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Do You Know Your Rights as a Father?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 19 Feb 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.

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[Add a Comment]
Jason - Your Question:
Hi, Two years ago my wife had an affair and I ended up leaving the house where we lived because she refused to leave, the problem I have now is that I moved back with my family to get on my feet which is 300 miles from where she lives, we have a house mortgaged which I payed the mortgage on for 15 years but no longer pay as I am not living there, also she makes it very difficult for me to see my daughter. financially I can not afford courts as I am on a low income she has also moved her boyfriend in and has a new baby. everything is on her terms and I have to sing her tune all the time just so I can see my daughter but I have now had enough I can not take the abuse that she gives me anymore I need to do something do you have any advice. oh and my name is on the birth certificate.

Our Response:
Your only recourse is to either suggest mediation in order to sort access arrangments out (if you cannot agree between ourselves) or if your ex refuses mediation, you would have to take the matter to court in order to apply for access. If you have a mortgage, you are bound by the mortgage agreement to ensure your mortgage is kept up to date and as you still have a rightful share in the house and you may at some point in the future wish to claim your share of equity. However, if you are struggling financially, then mediation can help try to resolve these issues too. If your ex refuses to attend mediation with regards to access to your daughter and you cannot afford legal representation, you can self litigate - please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 20-Feb-17 @ 11:09 AM
Hi, Two years ago my wife had an affair and i ended up leaving the house where we lived because she refused to leave, the problem i have now is that i moved back with my family to get on my feet which is 300 miles from where she lives, we have a house mortgaged which i payed the mortgage on for 15 years but no longer pay as i am not living there, also she makes it very difficult for me to see my daughter. financially i can not afford courts as i am on a low income she has also moved her boyfriend in and has a new baby. everything is on her terms and i have to sing her tune all the time just so i can see my daughter but i have now had enough i can not take the abuse that she gives me anymore i need to do something do you have any advice. oh and my name is on the birth certificate.
Jason - 19-Feb-17 @ 11:52 AM
I'm stepfather, I've been there since the child has been born & the mother has had nothing of her ex for the child for 5 years, even though she has let him have his child, every weekend. She is constantly verbally abused by her ex & his partner, he works against her rather than with her, to bring up there child together. This is effectiving the child's well being & schooling, she wants to change the routing so it's fair for both parents and gets time at the weekend to do family things. Her ex let her 5 year old sleep out without mums consent & without mum knowing these people. When she had trust in her ex that her child would be in his care, but went against the trust and feels like she needs to stop him from seeing his child until he can work with her rather than against her, and pay for his child. And not go behind her back & over ride her decisions with her being her full time guardian. And feel like he can do what ever he wants when he has his child. Where does mum stand. Thanks
Bear - 15-Feb-17 @ 10:26 PM
Mjf - Your Question:
I have a my daughter full time after splitting up with her mum, I then met my now ex who basically used me for a kid she lied about being on contraception and then when she fell pregnant after 2 weeks of finding out left me for her ex and then moved 1 hour away. The child is now born and I'm unsure of wether to get a DNA test as I have a suspicion she cheated on me with him during our relationship. She says I'm the dad 100% etc I know it be easier for her to say it's her now boyfriends but there's that doubt. She now will only let me see the baby for 2 hours on a weekend I can barely bond with him through that time and get my daughter use to this new addition to her life. I'm just wondering what my rights are to see him as I've never done anything wrong I have my daughter full time but that's because her mum went through postnatal depression and didn't want her anymore so I've never been in this situation to try and see my kid more and see him. It's all doing my head in as I want to see my kid as much as I can and I get he's new born etc I'm not asking to have him overnight not yet anyway just a decent period of time to bond with him. Just want to know my rights if I took this to curt

