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Do You Know Your Rights as a Father?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 30 Apr 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.

Separated Dads Chat Room & Forum

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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My partner has not had contact with his 5 children for 4 yrs we tried everything but just recently his oldest to who are 14 & 12 have got in touch with out there mother knowing we don't wont them to get in trouble so did y they should tell her before someone else does when he told her she went made and Said they are not to see him till they are 16 my partners son & daughter are both very upset about this as are me & my partner we just got them back in our life and she has taken them away again when it went to court there was nothing saying he could not see them until they were 16 any advice please .
ninny - 30-Apr-17 @ 9:07 AM
snowy - Your Question:
Since my wife moved yet again in July she has blocked all contact I had with my daughter. As I am over in New Zealand this is very heart braking not to have any contact. My wife ran off to the UK from NZ in 2007 running up a debt of $30,000 here. I went back in 2008 to be near my daughter and my wife did everything she could to stop me from seeing her. The lawyers told me that she had all the control and there was nothing they could do, I feel this is very unfair as I am her father and have done nothing wrong, all I have tried to do is give my daughter a better and safer life when she was here in NZ. My wife was a school teacher here and the headmaster held half her salary back until she proved she was a qualified school teacher, she never did this. My wife tells lies, runs up debts and moves houses to cover her tracks, she has moved home at least 7 times and 5 school changes in the past 10 years whilst being back in the UK. This is not good for my daughter. DO I HAVE any rights, every time I come back my wife makes sure I do not have time with my daughter, she won't let me be with her on my own but managed 2 days on my last trip. My wife has blocked her phone, I don't know where my daughter is living or what school she is going to. Is there anyway I am able to find out my rights and where she is for when I come back to the UK in August. Thanks for your help

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. I'm afraid your only recourse is to apply to take the matter to court for access when you are home. If you do not know your ex's address, in addition to applying for a contact order you would have to fill in a C4 form. This is an application for the disclosure of a child's whereabouts. However, getting the court case to coincide with when you are home in the UK, may not be easy. Plus, the whole process from start to finish could take time. Much depends upon how long you will be in the UK for. Therefore, I can only suggest you seek legal advice.
SeparatedDads - 24-Apr-17 @ 10:24 AM
Since my wife moved yet again in July she has blocked all contact I had with my daughter.As I am over in New Zealand this is very heart braking not to have any contact.My wife ran off to the UK from NZ in 2007 running up a debt of $30,000 here.I went back in 2008 to be near my daughter and my wife did everything she could to stop me from seeing her.The lawyers told me that she had all the control and there was nothing they could do, I feel this is very unfair as I am her father and have done nothing wrong, all I have tried to do is give my daughter a better and safer life when she was here in NZ.My wife was a school teacher here and the headmaster held half her salary back until she proved she was a qualified school teacher, she never did this.My wife tells lies, runs up debts and moves houses to cover her tracks, she has moved home at least 7 times and 5 school changes in the past 10 years whilst being back in the UK.This is not good for my daughter.DO I HAVE any rights, every time I come back my wife makes sure I do not have time with my daughter, she won't let me be with her on my own but managed 2 days on my last trip.My wife has blocked her phone, I don't know where my daughter is living or what school she is going to.Is there anyway I am able to find out my rights and where she is for when I come back to the UK in August.Thanks for your help
snowy - 23-Apr-17 @ 11:08 AM
None- Your Question:
I have 3 kids separate from husband 10munths due domestic violence has he got right to my kids only the two year old doesn't no him and will not leave me

