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Your Separated Father's Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 31 Dec 2020 | 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.

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]
Disgusting revolting daughters in law. Why my son married such a person? She made ‘all the right noises’ to get him!But basically she was desperate and myson had no ‘local knowledge’ of this female and she ‘acted’ until she ‘got him’. She put on a sweet lovely voice all the while. Then when they had been married for 2 x weeks my boy realised what a terrible mistake he had made! ThenI actually got to seemy beautiful son as a grown man cry and sob!. The courts are on the side of the mother and don't let any solicitor tell you different! They say a father has a chance to get custardy but in reality they dont!!!Sorry you caring lovingfathers out there as my son and his family have been through the year from hell!You fathers deserve more thanyou are getting and I very much hope the Law will wise upto this fact. I don't want to tell you this because as a grandmother I have observed and I wish it was different for Dads, but one unfeeling and manipulative and uncultured woman can and will make your life hell on legs! I wish I had the power to put things right for you. And if I was. judge I would hope that I could see through all of those lies and never join in with the status quo. Just continue to fight my friend! You Dad’s are valuable and much loved.
Art - 31-Dec-20 @ 3:29 AM
Disgusting revolting daughters in law. Why my son married such a person? She made ‘all the right noises’ to get him!But basically she was desperate and myson had no ‘local knowledge’ of this female and she ‘acted’ until she ‘got him’. She put on a sweet lovely voice all the while. Then when they had been married for 2 x weeks my boy realised what a terrible mistake he had made! ThenI actually got to seemy beautiful son as a grown man cry and sob!. The courts are on the side of the mother and don't let any solicitor tell you different! They say a father has a chance to get custardy but in reality they dont!!!Sorry you caring lovingfathers out there as my son and his family have been through the year from hell!You fathers deserve more thanyou are getting and I very much hope the Law will wise upto this fact. I don't want to tell you this because as a grandmother I have observed and I wish it was different for Dads, but one unfeeling and manipulative and uncultured woman can and will make your life hell on legs! I wish I had the power to put things right for you. And if I was. judge I would hope that I could see through all of those lies and never join in with the status quo. Just continue to fight my friend! You Dad’s are valuable and much loved.
Art - 31-Dec-20 @ 3:29 AM
Disgusting revolting daughters in law. Why my son married such a person? She made ‘all the right noises’ to get him!But basically she was desperate and myson had no ‘local knowledge’ of this female and she ‘acted’ until she ‘got him’. She put on a sweet lovely voice all the while. Then when they had been married for 2 x weeks my boy realised what a terrible mistake he had made! ThenI actually got to seemy beautiful son as a grown man cry and sob!. The courts are on the side of the mother and don't let any solicitor tell you different! They say a father has a chance to get custardy but in reality they dont!!!Sorry you caring lovingfathers out there as my son and his family have been through the year from hell!You fathers deserve more thanyou are getting and I very much hope the Law will wise upto this fact. I don't want to tell you this because as a grandmother I have observed and I wish it was different for Dads, but one unfeeling and manipulative and uncultured woman can and will make your life hell on legs! I wish I had the power to put things right for you. And if I was. judge I would hope that I could see through all of those lies and never join in with the status quo. Just continue to fight my friend! You Dad’s are valuable and much loved.
Art - 31-Dec-20 @ 3:27 AM
My 15 year old son has become a father and the mother not let him have access to the child which is destroying him, do we have any rights to see the child?
Lol - 18-Dec-20 @ 6:18 PM
I have been trying to register with this forum for over a year, but either the registration is immediately refused because I am a suspected spammer, or it seems to go through and I hear nothing more. Contacting Admin via the contact us page also has no response. How can new members join the forum please?
LondonGuy - 8-Dec-20 @ 2:54 PM
Our Son has recently separate from his Fiancee. They have a two year old Daughter. He has recently received a letter from a solicitor following their separation. The letter states that: 'Our Son's Partner wishes to sever the joint tenancy held by our son and his ex-partner now held as joint tenants both in law and in equity. This means that you and your ex partner hold the property as tenants in common'. Could anybody advice what we should do please. Our Son is a full time student with no income or funds for legal fees. Thank you.
George - 5-Dec-20 @ 2:26 PM
Hi i have 2 daughters in london which i didnt see for 3 years iam not living in uk iam living sweden and my x not allowing me to see them and i went many time to uk and tried with her family and friends to let me see them but she doesnt want and the reason was when we were married she left them outside the uk with my parents and she said she gonna leave them for one month summer holidays and she left them for 8 months and i brought them back to uk as i work in sweden and she moved from swedenback and shelives in london but left them there because she find a job and they were so young 3 years old and 2 years old and she left them with their old grandparents. The question is there and legal way to see them even at school ?