Our Response:
If you genuinely think your child is not yours, then you can apply to court for a DNA test (if the mother does not agree to take one), please see link here . If your child is still young, then it is understandable why the mother does not wish you to have overnight stays etc. However, if you feel you wish to have more access to your son, then your only option would be to request mediation, please see link here and if your ex does not agree, then apply to court. However, there is no guarantee at this early stage you wold be granted more. You also don't say whether you are named on the birth certificate or not, if not you may want to apply for Parental Responsibility also. You may also wish to join our Separated Dads forum where you can get more advice from dads who have been through similar situations. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 15-Feb-17 @ 12:44 PM
I have a my daughter full time after splitting up with her mum, I then met my now ex who basically used me for a kid she lied about being on contraception and then when she fell pregnant after 2 weeks of finding out left me for her ex and then moved 1 hour away. The child is now born and I'm unsure of wether to get a DNA test as I have a suspicion she cheated on me with him during our relationship. She says I'm the dad 100% etc I know it be easier for her to say it's her now boyfriends but there's that doubt. She now will only let me see the baby for 2 hours on a weekend I can barely bond with him through that time and get my daughter use to this new addition to her life. I'm just wondering what my rights are to see him as I've never done anything wrong I have my daughter full time but that's because her mum went through postnatal depression and didn't want her anymore so I've never been in this situation to try and see my kid more and see him. It's all doing my head in as I want to see my kid as much as I can and I get he's new born etc I'm not asking to have him overnight not yet anyway just a decent period of time to bond with him. Just want to know my rights if I took this to curt
Mjf - 14-Feb-17 @ 7:11 PM
My partners ex will only let him see his 5 year old son on her terms, for occasional afternoons, under her supervision, she will not allow him to have a weekend with his son at our house, or even take him out for the day without her... what do we need to do to secure his rights to have the lad every other weekend away from her? Thank you.
Caz - 12-Feb-17 @ 8:16 PM
My sons ex girlfriend has stopped him from seeing his 2 year & 4 year old daughters. He is living with someone else and only have a 1 bed flat and her 1year old so he was having to see girls every 2 weeks at our house, this works fine for us as we work full time. She is now demanding he has the girls another night but this does not work well for us as my husband works a 12 hour shift the following day and the youngest grandchild is such a poorly sleeper! To cut a long story short they had mediation never worked so stopped him from seeing them for 3 months now, we as the grandparents are still having the girls once a fortnight like before with their dad (but he's not allowed to see them) he's stil paying their maintenance. We have just found out that she has moved her newest boyfriend in who seems to have taken over the role of being 'dad.' I asked her to re think about going back to my son seeing them as before every 2 weeks as we are still doing (but at the moment minus my son) but she is refusing saying he has to step up and be a better dad! And see them more, not really possible as he don't have anywhere for them to stay apart from at ours! We want to sort this out but she is refusing to budge, he can't afford to take her to court so unsure on how we can sort this out! Any advice is better than no advice!
Shaz - 10-Feb-17 @ 7:50 PM
Dan - Your Question:
My ex is demanding I pay her CSA because she can't be bothered working. Me & my partner both work & are struggling for money ourselves, and have my son 50% of the time (sometimes she won't let me have him because she can't be bothered to get out of bed). I'm at my wit's end and don't know what to do. Any suggestions?

Our Response:
By law you are required to pay child maintenance to the primary carer of your child, regardless of whether your ex is working or not. In other words, every non-resident parent has to pay a percentage of their earnings to help support the day-to-day needs of their child.
SeparatedDads - 8-Feb-17 @ 2:49 PM
mfn - Your Question:
Hi. I split up with my girlfriend a few weeks ago she is 6 months pregnant.i left my home with her and stayed at a friends because we had problems & did not want to be together anymore.after 2 days of seperating she went back to her home country thailand & says shes not coming back.how do I stand, is that even legal ?will I ever be able to see my son when he is born in april ?my ex is dual citizen thailand & UKwe where never married.can anyone help ??

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Your only recourse is to obtain legal advice and try to obtain some form of contact. However, if your ex does not wish you to have contact, then it would cost a great deal of money to have the matter heard through the international courts.
SeparatedDads - 8-Feb-17 @ 1:52 PM
My ex hasnt seen kids since babies, long story stayed away, small backward village drove him away, he stayed away as his parents luved there with young children and he didnt want to make life difficult for them, the youngest child is about to turn 16 and we know she is curious, does he need the mothers permission to contact them or can he do it himself as the kids see his mother and other relatives?
Hazel - 2-Feb-17 @ 7:17 PM
Billy - Your Question:
Please can you tell me if I am paying my ex full entitlement, but my son is refusing to see me, do I have to pay her any more money? I want to see my son and try twice weekly to see him and we've never had any visitation drawn up.