Our Response:
Every non-resident parent has a right to have a relationship with their children, unless a court decides otherwise. If your ex wishes to have access to your children, you can either arrange this between you, or attempt mediation if you cannot agree what form access arrangements should take. However, if you think your ex should not have a relationship with your children (for whatever reason i.e previous domestic violence), then you as the primary carer have the right to refuse. If you refuse, your ex will have the right to apply to court. A court will then decide what it thinks is in the best interests of your children. Before the matter goes to court, if domestic violence has featured in your relationship then Cafcass will get involved, please see link here. If a contact order is awarded to your ex, then by law you will have to stick to it.
SeparatedDads - 21-Apr-17 @ 11:15 AM
I have 3 kids separate from husband 10munths due domestic violence has he got right to my kids only the two year old doesn't no him and will not leave me
None - 20-Apr-17 @ 4:18 PM
I was never married to my ex because she came at a time when I was going through a divorce from my wife. She became the agony aunty and we had a son. She told me then in 2006 when I had requested for DNA that if it comes out as my son I will not see him. A few years later she came with a CSA issue and luckily on my part I was a full time student and did not have to pay but she said she was doing it so that I couldsee my son. Now I am paying £200 per month through CSAand she is now forcing me to have our son and she does not want me to deduct money equivalent to the period I spend with my son. She uses threatening language whenever I do not agree to what she wants me to do.
Alex - 18-Apr-17 @ 5:26 PM
daz666 - Your Question:
Me and my wife of 6 years have just split up she has cheated on me for years and I tried to make it work for the kids, I would like advice on the first thing I should do as my head is spinning and I can't think straight. also the person she has been seeing she has told me he is a big drug user so what are my best options for me and the kids any help would be much appreciated

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. The first thing your should do is try to keep your emotions out of any verbal exchanges with your ex and make your kids are your main objective. When couples separate, often the first few months, or even years in some cases are tricky as they try to navigate access and levels of contact, plus each parent's different way of parenting. If you can, and for the sake of your kids, it is always good to try to maintain an amicable relationship with your ex, please see link here . If at any point you disagree and cannot work things out between you, suggest mediation as a way of resolving the issues you have and/or to develop some sort of structure regarding access. Please see link here . With regards to her new partner taking drugs, you don't say what drugs and whether you think your kids are going to be affected in any way by his actions. I don't wish to undermine your concern, but there are many parents that take drugs recreationally and that parent well regardless. Therefore, you need to establish rationally what effect you think this may have and discuss this with your ex. I assume you want to spend as much time with your kids as possible and trying to make sure this runs as smoothly as possible is your best course of action.
SeparatedDads - 13-Apr-17 @ 9:52 AM
me and my wife of 6 years have just split up she has cheated on me for years and I tried to make it work for the kids, I would like advice on the first thing I should do as my head is spinning and I can't think straight. also the person she has been seeing she has told me he is a big drug user so what are my best options for me and the kids any help would be much appreciated
daz666 - 12-Apr-17 @ 10:34 AM
Billy - Your Question:
Hi been seperated fo 18 months now. Ex stopped me seeing daughter first 6 weeks but after that I was getting her at least once a week throught out this ive paid maintenance every week of £100. And when I get my daughter staying with me I also buy her clothes.jackets etc Now divorce is in process and ive ecplsined to ex from now on if she tells me she needs something I will buy it but im taking it off the money I give her for my child. now again were back to her not letting me see my daughter and she has now said she is going to csa which kinda worries me as ive always gave ger cash and only have texts of her asking what time I was dropping money off.now im worried csa will try get 18 months money off me as I got no proof that ive been paying it I was also still paying most of the bills but ive stopped that to as it was getting hard to run 2 houses I know she is only doing this to get at me but she is stopping my daughter from seeing me too and making out that its all my fault that im not seeing her. lawyers are in process of sorting this out but is there anything that I can do to make her let me see my daughter just now and also what can I do if csa decide to go after 18 months of maintenence even though I have paid. thanks

Our Response:
First of all, child maintenance and child access are not connected and have no bearing on each other, meaning you have to pay child maitenance whether you see your child or not. Likewise, a parent cannot justify withholding access on the basis the non-resident parent cannot pay. With regards to child maintenance payments, if you have a family-based arrangement and your ex has never previously registered a claim with the Child Maintenance Service, then the CMS cannot force you to pay retrospective arrears. Arrears can only be attributed from the date of the original claim. One piece of advice, if your ex does register a claim via the CMS, never pay in cash as if payments are not registered, then you could be held to arrears. With regards to access, you need to suggest mediation, if your ex refuses only then can you apply to court. If you cannot afford the hefty legal fees that a court case involves, then you can self litigate, please see link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 6-Apr-17 @ 12:59 PM
Hi been seperated fo 18 months now . Ex stopped me seeing daughter first 6 weeks but after that i was getting her at least once a week throught out this ive paid maintenance every week of £100. And when i get my daughter staying with me i also buy her clothes .jackets etc Now divorceis in process and ive ecplsined to ex from now on if she tells me she needs something I will buy it but im taking it off the money I give her for my child .. now again were back to her not letting me see my daughter and she has now said she is going to csa which kinda worries me as ive always gave ger cash and only have texts of her asking what time i was dropping money off .now im worried csa will try get 18 months money off me as i got no proof that ive been paying iti was also still paying most of the bills but ive stopped that to as it was getting hard to run 2 houses i know she is only doing this to get at me but she is stopping my daughter from seeing me too and making out that its all my fault that im not seeing her .. lawyers are in process of sorting this out but is there anything that i can do to make her let me see my daughter just now and also what can i do if csa decide to go after 18 months of maintenence even though i have paid .. thanks
Billy - 5-Apr-17 @ 11:32 PM
azimus - Your Question:
Hi ive got question about child maintenenens , my ex keeps my son abroad with her parents ive not seen him for 4 years because of that and I still keep paying the child maitenens, so can I effect somehow to see my son and do I really have to pay child maintenens to a parent which actually doent look after a kidthanks

