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Do You Know Your Rights as a Father?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 9 Aug 2021 | comments*Discuss
Rights Father Child Ex Child Support

Having never planned to be in this position before, you are probably unsure of exactly what your rights as a father are. You want to do your best as a father but what are your legal responsibilities? Here are some questions that you may ask to find out exactly where you stand.

Do You Have Parental Responsibility for Your Kids?

If you were married to your partner when your child was born, you have automatic Parental Responsibility. If you are not married and your child was born after 1st December 2003 and your name is on the birth certificate, you automatically have parental responsibility. If you are the biological father, you can still file for parental responsibility which gives you legal rights and responsibilities for your child.

Can You Make Decisions Concerning Their Upbringing?

With parental responsibility you have the right to be involved in all major decisions in your child life. This can be anything that significantly affects their upbringing such as education, medical treatment or religion. (For more information, see our article Making Joint Decisions About Your Child's Future on this site.)

Who Decides on Everyday Things?

Everyday decisions are left up to the parent who has residence of the children. Generally, the mother is given residence unless you or the courts decide differently. This means that she does not have to consult you about any day-to-day decisions.

Do You Have to Pay Child Support?

As a parent you are legally bound to Pay Child Support. The amount that you pay is worked out by the Child Support Agency (CSA) and will depend on a number of things including how much you earn and how you have split custody.

What Visitation Rights do You Have?

You may decide to organise your visitation independently with your ex, and this is fine as long as you are both happy with the arrangement. If not, you will need to apply for a contact order and be assessed to determine what visitation you are given.

Can Your Ex Take Your Children Out of the Country?

If your ex has residence of your children, she can take them out of the country for up to one month without your permission. If she wants to take them for longer or move abroad permanently, she will need your consent. If you have serious concerns about her taking them out of the country, then you can apply for an order to stop it.

When Does Parental Responsibility End?

Your parental responsibility and child support continues until your child leaves school or further education, which can be as young as 16 or finish when they are 19 and at university.

Finding out about your rights and responsibilities as a father is important so that you know what you are entitled to and what you need to do. If you can keep relations civil and handle the details with your ex then this can be better but, if not, you will have to go through the legal system to clarify things. Your ex has no right to stop you seeing your children and with a little bit of compromise and willingness you can both come to an agreement that is best for your children.

