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Do You Know Your Rights as a Father?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 12 Apr 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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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
TeacherJ - Your Question:
I have been divorced since 2011 and I have been with my new partner for 6 years. We still live apart as I have wanted to concentrate and my 2 children and not bring anyone else into our household. They get on great with him, understand the situation -it has worked. However, My eldest is off to Uni in September and My partner and I think it's the right time for me to move in with him. ProblemIs he lives 80 miles from me and my youngest who is 15 has Aspergers and anxiety. Moving her away from the town she has always known will be too hard for her. It's been a hard decision but I think that the best solution will be for my ex to become the main Carer ( we share parenting 60:40) and she stays here in her familiar settings and I commute up to see her every other weekend and maybe more. I know she will want to stay here.If my ex doesn't want the change in custody ( there's no court order) what can I do? Or do I just take her with me even though I know it's the wrong decision? This is not a financial question as I would waiver any maintenance if I move away.

Our Response:
In this case, discussion with the other parent is paramount. If you cannot agree a solution between you, then mediation may be the way forward, please see link here . If your ex doesn't wish to have full residency of your child, then presumably he would give his consent to move her away. If you cannot agree between you, then court would be considered the last option and a judge would decide what it thinks is in your child's best interests. Please see additional information via the link here .
SeparatedDads - 20-Apr-18 @ 2:29 PM
I have been divorced since 2011 and I have been with my new partner for 6 years. We still live apart as I have wanted to concentrate and my 2 children and not bring anyone else into our household. They get on great with him, understand the situation -it has worked. However, My eldest is off to Uni in September and My partner and I think it's the right time for me to move in with him. Problem Is he lives 80 miles from me and my youngest who is 15 has Aspergers and anxiety. Moving her away from the town she has always known will be too hard for her. It's been a hard decision but I think that the best solution will be for my ex to become the main Carer ( we share parenting 60:40) and she stays here in her familiar settings and I commute up to see her every other weekend and maybe more. I know she will want to stay here. If my ex doesn't want the change in custody ( there's no court order) what can I do? Or do I just take her with me even though I know it's the wrong decision? This is not a financial question as I would waiver any maintenance if I move away.
TeacherJ - 11-Apr-18 @ 11:34 PM
Leo123 - Your Question:
Im not sure if you can help but I in hope.I split up with my ex almost a year ago and have struggled with contact ever since. In October last year we can to an arrangement where I have contact 5 nights out of every 14 which I think was fair considering I practically raised my son alone for the first 2 years of his life.Recently (last 6 months), I have become involved with another lady, I occasionally have been called out to work some evenings and on one occasion asked my new partner to look after my son while I work an additional 5 hours one Saturday night.My ex has said that she is not going allow this and wants to withdraw contact stating that if the situation arises I should turn down the work. She states that if Im not looking after our son , no one else should.Firstly does she have the right to do this, is this correct and should I challenge this as the quality of care he gets with my new lady is more than adequate.

Our Response:
If you cannot agree over this situation, then your only recourse is to suggest mediation, please see link here. There is no right or wrong answer here, just a difference of opinion. However, it's understandable that your ex might prefer to have your son with her at home while you are at work, than leave her with someone your son barely knows.
SeparatedDads - 10-Apr-18 @ 3:16 PM
Spotlight - Your Question:
Very worried Nannie. My son has been divorce three years. His ex has stopped him seeing his kids for months. She left him. for a old man they now have a baby. My grandson was taken out of there house for his own safety by police and social workers. Was given to his dad now the social worker what's him too have contact with his mum. She says it's the mums right. They took him out and the police are still looking at case. What I want to know dose my son not have rights he has paid out loads on courts so he is meant to get kids very-other weekend and when they want to stay through the week. His ex stopped all that after new baby. Staying she wants more money. Where dose his rights come in for him to see his kids. To me the law is one sided and total unfair to dads. Law needs updated

Our Response:
Unfortunately, if your son and his ex cannot agree between them, the only recourse for your son is to try to resolve the matter though mediation, or if his ex refuses mediation, court. Please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 10-Apr-18 @ 2:59 PM
hippolion - Your Question:
I have an arrangement with my ex whereby we have the kids 50/50 ie 4 nights/3 nights. I also pay her a set amount each month as well as paying for school uniform, swimming lessons etc. She says she wants more. I've suggested that she itemises what we spend each month and I will pay half. This could be more or less than what I pay now. She has said that she'll go for a CMS assesment as she has used the CMS calculator - if you go by the calculator, I would have to pay more - but on doing some reading, they may also say nil as "the paying parent can prove they carry out an equal amount of day to day care as well as having equal shared care". I'm confused! Do I have to pay anything?

