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Do You Know Your Rights as a Father?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 11 Dec 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.

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]
Charlie boy - Your Question:
I'm about to separate from my partner we have a mortgage which is joint and have 2 kids, a 5 and a 2 ur old. The issue I have is I will probably have to move out of our house but I cannot afford to rent anywhere that will be suitable for having the kids overnight. I don't know what will happen to the house whether it will get sold or I get bought out. Still in the process of sorting that out. Is there any help I can get financially or

Our Response:
You would have to agree with your ex regarding the house, whether it is to be sold, or whether your ex would continue to live there with your kids. There are no rules, but be prepared that if you wished to take the matter to court, it is highly unlikely that a court would order the house to be sold while your kids are under 18 years of age. There is no help you can get financially, unless you are on a low income and you may be able to claim housing benefit, please see link here . This will tell you if you are eligible to claim any benefits. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 11-Dec-17 @ 12:58 PM
I'm about to separate from my partner we have a mortgage which is joint and have 2 kids, a 5 and a 2 ur old. The issue I have is i will probably have to move out of our house but I cannot afford to rent anywhere that will be suitable for having the kids overnight. I don't know what will happen to the house whether it will get sold or I get bought out. Still in the process of sorting that out. Is there any help I can get financially or
Charlie boy - 10-Dec-17 @ 9:17 PM
Me and my partner are going through a rough patch. I am not s British citizen but my partner is and therefore my children are. If we separate will he have full custody because of my citizenship?
Kitkat - 8-Dec-17 @ 10:43 PM
Jodi - Your Question:
Me and my partner are currently going through a rough patch but the rights would be different with a contract/ if we're broken up He had recently entered my life and as things have moved fast we had our son 4 months ago in the beginning begore he was born he had made promises to my family which were all up to him He currently is trying to work things out but what he fails to realise is if we were broken up all the money, nappies and time he promises me , and my family would be court held. He works through the week but I haven't let him see his son for two weekends as I deserve proof of change for th sake of our son but he's constantly talking about the fact we contradict ourselves I really believe as the woman who's been looking after my son non stop for 4 months I have more than a right for him to not see his Dad if he's not taking things seriously.

Our Response:
If you cannot agree on an issue, then mediation is the next option, please see link here. If you cannot agree through mediation, then your ex will have the option to take the matter to court. In which case, it would be the court who would decide what it thinks is in your child's best interests. Where possible mutual negotiation is best in order to prevent the court making a decision on your behalf.
SeparatedDads - 8-Dec-17 @ 9:52 AM
Me and my partner are currently going through a rough patch but the rights would be different with a contract/ if we're broken up He had recently entered my life and as things have moved fast we had our son 4 months ago in the beginning begore he was born he had made promises to my family which were all up to him He currently is trying to work things out but what he fails to realise is if we were broken up all the money, nappies and time he promises me , and my family would be court held. He works through the week but I haven't let him see his son for two weekends as I deserve proof of change for th sake of our son but he's constantly talking about the fact we contradict ourselves I really believe as the woman who's been looking after my son non stop for 4 months I have more than a right for him to not see his Dad if he's not taking things seriously.
Jodi - 7-Dec-17 @ 9:01 AM
Forever a battle- Your Question:
Me and my ex partner have been seperated for almost a year now I have moved on in my life I have a new partner and we are now expecting a new baby she took me to court and it got sorted with my mum overlooking the contact now my mum and my ex have have both made up and now they have stopped me from seeing my children I don't know where to turn I don't earn enough money to get a solicitor, does anybody have any advice kn what I can do

Our Response:
You can self-litigate if you cannot afford legal representation, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 4-Dec-17 @ 12:58 PM
Me and my ex partner have been seperated for almost a year now i have moved on in my life i have a new partner and we are now expecting a new baby she took me to court and it got sorted with my mum overlooking the contact now my mum and my ex have have both made up and now they have stopped me from seeing my children i don't know where to turn i don't earn enough money to get a solicitor, does anybody have any advice kn what i can do
Forever a battle - 2-Dec-17 @ 3:16 PM
Chris - Your Question:
I have separated from my wife and she is now on and off everytime she decides I’m not doing anything right in my own life e.g. working too much or seeing someone else she stops me from seeing my daughter she is accusing me of serious allegations such as sexual assault none being true what can I do to see my daughter as this is all I want

