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Do You Know Your Rights as a Father?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 18 Jun 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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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
Unit - Your Question:
Hi. Please can anyone offer me any guidance. My brother is separated from his partner (they were not married) who is now refusing him access to their daughter. I have reason to believe the ex is about to skip the country and go to another EU country (she is an EU citizen). There are no formal arrangements in place for access to the child who lives with her mother despite her Dads desire to share custody. Is there anything I can do to help my brother gain access rights to his daughter? I'm in another country so I'm finding it hard to know what to do. Any help is really appreciated

Our Response:
Your brother's partner would need to request permission from your brother before she can leave the country with the child, please see the link here . This should tell you all you need to know.
SeparatedDads - 18-Jun-18 @ 11:46 AM
Hi. Please can anyone offer me any guidance. My brother is separated from his partner (they were not married) who is now refusing him access to their daughter. I have reason to believe the ex is about to skip the country and go to another EU country (she is an EU citizen). There are no formal arrangements in place for access to the child who lives with her mother despite her Dads desire to share custody. Is there anything I can do to help my brother gain access rights to his daughter? I'm in another country so I'm finding it hard to know what to do. Any help is really appreciated
Unit - 16-Jun-18 @ 1:48 PM
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.
Mellissa - 15-Jun-18 @ 3:24 PM
Blair - Your Question:
Hey, my son has just turned 3, my ex only allows me to see him for 5hours every fortnight (10 hours over two visits per month) she seems to think this is more than enough, I am not on the birth certificate and she does not want me on it, has anyone any advice, I pay child support etc but I feel at 3yo my bond is nothing like others dad's, any help or next steps would be greatly appreciated

Our Response:
The link here , should tell you all you need to know. If you are not registered on the birth certificate, there is nothing to stop you applying to court for contact and/or parental responsibility.
SeparatedDads - 14-Jun-18 @ 3:42 PM
MD - Your Question:
I been in a relationship for 7 years with my EX, she is married with 2 children and now she is pregnant with my baby, do I have any right over this child? As she is saying to leave her alone or she will call the police on me, she want the child to know her husband is the father.Do I have any legal right over this child.

Our Response:
You have the right to claim parental responsibility over your child if your ex refuses to register you on the birth certificate. This means you have some say over decisions made. If you wish to apply for contact, then you would have to apply to court for this also (if your ex is refusing). If your ex is asking that you leave her alone, then I would respect her wishes (as it could hamper your chances of contact with your child if the police become involved). Your alternative is to suggest mediation to your ex, or apply to court, please see link here for more information. If you cannot afford legal fees (if you take the matter to court), you can self-litigate, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 14-Jun-18 @ 12:25 PM
I been in a relationship for 7 years with my EX, she is married with 2 children and now she is pregnant with my baby, do I have any right over this child? As she is saying to leave her alone or she will call the police on me, she want the child to know her husband is the father. Do I have any legal right over this child.
MD - 14-Jun-18 @ 2:27 AM
Hey, my son has just turned 3, my ex only allows me to see him for 5hours every fortnight (10 hours over two visits per month) she seems to think this is more than enough, I am not on the birth certificate and she does not want me on it, has anyone any advice, I pay child support etcbut I feel at 3yomy bond is nothing like others dad's, any help ornext steps would be greatly appreciated
Blair - 13-Jun-18 @ 11:39 PM
soof - Your Question:
Hii've seperated from my partner and we are due to have our baby in just under two months. She is extremely controlling and will readily feed me false information in order to get the outcome she wants. she has told me that the baby must take her surname and that her lawyer has advised her that is the case, however, the solicitor I saw, the citizens advice and the info on the government website would suggest that it isn't cut and dry and that we must be in agreement about it. we werent married or anything but they all told me that didnt matter in relation to surnames. what are the legalities on this please?

