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Your Separated Father's Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 20 Sep 2018 | 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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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
when my son was born my name was not put on the birth certificate. Ive asked my ex for my name to be put on and she is outright refusing, I see my son and i pay her money for him mutually. Is there anyway of getting my name on the birth certificate.
B - 20-Sep-18 @ 10:05 PM
Hi, I have parental responsibility for son who is 2.5, but the original court order (over 2 years ago) says that he lives with her mother and I see him one over night a week 'rising by agreement'. For 21 months he has lived with me 3/4 nights every week until mother got new boyfriend and decided she no longer needed me to have my son. Contact now reduced to 1 night a week. I also have holiday booked abroad with mother's verbal and text consent. She is now refusing to allow son to go for booked time although she is saying will let him go for less time. (5 days not 10 booked) Applied for Emergency order re holiday and amended order for contact and mother has delayed process at every stage. Refusing mediation then demanding it 3 weeks later for example. Mediator told her that her demands were unreasonable when we attended and recorded that mediation had failed. Finally got it in front of magistrate 2 weeks ago who said he was too busy to hear it and also that it was above his remit so adjourned it to this week. Went before Circuit Judge. Mother lied and said she had submitted statement to court (That cannot be located) outlining safeguarding concerns from Nursery and that son is unhappy to see me. When pushed by judge to agree to 10/provide evidence, she was 'taken ill' and rushed off in ambulance. Case was adjourned until less than a week til we fly and put back to magistrate. CAFCASS have been asked to file a report but I have still to hear from them. Nursery have put in writing that they have no concerns. Mother was fit to pick son up from Nursery same day as hospitalization. I've paid thousands in sols/barristers fees so far and 10 days before we go I still have no clue if I'll be allowed to take him., and very little hope. Any advice? What happens if magistrate refuses to hear it again? Also, what if it goes in my favour and suddenly passport is 'lost'? I would have 2 working days to replace if that happened....
Timsbrother - 15-Sep-18 @ 5:01 AM
my son and his girlfriend split up over 6 months ago, the girlfriend wants everything her way. he cannot afford to go to court is there anything he can do without costing the earth he want to see his son on some of his term but she keeps changing the rules
rach - 14-Sep-18 @ 7:04 PM
DJ - Your Question:
Hi,Myself and my sons Mum split up when he was around 2/3 years old, ever since I have had him a number of days a week in various set ups. I have recently asked to see my son more and to have him extra days, both myself and my new partner feel this would benefit him greatly due to where we live, his schooling and him wanting too.His mum has rebuffed the idea, giving the reasons ‘I will miss him and I’m off work now (pregnant)’ personalyl I feel these are selfish reasons and are not centred around our sons welbeing.I have asked my son on numerous occasions if he wants to stay more, his answer being yes but my mum won’t let me.My question is, what steps can I take / do I have to try to get extra days with my son? I have PR.Any advice would be welcomed :)Thanks

Our Response:
The link here should help answer your question in full.
SeparatedDads - 13-Sep-18 @ 3:01 PM
Belle - Your Question:
Hi, my partner was granted a contact order which essentially gave him 6 hours contact, twice a week with a view to that increasing over a 6 month period to a point where it was pretty much 50/50 so he could have his son overnight, take him on holiday etc. This never really happened, the mother allowed 6 hours in total twice a week, would not even discuss the option of extending the time, flat out refused that her son could ever stay over and never a holiday. My partner took his son out once over a year ago and his son fell over as kids do, no issues, he told her straight away. The child wasn't hurt and in fact thought it was funny but she said her son had been put at risk and she was removing access. Since then she has agreed supervised visits once a month for maybe an hour just to go for dinner or something similar. She has told my partner he doesn't have to worry about his son not having a father in his life as he has her new partner as a father figure. She has now said that she is safeguarding her son and removing the risk of danger his father puts him in and that she is not prepared to change anything until her son is considerably older (he's almost 6) and that he won't ever be allowed to stay over. My partner tried to start proceedings by going to mediation but she flat out refused to go and says the original order is worth the paper it's written on as she is the one who makes decisions affecting her son. Yes he has PR but what can he do? He's absolutely distraught and just wants to spend time with his son.