Our Response:
Please see the link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here, which should help you further and show you the process you would have to go through.
SeparatedDads - 1-Dec-17 @ 2:47 PM
I have separated from my wife and she is now on and off everytime she decides I’m not doing anything right in my own life e.g. working too much or seeing someone else she stops me from seeing my daughter she is accusing me of serious allegations such as sexual assault none being true what can I do to see my daughter as this is all I want
Chris - 27-Nov-17 @ 11:09 PM
I kind of feel similar to Sebb H there in a way, the notion that I may have been led down the garden path by someone who was so insecure, getting pregnant to try and keep me from leaving is something i would not put past my ex. Anyway i stayed with her and tried to do the right thing, tried to make it work, happy families etc but the ungrateful lazy cow just made my life a misery and nothing i did was good enough. She complained about having to stay at home all day with a newborn baby while i got up at 5am to go out in the freezing cold and do a days work. I think we envied each others' situation. She was irrational, violent, abusive and i feared for the safety and wellbeing of our baby when she would lose her temper, no joke. We were better off apart but the final straw was when she tried to stop me going on my best friends stag do (as best man). She tried to make me choose between them or her and i chose my friends. Yes, i am still single while they are all now married near enough and i probs wont see them ever again but better to have loved and lost than live with the psycho the rest of your life! So stressful times followed, we split and i was thankful to be rid of her tbh but my girl was caught in the middle unfortunately and i wanted to be a good dad still. One day i went to collect my daughter from the station, halfway between where we live (30 miles away) and she suggested i start giving her childcare money even though when my daughter is with me, she doesnt need it. So she phoned the police and tried to stop me taking her home! Is that blackmail or using my daughter as a tool or what?! i have been lucky in a way, having 50/50 care for last year or so with thanks to my parents. It was a good routine for all i think as i wasnt missing out on too much as she now lives 60 miles away. Anyway now my ex has found a job, wants to put daughter into nursery which is fine i guess but dont have much of a say. It means i cant have her for a week at a time like i did because apparently she needs to take a fulltime space at nursery and if i wanted to carry on like before, id have to pay for a weeks worth of childcare every other week so she could be with me rather than at nursery, which would mean her paying for a weeks nursery for no reason. That is half my weekly wage and i am not entitled to any kind of help. That is not an option. I dont have much choice but to see her only on weekends now, but is it fair for my ex to demand payment if i want to have my daughter for an extra day or two which fall on her 'nursery' days?? On top of maintenance?? Surely she is paying it anyway with the benefits and free childcare? it just doesnt seem right to me that i should have to pay extra to see my daughter when my time with her has already been reduced. If i dont, she stays in nursery. It feels like blackmail again?? I know there are guys out there with bigger problems and who dont get to see their children at all, and my heart goes out to you. But
Craig Morris - 27-Nov-17 @ 9:49 PM
Alex - Your Question:
I have two children to my ex and she neglects them and doesn't care for them at all. She even moved in with a man for a year and a half and left the kids with her mother. What rights do I have to get them to come and live with me?

Our Response:
Much depends upon what you term as 'neglect' and whether you have access to your children currently and on what level. If you feel your ex is not looking after your kids, then you need to approach her and try to have a conversation directly in order to try to resolve the issues. If your ex will not discuss the matter, your next step would be to suggest mediation, please see link here . Only if your ex refuses to attend mediation would you be able to apply to court. 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. It is rare a court will take the children from one parent and hand them over to another unless there is a very good reason, such as provable neglect, please see link here . If you are genuinely concerned about your children's day-to-day welfare and the school may have noticed also and neglect is taking place, then you may wish to speak to NSPCC for further information, as they will be able to advise.
SeparatedDads - 21-Nov-17 @ 1:47 PM
I have two children to my ex and she neglects them and doesn't care for them at all. She even moved in with a man for a year and a half and left the kids with her mother. What rights do I have to get them to come and live with me?
Alex - 20-Nov-17 @ 8:32 PM
Ajay - Your Question:
My ex who Iv not been with for years is going through csa for payments to my daughter. I fail to understand that if she thinks I'm not good enough to have access to my daughter how is my money good enough. Plus I have too other kids and me and my ex have sorted this mutually my too kids I see regular. But the mother of the first daughter clearly is only bothered about money how is this fair wen I barley am living on the bread line