Our Response:
The mother will always have the last word on which suranme she wishes to register the child under. There is little you can do regarding this matter if she doesn't agree to using yours.
SeparatedDads - 8-Jun-18 @ 3:17 PM
paifred - Your Question:
As a father who split up due to my ex cheating on me, do I have the right to know who my ex partners boyfriend (next victim) is especially as he has contact with my kids. I have asked my ex for his name, but she is refusing to give me even that. Where do I stand on this, I just feel that she us hiding things from e in regards to my kids

Our Response:
Your ex has the right to keep her private life confidential if she chooses.
SeparatedDads - 8-Jun-18 @ 2:51 PM
John B - Your Question:
Hi,My Ex Partner (not married) left me suddenly a few months before the birth of our baby. Refused to make any contact with me until last week when she asked for Child Support through the CSA. I am not on the birth certificate and she has no intention of letting me see her.I have read conflicting advice where sometimes it has said if im not on the Birth Certificate then I have no legal right to pay CSA. Is this the case?Also, if I want to fight for custody, is the court costs shared?Also, if I don't think they baby is mine, then surely its on the mother to prove it is and pay the fees for the test.Many thanks for your help here. John

Our Response:
All non-resident biological parents by law have to pay child maintenance, regardless of whether you are named on the birth certificate or not. If your ex has named you as the biological father, then until you can prove otherwise you will be liable to pay. To get a DNA test to prove paternity, you would have to pay the test fee of £239.40 if the Child Maintenance Service asks you to get a test because they think you might be the parent. It will be refunded if the test shows that you’re not the parent, please see link here. It is likely you would be advised not to 'fight for custody' of your child, as it is highly likely the court will not remove your child from the mother unless there is a very good and provable reason. If you think you have a case, you may wish to seek legal advice.
SeparatedDads - 7-Jun-18 @ 11:12 AM
Hi, My Ex Partner (not married) left me suddenly a few months before the birth of our baby. Refused to make any contact with me until last week when she asked for Child Support through the CSA. I am not on the birth certificate and she has no intention of letting me see her. I have read conflicting advice where sometimes it has said if im not on the Birth Certificate then I have no legal right to pay CSA. Is this the case? Also, if I want to fight for custody, is the court costs shared? Also, if I don't think they baby is mine, then surely its on the mother to prove it is and pay the fees for the test. Many thanks for your help here. John
John B - 6-Jun-18 @ 10:44 AM
I was 22 when I had my child to the town slag .my thinking back then was buy house rasie the child finish my trade put the children in good school .but my x sleeping with my uncle and teenagers even my landlord .the guys must of thought back then they walked on to a porn set that was how bad my x was .gods truth sneak out widows to have sex with strangers why her young children sleep mother of the year that one .when she left she in her 30s and became a druggy last i heard she is gay now with shaved head .do i think my x is hiding something ???????.i know for a fact she is .where i come from she is judged big time and laughed at .i tried to explain this to her but she is proud of it .that why i never fought for my child .
laurie - 5-Jun-18 @ 7:46 PM
@paired.my x cheated repeatedly I no its not crime .but her choice of men like my x will date anything no standards what so ever even women I no these days that's not a big thing .but I was raised I guess you could say country and the places I live yeah its shame full to be tried to it Because know what the older folk say and judge me to I hate that little comments plus my x is slag and I cope those comments to .I was never in for the long haul with my x .I didn't get a solicitor because of the shame of my x she thinks she cool but I don't no her thinking or if she knows what people say about her I think she proud of it .my child I know for a fact my x is hiding something she always is.my child be use to bye now anyway that life would be all she knows plus she grown up now.
laurie - 5-Jun-18 @ 7:09 PM
As a father who split up due to my ex cheating on me, do I have the right to know who my ex partners boyfriend (next victim) is especially as he has contact with my kids. I have asked my ex for his name, but she is refusing to give me even that. Where do I stand on this, I just feel that she us hiding things from e in regards to my kids
paifred - 5-Jun-18 @ 4:38 PM
Hi i've seperated from my partner and we are due to have our baby in just under two months. She is extremely controlling and will readily feed me false information in order to get the outcome she wants. she has told me that the baby must take her surname and that her lawyer has advised her that is the case, however, the solicitor i saw, the citizens advice and the info on the government website would suggest that it isn't cut and dry and that we must be in agreement about it. we werent married or anything but they all told me that didnt matter in relation to surnames. what are the legalities on this please?
soof - 5-Jun-18 @ 3:57 PM
Ericxwalker - Your Question:
Looking for advice my ex partner has stopped my seeing my child she will try anything to stop me including making FALSE allegations to the police which nothing came of because it wasn’t true there was no evidence she has never let me meet my newest baby who is 1/12years I can’t afford to take her court I have no money left for my self after payed csa what other options do I have to try and get to see my children ( I can’t contact her my self asking for the children as I kept asking weekly for my children so she has blocked me on everything because of that )

