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Separation Rights for Fathers

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 13 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Separated Dads Separation Rights

If you have a child with your partner but aren’t married, you do have rights and responsibilities. Since the new law in 2003, if you were present when the birth was registered and your name is on the birth certificate as the child’s father, your position as a parent is equal to the mothers.

That law supplemented the 1989 Children Act, which was intended to emphasise parental responsibilities over rights, and believed that arrangements which were best for the children could be made without things having to devolve into court actions. It was idealistic, and the reality has often proved different from the intention.

The Problems

However well-intentioned the law, it can contain some nasty surprises for you. If you weren’t married to your partner and your name isn’t on the child’s birth certificate, although you know you’re the biological father, you could find you have no right to see your children unless your former partner allows it.

If your name isn’t on that birth certificate, you’ll need a Parental Responsibility Agreement. Once signed and properly filed with the court, this will give you full parental rights and responsibilities. Of course, if your former partner won’t sign, then you’re stuck, and be forced to take the case to a hearing in court. If the mother continues to assert you’re not the father, the legal bills could become very high indeed. You’ll need to apply for a Parental Responsibility Order. The court will consider the welfare of the child, and you’ll find that an Order will be granted only if it’s better than not granting an Order at all.

Fathers’ Rights

In recent years, there have been protests regarding Fathers’ Rights in the UK (witness some of the antics of Fathers4Justice, for instance). However, according to government statistics, the vast majority of arrangements for contact (90%) are made informally, and in 2003, only 2% of the applications to court for contact orders were refused. In other words, in spite of the horror stories, you should have a good chance of contact, especially if your child was born after 2003, or you have yours and your former partner’s signatures on a Parental Responsibility Agreement.

Types of Orders

You should be familiar with the types of orders you’ll encounter once you’re separated. A Residence Order determines which parent the children will live with – which in most instances is the mother, although you can apply for a Residence Order (this is possibly even if you don’t have Parental Responsibility). Realistically speaking, though, don’t hold your breath. A Contact Order specifies when and under what circumstances you can see your children. The court has to consider the welfare of the children when granting, or not granting, a contact order.

A Prohibited Steps Order prevents someone (not necessarily just a person with Parental Responsibility) doing certain things with your children, such as removing them from the country.

Specific Issue Orders are drawn up to deal with particular items, where you and your former partner can’t reach agreement. They’re often requested for education and medical issues. You’ll need to use a solicitor to apply for any of these orders.

What next?

There are several ways to arrange contact between you and your children, ranging from an agreement between you and your ex to a Contact Order from the family court. Our article How Visitation Rights Work for Fathers gives information on how the orders work and what to expect from them.

This article, explains about the specific process you'd go through to get a contact order put in place.

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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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[Add a Comment]
Lloydy - Your Question:
Will I loose all responsibilities if my daughters name is changed by dee polland do I still pay maintence once her name as changed

Our Response:
A change of name by Deed Poll will not affect your parental responsibility of your child, nor the fact you will still be eligible to pay child maintenance.
SeparatedDads - 17-May-17 @ 12:31 PM
Will i loose all responsibilities if my daughters name is changed by dee polland do i still pay maintence once her name as changed
Lloydy - 13-May-17 @ 8:48 AM
Tali - Your Question:
Hi. My ex and I separated when my son was 6 months old. He's nearly 10. She's just sent me a solicitors letter saying she is taking him 100 miles away to start a new life with her new partner, I have shared custody of my son all his life, I've only ever introduced him to 1 woman, who I am now married too. We have a stable relationship, own our own house. His mother has had more boyfriends than I can count, all have been introduced into my son's life, he's seen all the breakdowns of her relationships, I am regular at the school for pick ups, drop offs, parents evenings. School plays, I pay maintenance to his mum, always have, I buy his clothes, I do all of his out of school activities with him, she does none,. My son also wants to live with me. Any one have any advice for me???