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access are not dependent upon each other. By law, every non-resident parent is responsible for financially helping to support their child, regardless of whether they see their child or not. If you wish to see your daughter, then you should either suggest your ex attends mediation in order to try to resolve the issue, please see linkhere. If your ex refuses, then this will allow you to apply to court. If you cannot afford legal fees, you can self-litigate, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 20-Nov-17 @ 1:50 PM
My ex who Iv not been with for years is going through csa for payments to my daughter.. I fail to understand that if she thinks I'm not good enough to have access to my daughter how is my money good enough.. Plus I have too other kids and me and my ex have sorted this mutually my too kids I see regular.. But the mother of the first daughter clearly is only bothered about money how is this fair wen I barley am living on the bread line
Ajay - 19-Nov-17 @ 2:30 PM
Sebb H - Your Question:
My GF has refused in writing that I am ever to see my son, who is now 2. No Xmas, No Birthday. However, insists on CMS payments. She does not work, lives with her parents, but has a house mortgage free which she rents.I appreciate that I am sure I do. But wanted to understand if any options where available? In an ever growing world of equality. The law seems to be weighted so unfairly.And finally has there ever been a case whereby a man has ever proven he was tricked into a pregnancy?Whilst I love my son, my GF was on the pill when we dated and then forgot to take it for a week. At the time I saw it as bad luck, ( but also good luck as it was exciting and lovely) but now. Somehow feel I was massively played.(BTW I was already seperated with two girls from an prev marriage. Of which my GF hated my past)This is not bitterness, just would like some clarity please? Thanks

Our Response:
Firstly, you cannot take the matter to court that you were tricked into pregnancy. The argument is simple; if a man wishes to ensure a woman does not become pregnant, then he should use contraception. With regards to child maintenance payments, every non-resident parent is by law responsible for contributing financially to the day-to-day welfare of his or her child. This is regardless of what the financial circumstances of the resident parent are. Child maintenance is solely based upon the earnings of the non-resident parent and the tax he/she pays via HMRC. With regards to your ex refusing in 'writing' that you should not see your child can and should be challenged via mediation or through the courts, please see link here . If you cannot afford legal advice, you can self-litigate, please link here and if you are on a low income you may get a reduction in court fees, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 13-Nov-17 @ 10:39 AM
stevie - Your Question:
My ex went to a party and left our sons with a family member of hers who rang me to say that my ex told her she doesnt want them any more as they look and behave like me.so she wants to give them up for adoption and wont let me have them, both boys aged 4 and 6.i live at home with my mum and brother. would social services give my sons to me or would they take them for adoption. I have been to court for visitation and it was granted all her aligations she had made about me to the court were proved unreal and the same family member that rang stuck up for me in court so I see them every other weekend even though they live two minutes from me.please advise as I havent sleapd for a few nights with worry.can they be taken and not let me have them