Our Response:
Your only options are mediation and court, please see link here . If you’re on a low income and able to get Legal Aid then the information meeting (the MIAM) and mediation sessions will be free. If you cannot afford legal representation in court, you can self-litigate, please see link here . Our Separated Dads Forum can also give you advice if you need.
SeparatedDads - 5-Jun-18 @ 12:21 PM
Looking for advice my ex partner has stopped my seeing my child she will try anything to stop me including making FALSE allegations to the police which nothing came of because it wasn’t true there was no evidence she has never let me meet my newest baby who is 1/12years I can’t afford to take her court I have no money left for my self after payed csa what other options do I have to try and get to see my children ( i can’t contact her my self asking for the children as I kept asking weekly for my children so she has blocked me on everything because of that )
Ericxwalker - 4-Jun-18 @ 10:00 PM
ML1 - Your Question:
My ex is always under the influence of drink and drugs but I've only just found out this and have contacted police and social services. If she if drinking and I have our child who is 2 years old do I have any right to say that she's not getting him back until she is fit to do so?

Our Response:
The link here may help answer your question with regards to your rights. However, it is never advisable to keep a child without the resident parent's consent unless absolutely necessary. Such action can backfire and if your child is returned to the resident parent, then the resident parent will have the grounds to request supervised visits through lack of trust. If you feel your child's primary carer is not capable of looking after your son, then you should, in the first instance try to resolve the issue informally of through mediation, please see link here. Court is always seen as the last resort, please see link here. If you take the matter to court, you would have to prove your ex is under the influence of drink and drugs.
SeparatedDads - 4-Jun-18 @ 10:06 AM
My ex is always under the influence of drink and drugs but I've only just found out this and have contacted police and social services. If she if drinking and I have our child who is 2 years old do I have any right to say that she's not getting him back until she is fit to do so?
ML1 - 3-Jun-18 @ 12:22 PM
Hello, I need your advise. My partner of two years is struggling to come to an agreement with his ex wife when it come to their 16 months old little girl. My partner’s ex won’t let the little girl no where near me and it’sbeen like this from the begging. He has tried to be patience with her and give her time to adapt and accept him and I are together. But nothing has changed. The only way my partner can see his daughter is if he goes over to her house. We are currently living with his parents as we are trying to save some money for house deposit. He is worried if he would go to court, the court won’t grand him to have his daughter every other weekend as we don’t own/have our own house. He is worried the court won’t let him have her over night or would side with the mother. He has been paying her child maintenance, buying her cloths, nappies, food... anything she needs and more. Can anyone tell me if my partner was to go to court if the court would see him not having/owing a house as a bad thing?
EJones - 29-May-18 @ 12:15 AM
Cushy - Your Question:
Hi, I recently split from my wife of 8 yrs after I found out she had been having an affair with our neighbours, when she told I said I could ignore them but after 2 months I realised I couldn’t. Currently I’m sofa surfing and she is letting me see my 2 daughters, 12 & 13, but she is sayIng I can only see my 5yr old boy through a contact centre, is this true, she has also said that she’s been to the local police station and got an injunction out against me stopping me from going anywhere near the house, where do I stand regarding my son, can she stop me seeing how my boy unless it’s through a contact centre, she has said she’s phoned social services too

Our Response:
Your ex would have to have a provable reason to apply for an injunction and the injunction to be granted, please see link here . Much depends upon the injunction and what it applies to. As you have not given much detail, it is difficult to answer your question accurately, except to say your ex can stop contact if she is concerned about the welfare of your child and it would be up to you to challenge this through the courts. Therefore, you may wish to seek legal advice if you wish to challenge your ex's decision.
SeparatedDads - 24-May-18 @ 2:42 PM
Hi, I recently split from my wife of 8 yrs after I found out she had been having an affair with our neighbours, when she told I said I could ignore them but after 2 months I realised I couldn’t. Currently I’m sofa surfing and she is letting me see my 2 daughters, 12 & 13, but she is sayIng I can only see my 5yr old boy through a contact centre, is this true, she has also said that she’s been to the local police station and got an injunction out against me stopping me from going anywhere near the house, where do I stand regarding my son, can she stop me seeing how my boy unless it’s through a contact centre, she has said she’s phoned social services too
Cushy - 24-May-18 @ 11:42 AM
jd138 - Your Question:
I have been separated from my ex for about 2 1/2 years and living with my now wife for 2 years. My ex used to let me come to my ex home where she still lives to look after them on a Friday when she went out but suddenly this has all stopped and I am restricted to taking them out for an hour on a Wednesday and Friday night for dinner as I live about 45 minutes away. She refuses to let them stay with me overnight as she claims its dangerous. In no way is it dangerous. They have everything they need and always enjoy being there. We have recently done mediation at which my only demand was to have them stay with me every other weekend from Friday to sunday which she refused. I am now in the early stages of trying to get a solicitor and starting court proceedings. I get to see my boys less than 23 hours a month. im trying really hard and attempting to pay for a solicitor with money I don't have. does anyone have any advice as my ex is so stubborn and is using my boys against me even though she claims she isn't.

