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Do You Know Your Rights as a Father?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 23 Feb 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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Tomtom - Your Question:
Hi. My wife of 4 years is pregnant with another man and they have moved in together. Who is considered father legally? Will I be responsible for this child because we're married? How can I not be in that case? Worried!!!!

Our Response:
The biological father will be the person who is legally and financially responsible for your wife's child.
SeparatedDads - 23-Feb-18 @ 3:12 PM
Hi. My wife of 4 years is pregnant with another man and they have moved in together.Who is considered father legally? Will I be responsible for this child because we're married? How can I not be in that case? Worried!!!!
Tomtom - 23-Feb-18 @ 10:09 AM
Question I have 2 x children born 2002 & 2004 who live with their mum , I used to see them every weekend until a few years ago . My Ex Wife re - married a soldier and entered into a life within the RAF so over the last few years I have only been able to see my kids on school holidays due to them being located in RAF Leeming . I have now been told they are being posted to Germany for the next 3 yrs and my access will be reduced even more , what can I do to make my ex - wife addears to me seeing my kids ? I am worried that once they go I will loose all contact .
Colledge - 20-Feb-18 @ 6:18 PM
T - Your Question:
It wasn't offensive, that's my point. I weren't aware asking a couple of questions about my own situation was a problem, since that seems to be the premise on here. And it was exactly this page I posted to that its suddenly disappeared. I appreciate not all messages can be answered, however a simple show of ignorance (as seen with other comments) would have sufficed instead of straight up removing my message. Not a problem, only a father trying to seek help (like all the others on here). Will go elsewhere.

Our Response:
Perhaps is was accidental. There is no other reason a post would have been deleted. We are here to help fathers and do all we can to give the best advice we can.
SeparatedDads - 20-Feb-18 @ 3:52 PM
enduringdad - Your Question:
Ive recently been informed that the way my csa payments are are made are about to stop.I contacted this supposedly new agency, set up to replace the CSA, which have informed me that I now have to pay more. I already have no life own anymore, I have nothing left execpt what I spend on my kids when I see them.I feel completely let down, lost, bewildered, confused because Iove my kids and I am doing everything I can to see my kids. Year in and out since getting a court order arrangement.I have exceed the time set out by the order by having my kids more often and I have spent more and more money on them. Yet none of this seems to matter??? I even had to get a loan out to pay for the court order to see my kids, which am now already paying back at a pound a month because I cannot afford to make the agreed repayments.due to being on a low income and that fact that child support payments are just too high for what I can afford.With this lasted news that now they want me to give more! I feel that I I I cannot go on anymore I cant bear the thought of not being able to have them stay over with me at the weekends anymore because I can no longer afford a place to live.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. However, all non-resident parents are treated the same and have to pay the same percentage of child maintenance from their income, please see link here . Unfortunately, also if your children stay over less, it means your ex may be able to claim more as child maintenance is also dependent upon the amount of nights you have your children. On the basic rate, if you’re paying for one child, you’ll pay 12% of your gross weekly income, two children, you’ll pay 16% of your gross weekly income and three or more children, you’ll pay 19% of your gross weekly income. If you are struggling, you may wish to speak to someone directly who may be able to advise, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 20-Feb-18 @ 2:57 PM
Ive recently been informed that the way my csa payments are are made are about to stop. I contacted this supposedly new agency, set up to replace the CSA, which have informed me that I now have to pay more. I already have no life own anymore, I have nothing left execpt what I spend on my kids when I see them. I feel completely let down, lost, bewildered, confused because Iove my kids and I am doing everything I can to see my kids.Year in and out since getting a court order arrangement...I have exceed the time set out by the order by having my kids more often and I have spent more and more money on them. Yet none of this seems to matter???I even had to get a loan out to pay for the court order to see my kids, which am now already paying back at a pound a month because I cannot afford to make the agreed repayments.....due to being on a low income and that fact that child support payments are just too high for what I can afford. With this lasted news that now they want me to give more! I feel that I I I cannot go on anymore I cant bear the thought of not being able to have them stay over with me at the weekends anymore because I can no longer afford a place to live.
enduringdad - 20-Feb-18 @ 2:58 AM
It wasn't offensive, that's my point. I weren't aware asking a couple of questions about my own situation was a problem, since that seems to be the premise on here. And it was exactly this page I posted to that its suddenly disappeared. I appreciate not all messages can be answered, however a simple show of ignorance (as seen with other comments) would have sufficed instead of straight up removing my message. Not a problem, only a father trying to seek help (like all the others on here). Will go elsewhere.
T - 16-Feb-18 @ 4:19 PM
T - Your Question:
Thank you for deleting my comment/question. I did not realise mine was so offensive it had to be removed, not just ignored like others.Again, thanks for your help!

