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Do You Know Your Rights as a Father?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 15 Aug 2018 | 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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I had a relationship with a woman who was already married to a man and had already 3 kids. My relationship starts when she living separate from her husband but not divorced and he come to her place often. In this relationship she get pregnant and we had a child but she never tells her husband about me and tell him a lie that this is his child. on birth certificate she wrote her husband name. after 2 years wants me to take child responsibility where i am biological father not legal father. after that she tell her husband about the child to get divorce from him which she got it. Now she start claim on me to take legal responsibility of a child. I was single that time when we had a child but now i am married to other woman and a child too and she want me to take me to the court for legal rights for our child. I am confuse what i have rights as initially she lied to her husband about the child and later she start accusing me to take responsibility where i can not do anything as i am not financially strong to take responsibility. please advice.
Wellwisher - 15-Aug-18 @ 3:42 PM
I had a relationship with a woman who was already married to a man and had already 3 kids. My relationship starts when she living separate from her husband but not divorced and he come to her place often. In this relationship she get pregnant and we had a child but she never tells her husband about me and tell him a lie that this is his child. on birth certificate she wrote her husband name. after 2 years wants me to take child responsibility where i am biological father not legal father. after that she tell her husband about the child to get divorce from him which she got it. Now she start claim on me to take legal responsibility of a child. I was single that time when we had a child but now i am married to other woman and a child too and she want me to take me to the court for legal rights for our child. I am confuse what i have rights as initially she lied to her husband about the child and later she start accusing me to take responsibility where i can not do anything as i am not financially strong to take responsibility. please advice.
Wellwisher - 15-Aug-18 @ 3:34 PM
I had a relationship with a woman who was already married to a man and had already 3 kids. My relationship starts when she living separate from her husband but not divorced and he come to her place often. In this relationship she get pregnant and we had a child but she never tells her husband about me and tell him a lie that this is his child. on birth certificate she wrote her husband name. after 2 years wants me to take child responsibility where i am biological father not legal father. after that she tell her husband about the child to get divorce from him which she got it. Now she start claim on me to take legal responsibility of a child. I was single that time when we had a child but now i am married to other woman and a child too and she want me to take me to the court for legal rights for our child. I am confuse what i have rights as initially she lied to her husband about the child and later she start accusing me to take responsibility where i can not do anything as i am not financially strong to take responsibility. please advice.
Wellwisher - 15-Aug-18 @ 1:57 PM
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caroline - 15-Aug-18 @ 12:47 PM
Andrubee - Your Question:
How do I join the separated dad's forum

Our Response:
You can join via the link to the forum at the bottom of the article (above).
SeparatedDads - 14-Aug-18 @ 3:17 PM
How do I join the separated dad's forum
Andrubee - 14-Aug-18 @ 11:54 AM
Jt - Your Question:
Hi can you help I've had contact with my three year old daughter for 1 year and 6 months however my ex has said I've been aggressive and threatening to not bring my daughter back. Non of it is true and she's applied to the court for a prohibited steps order. Just weeks before she started this she was actually offering me more contact I have this in emails which I have sent to the court in a statement. Also I collect her from nursery and she hasn't put on restrictions on me doing so. She has called the police on me too saying I didn't bring her home. I'm worried the court will believe her and take contact away

Our Response:
Cafcass and the courts are accustomed to dealing with such issues. You may wish to join our Separated Dads forum as our dads can give you specific help and advice relating to your question.
SeparatedDads - 10-Aug-18 @ 2:20 PM
PP - Your Question:
Please help, my partner and I split up when my son was 18 months it was a volatile relationship but I was allowed to see my son until I lost my job where she stopped me seeing my son. She met another man and we lost contact she married him and at some point changed his name by deed pole. Fast forward my son is now 13 I found his mum on face book last year and she said my son thought his step dad was his biological father and I shouldn’t contact again. I respected her wishes until my son was 18 however my son found his birth certificate and deed pole docs and found out everything, she messaged me and I met him the next day. I asked could I see him again and she is blackmailing me it feels like saying 200 a month which I’m happy to pay but she is saying be late I’ll never see him again she is giving me 2 hours access once a week do I have any rights to see my son more as he wants to he is 13