Our Response:
You can represent yourself in court if you wish to save money on legal fees. Please see link here and here . Many non-resident parents do this with success. Our Separated Dads forum advisers can help you further with direct advice, if needed.
SeparatedDads - 10-May-18 @ 3:33 PM
I have been separated from my ex for about 2 1/2 years and living with my now wife for 2 years. My ex used to let me come to my ex home where she still lives to look after them on a Friday when she went out but suddenly this has all stopped and I am restricted to taking them out for an hour on a Wednesday and Friday night for dinner as I live about 45 minutes away. She refuses to let them stay with me overnight as she claims its dangerous. In no way is it dangerous. They have everything they need and always enjoy being there. We have recently done mediation at which my only demand was to have them stay with me every other weekend from Friday to sunday which she refused. I am now in the early stages of trying to get a solicitor and starting court proceedings. I get to see my boys less than 23 hours a month. im trying really hard and attempting to pay for a solicitor with money I don't have. does anyone have any advice as my ex is so stubborn and is using my boys against me even though she claims she isn't.
jd138 - 8-May-18 @ 4:44 PM
I have been divorced since 2014 I have 12 years old son as 9 years old daughter.They come to me from Sunday morning till Tuesday morning when they go to school and I pay £150 pounds a month which me and my Ex agreed about it. I am a taxi driver and just working 5 days because of my kids which is not normal (most other taxi drivers work 6 days).last year I got married and my kids love my new wife . She will be here in July but my Ex starts to makes a problem in different ways now she tells me I have to take my daughter and she should lives with me permanently which I don't have a problem but she wants to receives her benefit. I won't receive any benefit because I am working full time and I don't want the benefits but she asked me to don't tell authority about our daughter lives with me then she can have her child tax credit and child benefit and in return I dont pay child maintenance. When I said I don't do that she treated me to ruin my new life and she will bring kids to my house and leave them there and won't take them any more . I am really upset my daughter loves me and my wife but in other hand I don't want to let her uses me . All this year's because of my kids I tried to be flexible with my Ex and every thing she asked about kids I accepted but now she is angry about my marriage which after 3 years I have been single and she have had boyfriend and I never did same as she does now. If I have my daughter and she has our son should I pay anything to her any more ?I never been in touchwith adviser or anyone before.if you can help me I really appreciate it. Many thanks
Mehrdad - 5-May-18 @ 9:24 AM
I have been divorced since 2014 I have 12 years old son as 9 years old daughter.They come to me from Sunday morning till Tuesday morning when they go to school and I pay £150 pounds a month which me and my Ex agreed about it. I am a taxi driver and just working 5 days because of my kids which is not normal (most other taxi drivers work 6 days).last year I got married and my kids love my new wife . She will be here in July but my Ex starts to makes a problem in different ways now she tells me I have to take my daughter and she should lives with me permanently which I don't have a problem but she wants to receives her benefit. I won't receive any benefit because I am working full time and I don't want the benefits but she asked me to don't tell authority about our daughter lives with me then she can have her child tax credit and child benefit and in return I dont pay child maintenance. When I said I don't do that she treated me to ruin my new life and she will bring kids to my house and leave them there and won't take them any more . I am really upset my daughter loves me and my wife but in other hand I don't want to let her uses me . All this year's because of my kids I tried to be flexible with my Ex and every thing she asked about kids I accepted but now she is angry about my marriage which after 3 years I have been single and she have had boyfriend and I never did same as she does now. If I have my daughter and she has our son should I pay anything to her any more ?I never been in touchwith adviser or anyone before.if you can help me I really appreciate it. Many thanks
Mehrdad - 5-May-18 @ 9:21 AM
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
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