Making Things Easier

When you first split up it's easy for battles to ensue and for the children to take the brunt of it, even though this is never your intention. One way to make things easier is to draw up some kind of agreement at the outset - see our sample separation agreement.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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My ex is a heavy drinker, she has told me I can only see my son twice a week. I'm concerned for her wellbeing as well as my sons. I need advice ASAP.
Jay - 5-Jul-21 @ 7:29 PM
Hi I have just read quite a few of the stories on here but for the life of Mei cannot see any replies to anything, which begs the question, is this a help forum like I thought it might be or just somewhere to sound off, I came here in search of an answer ?
Devlin - 22-May-21 @ 6:49 PM
Hi I'm a father of 4 children, me and my ex wife are under social services, she has coped ok looking after the children but her new partner is a violent ex-con that's a alcoholic drug user and is a drug dealer. I'm about to take her to court for full custody and I've found a large carrier bag full of amphetamines in her house, which she is storing for her new partner. I have reported it to the social and police but I feel because I'm a man the courts will still rule in her favour. Am I worring to much or should I have more faith in the court system? I'm so worried for my children's safety.
Jamesm84 - 14-Apr-21 @ 12:29 AM
Since I split up with my ex-wife (now divorced) my daughter has lived with the ex, but my daughter over the last few years has hated it partly due to the ex’s drinking and partly to her not seeing her friends out of school. From jan my daughter had had enough and walked out (she’s now 15) and is living with me, her mum wants to she her but my daughter hates her and does not want to even speak to her, her mum is now threateningly escalating this, is there any way she can force my daughter to see her as she really does not want to Help please
Garrycov - 9-Apr-21 @ 12:16 AM
I was ment to have my son Bank Holiday Monday and had planned a lovely day. My ex Facebooked my mother saying she had plans so he wouldn't be coming. My name is on the birth certificate. Is she allowed to do this the day before I have him?
Burlo - 5-Apr-21 @ 6:48 AM
My ex is trying to stop my new partner being present when I get my son each weekend, can she deny me access if I refuse. I've been with my new partner for over 18 months now and my son gets on fine with her.
Stuart bishop - 4-Apr-21 @ 12:58 AM
Hi.. just recently Iv found myself unable to see my daughter! COVID 19 is a factory and used in the stoppage of seeing her.. I received a text only a week ago that stated that my ex wife and my daughter had decided that I’m to no longer see her anymore?? My reasoning for my daughter saying what she did is how you would say childish as she is 13 years old.. But to have my ex wife agree and send me a text was another!! Iv always had contact with my daughter Iv always put her before anything or anyone for that matter as you can imagine I’m devastated It’s now 26th feb Iv now not seen her since her bday at the very beginning of January that’s a long time for anyone.. What can I do?
Tsjm1979 - 26-Feb-21 @ 11:32 AM
Hi my daughter goes with her dad every other weekend for the weekend he refuses to have her any more then that even though she would love to see him more! I moved from my last two address as he was violent and used to get keys cut and creep in my house so police was called but he I never pressed charges. There was one major adult incident police was called but I didn’t press charges I just lived on.. years down the line I have a new baby new partner and all of a sudden his demanding to know where we live saying it’s his right as a dad to know. He won’t see his daughter any more then he needs to I drop and pick her up to keep my address private as he is volatile and can’t be trusted to know.. now his taking me to court to find out my address, is this possible will they actually tell him? He has a phone he can call any time for my daughter or he can message mine to speak with her. Thanks in advance
Terriann - 16-Feb-21 @ 10:59 AM
I have my 2 boys every weekend, saterday at 10am and take them back sunday at 5pm and the mouther is saying that's not anouth and by law it should be 50/50 contact. I work Monday to Friday 7am till 5pm if not latter. she is saying I have to have them Friday at 10am and take them back sunday at 5pm what should I do..??
bob85 - 8-Feb-21 @ 9:42 PM
My first born daughter was born 2014, my name is on her birth certificate, she has my last name though the mother I were not married. 2015 there was a court hearing, the mother confirmed I was the biological father, child support was granted for me to pay. Supervised visits every other week, letter a month were court ordered. It's 2021, I haven't seen my daughter physically since 2016. I have to beg and plead for one picture, the last photo I received, 2020, her birthday. I'm going to court process now.
Wolf - 6-Feb-21 @ 8:36 PM
After having an arguement with my partners ex that she started and made me have an anxiety attack, has now decided that if i go in the car to get the daughter with him. (We do this because she starts arguements with him) that she will stop access if I'm in the car. She gave him a final warning today. Its absolutely disgusting that a 3 year old is being used in this way. Can she stop access because I'm in the car? Would the courts accept that as a reason to even go to court?! Honestly been the most hellish 18months of my life and its now causing issues with me and my partner.
mo94 - 1-Jan-21 @ 7:04 PM