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access have no bearing on each other. As the non-resident parent, you are responsible for supporting your child financially by paying towards his day-to-day needs, regardless of whether you have access to your child or not. If you wish to apply for access, you would have to suggest mediation to your ex (as the first option, as you cannot apply to court unless mediation has been considered or has broken down), or through court if mediation fails - please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 4-Apr-17 @ 2:33 PM
Hi ive got question about child maintenenens , my ex keeps my son abroad with her parents ive not seen him for 4 years because of that and i still keep paying the child maitenens, so can i effect somehow to see my son and do i really have to pay child maintenens to a parent which actually doent look after a kid thanks
azimus - 1-Apr-17 @ 6:00 PM
I brought up a kid with my ex for 7yrs. The kid was not mine but she calls me dad. Her mother and i have seperated but she still lets me see the child but her real dad is trying to stop this and wanted to know could he stop me in court as the mam has full custody and is allowing me to see her still. He gets her 2 times a week
wardy - 1-Apr-17 @ 9:05 AM
Mamto2boys - Your Question:
Hi. My ex and I have been split for 4 years. He is a great dad and has always been a dad for our son. He sees his son twice or three times a week and has his overnight of a weekend from fri till Sunday every other weekend. We don't get on atall and things have escalated recently and he's been verbally abusive towards me. But I have not stopped any visitation rights he has and never will as he's a fantastic dad. But He is now saying that it wants things wrote down legally about days and times for access to our son. I don't see a point as he has him a lot of the time but he wishes to go to a solicitor. I was just wondering what could the solicitor actually do and would he set down regular days and times that we both have to stick to? I don't see the point in wasting money for something he has already got. Am I right? Thank you

Our Response:
Mediation may suit you better, as it means that while you can come to a more structured agreement (it is understandable that some structure may be desired in situations such as this), any agreement reached is not actually legally binding and can be subject to change - please see link here. However, if your ex decides that court is the option if you refuse to negotiate, then a court order is legally binding. This means you would both have to adhere to the terms which might not be the terms you would necessarily choose.
SeparatedDads - 31-Mar-17 @ 2:01 PM
Whatalife - Your Question:
Hi my partner has not seen his children in about a year and a half his ex partner stopped him seeing his children for no apparent reason after they split. She now says he can only see them if he comes to her home address but is not allowed to take them out. He is uncomfortable with this set up and has asked why he cannot take them out and bring them back. To which she will not give an answer. Does he any access rights as a father to see his children unsupervised by his ex as his having the children was never a issue in the past.