Our Response:
Your partner's ex has clearly breached the order. As soon as she began to make a habit of this, your partner should have referred the matter back to court for an enforcement. There is no other route, please see the link here .
SeparatedDads - 13-Sep-18 @ 2:27 PM
Hi, Myself and my sons Mum split up when he was around 2/3 years old, ever since I have had him a number of days a week in various set ups. I have recently asked to see my son more and to have him extra days, both myself and my new partner feel this would benefit him greatly due to where we live, his schooling and him wanting too. His mum has rebuffed the idea, giving the reasons ‘I will miss him and I’m off work now (pregnant)’ personalyl I feel these are selfish reasons and are not centred around our sons welbeing. I have asked my son on numerous occasions if he wants to stay more, his answer being yes but my mum won’t let me.... My question is, what steps can I take / do I have to try to get extra days with my son? I have PR. Any advice would be welcomed :) Thanks
DJ - 13-Sep-18 @ 8:41 AM
Hi, my partner was granted a contact order which essentially gave him 6 hours contact, twice a week with a view to that increasing over a 6 month period to a point where it was pretty much 50/50 so he could have his son overnight, take him on holiday etc. This never really happened, the mother allowed 6 hours in total twice a week, would not even discuss the option of extending the time, flat out refused that her son could ever stay over and never a holiday. My partner took his son out once over a year ago and his son fell over as kids do, no issues, he told her straight away. The child wasn't hurt and in fact thought it was funny but she said her son had been put at risk and she was removing access. Since then she has agreed supervised visits once a month for maybe an hour just to go for dinner or something similar. She has told my partner he doesn't have to worry about his son not having a father in his life as he has her new partner as a father figure. She has now said that she is safeguarding her son and removing the risk of danger his father puts him in and that she is not prepared to change anything until her son is considerably older (he's almost 6) and that he won't ever be allowed to stay over. My partner tried to start proceedings by going to mediation but she flat out refused to go and says the original order is worth the paper it's written on as she is the one who makes decisions affecting her son. Yes he has PR but what can he do? He's absolutely distraught and just wants to spend time with his son.
Belle - 11-Sep-18 @ 5:57 PM
Hi, my partner was granted a contact order which essentially gave him 6 hours contact, twice a week with a view to that increasing over a 6 month period to a point where it was pretty much 50/50 so he could have his son overnight, take him on holiday etc. This never really happened, the mother allowed 6 hours in total twice a week, would not even discuss the option of extending the time, flat out refused that her son could ever stay over and never a holiday. My partner took his son out once over a year ago and his son fell over as kids do, no issues, he told her straight away. The child wasn't hurt and in fact thought it was funny but she said her son had been put at risk and she was removing access. Since then she has agreed supervised visits once a month for maybe an hour just to go for dinner or something similar. She has told my partner he doesn't have to worry about his son not having a father in his life as he has her new partner as a father figure. She has now said that she is safeguarding her son and removing the risk of danger his father puts him in and that she is not prepared to change anything until her son is considerably older (he's almost 6) and that he won't ever be allowed to stay over. My partner tried to start proceedings by going to mediation but she flat out refused to go and says the original order is worth the paper it's written on as she is the one who makes decisions affecting her son. Yes he has PR but what can he do? He's absolutely distraught and just wants to spend time with his son.
Belle - 11-Sep-18 @ 5:00 PM
Dee - Your Question:
I am seperated from my partner. My son is 5 and I have booked a holiday abroad next may half term my ex is now telling me that I cannot use the passport my son has as she signed the application last year he has my surname. Is she just being difficult snd can I get my son another passport I have never heard of anyone having 2 passport. Could someone pls shed sone light on this. We have not gone through the court as we normally get on well.