Our Response:
We do not delete comments unless they are defamatory, offensive or incomprehensible. You may like to repost your question. We try to answer all comments where we can. However, we have hundreds of pages and so cannot get to them all.
SeparatedDads - 16-Feb-18 @ 3:36 PM
Thank you for deleting my comment/question. I did not realise mine was so offensive it had to be removed, not just ignored like others. Again, thanks for your help!
T - 16-Feb-18 @ 3:26 PM
steff - Your Question:
Hi just found out from my 5 yr old daughter (not ex) to night that ex partner and her boyfriend are taking my daughter to live in London next week is there any thing I can do to stop it. Any advice much appreciated thank you

Our Response:
You would have to seek legal advice regarding this to perhaps applying for a Prohibited Steps Order. Much depends upon the day-to-day involvement you have with your daughter and the input you have in her life. However, if you have parental responsibility, your ex should request your permission to take your child to live somewhere else. If you can, this matter should be resolved outside of court, or via mediation in order to come to a mutual arrangement. If the matter goes 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. Therefore, seeking professional advice will help put the matter into context and help you explore your options.
SeparatedDads - 12-Feb-18 @ 1:45 PM
Hi just found out from my 5 yr old daughter (not ex) to night that ex partner and her boyfriend are taking my daughter to live in London next week is there any thing I can do to stop it. Any advice much appreciatedthank you
steff - 10-Feb-18 @ 8:17 PM
i got marrid this guy after 6 months he told me he only marrid me so he can get stay in uk, hes a womaniser so i moved bk to my mums and found out im pregrent , he was at birth but since he has nt been involved , the kids 3, i gt a letter from his solictor that hes going for his rights, my daughter does nt know him and i know hes using my daughter so he can get stay in uk im so stressed scared i could lose my child what shall i do, how can a lawyer help him with his case when in fraud he marrid me for a stay
nik - 28-Jan-18 @ 2:39 AM
Eyes wide open - Your Question:
Here is my story ,when I was just turned 20 I meet a girl.everyone told me do not get involved with this women she was 10years older then me with a kid.the father of her son killed his self because she cheated with his own brother.but I was young and in love or (lust).any way her parents wanted me to marry this women but I was told about her buy my mates that she was sleeping with a roofer named Jacob at the time she was pregnant with my ‘child’.so I ask her about this is said I’m the ‘father’I always had my doubts.and wanted a DNA test but she refuses.can I take her to court for DNA test ?we are separated I have no contract but this is one thing that bothers me I need proof.i love this child and pay child support.put feel like a (sucker )if you no what I mean?thanks for reading.

Our Response:
The gov.uk link here , should help answer your question. To sum up, you can ask your ex directly, but if she refuses your only option would be to apply to court. However, if you need to know whether your son is yours, then applying to court may be your only option.
SeparatedDads - 23-Jan-18 @ 12:55 PM
Cwl - Your Question:
Hi I haven’t seen my child in years and just started looking into my rights.my ex got another man and left me.i was always going to fight for rights but life throw a few curve balls my way and now it’s been years.not long a go I seen a photo of my daughter she is big now from the last time I seen her.and (absolutely stunning).its been nearly a decade would I be over stepping my mark so to speak to try and meet her ?they probably already have a father figure in there life and don’t even remember me.would it affect her life in bad way if I try to meet her now ?like I don’t want to rock the boat or anything.i think I would need to go to court because her mother hates me well she back then anyway.or is it best to wait to she is 18?your thought please ?

Our Response:
If your daughter is under 18, then you would have to apply directly to the other parent first, if the other parent refuses, you can suggest mediation. If the mother refuses this, your only recourse would be to apply to court. If your daughter is over age 13, then she will also be asked whether she wishes to see you or not. However, 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.
SeparatedDads - 23-Jan-18 @ 12:39 PM
Jj - Your Question:
My ex pays no maintainance for children he wants them to stay with him every weekend. He shares house witty 5 men I am not comfortable sending my kids there can I stop this.previously he has history of being violent and also attempted to take my daughter away from me whilst drunk. He is on my daughter birth certificate not my sons

