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Your Separated Father's Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 20 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Rights Parental Responsibility Civil

When you've split up with your ex it's important to know what your rights and responsibilities are regarding your children. The most important thing is to determine whether or not you have parental responsibility for your children. In the case of married couples, you're responsible for any children born in wedlock.

Unmarried Couples

In general terms, an unmarried mother is deemed to have "parental responsibility" for her children. For births registered in England or Wales; as a father you have parental responsibility if:
  • The child's birth was registered after December 1st, 2003 and your name is on the certificate as the father.
  • If the child was born before that time with no father listed on the birth certificate, but the birth was later re-registered with you named as the father.
  • If you and the child's mother sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement.
  • If you're given a parental responsibility order by the court, or a Residence Order for the child to live with you.
  • If you marry the child's mother.

If the parents are not married, parental responsibility does not automatically pass to the natural father if the mother dies.

Same Sex Couples

With same sex couples, after a civil partnership, you have parental responsibility if you have a parental responsibility agreement or a parental responsibility order from the court.

What Parental Responsibility Means for your Rights as a Dad

If you have parental responsibility, you have a say in the upbringing of your children, even if they don't live with you any more.

However, this doesn't apply to the general, day-to-day life of your children; that will lie with the mother if they live with her. But in other questions, such as religion, upbringing, medical treatment and so on, you have the same rights in making decisions as the mother.

So what rights does parental responsibility give you?

Important Decisions - we've already mentioned that decisions on everyday matters lie with the parent who has residency. But if you have parental responsibility, even as the non-resident parent - you have the right to be consulted over important issues such as:
  • Changing schools
  • Going on holidays with others/other organisations etc
  • Serious medical issues
  • Changing surname
  • Emigration
  • Their marriage
  • Adoption

Once your child gets older, he or she may express their opinions and you may feel that your parental responsibility rights are reduced. At this stage, it is therefore important to consider the wishes of the child in major decisions too.

For more details on parental responsibility, take a look at our guide and letter templates.

If you feel your rights are being ignored and you have parental responsibility, you can apply for a specific steps order or a specific issue order. More information about those can be found here:
Specific Issue Orders.

Applying to the Courts

As a father you can apply to the court for parental responsibility. The court will consider:
  • How committed you are as a father
  • The attachment between you and your child
  • Your reasons for applying for the order

Based on what the judge believes to be in the child's best interests they will either accept or grant your application for parental responsibility.

If you've been part of a couple where the children are yours and you don't have parental responsibility, you can still apply to court for certain types of orders, mostly Contact Orders to see the children, but even for a Residence Order to have the children live with you (if granted, you'll then have parental responsibility).

Note that if your former partner has a Residence Order, she can take your children abroad for up to a month without your consent. However, if the trip is longer, or she plans on moving abroad with the children, she will need the consent of both you and anyone else who has parental responsibility for the children. However, if you wish to take your children abroad for a holiday, it's a tougher issue, and legally you're advised to have her agreement first. (Taking a child abroad without the mother's consent can be deemed as abduction in the eyes of the law. Read our article What is Abduction? for more information).

Child Maintenance

Parental responsibility also means you have the duty to support your children financially. If you already have a case ongoing this will probably be done either through the Child Support Agency (CSA) or by an arranged agreement between you and the child's mother. In general terms, you'll pay 15% of your net income for one child, 20% for two and 25% for three children. However, there are adjustments, depending on how much time the children spend with you. If you move abroad, support will be done through the court rather than the CSA. Note that from 25 November 2013, the Child Support Agency (CSA) no longer takes on new cases but will continue to deal with existing cases. The new body handling maintenance issues is the Child Maintenance Service.

When Does Parental Responsibility End?

Your parental responsibility to your children ends when they turn 18 and become legal adults. However, if they're over 16 and marry, it ends with the marriage. If you've obtained parental responsibility through a Residence Order, though, and that Residence Order changes, you don't lose parental responsibility.

You should be aware that if you weren't married to the mother of your children, you're on slightly trickier ground, even if you have your name on the birth certificate or a parental responsibility agreement or order. In that case, any other person with parental responsibility can apply to court to have your parental responsibility ended. Even your children can do that, if they acquire permission from the court.

Court

To help prepare you for going to court for residency or contact, we have a free, comprehensive guide to the whole process here.

** NEW** Separated Dads Chat Room & Forum

The Separated Dads Forum is a place where you can discuss relevant issues and concerns including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or just have a general chat with other dads.

Please help us launch it and make it a great resource for dads going through difficult times. We hope to see you on the Forum soon....