Our Response:
Your son can only have one passport. Unfortunately, you need to have permission frm the other parent with PR to take your child from the country, please see the link here. If you cannot, then you would have to apply for a Specific Issue Order through the courts, please see the link here . However, you would need to leave a good amount of time to have your case heard. You may wish to seek legal advice.
SeparatedDads - 6-Sep-18 @ 3:20 PM
Stocksy - Your Question:
My wife and I have separated and now she is only willing to let me see my 2 children 2 weekends a month as she knows full well I cannot have them over night. I was supposed to be seeing them every Saturday. But this hasn't gone through court or anything. What can I do about this. It seems the step daughter is calling the shots on when I can and can't see the kids

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. The link here and here , should help you further. Our Separated Dads forum can also help, as we have many dads who have been through similar experiences previously who can offer support.
SeparatedDads - 6-Sep-18 @ 11:17 AM
I am seperated from my partner. My son is 5 and i have booked a holiday abroad next may half term my ex is now telling me that i cannot use the passport my son has as she signed the application last year he has my surname. Is she just being difficult snd can i get my son another passport i have never heard of anyone having 2 passport. Could someone pls shed sone light on this. We have not gone through the court as we normally get on well.
Dee - 5-Sep-18 @ 2:22 PM
My wife and I have separated and now she is only willing to let me see my 2 children 2 weekends a month as she knows full well I cannot have them over night. I was supposed to be seeing them every Saturday.But this hasn't gone through court or anything. What can I do about this. It seems the step daughter is calling the shots on when I can and can't see the kids
Stocksy - 5-Sep-18 @ 1:31 AM
TopDoc - Your Question:
My son and his ex-gf are having a baby. She is cutting him out of all appts etc and saying she won't put him on the birth certificate. She is also threatening to put her new bf as the father and then move away. What rights does my son have And what legal routes does he have to unravel this mess? And what rights do we have as grandparents?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. A solicitors' letter to your son's ex telling her it is fraudulent to consciously name a non-biological parent of his child on the birth certificate may help in the first instance. Also, your son can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order through the courts, please see the link here . 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. Unfortunately, where parents cannot agree on contact, access then it is the remit of the courts to decide. As grandparents you currently have no rights, it would be up to your son to pursue.
SeparatedDads - 3-Sep-18 @ 12:01 PM
My son and his ex-gf are having a baby. She is cutting him out of all appts etc and saying she won't put him on the birth certificate.. She is also threatening to put her new bf as the father and then move away. What rights does my son have And what legal routes does he have to unravel this mess? And what rights do we have as grandparents?
TopDoc - 2-Sep-18 @ 2:02 PM
I am a stay at home parent my other half owns the house and all our bank accounts we have one joint account which enough money goes in to pay bills and for food, every time we get into an argument I'm told to get out of her house and She will take the children away from me is she able to do this, it's causing me to have anxiety and depression cause I'm to scared to stand up for myself In case I lose the kids.
Greens - 24-Aug-18 @ 9:43 AM
Hi, I have a pretty decent realtionship with y childrens mums, however what are my rights if I take a job abroad? In terms of having them come to me for summer holidays etc? thanks in advance for any advice.
dadlife - 21-Aug-18 @ 4:41 PM
@pablo1.i am not the same man i was when with my x she[ repeatedly cheated] and i did nothing about it[ weak controlled little boy back then] .now i haven't seen my daughter years her mother plays games well this little black duck don't want to play anymore i don't care about [my rights] .i have a peaceful easy life every time with my x there is police and fights f that i can't live that way any more i am proud to live like a zombie as my x would say .i am sorry daughter but i am butting me first have a good life .i am done .ps they talk it up you no what would happen i would snap and bust them up and be sitting in the dock again why they walk free .i have grown up .hey its just a child not worth the stress easy fixed i walk away or even better run away .have as many man as you want x GO HARD you will get no trouble from me .i like the current situation gods truth i am sorry i called it will never happen again .ps i wish them well in life just leave me alone .
c.laurie - 20-Aug-18 @ 7:37 PM
Me & my ex partner have recently had two mediation sessions & on both occasions were cut short by her.. we agreed to access & so far so good however she has made threats to me not seeing them I am currently getting the funds together for court.. once court is all sorted out can them threats stop.. also I’m looking at taking both my kids on holiday to Florida but Mum is making it difficult. She’s allowing me to take them abroad but only with her stipulation I get 1 week abroad & it has to be a short flight!!
Pablo1 - 20-Aug-18 @ 2:15 PM
Ky - Your Question:
I'm afraid my partner will leave me and will take my daughter who is less than 6 months old out of the country (Wales) to Derby and restrict my access. I love my daughter and I don't want to lose her.