Our Response:
Perhaps in the first instance, it may be wise to keep to the arrangements outlined by the mother of your son as a mark of respect and to get to know your son better. However, as time goes on you can attempt to push for more time either through mutual negotiation, mediation or court, please see the link here. You can see how much child maintenance you should pay via the link here .
SeparatedDads - 9-Aug-18 @ 3:37 PM
Please help, my partner and I split up when my son was 18 months it was a volatile relationship but I was allowed to see my son until I lost my job where she stopped me seeing my son. She met another man and we lost contact she married him and at some point changed his name by deed pole. Fast forward my son is now 13 I found his mum on face book last year and she said my son thought his step dad was his biological father and I shouldn’t contact again. I respected her wishes until my son was 18 however my son found his birth certificate and deed pole docs and found out everything, she messaged me and I met him the next day. I asked could I see him again and she is blackmailing me it feels like saying 200 a month which I’m happy to pay but she is saying be late I’ll never see him again she is giving me 2 hours access once a week do I have any rights to see my son more as he wants to he is 13
PP - 8-Aug-18 @ 11:05 PM
Hi can you help I've had contact with my three year old daughter for 1 year and 6 months however my ex has said I've been aggressive and threatening to not bring my daughter back. Non of it is true and she's applied to the court for a prohibited steps order. Just weeks before she started this she was actually offering me more contact I have this in emails which I have sent to the court in a statement. Also I collect her from nursery and she hasn't put on restrictions on me doing so. She has called the police on me too saying I didn't bring her home. I'm worried the court will believe her and take contact away
Jt - 7-Aug-18 @ 8:36 PM
1234 - Your Question:
Im in need of some advise over an issue with my ex wife and my nearly 18 year old son.I have no contact with my son for last 4 months nearly and I will not and dont want to speak to my ex partner.I have been told although he has finished college this year he is returning to college in Sept to do further courses.When does child maintenance stop having to be paid and what courses qualify for this to being paid still? I have had him as per agreement with CSA and Ex regarding shared care but now as not having him for 4 months as he no longer wants anything to do with his farther apparently now claiming for no shared care.My understanding is shared care is 1 - 50 (ish nights per year) so surely I have already qualified for this so why should payment now increase?

Our Response:
Child maintenance payments end when eligibility of the resident parent to claim child maintenance ends, which you can see via the link here. If your son has already sat his A-Levels, then child maintenance payments should stop at the end of February, 31 May, 31 August or 30 November (whichever comes first). Unfortunately, we do not know the inner workings and time frames of how CMS calculates child maintenance payments, you would have to speak to CMS directly regarding this.
SeparatedDads - 26-Jul-18 @ 10:56 AM
Im in need of some advise over an issue with my ex wife and my nearly 18 year old son. I have no contact with my son for last 4 months nearly and I will not and dont want to speak to my ex partner. I have been told although he has finished college this year he is returning to college inSept to do further courses. When does child maintenance stop having to be paid and what courses qualify for this to being paid still? I have had him as per agreement with CSA and Ex regarding shared care but now as not having him for 4 months as he no longer wants anything to do with his farther apparently now claiming for no shared care. My understanding is shared care is 1 - 50 (ish nights per year) so surely I have already qualified for this so why should payment now increase?
1234 - 25-Jul-18 @ 11:41 AM
Jay - Your Question:
Can someone offer some advice please. My brother split from his partner 4 years ago and she has used their children as a weapon ever since as far now to say they don't want to see him anymore which is far from the truth. He has started the mediation process but thinks she may find a way to bypass this and go to court (She is very clever and good at research so not sure if this is possible) he is on a low income but above the legal aid bracket plus pays maintenance each month so legal advice and cover is going to be very difficult if not impossible. Has anyone been in the same sort of situation with any advice they could give please. Any advice really appreciated as this is breaking him apart. Thanks