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[Add a Comment]
I contacted social services regarding an issue with my husbands son. I have now been banned from picking him up. My husbands exes new partner made threats. My husband works 6 nights per week and it takes a 7 hr round trip to pick child up. My husband will have to pick him up and then start work. After working the night before. This will become dangerous. I don't know what we can do
Norman - 16-Jan-17 @ 10:40 PM
I seperated with my partner back in October after issues with DV. I was charged and received a short custodial sentence and a restraining order for 2 years due to messaging my ex asking for some of the money she had moved from the joint account. Ipleaded guilty because I was in the wrong. Prior to this I had a good job and everything that we needed. My ex is a pub manager and this meant her working very long hours so we didn't get to spend much time together which we needed as we have a 7 yr old daughter and we needed family time. This is what it revolved around. I am now staying with my family 70 miles away while I get myself back on my feet and have written to my daughter as she will be wondering where here daddy is. I'm going to see a solicitor next week with regards to contact as I haven't seen her now in 11 weeks and its really killing me.
Jason - 15-Jan-17 @ 12:45 PM
My wife and i are going on a family holiday. My step daughter's father is in prison. He has PR as he is on the birth certificate. He is not allowed direct contact with my wife in any form. Do we need his permission to take my step daughter on holiday?
Beany - 13-Jan-17 @ 10:57 PM
Jamierhysh - Your Question:
I'm currently fighting a custody battle with my minioulative x we have currently had the children put on child protection & at the time of the first court hearing I was working and paying for a solicitor recently due to stress and being put on antidepressants I've had to go on the sick & currently getting state benefits would I now qualify for legal aid in the U.K. As social are involved and it's been a case for the last year ?

Our Response:
It is highly unlikely you will be able to claim legal aid, you would instead have to self-litigate, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 13-Jan-17 @ 2:52 PM
I'm currently fighting a custody battle with my minioulative x we have currently had the children put on child protection & at the time of the first court hearing I was working and paying for a solicitor recently due to stress and being put on antidepressants I've had to go on the sick & currently getting state benefits would I now qualify for legal aid in the U.K. As social are involved and it's been a case for the last year ?
Jamierhysh - 12-Jan-17 @ 9:50 PM
Hi ive just recently split up with my partner because the relationship got violent with me getting assaulted i had no choice but to ring the police and got advised not to be in contact with my now Ex but go through a 3rd person. My name is on the borth certificate and I have asked to see my Daughter but got shot down when I asked to have her over night then later on she text with times I should have her and times I should bring her back. She says she's a full time mum but works and before we split I was looking after my child while she went to work but now the relationships turned pair shaped shes putting the stops in for me to have my child over night. I thought both parents was meant to have 50/50 access? I just want to no my rights before I go to a solicitors.
Caring Father - 7-Jan-17 @ 3:41 PM
I'm divorced and my boy aged 5 lives with his mother.It was a straight divorce.I see my son every weekend and holiday periods ie. Easter, Christmas and Sumnerholidays.Access is clearly not an issue and it probably works out I have my son 50% of the year.I also pay the mother child maintenance which is an amount we mutually agreed on.I travel approximately a 1000 miles a month to collect my son and take him home.I provide hus own toys and clothes at my own home aswell.My question is... The system seems to be unfair, mother can claim child maintenance, receives child maintenance from myself, whilst I struggle.I spend a fortune in fuel, (it's worth it!) however feel as a father I have 0 rights or help as I'm male!Technical I have my child as much as the mother but gain no help from the system!The system is unfair!Tell me otherwise or what can I do?
Inequality System - 7-Jan-17 @ 11:51 AM
Hi me n my bf got a 2yr old lad he's on birth certificate I just wanted abit of advice if we split am I within my rights to take my son cuz every time we fall out and I say am going all I get is ur not taking my son can he do that thanks
Gemma - 6-Jan-17 @ 8:43 PM
My wife and I separated overall year ago. I had a bit of a mental breakdown and ended up in prison. I have since been diagnosed with mental health issues including ptsd. When I was released from prison back in August my ex wife spoke to a solicitor to find out if social services were involved and learned that there was no involvement as I had already explained to her. After finding out this information she agreed to let me see my son for 1 hour a week with her in attendance and to increase this amount of time gradually. When I questioned how long it would be before she would increase the amount of time, we fell out and she stopped me seeing him altogether. I tried to sort out mediation but she has refused point blank to get involved and told the mediator that seems intends to apply for full custody as she wants me out of our sons life. Our son was born while we were married and my name is on the birth certificate. However she is stating that she will use my time in prison and my mental health issues against me in court. She also has the funds to pay a solicitor whereas myself I am now unemployed and will therefore have to represent myself. She is a great mum and I don't intend to try and split them up I just want a fair amount of access to see my son. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated as I am worried that my poor state of mental health will mean she can separate me from my son for good
Dan - 6-Jan-17 @ 6:30 PM
UnhappyDad - Your Question:
Hi After a turbulent couple of years of a lot of arguing and not talking to each other, my wife of 17 years suggested we seak counselling last year. We did, but I found the female counsellor constantly looked at the negatives, not the negatives of our marriage. We have two wonderful children who we both love very much.I received a call in December, but no one spoke. I called the number back and it was the solicitor we had purchased our house through 10 years previously. They said they had even trying to reach my wife, but left no message.My wife said it was obviously a mistake, and they'd retained our number on file. But we'd changed our number since, and phone records showed she had called them on 2 occasions. She admitted she had lied, had contacted them after out counselling, but had not gone as far as meeting them for discussion.Yesterday, she hand delivered me documents from her solicitor for a divorce. I haven't slept or eaten since.We haven't sat the children (14 and 12) down to discuss, yet. They will be distraught. As am I.She says there is no one else and that I am emotionally controlling. I dispute this accusation, but do agree I have an issue with my wife adding male 'friends' on social media sites - people she went to school with 25 years ago and had never seen since, and them liking pictures of her doing pole class and wearing very little. Can this really be used against me?I do not want to get divorced. Without this becoming a huge financial burden in the courts, what is my best option for refusing/extending any time period? I need time to win her back.And can she prevent me living in our shared house? She hasn't asked me to leave, but that seems the next logical step.I am not disputing any payments, Ie mortgage, maintenance. Although she has moved a large chunk of change from our joint account to cover this.Please advise. I'm at my wits end!Thanks