Le reda - 25-Nov-20 @ 6:12 AM
hi my ex is telling me what i can and can't do with my kids when have them is she aloud to do that
russ - 8-Nov-20 @ 9:22 AM
Myself and my child’s mother separated in 2009. Ihad to take her to court as she stopped me from seeing my son, I from then have him every other weekend, 2 weeks in holidays, bank holidays and extra days in between if we do anything as we want him involved, I have always paid child maintenance and feel proud to do so. Since the pandemic started my job was on the line to which I was made redundant July. I have found a few jobs since but they were just to get me and my family by. I have now started a job I enjoy it is a huge wage drop but in my eyes still an income but it entails I have to work some weekends!! For reasons my wife and step daughters will not be left alone with my son so I have had to let his mum know on some weekends that he is due to be with us I have to work but have put to her during the week I can pick him up from school take him out and if I’m off on her weekends we will have him. She is just so unhelpful with it all. If I wasn’t working and I couldn’t pay her the child maintenance she would take me to court I just cannot win. I don’t want to not see my son I just need her help to rearrange on certain weekends.
Woohbies - 6-Oct-20 @ 7:25 AM
I have 3 children to a boyfriend that has left me. He gives me £80 a month out of his £1000 a week wage to support the children, that’s everything, meals, washing school trips the lot. I have now moved back to my home town 30 miles away from him. Now out of the children’s money he is expecting me to pay half of his costs to come see his children. I do not drive so would have to take the children on a 2 hour bus ride from Hull to Grimsby or pay him petrol money to come pick them up. Please let me know your comments. Nix
Nix - 28-Sep-20 @ 4:34 PM
I honestly think the child's mother has mental health issues .because she was in a relationship with my uncle I was never in a relationship with this women that's the gods truth . all she was to me a bit of fun from age of 20- 22 thats the truth from my side .after the age of 22 I was done and lived my life as a (single guy )and never even slept with this women .yeah I will admit she lived in my house as a( flat mate) and that was only (smoke and mirrors for her parents) .this is the truth from my side .after the age of 22 I didn't care what that women did .i had no emotional feeling towards her .what I say hear is the truth from my side.
Christopher - 17-Sep-20 @ 7:26 PM
Hi All, I have been trying to see my 2 year old daughter for 11 months. i have been trough courts and still going through them. why does all the power on when i see my daughter still with the mother when she does all the crazy things and i am being treated like i have committed crimes? it seems i have no power no PR, who said the ex can dictate when or not i can see my daughter? What about the damage she is doing to my daughter, and i say that my daughter should be with me? how does this work in the 21st century still that by default the child stays with mum even though i had my daughter 60% of the time when we was together and i was the one who always put my daughter to bed every night for nearly 2 years while the ex was asleep on the couch.
wdjace - 17-Sep-20 @ 6:33 PM
Do we have a deal sam????.the way I see it its a win win for everybody .they get to be a family legally and I get rid of something that never should of happened in the first place .(i hope we can finally agree on this ???????).
Christopher - 16-Sep-20 @ 10:40 PM
@Mickey.the only thing I will sign now is my parental rights over to the childs mother and partner. But has to be done bye solicitor v solicitor .and I want them to pay for the solicitors?.they should be happy about paying for solicitors that way they can be one big happy family legally. They should film it and put on YouTube the big exciting news .i would even give it a thumbs up .and give myself a beer for the good deed I j just did .
Christopher - 16-Sep-20 @ 10:20 PM
If my daughter is being christened do I have a choice to reject it cause I’m none religious and where not together as a family anymore can I stop it
Micky - 16-Sep-20 @ 1:22 AM
I have my 10 year old daughter living with me as of 2 months ago. I have joint responsibility with her mother and no legal agreements since we split. I’ve reduced work hours and taken child benefit and am about to claim benefits. My child’s mother is living in the marital home and is refusing to pay the mortgage. It will be repossessed after the government block ends in October. If I go to court can I get her removed on the grounds it’s the family home and she no longer has the child living with her ? Many thanks
Gt1000uk - 10-Sep-20 @ 6:54 PM
Hello my ex who is my babies dad he wants to have the children on his own and stay with him but he has always told me that when he gets them he’s gonna take them but that was 3 yearsago now I have some trust issues with this situation and I want some advise if it was the chase that he dose take them how would I be able to get them back or what would I do
Zade - 7-Sep-20 @ 6:59 PM
My current partner has split from his daughters mother and had nothing but problems. The mother tells him when he can see her, more often than not she cancels the day before cause she has plans. She stopped him seeing her for approximately 6months and this was devastating for him. Now she has to move and is saying that she doesn't know how he will see his daughteras she isn't going to tell him where they are living. This situation is made even worst as his daughter is disabled and cant make choices for herself. He needs help
rainyday88 - 3-Sep-20 @ 8:52 PM
I have been separated from my children’s mother for 5 years , since the split I’ve has both my daughters 99% of the time they are now 16 and 14 . My youngest daughter has not seen her mother since May this year , but the mother still claims everything she can for the children . I am lucky enough I have a good job and can support the children . She constantly lets them down not turning up for appointments not picking my eldest daughter up from work when she has agreed to . I want to know where I go from here why is she able to claim all these benefits and yet do absolutely nothing for the children , when I questioned it I was told as we’re not married I have no parental responsibility’s. Looking for some advice
345 - 30-Aug-20 @ 3:29 PM
I have a friend who separated from their girlfriend and she is now refusing him to see their child, what rights as a Father does he have? What can he do to get visitation,would he have to go through the courts?