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. If his ex refuses mediation, then your brother can apply to court. If he cannot afford legal representation he can self litigate, please see link here . If he is on a low income, he may also be able to get court fees reduced, please see link here . For any other advice and guidance, our Separated Dads forum can help, as our volunteer dads have been through similar situations previously.
SeparatedDads - 16-Jul-18 @ 3:10 PM
AOC123 - Your Question:
HiI'm in desperate need for some help regarding my set of triplets. Myself & the mother split up back in MArch & for the first 6 weeks I was going the house 3 evenings per week after work to help bath the kids, put them to bed & help tidy up. I was also seeing them on a Saturday & Sunday. However, since them first six weeks, my ex has stopped me coming to the house which ended in me seeing the kids every Sunday. This was going okay up until about 8 weeks where she kept threatening to stop me from seeing my kids but I took this lightly as she was always trying to say things to get a response from me. She has now taken it to another level where I haven't seen my kids for the past 3 weeks as she has stopped me for no given reason. I am on the birth certificate & all I want to do is see my kids without any issues or drama from my ex. I have suggested my mother meeting her to pick the kids up drop them off to her but she says I have to take her to court to see my kids. Does anyone know where I stand legally regarding seeing my kids without going to court?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. If the mother of your children refuses mutual negotiation or mediation, court is the only remaining option. Please see the link here, which will tell you all you need to know. The court does wish non-resident parents to have access to their children, so please don't think you will not get support. Our Separated Dads Forum should be able to help you through any questions you have as many of our dads have been through similar situations. If you cannot afford legal representation, then you can self-litigate, please see link here . I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 16-Jul-18 @ 1:43 PM
Hi I'm in desperate need for some help regarding my set of triplets. Myself & the mother split up back in MArch & for the first 6 weeks I was going the house 3 evenings per week after work to help bath the kids, put them to bed & help tidy up. I was also seeing them on a Saturday & Sunday. However, since them first six weeks, my ex has stopped me coming to the house which ended in me seeing the kids every Sunday. This was going okay up until about 8 weeks where she kept threatening to stop me from seeing my kids but I took this lightly as she was always trying to say things to get a response from me. She has now taken it to another level where I haven't seen my kids for the past 3 weeks as she has stopped me for no given reason. I am on the birth certificate & all I want to do is see my kids without any issues or drama from my ex. I have suggested my mother meeting her to pick the kids up drop them off to her but she says I have to take her to court to see my kids. Does anyone know where I stand legally regarding seeing my kids without going to court?
AOC123 - 14-Jul-18 @ 6:54 PM
Can someone offer some advice please. My brother split from his partner 4 years ago and she has used their children as a weapon ever since as far now to say they don't want to see him anymore which is far from the truth. He has started the mediation process but thinks she may find a way to bypass this and go to court (She is very clever and good at research so not sure if this is possible) he is on a low income but above the legal aid bracket plus pays maintenance each month so legal advice and cover is going to be very difficult if not impossible. Has anyone been in the same sort of situation with any advice they could give please. Any advice really appreciated as this is breaking him apart. Thanks
Jay - 13-Jul-18 @ 9:53 PM
Concerned Dad - Your Question:
Can you share any guidance for visitation? Specifically, I have been offered a 12mo job placement with my job in America. It's an opportunity I need to take for several reasons. However, my ex-wife already denies my ability to take my children out of the country for holiday and can't imagine she will feel compelled to allow visits to America during this placement. Can you share what my rights are and what I need to prepare for? I want to be fair and always do what's best for my children, but also need to know how best to be a dad while away.

Our Response:
You would have to apply to court if your ex refuses to allow you to take your children out of the country, please see link here . The likes of Skype and other Facetime apps can allow you to at least keep contact with your children when you do not see them. The courts can also request this is carried out at specific times. The additional link here , may help.
SeparatedDads - 13-Jul-18 @ 12:44 PM
Can you share any guidance for visitation? Specifically, I have been offered a 12mo job placement with my job in America. It's an opportunity I need to take for several reasons. However, my ex-wife already denies my ability to take my children out of the country for holiday and can't imagine she will feel compelled to allow visits to America during this placement. Can you share what my rights are and what I need to prepare for? I want to be fair and always do what's best for my children, but also need to know how best to be a dad while away.
Concerned Dad - 13-Jul-18 @ 3:28 AM
JW - Your Question:
I fathered a child with someone who wasnt my girlfriend. During the pregnancy things turned sour. My daughter was born and I am registered on the birth certificate as the father. I pay child maintenance every month, but after two month of her birth the woman refused to let me see her (didnt appreciate I had a new partner and wouldnt be with her). Ive taken her to court and she has failed to show up 2 times now. Any ideas?