Our Response:
If you cannot agree child contact and access between you both, then mediation is the next option to consider, please see link here. You can refuse to allow the father of your children access and refuse to atttend mediation. However, this will give your ex the option to apply to court. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question. The court will always put the children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
SeparatedDads - 23-Jan-18 @ 11:53 AM
Here is my story ,when I was just turned 20 I meet a girl .everyone told me do not get involved with this women she was 10years older then me with a kid .the father of her son killed his self because she cheated with his own brother.but I was young and in love or (lust).any way her parents wanted me to marry this women but I was told about her buy my mates that she was sleeping with a roofer named Jacob at the time she was pregnant with my ‘child’.so I ask her about this is said I’m the ‘father’I always had my doubts.and wanted a DNA test but she refuses.can i take her to court for DNA test ?.we are separated I have no contract but this is one thing that bothers me I need proof.i love this child and pay child support.put feel like a (sucker )if you no what I mean?.thanks for reading.
Eyes wide open - 23-Jan-18 @ 2:23 AM
Hi I haven’t seen my child in years and just started looking into my rights .my ex got another man and left me .i was always going to fight for rights but life throw a few curve balls my way and now it’s been years .not long a go I seen a photo of my daughter she is big now from the last time I seen her .and (absolutely stunning).its been nearly a decade would I be over stepping my mark so to speak to try and meet her ?.they probably already have a father figure in there life and don’t even remember me .would it affect her life in bad way if I try to meet her now ?.like I don’t want to rock the boat or anything .i think I would need to go to court because her mother hates me well she back then anyway.or is it best to wait to she is 18?.your thought please ?.
Cwl - 22-Jan-18 @ 7:49 PM
My ex pays no maintainance for children he wants them to stay with him every weekend.He shares house witty 5 menI am not comfortable sending my kids there can I stop this .previously he has history of being violent and also attempted to take my daughter away from me whilst drunk . He is on my daughter birth certificate not my sons
Jj - 22-Jan-18 @ 5:50 AM
Hi my partner whom i have a child with has a child with his ex. He has been refused access to see his child and she has denied access since i have been with him (4 years) as she was in a relationship and had her partner paying for the child.My partner has tried mediation to see him bit she doesnt turn up. Since she split up with her partner last year we have had none stop abuse inclluding messages abusing me and my child( bear in mind i have never got involved or spoke to her)and leaving abusive notes around my partners work which resultes in us having to get ths police involved.We also recently found out she is taking drugs. She has now demanded he pays for his child tho he is putting money away in a account for their child, and she has contacted csa. Would he still have to pay if he is putting money away for him as he doesnt trust her with the money she would receive as we know she wont spend it on the child. So if he confirms with Csa money is been put away for the child in a account will they take that into consideration?
Danni - 19-Jan-18 @ 5:21 PM
Hally - Your Question:
Just a question my boyfriend does not see his daughter they split up when these child was 2. She is 7 now. I thought the father has rights ? He says he needs to go to court to see her why is that ? Thought the mother couldn’t stop him? Also his name s on the birth certificate any ideas???

Our Response:
The link When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here, should tell you all you need to know. In a nutshell, your boyfriend is correct in that he would have to apply to court if his ex refuses him access to see his child and also refuses to attend mediation.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jan-18 @ 3:29 PM
Just a question my boyfriend does not see his daughter they split up when thesechild was 2 . She is 7 now . I thought the father has rights ? He says he needs to go to court to see her why is that ? Thought the mother couldn’t stop him? Also his name s on the birth certificate any ideas???
Hally - 19-Jan-18 @ 1:12 PM
DforD - Your Question:
Hi, I’m in a situation where thankfully as a separated dad I have a good relationship with the mother of my two boys aged 10 and 18months. I pay maintenance which we agreed by using the online calculator, I help with school uniform and other things. There’s no violence, drink or drug issues via either parent and I’m on the birth certificate for both children. My question is regarding access. As things stand I have my boys every Friday. The oldest sleeps over every Friday, the youngest every other. Every other Saturday my eldest sleeps over but not the youngest. The eldest then goes back every other Sunday around lunchtime. I don’t see the youngest on sundays. I recently asked the mum for my youngest to stay every Friday, to which she declined with a response of ‘I’m not ready for that’ so no. Where do I stand with this? I want to see the boys equal really and keep the youngest Friday and Saturday nights on my weekend but their mum point blank refused. Do I have the right to see them both the same time or is she right and can stop it at her say so? I feel if my youngest can sleep out every other Friday these no reason why he can’t every Friday which is a reasonable request. I just want to see my boys equal, nothing more. Happy for any help. I don’t think their mum will agree to mediation even though I’ve not asked and I don’t really want the cost of court when/if she refuses that option. Thanks.