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access are two separate issues and are not connected. Therefore, regardless of whether you see your son or not, then you are still deemed by law to be financially responsible for helping towards his upkeep. If you wish to see your son, you either have to negotiate with your ex, or if you cannot agree suggest attending mediation in order to try to resolve the issues. Otherwise, you would have to take the matter to court. You don't say how old your son is, but it is always tricky if your son does not wish to see you as his opinion and his reasons why will be considered by Cafcass and in court.
SeparatedDads - 2-Feb-17 @ 2:23 PM
My ex is demanding I pay her CSA because she can't be bothered working. Me & my partner both work & are struggling for money ourselves, and have my son 50% of the time (sometimes she won't let me have him because she can't be bothered to get out of bed). I'm at my wit's end and don't know what to do. Any suggestions?
Dan - 1-Feb-17 @ 8:12 PM
hi. i split up with my girlfriend a few weeks ago she is 6 months pregnant. i left my home with her and stayed at a friends because we had problems & did not want to be together anymore. after 2 days of seperating she went back to her home country thailand & says shes not coming back. how do i stand, is that even legal ? will i ever be able to see my son when he is born in april ? my ex is dual citizen thailand & UK we where never married. can anyone help ??
mfn - 1-Feb-17 @ 6:00 PM
Please can you tell me if I am paying my ex full entitlement,but my son is refusing to see me, do I have to pay her any more money? I want to see my son and try twice weekly to see him and we've never had any visitation drawn up.
Billy - 1-Feb-17 @ 2:59 PM
D - Your Question:
My 9yr old grandson doesn't want to see his dad, or have him involved in any part of his life. His dad has told him, he p.s him off twice, has lied to him, to get him in a car, humiliated him, in front of his other kids, who were 2 and under at the time, as to why he didn't want to stay at his dad's, his dad, stands by what he did, and would do it again. He never calls him, he can only have any presents that were bought if he goes to his, even though at present, his dad shows up every other friday, he doesn't return school uniform either. He makes no effort to show interest in my grandsons football training/matches of a weekend. He also had a go at my daughter, in a public place, my grandson was very angry and upset, that he had a go, at his mum, no-one is more important in my grandsons life, than his mum. He's tried more than once in the past to cancel csa, saying it was the bank cancelling the debit, but because he pays a lot of money for him (fiver a day) he'd like to see him, not because firstly, he loves him, misses him. His dad has now got fed up, showing up every other Friday, just for my grandson, to say he's not going, my grandson explained months ago, what he was unhappy about, but his dad still questions him, tells him he doesn't agree with him, thinks he should be pushed out the door, and told to get on with it, we won't do that, it's a complete lack of respect of my grandsons feelings. His dad has now told him, if he really doesn't want him to show up anymore, he's to put it in writing, and wants him (Dad), my grandson and his mum to sign it, and says he'll never show up again, for my grandson, this would be good, he wouldn't worry, and he would be happy, he doesn't trust his dad, and with good reason. If this note is written, can his dad try to stop paying csa, whether he's working or not, until my grandson leaves full-time education, I'd be grateful for an answer, thankyou

Our Response:
The father is still considered responsible for paying child maintenance regardless of whether he sees his son or not.
SeparatedDads - 1-Feb-17 @ 2:25 PM
Grandad - Your Question:
A. You are correct I did not mention “dangerous animal” before, the e.g. given in my question means “for example” or "exempli gratia" & that example was included to show who would actually be held responsible by law under those circumstances!B. My son is not looking after the animals (also explained within the details of my correspondence) because of his work commitment & by the way that has always been like that - so please explain (in case I missed that part) how my son is deemed the current owner?C. Once again I reiterate, my son’s (ex) partner “ABANDONED HER ANIMALS” & your reply would strongly indicate that my son is now somehow responsible for her abandoned animals, where as she is free to go out and acquire others not unlike replacement furnishing - its no wonder more & more unwanted animals fill the pounds!