I know what my rights as a father are in reality (not what is written in law): close to zero is the answer! It is all at the discretion and in the gift of the mother and how reasonable and humane she chooses to be. I am in an abusive relationship with someone with a history of mental health, self harm and hospitalisation. This was hidden from me until 3 years after marriage. My wife is highly vindictive, controlling, abusive and bullying which I can now see is learned behaviour from how her mother treats her father. I am 100% certain that if I leave, my wife will use our young child as a weapon. I will never be allowed to see our child and my wife will try to cause as much devastation to me as possible. In her mind, that is how she 'wins' if anyone ever crosses her. It does not matter that she or others might also suffer as a consequence; what matters is only the destruction of the opposition. My wife is obviously happy to launch nuclear weapons and has no consideration for the consequences; the problem with her nuclear war tactics (mentally and emotionally speaking) is that nuclear fallout lasts for a hundred years and I am not sure I can ever get past it. My wife is hateful and cruel many times a day, and I can see she takes pleasure at some level in the acts at the time, although there might be regret at some level later (which she will absolve internally by inflicting more hurt to make herself feel better, in control and like the 'winner' again). She tells me 'if the house is better', 'if the garden is nicer', 'if we go on more holidays', 'if we have a better car', then things will be better. Her family are of the same opinion. My view is that the lack of more, bigger, better things are not the answer, but a symptom of the problem. The choice I have is simple: - Stick around and be the emotional punchbag instead of our very young child; or, - Leave and never see my child again. I love my child more than anything and would die for them. I feel tremendous responsibility towards them for putting them in this position and can't leave a small child to deal with this alone. Her family have admitted that my wife has a history of using those closest to her as her emotional punchbag. My wife says I am the reason for all her problems and why she is unhappy. I know if I leave, this will just fall to our 2 year old child. I have been to ongoing counselling to survive this situation. I have tried to suggest couples therapy several times, but it is met with an angry "we don't need counselling; you need counselling! You're the one with the problem! If you don't like it, pack your bags and leave!". Her family (led by her mother and her sister, who also shows the same emotionally broken and harmful behaviours) have demonstrated with previous family members that anyone who 'crosses' another family member at the end of a relationship will 'pay the price' and be metaphorically attacked (even if that relationship split w
LondonGuy - 8-Dec-20 @ 10:45 AM
Hi, Me and my ex partner split up almost exactly 10 years today. We were not married but were living at my house. She left and took both of my children with her. I’ve had weekend access and 1 evening a week as I was in full time employment ever since. My daughter who is now 18 has been living with me for almost 2 years now since her mother dropped her at my doorstep. And since April, due to COVID I have been left unemployed and shielding at the height of the pandemic. Now my son who is almost 12 has been staying with me for the last 2 months wants to reside with me permanently also and is refusing to go back to his mother until COVID is over as he doesn’t feel safe at her address. Yesterday his mother turned up on my doorstep yet again and refused to leave without our son with her, still he refuses to leave with her, and she threatened me with calling the police and child services. I’d like to know what I can or should do in order to prevent this from happening again and what rights I have to keep my son here where he feels safest? Thanks in advance.
TheRig - 5-Dec-20 @ 9:16 AM
Hi, Me and my ex partner split up almost exactly 10 years today. We were not married but were living at my house. She left and took both of my children with her. I’ve had weekend access and 1 evening a week as I was in full time employment ever since. My daughter who is now 18 has been living with me for almost 2 years now since her mother dropped her at my doorstep. And since April, due to COVID I have been left unemployed and shielding at the height of the pandemic. Now my son who is almost 12 has been staying with me for the last 2 months wants to reside with me permanently also and is refusing to go back to his mother until COVID is over as he doesn’t feel safe at her address. Yesterday his mother turned up on my doorstep yet again and refused to leave without our son with her, still he refuses to leave with her, and she threatened me with calling the police and child services. I’d like to know what I can or should do in order to prevent this from happening again and what rights I have to keep my son here where he feels safest? Thanks in advance.
TheRig - 4-Dec-20 @ 1:14 PM
So it been 8 years since mu daughter dad lefted we broke up. Arrangements was made and he never shown up hasent payed a penny towards her and he knows where we live and nothing. My daughter on her second birthday called my partner daddy we explain then but she said no my daddy and that was it she is now 9 her dad ex message and explain everything she doesn't wanna no and said my daddy is living with me he looked after me she understands that her last name is different and has asked for her name to be changed when legally allowed to to my partner name. Her dad who is basically a Sperm donor has a new girlfriend and wants to show he a good dad told her I have stopped him from seeing her and said he's done everything to see her which he has not we still live in same place as we did 9 years ago. If this was token to court where do me and my partner and my daughter stand as she has shown she doesn't wanna no him and said her daddy is the man who was there when I needed him. This maybe a sore subject for many people sorry in advance