Our Response:
If you fear the real possibility of your partner taking your child, then a Prohibited Steps Order (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. We have all heard the stories of a parent taking their child for the weekend and not returning them or going abroad with them and it becoming extremely difficult for the other parent to get their child back. Thankfully, this is one of the scenarios that a PSO seeks to prevent. However, 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.
SeparatedDads - 17-Aug-18 @ 12:44 PM
Zombie- Your Question:
My ex husband comes and goes as he pleseas in my daughters life’s. he has done for the last two years. My one daughter has adhd and learning problems sensory issues and my have autism.she dose not understand. it upsets her routine all the time. I have stopped him from seeing them for this reason.it’s all about what he wants not what’s best for girls. I think his own adhd clouds his judgement. how do I stand legally with this pleases help

Our Response:
If your ex applies to court, then Cafcass are likely to get involved and both yours and your ex's claims will be investigated , please see the link here . As stated in the article, from the interviews Cafcass conduct, the reporter will determine two things: whether there should be contact allowed, and, if so, how much. It’s a measure of how important the Cafcass recommendation is that the court will almost invariably adhere to it.
SeparatedDads - 16-Aug-18 @ 12:57 PM
Robbie - Your Question:
Hi , I have been refused contact with my little girl for about 8 months now , I've missed out on her last birthday and surely her next Christmas at this rate. I have tried to contact the mother but she refuses me access to see my child as she sees me as irresponsible and unfit to look after her. She has changed her mobile number and blocked me having other forms of communication , I don't know her address , I have tried to talk to her about mediation so we can come to some sort of middle ground and speak on an equal level but she just laughed at me. Am I right in thinking the only thing left for me to try is a court order ? Help please and thank you :)