Our Response:
International and UK law make it clear that placing a child for adoption without the agreement of each parent (with parental responsibility) can only be done if the children’s welfare requires the children to be adopted and the parents’ consent has to be dispensed with. Adoption against the wishes of a parent who has parental responsibility is always a last and not a first resort (when every other option has been explored). If your ex feels she can no longer look after your children, then it is likely that social services would first and foremost consider placing the children with you and other people in the close family circle first. However, whether this is an action your ex would actually follow through with is, I imagine, highly unlikely.
SeparatedDads - 13-Nov-17 @ 10:04 AM
Am illegal in uk but I have a British daughter which my ex partner refused me to be Seeing her I tried to mediate and it didnt work out and I took her to court and she raised so many allegations which is untrue anyways the court found out that the allegations she levelled was untrue at the second hearing but it was adjourned which I wouldn’t know why but what am concern now is that are mine not going to be deported since am illegal in United Kingdom
Hope - 12-Nov-17 @ 2:44 PM
My GF has refused in writing that I am ever to see my son, who is now 2. No Xmas, No Birthday. However, insists on CMS payments. She does not work, lives with her parents, but has a house mortgage free which she rents. I appreciate that I am sure i do. But wanted to understand if any options where available? In an ever growing world of equality. The law seems to be weighted so unfairly. And finally has there ever been a case whereby a man has ever proven he was tricked into a pregnancy? Whilst i love my son, my GF was on the pill when we dated and then forgot to take it for a week. At the time I saw it as bad luck, ( but also good luck as it was exciting and lovely) but now. Somehow feel i was massively played. (BTW I was already seperated with two girls from an prev marriage. Of which my GF hated my past) This is not bitterness, just would like some clarity please? Thanks
Sebb H - 12-Nov-17 @ 6:38 AM
my ex went to a party and left our sons with a family member of hers who rang me to say that my ex told her she doesnt want them any more as they look and behave like me .so she wants to give them up for adoption and wont let me have them, both boys aged 4 and 6.i live at home with my mum and brother. would social services give my sons to me or would they take them for adoption . i have been to court for visitation and it was granted all her aligations she had made about me to the court were proved unreal and the same family member that rang stuck up for me in court so i see them every other weekend even though they live two minutes from me.please advise as i havent sleapd for a few nights with worry .can they be taken and not let me have them
stevie - 12-Nov-17 @ 6:19 AM
Hi sunset81 you don't need to pay nursery fees the last time I checked. To be quite honest I would go through CSA they will work out exactly what you should pay every month and make sure you have proof that you pay this as well that way your ex can't say you haven't been paying.
Loulou - 26-Oct-17 @ 8:12 AM
Hi was after some info:- Since my ex and I separated 3 years ago I have been doing all of the collecting and dropping off of our son. I stood my ground the once and suggested that she should pick him up as he is both of ours and didn't think i should be doing all the drivingshe only did it the once and punished me for it (and my son) by stopping me from seeing him for a month so I never asked again through fear the same would happen again. She says I left the home and area so it's me that should be doing everything, I moved back to my home town 45 minutes away about 40 miles. ( I left due to financial, psychological and emotional abuse). Does anyone know if she is in the right or is she entitled to help with lifts?? Another question is that I pay her child maintenance but she still asks for monies for activities nursery fees ect, is this covered in child maintenance?
Sunset81 - 22-Oct-17 @ 8:46 AM
My wife and I have been separated and going through a divorce for 10months. I have had my daughter every weekend (Friday afternoon to Monday morning) and seen her once during the week for a Daddy/Daughter night. I have now entered the financial part of the divorce and suddenly my soon to be ex wife has stated she wants to see my daughter every other weekend. I know this is a way of her earning extra money from CSA but if I went to court would I be granted the same access I have had for the past 10months?
LM - 1-Oct-17 @ 8:35 PM
Heartbrokenfirsttime - Your Question:
Where do I start looking for honest advise.in a nut shell I have only seen my first born son once since he was born in July.now at the time when I was with my ex partner I thought we was in love happy with our first child on the way and one argument for the first time in our qwick relationship stopped all contact because of what a previous partner done to her.at first she said it wasn't working out and we should concentrate on our child which we agreed and out of the blue contact stopped got stopped going to our sons 20 week scan got cut out cruelly by her and her friends and family who I though was my friends and family it shocked me and hurt me but not as must as not getting told about my sons development all the way up till he was born.now I moved on in this time and found the real love of my life and now have another child on the way who I love just as much as my son and she found out this and all the promises she made I can git to the birth and I can see him when ever I want all got broken because I moved on and thought if you don't love me and treating like I don't exist and blanking me over my sons development it has nothing to do with her what I do! She made the choice to give up.and in this time I provided everything my son needs as a single partner at the time before I even got with my new partner.i didn't even know my son was born until a friend told me he was all over social media on a other mans profile with a video of my boy being born it broke my heart posting photos of my son bonging with an other man before me there was no violence or social services involved so I was told by my solicitor I had to go though mediation but I tried my best not to do that so my family got in contact with hers and I seen my son.she was in my house had dinner watch me bond with my son gave her my sons stuff I bought for him agreed to meet up so I could give her the money I said for him.promise we would put our differences aside for our son then stopped contact for nothing.mediation has failed I don't know what to do next I don't want my sons life to get dragged threw court when there is no need too can someone give me advice I love my son and want to support both of them but I'm not on the birth certificate I'm just lost and alls I want is to get on and love my son it's heartbreaking and cruel not on me but on my son he deserves his dad regardless of what's gone on between us he should come first not bitterness any advice would help