Our Response:
As you have shared care and you think your ex may take your child to live away without your consent (which is needed by law), then you would have the option to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. A PSO is an order granted by the court in family cases which prevents either parent from carrying out certain events or making specific trips with their children without the express permission of the other parent. This is more common in cases where there is suspicion that one parent may leave the area with their children. 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. However, if you think your child would suffer significant disruption, then there is no reason why you cannot apply to have your child live with you. If your ex disagrees with this suggestion and will not consent to mediation to sort the matter out, then you can apply for a child arrangement order, please see link here . You may also wish to seek legal advice in order to explore your options.
SeparatedDads - 5-May-17 @ 2:55 PM
Hi. My ex and I separated when my son was 6 months old. He's nearly 10. She's just sent me a solicitors letter saying she is taking him 100 miles away to start a new life with her new partner, I have shared custody of my son all his life, I've only ever introduced him to 1 woman, who I am now married too. We have a stable relationship, own our own house. His mother has had more boyfriends than I can count, all have been introduced into my son's life, he's seen all the breakdowns of her relationships, I am regular at the school for pick ups, drop offs, parents evenings. School plays, I pay maintenance to his mum, always have, I buy his clothes, I do all of his out of school activities with him, she does none,. My son also wants to live with me. Any one have any advice for me???
Tali - 5-May-17 @ 11:28 AM
Hi..i have 2 kids 8&9 yo,with my ex-liven partner.my kids under the surename of my exliven partner.since he cant gived all the needs of my child i dicide to leaved him.till i meet my husband now a stepfather of my kids he take all the responsibility to us morethan 7yrs.my husband and i want to change the surename of my kids by given his surename.how could i change it with out the concern of my exliven partner?
Che - 12-Jul-16 @ 1:52 PM
Hi my 13 year oold daughter wants to change her name to my married name, is the possible ? She has her biological fathers name but doesn't see him or get on with him any more. She was born 2012 .
Menda75 - 8-Jul-16 @ 6:04 PM
Hi I know this site is aimed at fathers but I was just looking for some advice really please. Bit of background is that I split from my kids dad around eight years ago. He was very abusive both physical and verbal and the police were called numerous amounts of times and actually ran into my flat once and caught him in the act of smashing my house up. when he saw them he made a run for the balcony as if to jump off and I was very very high up. Took me three years years to finally get rid of him. I have always allowed contact although at times during his drink and drug benders I have refused contact for a few weeks. anyway at xmas the children aged 14,12 and 11 came home and broke down crying and told me and my new partner he had forced them to get in a car whilst extremely drunk and having no license to bring them home. he has been taking them on the railway tracks where he tried to commit suicide a few years ago and pretending to get his laces stuck so the children have to run on and free him. He has been stealing from shops whilst they are with him and using them as a detour. and keeping them in the pub all night amongst a lot lot more emotional things. The children told m and my partner they hate him and never want to see him again and due to the danger he is putting them in they have not been since. this has prompted him to harass me and turn up to our home. I involved police and the schools and now I have a ex parte non mol and prohibited steps order. My concern is that the courts may force me to send the children to see im one he's too much of a danger and two they are refusing to ever see him again. I do not even want him being allowed supervised contact I want no contact ever again. will it be likely that he gets supervised or unsupervised. what happens at the hearing we have in two weeks. im so scared he is going to hurt them
concerned mom - 8-Apr-16 @ 6:07 PM
Hi I know this site is aimed at fathers but I was just looking for some advice really please. Bit of background is that I split from my kids dad around eight years ago. He was very abusive both physical and verbal and the police were called numerous amounts of times and actually ran into my flat once and caught him in the act of smashing my house up. when he saw them he made a run for the balcony as if to jump off and I was very very high up. Took me three years years to finally get rid of him. I have always allowed contact although at times during his drink and drug benders I have refused contact for a few weeks. anyway at xmas the children aged 14,12 and 11 came home and broke down crying and told me and my new partner he had forced them to get in a car whilst extremely drunk and having no license to bring them home. he has been taking them on the railway tracks where he tried to commit suicide a few years ago and pretending to get his laces stuck so the children have to run on and free him. He has been stealing from shops whilst they are with him and using them as a detour. and keeping them in the pub all night amongst a lot lot more emotional things. The children told m and my partner they hate him and never want to see him again and due to the danger he is putting them in they have not been since. this has prompted him to harass me and turn up to our home. I involved police and the schools and now I have a ex parte non mol and prohibited steps order. My concern is that the courts may force me to send the children to see im one he's too much of a danger and two they are refusing to ever see him again. I do not even want him being allowed supervised contact I want no contact ever again. will it be likely that he gets supervised or unsupervised. what happens at the hearing we have in two weeks. im so scared he is going to hurt them
concerned mom - 8-Apr-16 @ 6:07 PM
My brother has been summoned to a court in Ireland over a surname change of his daughter. His daughter was born and registered in England after 2003 and my brothers name is on her birth cert. I'm wondering if his parental rights will still stand in a court in Ireland as they would in England. He is in regular contact with his daughter and doesn't want her surname to be changed she's only 3. Any advice at all would be great. Thank you
laura52k - 15-Mar-16 @ 8:37 PM
Tivvy- Your Question:
Hi, I have 2 sons with my wife, a month ago she left whilst I was at work over a phone dispute. Had no contact sins as don't know where they are living, inlaws are refusing info and her phones are switched off. My birthday today an want to see the boys. Mediation in process as letter Gona be sent to inlaws. But am thinking of going seeing them in school, don't know what she's told school but can they stop me seeing them for 5min, cuz am missing um too much not to be able to see um on me birthday would be bad. Any advice