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Obviously you are currently trying to take on board both the emotional issues along with the practical ones. On a practical level, you do not have to leave your shared accommodation and once you do you will lose rights of over who becomes the primary carer and who has the right to remain in your house with your children. However, when two people are living under the same roof in this type of situation, tensions can become fraught and lead to more problems. Therefore, I suggest you also seek legal advice to explore your options. You can also see more about not responding to the papers via the gov.uk link here. One of our other sites Divorce Resource may help you also, please see link here . With regards to the emotional side of your relationship, please read our other Separated Dads articles which cover every aspect of separation and which hopefully will help you further.
SeparatedDads - 6-Jan-17 @ 11:17 AM
Bec - Your Question:
My son is 6 months old his dad is on his birth certificate but only shows up when he wants and smells of beer he's always tried to wake our son when he's asleep and he's threatening me with court all the time he buys him baby milk now n then only bought him nappys once and he has a large German Shepard at home that goes for people he doesn't know I don't want him near my son at all what rights does his dad have can he take him off me? Also the times his dad would turn up to see him was around 7-8pm when he's ready for bed he hardly bothers in the day time what do I do just let him take me to court?

Our Response:
Before the matter goes to court, you will be asked to attend mediation in order to try to resolve the issue, please see link here. If you refuse to attend mediation ( as it is voluntary ) then your ex will have the option to take the matter to court to apply for access, where you will be able to give your reasons why you don't think your ex should be allowed to see your child.
SeparatedDads - 5-Jan-17 @ 2:19 PM
Hi After a turbulent couple of years of a lot of arguing and not talking to each other, my wife of 17 years suggested we seak counselling last year. We did, but I found the female counsellor constantly looked at the negatives, not the negatives of our marriage. We have two wonderful children who we both love very much. I received a call in December, but no one spoke. I called the number back and it was the solicitor we had purchased our house through 10 years previously. They said they had even trying to reach my wife, but left no message. My wife said it was obviously a mistake, and they'd retained our number on file. But we'd changed our number since, and phone records showed she had called them on 2 occasions. She admitted she had lied, had contacted them after out counselling, but had not gone as far as meeting them for discussion. Yesterday, she hand delivered me documents from her solicitor for a divorce. I haven't slept or eaten since. We haven't sat the children (14 and 12) down to discuss, yet. They will be distraught. As am I. She says there is no one else and that i am emotionally controlling. I dispute this accusation, but do agree I have an issue with my wife adding male 'friends' on social media sites - people she went to school with 25 years ago and had never seen since, and them liking pictures of her doing pole class and wearing very little. Can this really be used against me? I do not want to get divorced. Without this becoming a huge financial burden in the courts, what is my best option for refusing/extending any time period? I need time to win her back. And can she prevent me living in our shared house? She hasn't asked me to leave, but that seems the next logical step. I am not disputing any payments, Ie mortgage, maintenance. Although she has moved a large chunk of change from our joint account to cover this. Please advise. I'm at my wits end! Thanks
UnhappyDad - 5-Jan-17 @ 11:40 AM
My son is 6 months old his dad is on his birth certificate but only shows up when he wants and smells of beer he's always tried to wake our son when he's asleep and he's threatening me with court all the time he buys him baby milk now n then only bought him nappys once and he has a large German Shepard at home that goes for people he doesn't know I don't want him near my son at all what rights does his dad have can he take him off me? Also the times his dad would turn up to see him was around 7-8pm when he's ready for bed he hardly bothers in the day time what do I do just let him take me to court?