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Yes, your only option would be to apply to court, please see the link here. If you do not have the address, you can fill in a C4 form, please see the link here . If you cannot afford legal representation, please see the link here . The sooner you apply to court the better, the longer you leave it the more difficult it will become to gain unsupervised access.
SeparatedDads - 16-Aug-18 @ 11:21 AM
Kezza - Your Question:
Hi. My friends ex partner has just had a their baby. She is refusing him to see his daughter and says she isn't putting him on the birth certificate either. She claims he's an unfit father but this isn't true as he as 2 other daughters and has then every weekend and holidays. She's using this child as a weapon and it's completely wrong because she doesn't like him she isn't letting him see her. What's the best route to go down for him as she won't sign a parental responsibility agreement which would give him rights if he isn't been put on the birth certificate. Any help would be appreciated. Thankyou for reading.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. The link here and here, should help answer your question. If your friend's ex refuses to register him on the birth certificate, he can apply to court for parental responsibility of the child, please see the link here.
SeparatedDads - 16-Aug-18 @ 10:35 AM
My ex husband comes and goes as he pleseas in my daughters life’s.... he has done for the last two years . My one daughter has adhd and learning problems sensory issues and my have autism.she dose not understand.. it upsets her routine all the time ... I have stopped him from seeing them for this reason ..it’s all about what he wants not what’s best for girls . I think his own adhd clouds his judgement... how do I stand legally with this pleases help
Zombie - 16-Aug-18 @ 6:31 AM
Hi. My friends ex partner has just had a their baby. She is refusing him to see his daughter and says she isn't putting him on the birth certificate either. She claims he's an unfit father but this isn't true as he as 2 other daughters and has then every weekend and holidays. She's using this child as a weapon and it's completely wrong because she doesn't like him she isn't letting him see her. What's the best route to go down for him as she won't sign a parental responsibility agreement which would give him rights if he isn't been put on the birth certificate. Any help would be appreciated. Thankyou for reading.
Kezza - 14-Aug-18 @ 9:06 PM
Hi , I have been refused contact with my little girl for about 8 months now , I've missed out on her last birthday and surely her next Christmas at this rate. I have tried to contact the mother but she refuses me access to see my child as she sees me as irresponsible and unfit to look after her. She has changed her mobile number and blocked me having other forms of communication , I don't know her address , I have tried to talk to her about mediation so we can come to some sort of middle ground and speak on an equal level but she just laughed at me. Am I right in thinking the only thing left for me to try is a court order ? Help please and thank you :)
Robbie - 14-Aug-18 @ 4:53 PM
Luc - Your Question:
Hi I recently got with my best friend my partner who I grew up with since I was little and his ex had a child with him and she uses the child against him in so many different ways she hasnt put him on the birth certificate the child hasn't got my partners second name and she only lets my partner have him when she wants him to have him and the only reason she's letting my partner see his son is becuase her new boyfriend told her too and she was fine me being around the child and now all of a sudden after some months she doesn't want me near him for no reason at all now she has found out me and and the child's father are together and is now threatening to not let him see the child I personally don't know her all I know is she has a few personal issues and she was quite verbally abusive to my partners mother at one point saying that she didn't want her to have anything to do with her grandson she got my partner on drugs through their one year relationship she cheated on him twice but now we can't be happy becuase she's got the child to put a hold on him and if he's got the child for weeks like he has done before where she's had mental problems that means I can't be with my partner for weeks what is there that he can do that he can also make a decision who goes around that child aswell and has equal rights as he's not on the birth certificate

Our Response:
Your partner can apply for both parental responsibility (please see the link here ) and access, (please see the link here), which should help answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 10-Aug-18 @ 2:18 PM
Chaz - Your Question:
My partners 7 year old son refuses to come round we have had him every other weekend since he was 8 months old and always paid csa. 2 n half months ago he stopped coming round and his mother simply says he does not want to come and that he is 7 and can make his own descions where do we stand with this as his father is at his wits end on knowing what to do without going to court as we feel this could make him jut want to come even more.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Your partner's only recourse would be to suggest mediation if his ex will not discuss the matter and try to work around it. Court is always considered the last resort when all other negotiation fails, please see the link here . If his son is adamant he doesn't wish to see his father, Cafcass is likely to get involved to try to establish what the issues are and resolve them, please see the link here . You don't say why this may have happened, whether it is a possible case of parental alienattion (please see the link here ), or whether there is another reason. 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.
SeparatedDads - 9-Aug-18 @ 9:57 AM
L - Your Question:
Is there a minimum amount of time my baby has to spend with his father? We are not on good terms and my mental health is deeply affected by my son being away from me. I'd really rather not have him taken from me more than I have to. I appreciate your help.

Our Response:
There are no rules or regulations, it is generally something which is sorted out between both parents (if they can do it amicably). If they cannot, please see the link here, which will help further answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 9-Aug-18 @ 9:44 AM
Is there a minimum amount of time my baby has to spend with his father? We are not on good terms and my mental health is deeply affected by my son being away from me. I'd really rather not have him taken from me more than I have to. I appreciate your help.
L - 8-Aug-18 @ 12:31 PM
My partners 7 year old son refuses to come round we have had him every other weekend since he was 8 months old and always paid csa .. 2 n half months ago he stopped coming round and his mother simply says he does not want to come and that he is 7 and can make his own descions where do we stand with this as his father is at his wits end on knowing what to do without going to court as we feel this could make him jut want to come even more.
Chaz - 8-Aug-18 @ 10:06 AM
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