Our Response:
It depends whether your ex has prevented access via the school. Another route would be to apply for an interim court order, please see link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 25-Feb-16 @ 12:34 PM
Hi, I have 2 sons with my wife, a month ago she left whilst I was at work over a phone dispute. Had no contact sins as don't know where they are living, inlaws are refusing info and her phones are switched off. My birthday today an want to see the boys. Mediation in process as letter Gona be sent to inlaws. But am thinking of going seeing them in school, don't know what she's told school but can they stop me seeing them for 5min, cuz am missing um too much not to be able to see um on me birthday would be bad. Any advice
Tivvy - 24-Feb-16 @ 9:21 AM
I please guilty for domestic violence turning wife face towards me to talk, it came into assault so I plea guilty. Also she alleged me to beat children time to time. Now we are separated we have three daughters my wife does not allow me to see the kids. I want know what courses should I do to get access to kid ASAP (ei anger management, risk assessment domestic violence etc)
Ali555 - 4-Feb-16 @ 11:38 AM
Can my ex partner marry and change my sons surname or add a 2nd surname without my permission? I am on the birth certificate and have 50-50 access to my son.
BigAl - 30-Jan-16 @ 3:14 PM
Hi. My partner seperated from his wife nearly 2 years ago. She had a seperation deed drawn up which stated she would receive all proceeds when the house sold but she would continue to make all mortgage payments. We have just foundout she has defaulted on 6 mortgage payments in the past 12 nths although the house has now sold. This has really affected his credit rating which is preventing us buying a house. He wishes he had never signed it but felt he had to at the time. Is there anything he can do?
lizzie - 7-Jan-16 @ 5:46 PM
garr - Your Question:
Hi my wife left one monday night when I returned home from work. She has never stopped me seeing the kids but in the last week she has stopped answering her phone and I haven't been able to see kids please advise

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Please see link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here. If your ex is preventing access, then you would have to go through this procedure and apply through the courts.
SeparatedDads - 5-Jan-16 @ 11:55 AM
Tetron - Your Question:
My son has not seen his daughter for the last seven month, he use to have her on a Saturday till Sunday as his ex-partner wouldn't allow him to have her for two nights, she is now with someone else and has another child by another man, he has tried to contact his daughters mum but she has switched off her mobile plus his daughters mobile, I miss my Granddayghter/ daughter we are at a loss my son has phone and emailed her family and no one knows anything, what can we do to find her, we have checked the electoral register and she is not on it, any help would be grateful.