Bec - 4-Jan-17 @ 9:57 PM
I have been split up with my ex for 2 months now and she is only allowing me to see my daughter for 2 hours a week, i feel this is very unfair as i have to be out in public every time i see my daughter she is only 15 months and i dont want her to be out in thew cold or in shopping centers everytime she sees me. I am on the birth certificate i pay my maintenance every month but feel i should be allowed more than 2 hours with my daughter?
Unknown - 30-Dec-16 @ 9:50 AM
My wife and I have been married for 3 years and have one child between us and her older boy by another man who pays no maintenance as he emigrated to Thailand where there is no agreement with the UK for enforcement.If we divorced, would I be expected to pay maintenance for both boys?
Darren - 28-Dec-16 @ 8:41 PM
I have my girl every other weekend and also obviously pay my cma without fail. I have gone without my daughter for 3 years now at Christmas Purley because of me ex wife's emotional state at this time due to her somewhat peppered past but this is nothing to do with me or my girl I have recently put down the sugar coated caring ex partner as it doesn't benifit anyone as in she still acts like a crank. I suppose the question is am I well within my right to have my daughter every other Christmas with every other boxing day between. And every other birthday
DB - 28-Dec-16 @ 10:22 AM
Hi, my wife wants to leave,and rent a house,taking my young son with her,she says i can see him acouple days a week, she works 3/4 days a week, so i look after my child 40 hrs a week,,i work for my self all but part time these days, i own my own home and have no money issues, can she just up and leave and take my child,he is very attached to me,also i worry she will take my child abroad to live as she is forign,any help!!,
Timmy - 23-Dec-16 @ 10:29 AM
Hi. I have just had a baby boy but the mother and I are not together. She is spainisg but lives in the uk. So far things have been good. We get along as best we can. We both have the best interest of our boy in mind I'm sure. She is currently on maternityleave and seems to be starting to bring up the possibility of her staying a bit more in Spain. Maybe a two week rotation for about a year. I'm scared I'm going to miss important things and although I can't be there everyday seeing him throughout the week has become very important to me and our bonding. Any help reasoning this out would be appreciated.
J - 23-Dec-16 @ 12:40 AM
Max - Your Question:
My son has finally split up from quite a toxic relationship. They have an eight month old boy, she is allowing my son to see his son once a week in their house (he moved out 5 weeks ago because of constant arguing) under her careful watchful eye! He asked to take him out for an hour and she hit the roof saying how could he as he had never looked after him by himself and how would she know that he would be safe! Obviously he was working hard to provide the lifestyle that she required! At what point does he start paying child maintenance. He is happy to pay but obviously he has no access unless it's on her terms. He is in the process of a parenting plan and arranging mediation as it looks like she is not going to do anything unless it's goes to court. this seems to be a long process. Does he just not pay anything and keep it aside or pay the minimum or pay extra so it doesn't go to court. He earns a basic salary and then also gets commission. Any advice?

Our Response:
Child access and child maintenance are in no way related and have no bearing nor are dependent upon each other, meaning his rights to access do not depend upon the money he pays. However, by law your son is responsible of paying maintenence towards the day-to-day care of his child. He can either come to a family-based child maintenance figure between him and his ex, or it can be arranged via the Child Maintenance Service. Only when it goes through the CMS, would your son be responsible and/or be liable for arrears (if he refuses to pay) and should therefore pay the money as instructed. Prior to this, it is up to the parents to decide.
SeparatedDads - 19-Dec-16 @ 2:00 PM
Tictac - Your Question:
Hi. My brother has a 6 momth old son but the mother and his now ex partner will not let him see his child. His name is not on the birth certificate but is undoubtedly his and that has never been questioned. He is desperate to see his child and pays money to the mother every week.Is there anything he can do? Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you