Our Response:
My comment seems to have been lost in translation. However, the fact still remains that, no one (council/court etc) will 'force' a person to be held personally responsible for an animal, unless that animal has caused a nuisance or is deemed to be dangerous. Who ever is looking after, or is responsible for the animals' welfare currently (or who the animals are resident with) is classified as the owner. If you do not wish to continue looking after the animals, as the current caretakers, you or your son have the option to re-home them.
SeparatedDads - 1-Feb-17 @ 12:56 PM
My 9yr old grandson doesn't want to see his dad,or have him involved in any part of his life. His dad has told him, he p....s him off twice,has lied to him,to get him in a car,humiliated him,in front of his other kids,who were 2 and under at the time,as to why he didn't want to stay at his dad's,his dad,stands by what he did,and would do it again. He never calls him, he can only have any presents that were bought if he goes to his,even though at present,his dad shows up every other friday, he doesn't return school uniform either. He makes no effort to show interest in my grandsons football training/matches of a weekend. He also had a go at my daughter,in a public place,my grandson was very angry and upset,that he had a go,at his mum,no-one is more important in my grandsons life,than his mum. He's tried more than once in the past to cancel csa, saying it was the bank cancelling the debit, but because he pays a lot of money for him (fiver a day) he'd like to see him,not because firstly,he loves him, misses him. His dad has now got fed up,showing up every other Friday,just for my grandson,to say he's not going,my grandson explained months ago, what he was unhappy about,but his dad still questions him,tells him he doesn't agree with him, thinks he should be pushed out the door,and told to get on with it,we won't do that,it's a complete lack of respect of my grandsons feelings. His dad has now told him,if he really doesn't want him to show up anymore,he's to put it in writing, and wants him (Dad), my grandson and his mum to sign it, and says he'll never show up again, for my grandson,this would be good, he wouldn't worry,and he would be happy,he doesn't trust his dad,and with good reason.If this note is written,can his dad try to stop paying csa, whether he'sworking or not,until my grandson leaves full-time education,I'd be grateful for an answer,thankyou
D - 1-Feb-17 @ 12:56 AM
A. You are correct I did not mention “dangerous animal” before, the e.g. given in my question means “for example” or "exempli gratia" & that example was included to show who would actually be held responsible by law under those circumstances! B. My son is not looking after the animals (also explained within the details of my correspondence) because of his work commitment & by the way that has always been like that - so please explain (in case I missed that part) how my son is deemed the current owner? C. Once again I reiterate, my son’s (ex) partner “ABANDONED HER ANIMALS” & your reply would strongly indicate that my son is now somehow responsible for her abandoned animals, where as she is free to go out and acquire others not unlike replacement furnishing - its no wonder more & more unwanted animals fill the pounds!
Grandad - 31-Jan-17 @ 4:56 PM
Grandad - Your Question:
I am now totally puzzled after your response e.g. If the Dogs Act states the following: -"Under the Dogs Act, a dog can be deemed to be dangerous in its general behaviour, not just its behaviour towards a person. Proceedings can only be brought against the owner (not the person in control of the dog at the time of any incidents)."My son's (ex) partner is the current owner, please explain how can she be legally excused & demean her current responsibility, furthermore she has now acquired yet another animal?

Our Response:
You made no mention in your previous question of the animal being dangerous which would be a different matter. As your son is deemed the current owner (as he is looking after the animals) then he would be held responsible should the dog cause a danger. If his ex has left the animals in his care, he now has the option to decide what to do with the animals. No one (council/court etc) will 'force' a person (i.e his ex) to be held personally responsible for an animal, unless that animal has caused a nuisance or is deemed to be dangerous.
SeparatedDads - 31-Jan-17 @ 11:16 AM
Jo - Your Question:
If a father is on the child's birth certificate but refuses to pay maintenance or make it hard for payments. does he still have rights to the child or does this make the main carer fully responsible with all rights. Thanks.