Our Response:
Your son can apply through the courts for access and at the same time fill in the C4 form which is an application for an order for disclosure of a child's whereabouts. This will allow the courts to put a trace on his daughter to allow him to apply for contact. I am sorry to hear this - but if your son has parental responsibility then he also has a right to be a part of his daughter's future, and hopefully he will be able to fight for that.
SeparatedDads - 5-Jan-16 @ 11:16 AM
Hi my wife left one monday night when I returned home from work. She has never stopped me seeing the kids but in the last week she has stopped answering her phone and I haven't been able to see kids please advise
garr - 4-Jan-16 @ 8:38 PM
My son has not seen his daughter for the last seven month, he use to have her on a Saturday till Sunday as his ex-partner wouldn't allow him to have her for two nights, she is now with someone else and has another child by another man, he has tried to contact his daughters mum but she has switched off her mobile plus his daughters mobile, I miss my Granddayghter/ daughter we are at a loss my son has phone and emailed her family and no one knows anything, what can we do to find her, we have checked the electoral register and she is not on it, any help would be grateful.
Tetron - 4-Jan-16 @ 5:43 PM
Laura - Your Question:
Hello. I have 3 kids! My eldest is from previous relationship she's 4! Her biological dad hasn't seen her since she was 6 months old!! My other 2 kids are with my current partner who is now my husband. I want to look into him adopting her as he's been there since she was 6 months old but was wondering am I going to have a fight on my hands with her biological father refusing to let this Happen? Or will the courts over rule him?

Our Response:
Please see Family Lives article here for more advice on this topic. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 8-Dec-15 @ 9:58 AM
Hello.. I have 3 kids! My eldest is from previous relationship she's 4! Her biological dad hasn't seen her since she was 6 months old!! My other 2 kids are with my current partner who is now my husband.. I want to look into him adopting her as he's been there since she was 6 months old but was wondering am I going to have a fight on my hands with her biological father refusing to let this Happen? Or will the courts over rule him?
Laura - 6-Dec-15 @ 10:08 AM
Aby - Your Question:
I have a little boy born in 2013, his mother is from Ireland and I'm from UK. We had broken up and the break up was pretty bad for both parts. I keep on trying each Sunday il keep sending one message asking how he is and if I can come to see him. But of course I get no reply at all from her and truth be told 2 years on its killing still I just want to be part of his life but she's not allowing me to so I just don't know what to do anymore. Please if anyone can help it will be really appreciated it will mean so much to me to be able to see my son cause he means my world and I miss him very very much :(

Our Response:
You will really need to seek some legal advice and try to get the ball rolling. You don't say whether you have parental responsibility. If you do, then you have every right to see your son. Please see link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here. This is the process you should go through. Also, our Separated Dads Facebook page may help, as most of the fathers on their can give great advice having gone through, or are going through the same issues as yourself.
SeparatedDads - 19-Nov-15 @ 2:18 PM
I have a little boy born in 2013, his mother is from Ireland and I'm from UK. We had broken up and the break up was pretty bad for both parts. I keep on trying each Sunday il keep sending one message asking how he is and if I can come to see him. But of course I get no reply at all from her and truth be told 2 years on its killing still I just want to be part of his life but she's not allowing me to so I just don't know what to do anymore. Please if anyone can help it will be really appreciated it will mean so much to me to be able to see my son cause he means my world and I miss him very very much :(
Aby - 19-Nov-15 @ 12:07 AM
My boyfriend is on the birth certificate of his chairs and she has his last name.His ex has recently remarried and changed their daughters last name to that of her new husband (well she hyphenated it)Can she do that without my boyfriends permission?
Jess - 6-Nov-15 @ 6:23 PM
Juanito - Your Question:
Ok I had 2 kids one is 3 yr old the other one 5 months I love them with all my ?? the women who I leave with and that we spend more than 5 years together now things are getting out of Hand now we want to separate but she wants to take my kids from me what can I do