Our Response:
If your brother is not registered on the birth certificate, he currently has no rights to his child. However, he can take the matter to court to apply for both parental responsibility, please see link here and access. If his ex will not agree to mediation (in order to sort the issue of contact out informally) he can then apply for a C100 contact order through court to request access to his child. Reading all the pages on this site will help him to gain some understanding of his rights and the course of action he should take. Some legal advice may help him also.I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 19-Dec-16 @ 1:44 PM
My son has finally split up from quite a toxic relationship. They have an eight month old boy, she is allowing my son to see his son once a week in their house (he moved out 5 weeks ago because of constant arguing) under her careful watchful eye! He asked to take him out for an hour and she hit the roof saying how could he as he had never looked after him by himself and how would she know that he would be safe!Obviously he was working hard to provide the lifestyle that she required! At what point does he start paying child maintenance. He is happy to pay but obviously he has no access unless it's on her terms. He is in the process of a parenting plan and arranging mediation as it looks like she is not going to do anything unless it's goes to court. this seems to be a long process. Does he just not pay anything and keep it aside or pay the minimum or pay extra so it doesn't go to court. He earns a basic salary and then also gets commission. Any advice?
Max - 18-Dec-16 @ 5:10 PM
Hi. My brother has a 6 momth old son but the mother and his now ex partner will not let him see his child. His name is not on the birth certificate but is undoubtedly his and that has never been questioned. He is desperate to see his child and pays money to the mother every week. Is there anything he can do? Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you
Tictac - 18-Dec-16 @ 1:34 AM
lou - Your Question:
My child is 16 and @ started an apprenticeship of 25 hours a week. Does his father still have to pay maintenance for him?

Our Response:
If your child is earning a wage and your child benefit has stopped, then your ex child maintenance payments would stop also as your child's father would no longer be eligible to help with his financial upkeep.
SeparatedDads - 6-Dec-16 @ 12:34 PM
Frankie - Your Question:
Hi my wife wants to separate so do I have the right to keep the house and make her move out

Our Response:
You would have to negotiate this between you both, as there are no set rules.
SeparatedDads - 6-Dec-16 @ 10:57 AM
My child is 16 and @ started an apprenticeship of 25 hours a week. Does his father still have to pay maintenance for him?
lou - 5-Dec-16 @ 6:33 PM
Hi my wife wants to separate so do I have the right to keep the house and make her move out
Frankie - 5-Dec-16 @ 4:25 PM
nuggy - Your Question:
Hi. I'm in middle of divorce and pay my ex maintenance each month and have my kids everry other weekend. My ex moved another guy in our home 6wks after meeting him. She has 3 kids from me and 2 from another guy. I was shocked she moved a man in but its none of my business. But now I am told I cant see my kids cos she don't wanna see me or have contact with me!!! This is since I met another woman. I'm not even ment to text her. Also her boyfriend burst my 5yr olds ball and my stepdaughter was cryin to me saying he had threatened to smash her phone up if she didn't behave!!! So I went to speak to him but my ex slammed door and he never came out to speak to me so I did get a little angry and shouted for him to stop bullying the kids!!! Now I'm not allowed to see my kids. What do I do??

Our Response:
Please see link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here which should help you further regarding the process. The courts will expect you to have suggested mediation before applying, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 5-Dec-16 @ 2:07 PM
Hi. I'm in middle of divorce and pay my ex maintenance each month and have my kids everry other weekend. My ex moved another guy in our home 6wks after meeting him. She has 3 kids from me and 2 from another guy. I was shocked she moved a man in but its none of my business. But now I am told I cant see my kids cos she don't wanna see me or have contact with me!!! This is since I met another woman. I'm not even ment to text her. Also her boyfriend burst my 5yr olds ball and my stepdaughter was cryin to me saying he had threatened to smash her phone up if she didn't behave!!! So I went to speak to him but my ex slammed door and he never came out to speak to me so I did get a little angry and shouted for him to stop bullying the kids!!! Now I'm not allowed to see my kids. What do I do??
nuggy - 5-Dec-16 @ 6:08 AM
Am a mother of one, 5months pregnant ,adviced to have a rest and whoever responsible avoids responsibilities to a point of keeping a distance ad not willing to talk.what should I do for the upkeep now and after birth?please help ?
Russel - 4-Dec-16 @ 10:32 AM
Hi.am living in northern ireland.me and my boyfriend split to separate ways,we have a child.am single now and getting some benefits of housing revenew.my ex boyfriend wants to visit child and be some part of his life,but he wants to be in my house with kid 2-3 days a weak.Question is how long he can be in my house during the month?couse i want to go work and its better that the real father will be with child in my house than i would pay for baby sitter
Herbal - 2-Dec-16 @ 5:32 PM
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