Our Response:
Shared-care is a very grey area. Much depends upon who is considered the primary carer of your children (who receives child benefit also receives child maintenance). In order to establish 50/50 care (where an ex disagrees) then it would be up to the court to decide. A court will always decide what it thinks is in the best interests of your kids. You may wish to seek legal advice.
SeparatedDads - 10-Apr-18 @ 2:53 PM
Debs - Your Question:
I'm worried, regarding my son, he had four children three of which may not be his. He has been paying child support, but lost his job, he is now working, he has asked the c s a that he needs a d n a test done regarding these three children. He is not on either of there birth certificate, she has not let my son see the children since there split about 6 years a go. He has also found out she got married, and has had two more children. What my son wants to no why does he have to pay for children that may not be his, and not being on there birth certificate, all he asks for is a D N A test to prove if they are his or not. Thanks

Our Response:
Your son would have to continue paying child maintenance until a DNA test proves otherwise. Your son has to push for the DNA test if he wishes to try to prove he is not the father. This is regardless of whether his ex named him on the birth certificate or not. You can see more via the gov.uk link here.
SeparatedDads - 10-Apr-18 @ 12:39 PM
Im not sure if you can help but I in hope. I split up with my ex almost a year ago and have struggled with contact ever since. In October last year we can to an arrangement where I have contact 5 nights out of every 14 which I think was fair considering I practically raised my son alone for the first 2 years of his life. Recently (last 6 months), I have become involved with another lady, I occasionally have been called out to work some evenings and on one occasion asked my new partner to look after my son while I work an additional 5 hours one Saturday night. My ex has said that she is not going allow this and wants to withdraw contact stating that if the situation arises I should turn down the work. She states that if Im not looking after our son , no one else should. Firstly does she have the right to do this, is this correct and should I challenge this as the quality of care he gets with my new lady is more than adequate.
Leo123 - 10-Apr-18 @ 9:28 AM
I'm worried, regarding my son, he had four children three of which may not be his. He has been paying child support, but lost his job, he is now working, he has asked the c s a that he needs a d n a test done regarding these three children. He is not on either of there birth certificate, she has not let my son see the children since there split about 6 years a go. He has also found out she got married, and has had two more children. What my son wants to no why does he have to pay for children that may not be his, and not being on there birth certificate, all he asks for is a D N A test to prove if they are his or not. Thanks
Debs - 9-Apr-18 @ 10:57 PM
Very worried Nannie. My son has been divorce three years. His ex has stopped him seeing his kids for months. She left him. for a old man they now have a baby. My grandson was taken out of there house for his own safety by police and social workers. Was given to his dad now the social worker what's him too have contact with his mum. She says it's the mums right. They took him out and the police are still looking at case. What I want to know dose my son not have rights he has paid out loads on courts so he is meant to get kids very-other weekend and when they want to stay through the week . His ex stopped all that after new baby . Staying she wants more money . Where dose his rights come in for him to see his kids. To me the law is one sided and total unfair to dads. Law needs updated
Spotlight - 7-Apr-18 @ 1:45 PM
I have an arrangement with my ex whereby we have the kids 50/50 ie 4 nights/3 nights. I also pay her a set amount each month as well as paying forschool uniform, swimming lessons etc. She says she wants more. I've suggested that she itemises what we spend each month and i will pay half. This could be more or less than what i pay now. She has said that she'll go for a CMS assesment as she has used the CMS calculator - if you go by the calculator, i would have to pay more - but on doing some reading, they may also say nil as "the paying parent can prove they carry out an equal amount of day to day care as well as having equal shared care". I'm confused! Do i have to pay anything?
hippolion - 7-Apr-18 @ 1:41 PM
My wife and i seperated over two years and have thankfully agreed to all financial support and access to our two children. Unfortunately I cannot get her to agree to sharing Christmas. I'd like to have them on Xmas morning alternate years. As it stands I only get them after Xmas dinner but I'd love to swap each year. What rights do I have regarding this.
Ewor - 31-Mar-18 @ 7:20 PM
Konnie - Your Question:
I have parental responsibility and have my daughter every weekend and half the school Holidays 182 nights a year. 5 years ago I helped my ex out by signing over the child benefit to her now she’s gone to the cms.Do I still have to pay her when I support my daughter when she’s with me and support her schooling needs?