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. As you well know, it is a situation many fathers find themselves in and one that is never an easy path to navigate. If you have a good relationship with your partner, she may consent to joint residency, please see our article; Shared Custody of Your Children, link here which is perhaps something you can work towards. All I can advise is that you keep your situation in perspective and if you split up, rather than be antagonistic to one another, try to work together and support each other for the sake of your children. This way you have a much better chance of staying in your children's lives. Please see article, Developing an Amicable Relationship With Your Ex, link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 26-Aug-15 @ 9:36 AM
Ok I had 2 kids one is 3 yr old the other one 5 months I love them with all my ?? the women who I leave with and that we spend more than 5 years together now things are getting out of Hand now we want to separate but she wants to take my kids from me what can I do
Juanito - 25-Aug-15 @ 1:45 AM
I have been with my partner for 9 years now. The first 6 years was up and down, but we stood at it, we got pregnant and found out on the 1st of January 2012 (one of the happiest days in my life). We found out we was having a little boy, so we talked about names and what we could call him and even nick names, and the possibilities of what kids could call him in school Etc.... We agreed from the start that he would have my sir name as am fully committed as a father an we was happy as a couple. The moment we found out we was having a child. I felt closer to my partner. While my partner was pregnat, we moved into a new house. I decorated it while she was at work, all my sons room was done just how we pictured and created together and planned. We bought all his furniture etc.....once our son was born, My partner turned around and said "I am not giving him your surname now" . I was in shock total shock. I hadn't done a thing wrong. It was totally out the blue. We had planned that he would take my surname and that we would get married when we could afford it. All that went out the window. I was so confused. So much so that, her sisters bought new born balloons with my sons name on and my surname also on it. I didn't know why and still don't to this date. What could I have done, I asked her so many times why why why, she never gave me a straight answer, I couldn't leave her as we have just had a child, I just went along with the motions, but always had this bitterness towards her for doing that to me. I kept asking why, then one day she said I won't give him your surname in case you try and take him away from me, I was in shock even more so, she then went on to say she was depressed after losing a family member. Then after that she said, your surname doesn't belong to you, so why would I give our son that name. I tried to explain (she knew this from the 1st date we went on) My father wasn't around for me from birth so my mother never gave me his surname, my mother gave me the surname of her ex husband who she had my brother and sister too. Yet 3 years down the line. I still hold this against her. I have such bitterness towards her. I still ask why and she still says the same thing. If you change your surname to your fathers surname then he can have it. Am 33 years of age, my father was never there for me frowning up, he has 3 others kids and one lives in USA, I wouldn't dream of changing my name to his surname, never ever, and I can't believe she is asking me to do so. At the moment we are in the middle of a break up, as I can't fully commit to a women who promised me and planned a life together. Yet I don't want to leave my son and be a dad who leaves his child as I don't want to be like my dad, and I won't. I have no intention of making a new start of family. NEVER EVER WOUKD I DO THAT TO MY SON. I know what it's like to have bothers and sisters all around the place. It's not fare on him to do so. Am on the birth certificate as I
Proudest Dad - 15-Jul-15 @ 6:17 PM
@Shell - I have included a link to the article: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here. Your friend should go through the procedures laid out in the text. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 10-Jul-15 @ 12:12 PM
I need advice my friend has a 6yr old daughter with a women. They have split up and she is stopping him from seeing her. He has been paying maintenance cash evety month. He is on the birth cert. What can he do to see his daughter
Shell - 8-Jul-15 @ 10:59 AM
@sazza - In this case, because it concerns international law you would have to take legal advice on this matter in order to find out your options.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jun-15 @ 11:58 AM
Can any one help me i have an 11 yr old daughter with a spanish man who lives in spain he isnt on her birth certificate doesnt pay for her or have contact and i have just received a letter from a spanish court saying i have to appear on th 6th july what are my options
sazza - 17-Jun-15 @ 10:05 AM
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