Our Response:
There are no fixed rules regaring access arrangements. If your partner has not seen his children for 18 months, then it is understandable his ex does not wish him to take them out unsupervised if he has had no previous contact during this time. You don't say why contact was stopped and why your partner didn't pursue the matter via mediation or the courts at the time in order to have access reinstated as quickly as possible. If he is unhappy with the current new arrangement, he can either suggest mediation and if his ex refuses, take the matter to court. However, if access has lapsed the court may order the same until he re-establishes a relationship with his children. Alternatively, he could go along with the new arrangement for a time and hope that he can negotiate further unsupervised access as time progresses.
SeparatedDads - 31-Mar-17 @ 11:20 AM
Hi. My ex and I have been split for 4 years. He is a great dad and has always been a dad for our son. He sees his son twice or three times a week and has his overnight of a weekend from fri till Sunday every other weekend. We don't get on atall and things have escalated recently and he's been verbally abusive towards me. But I have not stopped any visitation rights he has and never will as he's a fantastic dad. But He is now saying that it wants things wrote down legally about days and times for access to our son. I don't see a point as he has him a lot of the time but he wishes to go to a solicitor. I was just wondering what could the solicitor actually do and would he set down regular days and times that we both have to stick to? I don't see the point in wasting money for something he has already got. Am I right? Thank you
Mamto2boys - 30-Mar-17 @ 7:07 PM
Hi my partner has not seen his children in about a yearand a half his ex partner stopped him seeing his children for no apparent reason after they split. She now says he can only see them if he comes to her home address but is not allowed to take them out. He isuncomfortable with this set up and has asked why he cannot take them out and bring them back. To which she will not give an answer. Does he any access rights as a father to see his children unsupervised by his ex as his having the children was never a issue in the past.
Whatalife - 30-Mar-17 @ 7:20 AM
Gav - Your Question:
Hi, I've been separated from my ex for over one year now and she is making life impossible!!! It feels like the full system is against dads and they don't care less. I'm at hospital at the moment with my son as he needed a sleep test done and I don't know why he needs it as he sleeps fine whilst in my care, when I arrived I asked why I was here with him and they told me they couldn't tell me as the mother is the next akin and they can't discuss his medical history with me, I also asked for future reference if I could have any copys of letters regarding my son sent to me and this was also refused. I have parental responsibility and I'm really frustrated about how they can't discuss my son's health with me. I don't speak to the ex anymore either! Are they right to refuse me information about my son?

Our Response:
Parental responsibility includes the right to consent to medical treatment on behalf of the child and the disclosure of information held by healthcare professionals about the child. Those with PR are seen as having equal rights - please see BMA link here which should answer your question
SeparatedDads - 28-Mar-17 @ 2:17 PM
S - Your Question:
Hi there, My partner has not been able to see his son for 6 years and has not paid child maintence because of this. He would provide anything his son needs and would pay if he seen his son. He has been to court twice and got access but his ex partner still stopped him, remarried and moved with no forwarding address. The csa is saying he is in a lot of arrears and they are now trying to take a lot from his weekly wage. This seems really unfair as he misses his son greatly, done everything in his power to his him but due to his ex moving and marrying, is not able too and has not been able to for a long time.Is there anything we can do about this please? Thank you in advance.

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access are two completely separate issues. Your partner, by law, has to provide financial support for his child regardless of whether he sees him or not. If his ex refuses contact, then your partner has the option to either suggest mediation or take the matter back to court to have the order enforced. If there is a contact order in place, then by law your partner's ex has to allow him access to his son as stipulated in the order - please see link here. If his ex moved from the area without his or the court's consent, your partner should have taken the matter back to court immediately. Along with applying to have the order enforced, he can fill in a C4 form which is an application for an order for disclosure of a child's whereabouts. This allows the court to put a trace on his child to allow him to bring the matter back to court. As stipulated in the article, any breach of the original order (which his ex has committed) can be made punishable through the courts.
SeparatedDads - 28-Mar-17 @ 12:10 PM
Mathew- Your Question:
Hi, I'm seperated for two years my wife as gone abroad leaving my children with her parents without informing me. Can she do this ?

Our Response:
Yes, your ex-wife has parental responsibility, so she can make decisions as a parent regarding your children. You don't say whether this is a holiday, or whether she has left them with her parents long term. If it is long term, then you would be able to exercise your own parental responsibility rights and request the children live with you.
SeparatedDads - 28-Mar-17 @ 10:40 AM
Hi, I've been separated from my ex for over one year now and she is making life impossible!!! It feels like the full system is against dads and they don't care less... I'm at hospital at the moment with my son as he needed a sleep test done and I don't know why he needs it as he sleeps fine whilst in my care, when I arrived I asked why I was here with him and they told me they couldn't tell me as the mother is the next akin and they can't discuss his medical history with me, I also asked for future reference if I could have any copys of letters regarding my son sent to me and this was also refused.... I have parental responsibility and I'm really frustrated about how they can't discuss my son's health with me. I don't speak to the ex anymore either! Are they right to refuse me information about my son?
Gav - 27-Mar-17 @ 11:01 PM
Hi there, My partner has not been able to see his son for 6 years and has not paid child maintence because of this. He would provide anything his son needs and would pay if he seen his son. He has been to court twice and got access but his ex partner still stopped him, remarried and moved with no forwarding address. The csa is saying he is in a lot of arrears and they are now trying to take a lot from his weekly wage. This seems really unfair as he misses his son greatly, done everything in his power to his him but due to his ex moving and marrying, is not able too and has not been able to for a long time. Is there anything we can do about this please? Thank you in advance.
S - 27-Mar-17 @ 4:38 PM
hi, I'm seperated for two years my wife as gone abroad leaving my children with her parents without informing me. Can she do this ?
Mathew - 27-Mar-17 @ 11:40 AM
Thank you for your reply with regards to my question on NPD.
Dave - 23-Mar-17 @ 2:59 PM
Dave - Your Question:
Is there any advice on dealing with an ex spouse with Narcassistic Personality Disorder? Are British Family courts educated on the subject? How do I protect my kids from becoming victims of her abuse? Has anybody else had any dealings or experience with somebody they suspect suffers with this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. thanks.