Our Response:
You only have two options where you cannot agree on an issue, either to suggest mediation and if your ex refuses, apply to court. If you have a good relationship with your ex, then negotiation is key here. Court is always seen as the last resort and can be stressful, so mutual negotiation is your best option in this instance.
SeparatedDads - 18-Jan-18 @ 3:42 PM
Hi, I’m in a situation where thankfully as a separated dad I have a good relationship with the mother of my two boys aged 10 and 18months. I pay maintenance which we agreed by using the online calculator, I help with school uniform and other things. There’s no violence, drink or drug issues via either parent and I’m on the birth certificate for both children. My question is regarding access. As things stand I have my boys every Friday. The oldest sleeps over every Friday, the youngest every other. Every other Saturday my eldest sleeps over but not the youngest. The eldest then goes back every other Sunday around lunchtime. I don’t see the youngest on sundays. I recently asked the mum for my youngest to stay every Friday, to which she declined with a response of ‘I’m not ready for that’ so no. Where do I stand with this? I want to see the boys equal really and keep the youngest Friday and Saturday nights on my weekend but their mum point blank refused. Do I have the right to see them both the same time or is she right and can stop it at her say so? I feel if my youngest can sleep out every other Friday these no reason why he can’t every Friday which is a reasonable request. I just want to see my boys equal, nothing more. Happy for any help. I don’t think their mum will agree to mediation even though I’ve not asked and I don’t really want the cost of court when/if she refuses that option. Thanks.
DforD - 16-Jan-18 @ 7:10 PM
Dc0312 - Your Question:
My son who is 13 has not spoken to me since july when I suffered a stress related stroke. Because I have been ill b4 his mother is saying my son does not want contact with me and its his choice. I dont believe her as I have not heard it from my son. We have been apart since my son was 2 and I have always had a gd relationship with my son untill this latest illness. I dont know what to do

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. However, your only option would be to either request your ex attends mediation in order to sort this issue out, please see link here . If your ex refuses, then your next option would be to apply to court, please see link here and here .
SeparatedDads - 15-Jan-18 @ 2:29 PM
My son who is 13 has not spoken to me since july when i suffered a stress related stroke. Because i have been ill b4 his mother is saying my son does not want contact with me and its his choice. I dont believe her as i have not heard it from my son. We have been apart since my son was 2 and i have always had a gd relationship with my son untill this latest illness. I dont know what to do
Dc0312 - 13-Jan-18 @ 11:56 AM
I am a child and my dad sees me 2 weeks Now I'm 13 can I see him when ever I want with out my mum stoping me
Haley - 12-Jan-18 @ 6:57 PM
Mama bare- Your Question:
My husband has a 15 year old daughter how was born in 2002. She has now asked to live with her dad which she is doing so but her mom keeps saying to the child when contact does not go the way she wants that my husband dose not have parental responsibility of her and there for she could just come and take her from our family home and also she has said that she does not need to pay maintenance for the child and that it is only the father that does could you give us some advice on what we could do and what rights my husband actually does have thank you

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether your husband has parental responsibility, if he doesn't then he has no rights and the mother can request his daughter moves back in with her. You can check whether your husband has PR via the link here. However, if the mother earns a wage and the daughter lives with your husband and you, then he can claim child maintenance. Child maintenance can be claimed by the resident parent of the child from the non-resident parent (regardless of whether the non-resident parent is the father or mother).
SeparatedDads - 5-Jan-18 @ 3:39 PM
My husband has a 15 year old daughter how was born in 2002. She has now asked to live with her dad which she is doing so but her mom keeps saying to the child when contact does not go the way she wants that my husband dose not have parental responsibility of her and there for she could just come and take her from our family home and also she has said that she does not need to pay maintenance for the child and that it is only the father that does could you give us some advice on what we could do and what rights my husband actually does have thank you
Mama bare - 5-Jan-18 @ 1:24 AM
Can my ex girlfriend stop me seeing my daughter at my parents house even if she doesn't want me to.Can she over rule me??
Dm07 - 4-Jan-18 @ 11:23 PM
Biff - Your Question:
My ex wife asked me to leave the marital home 4 years ago. I have always provided financially for our children and always seen them, usually on every day I have off. I am remarrying in May and my ex wife has now stopped me seeing our children as she feels that I do not speak to her appropriately. I have never threatened her, never sworn at her and I never discuss her with our children. I am not allowed to see them on their birthdays or Christmas and I have to agree to the dates she wants. She does not think I should have a weekend off, and that my fiancee and I should book annual leave if we want to spend time together. I'm devastated as are the kids (they're 13, 10 and 8). Any advice please?

Our Response:
Your only recourse would be to suggest mediation to your ex and if your ex does not comply, then you would have the option to apply to court. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question. The court will always put the children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. If access has been consistent to date, then your ex would have to have a very good reason for the court now to allow access to be reinstated. Once a court order is in place, then your ex would have to keep to it.
SeparatedDads - 4-Jan-18 @ 3:49 PM
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