Kay - 28-Aug-20 @ 5:58 PM
Hi can you call me to discuss what rights I have a father
Lee - 27-Aug-20 @ 5:31 PM
Hi I have a court order that states I am allowed to see my children every other week and their mother has to bring my children down to my city every other month, my issue is that I do not want my children around their maternal grandmother as I know what trauma she has put my children’s mother through when she was growing up and I do believe she has a criminal record involving drugs, I brought this up in court and my kids mothers said she Has no contact with the maternal grandmother however she does have contact and my children sleep over at their grandmothers for a weekend. How do I stop contact between my kids and their maternal grandmother on the grounds I believe they are in danger off suffering mental abuse due to their grandmothers past experiences with doing this to her own children.
Bert - 15-Aug-20 @ 12:53 AM
Hello all, basically my wife left in late February of 2020, since then she has made it difficult for me to see my 4 year old son who has Autism she broken his routine and I know this has put a strain on him, she won’t allow him to come home, and spend time with me, she only allows me to see him in the park once a week and I have to text her before a certain time and day if I don’t she usually punishes me and won’t allow me to see my son or do something spiteful and only let me see him for an hour, I try not argue with her because I don’t want that used against me, she staying with her parents, unfortunately I don’t know my rights when it comes to this, I believe where getting divorced, so this is new process for me, but for now I want to see my son more often, where I should start first.
Sdwan100 - 10-Aug-20 @ 8:04 AM
My situation is similar to @G-Mac Except I have my two kids 2-3 times per week and more if they need me ( youngest has Autism) so there are additional needs for him and extra time. Now she is talking about moving 100 miles away (which I have no say) and I can see them now and again. So taking them out of school, all Of their family including me is within 30 mins Currently, as well as the youngest support network and because of his Autism change is hard for him. He regularly needs me to call him and come and see him extra days because he just has to see me that minute. With all of this in mind I feel that I should have some say in some of what’s going on? It seems we have no rights as a dad?
Daddude - 7-Aug-20 @ 6:13 PM
Me and my partner have recently split and he’s now asking me to sign the kids over so he can go to the council and get a flat. I don’t believe this is going to work the way he believes. Obviously I don’t wanna see him on the streets because he’s currently sofa jumping. Does anyone have any advice
Dee - 6-Aug-20 @ 10:26 AM
Hi all I have a question. Is it unfair for my ex to expect me to use 4 weeks of my annual leave as time with my children? I don’t want to sound selfish and I know that many fathers are stuck unable to see their kids but I wondered if there was a legal point to this? I only get 25days leave which would mean I would not be able to take time away with my partner. Am I being a selfish guy here or is it unfair to expect this?
Bothered - 17-Jul-20 @ 5:38 PM
Can anyone tell me if there is any specific guidance relating to travel time/distance between seperated parents? I would like my son (almost two years old) to stay with me for two nights every week, but my ex thinks the distance is too far for him to do every week. I live 100 miles away and it's approx 2 hours in the car. I'd like to think we could meet half way to make it manageable. I know it's not ideal, but I'd find it difficult to only see him once every two weeks. Any advice appreciated, thanks.
G-Mac - 13-Jul-20 @ 11:27 AM
My son separated from his ex after being coerced into having a baby to get a council flat. They have been apart for a year. She has had boyfriends in this time but as soon as he got a girlfriend recentlywho has a little girl she stopped him seeing his daughter.She is violent and controlling,even her dad has threatened my son.She has tracked his phone, stalked our house and I think she is mad. He used to have his 4 year old daughter every weekend but now he can see her for two hours a week in a public place with his ex and her dad watching.My son has donehis mediation interview but she is delayingor refusing to do hers. He is treated like a criminal and so are we. Her birthday is coming up and he won't be allowed to see her. Is there any way to hurry up the process? Can he insist on his rights to see her without being watched?
Loobylou - 7-Jul-20 @ 4:00 PM
@stevie.dont blame yourself .i am the same I dont see my daughter been 11 years .if I had my time again this is (gods truth) I would have (planned proper and took my daughter full-time And never let her mother see her)because her mother was unfit to be a (parent )her own family would even say it she couldn’t even look after her first son her (elderly parents in there twilight years had to how that’s saying something).i pity the thought off what my (beautiful daughter) went though growing up with her .if she come to me now she would never go back to her mother .
C laurie - 25-Jun-20 @ 6:50 PM
Its six years since I was in contact with my daughter. Her mother just cut all contact off with me, even though we had an arrangement through divorce proceedings that I would have midweek access and every other weekend. The reason she stopped this is that I formed another relationship. I was a good father had a great relationship with my daughter, I blame myself for letting it go on this long, I should have nipped it straight away. My reason was that I didn't want my daughter to go through what I witnessed has a child, arguments and fighting. There isn't a day that I don't think about her. Its not right that fathers are treated this way, I am paying for her up keep through CMS. the law must change we have much right as their mothers on the upbringing. HELP!!!
Stevie - 25-Jun-20 @ 1:22 PM
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