Our Response:
Every non-resident parent is responsible for helping to pay towards the day-to-day financial support of their children. Therefore, your ex is eligible to approach CMS as she is the primary carer of your child.
SeparatedDads - 29-Mar-18 @ 12:42 PM
Jez - Your Question:
My partner asked me to have our son for a week or so whilst she sorted things out, it’s been four weeks now, and now she’s saying she’s going to have him back when she wants too, where do I legally stand with this and what should I do, We aren’t married he’s 9.5 months old and I’m on the birth certificate, I’m worried about him as she’s not the same towards him when I’ve arranged for her to see him

Our Response:
Your only recourse is to try to resolve your issues between you, through mediation and/or if you cannot apply to court. Please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 29-Mar-18 @ 12:07 PM
Kimmie - Your Question:
My daughters ex emergrated to Australia about 6years ago they never married and he has NEVER paid for there up bringing she has done it all on her own even paying off 2grands worth of debt he left. what rights does he have bearing in mind that the children are now 10 and 8 and they don’t want to talk to their dad any more he promises things but they never get what he promises they get nothing

Our Response:
The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Order (REMO) Unit helps to register and enforce child maintenance orders internationally. You can see more via the link here. Your daughter can apply for child maintenance regardless of whether their children's father sees them or not. If he is working and paying tax, he will be eligible to contribute to their day-to-day care.
SeparatedDads - 29-Mar-18 @ 12:02 PM
I have parental responsibility and have my daughter every weekend and half the school Holidays 182 nights a year. 5 years ago i helped my ex out by signing over the child benefit to her now she’s gone to the cms. Do i still have to pay her when i support my daughter when she’s with me and support her schooling needs?
Konnie - 28-Mar-18 @ 9:58 PM
My partner asked me to have our son for a week or so whilst she sorted things out, it’s been four weeks now, and now she’s saying she’s going to have him back when she wants too, where do I legally stand with this and what should I do, We aren’t married he’s 9.5 months old and I’m on the birth certificate, I’m worried about him as she’s not the same towards him when I’ve arranged for her to see him
Jez - 28-Mar-18 @ 6:43 PM
My daughters ex emergrated to Australia about 6years ago they never married and he has NEVER paid for there up bringing she has done it all on her own even paying off 2grands worth of debt he left .. what rights does he have bearing in mind that the children are now 10 and 8 and they don’t want to talk to their dad any more he promises things but they never get what he promises they get nothing
Kimmie - 28-Mar-18 @ 6:59 AM
Kev - Your Question:
I am currently on a non-molestation order I have never done anything to my ex-partner I was with her for 24 years we have three children one of 15 one of 13 and one of 4 we have been separated for 7 months now and for the last 3 months my ex partner has refused me contact with my son for no reason I also have my 13 year old living with me as she attacked him my 15 year old and four-year-old are still living with her my only access to my son of four is through my daughter I have read the the rules of my non-molestation order and there is nothing in there what states I am any danger or any risk to my children but she has refused me access for the last 3 months and now she's saying that when my son sees me he plays up and she's saying it is my fault I do not know what my rights are as I did never expect myself to be in such a situation but both my ex partner's parents had mental issues they were both sectioned and that is where they met I don't know whether that would be an issue with my ex-partner as she has also assaulted my daughter any advice would be very grateful

Our Response:
You would really need to seek legal advice to see whether you have a case. Your only recourse is to apply through 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.
SeparatedDads - 26-Mar-18 @ 10:19 AM
I am currently on a non-molestation order I have never done anything to my ex-partner I was with her for 24 years we have three children one of 15 one of 13 and one of 4 we have been separated for 7 months now and for the last 3 months my ex partner has refused me contact with my son for no reason I also have my 13 year old living with me as she attacked him my 15 year old and four-year-old are still living with her my only access to my son of four is through my daughter I have read the the rules of my non-molestation order and there is nothing in there what states I am any danger or any risk to my children but she has refused me access for the last 3 months and now she's saying that when my son sees me he plays up and she's saying it is my fault I do not know what my rights are as I did never expect myself to be in such a situation but both my ex partner's parents had mental issues they were both sectioned and that is where they met I don't know whether that would be an issue with my ex-partner as she has also assaulted my daughter any advice would be very grateful
Kev - 24-Mar-18 @ 7:43 PM
Dad7 - Your Question:
If I go on holiday abroad on my own am I legally obliged to tell my ex. I have been away twice and always on the days when the kids are not with me so no impact on them.