Our Response:
If the mother continues not to turn up to the court, the court can proceed with the hearing, if it is satisfied that the respondent received reasonable notice of the hearing and if the circumstances of the case justify the court proceeding with the hearing. In addition, if the court cannot proceed with the hearing due to the failure of the other party to attend, then it can order the other party to pay the costs of the hearing. The court can also order the other party to attend the hearing where failure to do so, would be classed as contempt of court and punishable. Therefore, it is advisable to refer the matter back to court. There is only so many times the mother of your child can get away with this (if, of course she is doing so deliberately).
SeparatedDads - 12-Jul-18 @ 1:47 PM
I fathered a child with someone who wasnt my girlfriend. During the pregnancy things turned sour.My daughter was born and I am registered on the birth certificate as the father. I pay child maintenance every month, but after two month of her birth the woman refused to let me see her (didnt appreciate i had a new partner and wouldnt be with her). Ive taken her to court and she has failed to show up 2 times now. Any ideas?
JW - 10-Jul-18 @ 3:19 PM
Hi, just after a bit of advice. my wife and I split in September 2016 after a 10 year marriage, a very controlling marriage on her part. we have an 8 year old son together and she has a daughter (my step daughter) who is now 16. The daughter and I never really bonded and at times it caused a lot of friction. She was the ultimate reason for the split after false accusations( not those types). I managed to gain access to my son after a month when i found a place to live. All going swimmingly so far. the wife and i remained as civil as possible for this. At Christmas 2016 my son said he wanted to live with me full time ,( very awkward for me as I work full time but i would have worked something out. ) However after a discussion between the 3 of us my son suggested that he spend half his time with me and half with her, we agreed and its how its been since... not always amicable but not terribly bad. until the Sunday just gone. My son wears glasses and a few weeks ago I collected his new ones, he gets two pairs. his mother demanded both pairs to be kept at hers, I disagreed and kept a pair back, much to her annoyance that i defied her. she has asked at every drop off and I've managed to avoid the situation. Then on Sunday i was asked again, only this time the daughter was hanging from her arm getting very vocal and becoming quite brash, to be honest she was talking that much it became white noise and i couldn't hear the original conversation. I told her in not really a raised voice, but to match her volume to be quiet and it had nothing to do with her. The mother then reared up and said don't you talk to her like that. Like what ? had I missed something?The daughter continued to mouth off until the mother told her to shut up and take our son inside. The tone changed immediately they were out of the way. she snapped, if your'e being petty over a pair of glasses, i'll be petty. you can take me to court for access to your son quickly slamming the door on me. I expected a battle at some point but over glasses, maybe i was slightly petty but also why shouldn't i have a pair they didn't cost anything to either of us. This was more about me defying her. I messaged the next day hoping to make a bit of peace knowing full well she would not see reason. several messages between us, none abusive but her more angry than me, she turned the reason from being the glasses to how i spoke to the daughter, I denied this but knew which way it was going.I have been in touch with my sons school and they were ok with me seeing him to make sure he is ok and understands. i didn't bad mouth the mother although she often does this to him. My last message was to try and keep the peace knowing deep down i was wasting my time. i had no reply but knew she would be planning something else to get at me. Tonight It happened. I had a call from the local police informing me that she had range them accusing me of verbally abusing her daughter , shouting and swearing i
monkeys dad - 5-Jul-18 @ 8:10 PM
CasualDad - Your Question:
So me and the ex split this time last year however it was a messy breakup. She didn't allow me to see my daughter for the first 12 weeks she got the social involved when there was no need to. Then I started seeing my daughter then she stopped it in august not seen her since. Did start fighting to go to court etc. But I had a mental breakdown lost my job, been out of work 8 months. Still no contact, pay child maintenance send birthday presents, cards, even mothers day presents from the daughter to the ex. I don't receive anything but I don't expect to.Am I wrong waiting to fight whilst I get better?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. You need to do what feels right for you. Fighting in court is always seen as a last resort, as it can be stressful. However, the longer you leave the matter, the more difficult it can be. There are all different variations, some people fight from the outset, some wait until they can gather strength to push the matter forward. Our Separated Dads forum may be able to help you with more information regarding this, as the dads are all going through similar or have been through it before.