Our Response:
Has your ex been officially diagnosed with this disorder via her GP? Without this diagnosis there really is very little you can do through the courts. It seems that NPD is currently a 'buzzword' mental health issue attributed to certain individuals by other individuals. This means without official diagnosis the court is powerless to take any such independent judgements into consideration.
SeparatedDads - 23-Mar-17 @ 12:29 PM
jlee87 - Your Question:
I have a 6 year old child who lives with my ex girlfriend. She lives with her, but I have her one day a week and pay maintenace for her monthly. I am on her birth certificate.My ex is getting married in a month and she wants to change my daughters surname to her husband to bes surname. She has said she can do this without my consent at the school, doctors etc. Is this true?I do not want my daughter to take his name as I have an active role in her life and I always have.

Our Response:
It is true. Your ex can change your daughter's name unofficially via schools and GP etc. This means while your daughter would be called another name, her name on her birth certificate, passport and other official documentation would remain your name. If your ex wishes to change your daughter's name officially by Deed Poll, then she would have to have your authorisation, please see link here. If you refuse, then if your ex wishes to pursue the matter, she would have to apply to court. The court will then decide what it thinks is in your child's best interests.
SeparatedDads - 23-Mar-17 @ 10:38 AM
Is there any advice on dealing with an ex spouse with Narcassistic Personality Disorder? Are British Family courts educated on the subject? How do I protect my kids from becoming victims of her abuse? Has anybody else had any dealings or experience with somebody they suspect suffers with this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. thanks.
Dave - 22-Mar-17 @ 9:18 PM
I have a 6 year old child who lives with my ex girlfriend. She lives with her, but I have her one day a week and pay maintenace for her monthly. I am on her birth certificate. My ex is getting married in a month and she wants to change my daughters surname to her husband to bes surname. She has said she can do this without my consent at the school, doctors etc. Is this true? I do not want my daughter to take his name as I have an active role in her life and I always have.
jlee87 - 22-Mar-17 @ 2:34 PM
i have just separated from my partner of 14 years ( engaged not married )..we have 4 kids ages 11,5,3, and 1 ...she cheated on me for 3 weeks with someone else..then took the 4 kids and left , got an injuction order keeping me away from her and the kids as I have been violent towards her new partner !! I have came home and caught them both in my kitchen in my house drinking tea as if it were nothing I chased him out the house ..is that violent behaviour?...anyway I got court now because he says I slashed his tyres on his car with a knife and now he is suing for criminal damages !!...what a lot of crap but as it is their words against mine I am being charged with criminal damage with a knife ..it is awful to have to go through this I wouldn't wish it on anyone
frankie - 21-Mar-17 @ 10:41 PM
matt - Your Question:
Hi can anyone help with this one my ex drinks alot and even around my son. My name is on the birth certificate. Can I take my son to live with me or not? How do I get full custody off my son as I don't have the money for a solicitor.

Our Response:
As with the comment below; please see link: What Happens If My Ex Keeps the Children Without My Consent? here. If you have parental responsibility, you have the right to keep your child if you fear for their safety. However, please be aware, this is never an ideal scenario, as you have to think of the long term repercussions if your ex decides to try to get your child back via court. Therefore, legal advice is always recommended in situations such as this. The recommended route is to always apply through the courts. If you cannot afford legal representation, you can self-litigate - please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 21-Mar-17 @ 12:16 PM
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