Our Response:
You are not legally obliged to tell your ex.
SeparatedDads - 22-Mar-18 @ 3:05 PM
A.G - Your Question:
Me and my ex partner are no longer togther but she is also still carrying our baby. Iv asked her if I can see our baby when its born and be the father model for it but she ignores me and wont give me an answer and I dont know what to do. If theres anything you can do to help please let me know

Our Response:
When your child is born, if your ex still refuses to grant you access then you would have to either request your ex attends mediation, or apply to court. Please see link here, which will tell you all you need to know.
SeparatedDads - 22-Mar-18 @ 12:27 PM
Me and my ex partner are no longer togther but she is also still carrying our baby. Iv asked her if i can see our baby when its born and be the father model for it but she ignores me and wont give me an answer and i dont know what to do. If theres anything you can do to help please let me know
A.G - 21-Mar-18 @ 11:37 AM
If I go on holiday abroad on my own am I legally obliged to tell my ex. I have been away twice and always on the days when the kids are not with me so no impact on them.
Dad7 - 20-Mar-18 @ 8:37 PM
I have shared custody of my kids but my ex is moving house next week and only just told me this will be a 30 min drive away. I was used to them being 5 mins away and had worked around this. I feel I should have been informed sooner of where they are moving to and I still don't know where they will be staying.
Dad7 - 20-Mar-18 @ 8:35 PM
Can I find out if my sons mum is struggling with him by the nursery as her 17 year old son takes him and picks him up
Tim - 20-Mar-18 @ 6:21 PM
Joey - Your Question:
My ex decided to end things on the day our son was born. most of this is because we couldn’t agree a name. With us never being married I have many concerns now. Like can she register my child names without me knowing?? And what happens if she decides she isn’t giving my son my surname I do I go about making sure he dose have my surname???

Our Response:
As your ex has automatic parental responsibility of yours and her child, she can register the birth without adding your name to the birth certificate. Plus, she can choose whatever name she wishes for your child's surname. If you cannot agree between you, or via mediation then your last option would be to apply to court. However, a court will not force the change of your child's surname from hers to yours. Please see link here and here .
SeparatedDads - 16-Mar-18 @ 3:44 PM
My ex decided to end things on the day our son was born.. most of this is because we couldn’t agree a name. With us never being married I have many concerns now. Like can she register my child names without me knowing?? And what happens if she decides she isn’t giving my son my surname I do I go about making sure he dose have my surname???
Joey - 16-Mar-18 @ 3:20 PM
Richy - Your Question:
Hi, my ex wife and I separated in good term.and my two little kids.had been regular stay.with me at most.weekend. and every wednesday evening for couple of hrs. So my ex got boyfriend which im ok and got on talking. So then last week my ex wife was need to rush to see her boyfriend in hospital up.north. it understandable. But she send my kids to stay over a friend I know. I find out next morning that my kids stay over. Im ok with that but not happy for my ex not telling me where.my.kids stay over. So now she told me that she dont have to tell me where she leave kids at. I believe I do have a right to know in case of emergency or anything. So do I have a right to know?

Our Response:
Your ex is acting within her limits of parental responsibility and as the primary carer. There is no rule to say that your children's mother has to tell you where your children are. Just as I'm sure she would trust you, as the other parent, to ensure your kids are safe when they are staying with you. If you normally get on and you trust the other parent's decision, then a conversation offering your future support to have the kids should a similar occasion occur, should be suffice.
SeparatedDads - 13-Mar-18 @ 1:50 PM
Hi, my ex wife and i separated in good term.and my two little kids.had been regular stay.with me at most.weekend. and every wednesday evening for couple of hrs. So my ex got boyfriend which im ok and got on talking. So then last week my ex wife was need to rush to see her boyfriend in hospital up.north. it understandable. But she send my kids to stay over a friend i know. I find out next morning that my kids stay over. Im ok with that but not happy for my ex not telling me where.my.kids stay over. So now she told me that she dont have to tell me where she leave kids at. Ibelieve i do have a right to know in case of emergency or anything. So do i have a right to know?.
Richy - 12-Mar-18 @ 10:02 PM
M p - Your Question:
My ex and my self , we have a baby after we breakup and after the baby born she don't register with my name and she don't let me see him. Plus I don't want go to court. What kind the advise you can give me

Our Response:
If your ex will not agree to negotiate between you, then your only option is to suggest mediation, please see link here . However, if your ex refuses to attend mediation, then if you wish to try to resolve the issue you have no other option that to apply to court. Please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 12-Mar-18 @ 12:07 PM
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