SeparatedDads - 2-Jul-18 @ 12:10 PM
So me and the ex split this time last year however it was a messy breakup. She didn't allow me to see my daughter for the first 12 weeks she got the social involved when there was no need to. Then I started seeing my daughter then she stopped it in august not seen her since. Did start fighting to go to court etc. But I had a mental breakdown lost my job, been out of work 8 months. Still no contact, pay child maintenance send birthday presents, cards, even mothers day presents from the daughter to the ex. I don't receive anything but I don't expect to. Am I wrong waiting to fight whilst I get better?
CasualDad - 30-Jun-18 @ 1:02 PM
So the way I see it now is it’s best to cut all contract .and disappear and get on with my life .its funny how life turns out and where we end up I think it was meant to be this way gods truth .
Laurie - 30-Jun-18 @ 3:29 AM
Flip - Your Question:
I hope you can help. My son and his partner split up and have a 7 month old. He is in the birth certificate. She is refusing to let him see his little girl until her solicitor has sorted when he can see her and she had a residency order. It's breaking my son. What rights does he have legally and can she just get a residency order is that not something that has to be agreed?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. In addition to the information in the article, if your son's ex is not allowing access your son would have to go through the process laid out in via the link here .
SeparatedDads - 25-Jun-18 @ 9:32 AM
Hi, my son and daughter in law split up last year and they have 3 children together, he is on all 3 birth certificates. My son is currently in prison and me and my partner see all three children Regularly. The brother of my daughter in law has just told us he had got our oldest grandchild living with him and that he plans to go for full custody of her. He said that he has got permission for her to stay with him for 28 days then he has a meeting with social services to make this a permanent arrangement. My son is unaware of all this would he need to be consulted and give permission before this all goes ahead?
Worried grandfather - 24-Jun-18 @ 1:50 PM
I hope you can help. My son and his partner split up and have a 7 month old. He is in the birth certificate. She is refusing to let him see his little girl until her solicitor has sorted when he can see her and she had a residency order. It's breaking my son. What rights does he have legally and can she just get a residency order is that not something that has to be agreed?
Flip - 24-Jun-18 @ 6:52 AM
Worrieddad - Your Question:
My ex partner has residency via a CAO with myself having overnight access. Order was made in Oct 2017, her new partner who is always around the children is known for domestic violence and has me concerned for my childrens safety.What could happen to me if I held them back and then applied for residency

Our Response:
You would be in breach of the CAO, please see link here. It is never a good idea to take such action, as it is NOT likely to end in your favour. If you have an issue with your ex's partner and you can prove her ex has issues with DV, then apply directly to court to have the order varied. If you keep the children without consent and without incident it is likely to backfire.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jun-18 @ 2:38 PM
My ex partner has residency via a CAO with myself having overnight access. Order was made in Oct 2017, her new partner who is always around the children is known for domestic violence and has me concerned for my childrens safety. What could happen to me if I held them back and then applied for residency
Worrieddad - 18-Jun-18 @ 4:08 PM
Mellissa - Your Question:
My son has a 12 year old son. He had a Shared Residency Order awarded some years ago at the initial family Court. His ex partner has always been hostile towards my son and any contact with his son. She is now stopping her son from overnight s with his daddy, an arrangement that has been in place for about 10 yrs only allowing a few hrs on a Sat or Sun. This little boy is crying on the phone to his daddy, and my son is I'll with this current situation that has been going now since last October 2017. N money for solicitors and don't know where to turn.

Our Response:
Your son would have to refer the matter back to court if his ex is in breach of the contact order, please see link here . If your son cannot afford legal representation he can self-litigate, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 18-Jun-18 @ 3:45 PM
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