm paying the mortgage most of the bills and giving her between £200 upto£500 a week. She has no income apart from benefits. What can I do.
reggie - 20-May-17 @ 8:59 PM
Hello, my ex keeps breaching the contact order for me to see our son. I'm meant to have them every other weekend and half of the summer holiday as well as alternate christmas day. I can't afford to take her to court to enforce the order and she knows it, I'm at my wits end.
Jawclipse9 - 19-May-17 @ 9:08 PM
Help me- Your Question:
I been have my kids 50% of the time of now more but from Jan I had them 7 nights out of 14 nights but now she trying to cut it down less again to 6 nights out of 14 what or who can I see about this as she will not talk about it

Our Response:
Mediation would be the first stop if you cannot agree between you, please see link here. If your ex refuses to attend mediation, you will have the option to apply directly to court.
SeparatedDads - 19-May-17 @ 2:54 PM
Emu - Your Question:
Me and my partner, we been together for 6 years.but from 6 years we live together for a 1 year only one month ago we been back together on the 2th weke I Find out on my house I Find Youthed condoms and on his phone text. I Life him 2 weeks ago finally he is domestic violence and drinking vrey much I dont wont give my son his he right to my kid

Our Response:
You have to decide upon what you think is in your child's best interests with regards to access to both his and your son. However, as the father your ex has parental responsibility and that does give him the right to negotiate access with you and for you both to come to a suitable arrangement. Your ex will then either have to suggest mediation and if you refuse, he will have the option to take the matter to court. Coming to a mutual agreement regarding access and discussing this mutally is always the best way forward, if you can. Regardless of his actions, the point is whether he is a good dad or not. Denying your child access to his father should only be done if you are genuinely worried for your child's welfare when in his care.
SeparatedDads - 19-May-17 @ 2:06 PM
I been have my kids 50% of the time of now more but from Jan I had them 7 nights out of 14 nights but now she trying to cut it down less again to 6 nights out of 14 what or who can I see about this as she will not talk about it
Help me - 19-May-17 @ 1:20 PM
jimbomack - Your Question:
I have 9 year old daughter who now lives in Wales (I live in Bedfordshire) as her mother remarried into the Army. She refuses to let me have access to my daughter yet still wants full maintenance. I cant afford a solicitor to take her to court for a contact order and now the csa are chasing me. I never wanted my child to leave the country! How is this fair and what can I do?

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access have no bearing on each other. As you are the child's biological parent, you are by law jointly responsible towards the day-to-day financial care of your child regardless of whether you see your child or not. The longer your try to avoid paying child maintenance, the more arrears will mount up and there will be consequences, please see link here. Therefore, in your own best interests I suggest you do not ignore this and try to rectify the matter before you find yourself in an unsustainable situation. With regards to child access, if you cannot afford a solicitor, you can self-litigate. Many fathers are doing this and are finding success. Despite what you may think, the court does want fathers to have a relationship with their children, so self representation is your way around this matter, please see link here. Likewise, if you are on a low income you may be able to get a reduction in court costs, here. Joining the likes of Families Need Fathers etc, please see link here may help, plus our forum (where you can get help and support from other dads in similar situations). I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 19-May-17 @ 10:40 AM
Me and my partner, we been together for 6 years.but from 6 years we live together for a 1 year only one month ago we been back together on the 2th weke i Find out on my house i Find Youthed condoms and on his phone text . I Life him 2 weeksago finally he is domestic violence and drinking vrey much i dont wont give my son his he right to my kid
Emu - 19-May-17 @ 12:59 AM
I have 9 year old daughter who now lives in Wales (I live in Bedfordshire) as her mother remarried into the Army. She refuses to let me have access to my daughter yet still wants full maintenance. I cant afford a solicitor to take her to court for a contact order and now the csa are chasing me. I never wanted my child to leave the country! How is this fair and what can I do?
jimbomack - 18-May-17 @ 4:12 PM
Macca - Your Question:
Hi. I split up with my wife 8 years ago. I have always had contact with them until now. I moved house and job to be near them. I've had issues with alcohol on my own time and I work long hours. My ex has always held this against me although she is no saint herself! She had now blocked all contact with me and the kids and herself and her new partner. My kids are 10 and 14. I don't want to start hanging about school gates etc so where do I stand as regards visitational rights?

Our Response:
Please see link here which will take you through the process of what you have to do in order to attempt to regain access. You will have to start by suggesting mediation in order to try to resolve the issue informally, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 18-May-17 @ 2:34 PM
Hi. I split up with my wife 8 years ago. I have always had contact with them until now. I moved house and job to be near them. I've had issues with alcohol on my own time and I work long hours. My ex has always held this against me although she is no saint herself! She had now blocked all contact with me and the kids and herself and her new partner. My kids are 10 and 14. I don't want to start hanging about school gates etc so where do I stand as regards visitational rights?
Macca - 18-May-17 @ 2:17 PM
Cait - Your Question:
My ex husband has been inconsistently involved in our children's lives (now 7 and 5) I left him 5 years ago after I'd got the guts to leave (emotional and physical domestic violence leading to me being placed in psychiatric care before the birth of our second child) and where he has always paid maintenance through a family agreement there have been months between visits. He's recently told me he plans to move to the states. If he leaves the children and ceases to pay is it possible to get him to give up his rights. I would never plan to do this normally. I believe children need their father. However he's manipulative. He does not look after them well when he does see them and the way he behaved in our marriage leaves me constantly concerned for their safety.

Our Response:
Only a court can determine whether a parent should be relinquished of their parental responsibility. It is rare and only in cases where the court deems it necessary and in the children's best interests.
SeparatedDads - 18-May-17 @ 2:09 PM
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