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access are not connected i.e access is not dependent upon finances. For instance, child maintenance is based upon earnings and if the non-resident parent is not earning for any reason and cannot pay child maintenance for a period, then this does not mean he should be prevented from seeing his child as a result. In other words, children cannot be used as financial bartering tools. If your ex is not paying, or avoiding paying then you need to seek redress through the CMS or courts.
SeparatedDads - 31-Jan-17 @ 10:36 AM
I am now totally puzzled after your response e.g. If the Dogs Act states the following: - "Under the Dogs Act, a dog can be deemed to be dangerous in its general behaviour, not just its behaviour towards a person. Proceedings can only be brought against the owner (not the person in control of the dog at the time of any incidents)." My son's (ex) partner is the current owner, please explain how can she be legally excused & demean her current responsibility, furthermore she has now acquired yet another animal?
Grandad - 30-Jan-17 @ 1:42 PM
Mark - Your Question:
Hi, I recently started a new job and I earn an extra £100 a week compared to my last wage. Do I have to notify csa?

Our Response:
You must tell CMS within seven days if your gross weekly income goes up by 25 per cent or more, please see link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 30-Jan-17 @ 12:00 PM
Grandad - Your Question:
I'm a grandparent and several months ago my son & his (ex) partner had a domestic. She has since sneakily moved away with their two children but has completely abandoned her animals, that my son because of his current work commitment can't possibly look after 24/7.As grandparents my wife & I have defaulted to becoming the animals carers but this is clearly a demanding ordeal & not without its financial attachment.Who do you think is responsible for such financial cost & loss and holds financial responsibility for creating our full time carers role?Regards

Our Response:
I'm afraid animals do not come into the equation with regards to responsibility and where it lands. The usual procedure is to take on the responsibility of looking after the animals or try to find them alternative homes.
SeparatedDads - 30-Jan-17 @ 11:25 AM
If a father is on the child's birth certificate but refuses to pay maintenance or make it hard for payments.. does he still have rights to the child or does this make themain carer fully responsible with all rights. Thanks.
Jo - 30-Jan-17 @ 11:01 AM
Hi, i recently started a new job and i earn an extra £100 a week compared to my last wage. Do i have to notify csa?
Mark - 29-Jan-17 @ 7:02 PM
I'm a grandparent and several months ago my son & his (ex) partner had a domestic. She has since sneakily moved away with their two children but has completely abandoned her animals, that my son because of his current work commitment can't possibly look after 24/7. As grandparents my wife & I have defaulted to becoming the animals carers but this is clearly a demanding ordeal & not without its financial attachment. Who do you think is responsible for such financial cost & loss and holds financial responsibility for creating our full time carers role? Regards
Grandad - 29-Jan-17 @ 3:22 PM
Flash - Your Question:
Hi my situation is I've had a one night stand and got a girl pregnant by law what's is the lowest you can pay her without going through the csa because none of the money will go on the kid and my kid will want for nothing when he is with me thanks

Our Response:
You can see how much you should be applying via the CMS calculator here which will give you a good benchmark to go on. However, if you agree to maintenance between you via a family-based arrangement, then you can agree to whatever amount you both feel is fair. If the mother of your child does not feel it is fair, then she will have the option to apply through the CMS.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jan-17 @ 12:59 PM
Hi my situation is I've had a one night stand and got a girl pregnant by law what's is the lowest you can pay her without going through the csa because none of the money will go on the kid and my kid will want for nothing when he is with me thanks
Flash - 18-Jan-17 @ 6:37 PM
Hi I hope you can help my partner had a non contact order against him contacting the mum of his children it has now run out and he pays csa straight from his wages but she still refuses for him to see his children all she will allow is a 5min call twice a week when she decides his name is on the children's birth certificate and they weren't married they were born after 2003. Can he challenge her to see the children. Thank you in advance
Sk - 13-Jan-17 @ 8:39 PM
Trouty - Your Question:
Can the mother of my children change the last name with out mey consent??

Our Response:
If you have parental responsibility then your ex would have to ask for your consent to change their names legally by Deed Poll. However, if she wanted to change their names unofficially i.e school/GP records, then she would be allowed to. However, if she does this, your children's surames will still be officially yours.
SeparatedDads - 13-Jan-17 @ 3:05 PM
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