Our Response:
I'm sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, your only option is to take the matter to court where mediation has failed. Your son is young enough not to know what is going on (if you are concerned about dragging the matter through court). However, the courts do want fathers to have a good relationship with their children and where there is no harassment, domestic violence or any court orders against the non-resident parent, then it will do all it can to make it happen. The sooner you apply to court, the better. If you cannot afford legal represenatation, then you can self-litigate, please see link here. Our Separated Dads forum should help if you need advice, as will joining groups such as Families Need Fathers who can guide you in your best approach. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 25-Sep-17 @ 1:51 PM
My 17 year old daughter keeps running away and staying with my partners family who we are estranged from and have no dialogue with. She does this as we won't allow access to social media for safety reasons due to previous serious issues. My partner is the father andwe never married. Therefore, we have been informed he has not got parental responsibility. On previous occasions child benefit was refused to another family member for our daughter meaning CMS was not paid. Is there a possibility with a different family member they might make a claim for first child benefit and then CMS? Or does the fact we never married and our daughter born before 2003 mean that he does not have parental responsibility?
Trevor - 23-Sep-17 @ 1:55 AM
@Alex N We live 50 miles apart it's hard to try and get a third party but I'll try the run out to the car thing. she's extremely damaged and toxic proper covert narcissist(she reminds me off the film gone girl). iv got an appointment with a child social worker and psychologist week after next so see what they have to say. since I came back from Portugal with him for a weeks holiday she's stopped me from seeing him due to finding out me and partner got engaged so she thought she punish my son for that which her mother use to do to her with her father (nothing like history repeating itself). the way she treats me anyone would think I was the one that cheated not her.
Sunset81 - 23-Sep-17 @ 12:50 AM
Where do I start looking for honest advise.in a nut shell I have only seen my first born son once since he was born in July.now at the time when I was with my ex partner I thought we was in love happy with our first child on the way and one argument for the first time in our qwick relationship stopped all contact because of what a previous partner done to her.at first she said it wasn't working out and we should concentrate on our child which we agreed and out of the blue contact stopped got stopped going to our sons 20 week scan got cut out cruelly by her and her friends and family who I though was my friends and family it shocked me and hurt me but not as must as not getting told about my sons development all the way up till he was born.now I moved on in this time and found the real love of my life and now have another child on the way who I love just as much as my son and she found out this and all the promises she made I can git to the birth and I can see him when ever I want all got broken because I moved on and thought if you don't love me and treating like i don't exist and blanking me over my sons development it has nothing to do with her what I do! She made the choice to give up.and in this time I provided everything my son needs as a single partner at the time before I even got with my new partner.i didn't even know my son was born until a friend told me he was all over social media on a other mans profile with a video of my boy being born it broke my heart posting photos of my son bonging with an other man before me there was no violence or social services involved so I was told by my solicitor I had to go though mediation but I tried my best not to do that so my family got in contact with hers and I seen my son.she was in my house had dinner watch me bond with my son gave her my sons stuff I bought for him agreed to meet up so I could give her the money I said for him.promise we would put our differences aside for our son then stopped contact for nothing.mediation has failed I don't know what to do next I don't want my sons life to get dragged threw court when there is no need too can someone give me advice I love my son and want to support both of them but I'm not on the birth certificate I'm just lost and alls I want is to get on and love my son it's heartbreaking and cruel not on me but on my son he deserves his dad regardless of what's gone on between us he should come first not bitterness any advice would help
Heartbrokenfirsttime - 23-Sep-17 @ 12:36 AM
Hi. I have been separated frommy ex for a year and a half, i have a 15 year old son who spends six days and two nights with me every other week. now my ex has contacted CSA they will only take into account i have him for two nights a week, i work shift work so it is not possible for me to have him more nights I feed him all the time he is with me buy him things when he needs them but CSA wants to take me for as much money as they can. as a result i now need to sell my home to pay the CSA when the ex is on three times as much money as i am on. how is this fair.
al - 22-Sep-17 @ 7:34 PM
My ex and I have been separated for w years now I have my daughter every weekend but my ex will not allow me to introduce her to my new partner can she do this?
Chris - 22-Sep-17 @ 5:29 PM
@Sunset81 - can you get a third party to help you with drop off and pick up? For instance you could ask your ex to drop your child at your mums or sisters. Or just don't engage with her in conversation. My ex has my boy ready, opens the door and sends him out without a word. I don't actually mind having a conversation, she doesn't want to speak to me!
AlexN - 22-Sep-17 @ 3:54 PM
Hi Do you no if it possible if i can collect and drop off my son with out any contact with his mother? We parted 3 years ago but she still continues to say things to me in front of him which a 4 year old should not be hearing, is this possible? Thanks
Sunset81 - 22-Sep-17 @ 3:01 PM
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