Chip surry - 28-Nov-20 @ 2:27 PM
Hello,my partners ex has cut down his time at Christmas with his son. From a week to 2 days. They have text messages with the original agreement. What can we do to make sure we get to see him?
Kirst - 19-Nov-20 @ 5:14 PM
What steps can I take to get monthly progress reporton my son who iscurrently in nursery? I try to work things out with the mother, because both of ushave parential responsibilities, but she is ignoring the cause .So up on contacting the nursery, I was told by the manager that they were instructed by mom not to giveme any progress reports only newsletters.
Napo - 21-Oct-20 @ 9:58 PM
Hello, I am a father with twin boys, I moved from my home city to be with their mother and we have been together for 4 years, my twins will be 2 soon , I removed myself from the tenancy so I could apply for my own house and she was okay with me staying until I got somewhere else ,even though She tells me to leave every other day and have no where to go in this city as i am not from here. Do I leave my job and my kids to go back to my mums in another city and start over or do I stay here and be miserable in the process? I just don’t want to be so far away from them and not be apart of their lives especially with the COVID situation!
Confused.com - 27-Sep-20 @ 1:00 PM
Hi, I am not married. I have a son who is 1yr 11months. My ex is not granting me the opportunity for my son to pay me a visit. Therefore, I want seek knowledge on how to handle this situation. Thanks.
Navigator - 17-Sep-20 @ 3:16 AM
Hi some advice i want for my son.. his girlfriend left him when she was 22 weeks pregnant becaused they arqued about my son wanting to be involved with the prenacy .. she said it was nothing tondo with him its a mum daighter bonding experience so her mum has done everything with her .. baby was born 5 days ago and so far she has changed what thier agreed 4 times .. the lastest one is .. my son can see his daughter for 1 hr twice a week in her house as my son going down there for an hour every day is stopping her bonding ith her daughter .. she is not willing for my family to go visit so only i have seen her .. she wont let my husband see her or my children and we dont know what we can do about this .. as a mum i dont understand how any woman can stop a dad seeing the child ..
Nannytaff - 9-Sep-20 @ 8:48 AM
I am just trying to find out how I can go about of getting help with seeing my 9month old son that his momma is keeping me away from him I need help what can I do
Okiedad - 24-Aug-20 @ 9:44 PM
Hi I'm looking for some information regarding my situation,I was with a girl for 7 months and she is 5months pregnant with my first child (son) ,she has allready says he won't have my surname and I understand there's nothing I can do legally about that ,now she has says I won't be on the child's birth certificate ,I don't really know what to do about this should I try for mediation before or after the child is born before I go through lawyer's and stuff ,I am determined to have my name on my son's birth certificate
Gpt - 9-Aug-20 @ 10:08 PM
Hi, im seperated from my wife since last year and having difficulty getting access to see my twin girls. The last time i saw them was before lockdown. We had an agreement then when i got the girls every week. Just before lockdown i was asked to take them to enable my ex wife to attend an appointment but was unuble to do it as i didnt have time to make arrangements, i was using a family member to act as 3rd party when i picked up the kids. This led to some disagreement. I have been asking to see my girls for some time but my ex wont agree and says i must go through the authorities. Having made some enquiries im told that im not entitled to legal aid to engage a lawyer. I havent been able to get back to work since lockdown. I am missing the girls very much and i know they are missing me too, she has forwarded a video of them asking about me. Please can anyone offer some advice to help. David
Chips - 5-Aug-20 @ 5:47 PM
hi my partner left 29hours ago in the morning with my 12week old baby. I'm in the birth certificate do i have custody rights
fatherof1 - 5-Aug-20 @ 12:16 AM
I agree the law in England needs to change. Fathers are important. Woman should not have all rights.... it's not fair on children or fathers
Shona - 29-Jul-20 @ 9:22 PM
Hi I'm wondering if anyone can help me out please. My husband has a child with his ex. He pays maintenance every week but isnt allowed to see his child. His child doesnt know he exists or that they have more siblings which I think is unfair as she doesnt mind taking his money each week. We recently found out that the ex doesnt have the child living with her but is living with her ex husband. Does anyone know how we can go about finding out for sure if the child isnt living with the mother ? Thank you
Sue - 23-Jul-20 @ 4:23 PM
My son is not married he stay together with a girlfriend. He got 1 child together she left the house and go back to her mother house. The child got hissurnamecan she stop him to see his child
Cassie - 7-Jul-20 @ 9:13 PM
I gave up house to move into a fourth floor flat to be with my ex and my daughter whom she left me a dear john letter so I never saw her til she was 4 years old,my ex stopped her pill and fell pregnant with our son,when he was 6 years old she had told me to leave so i phoned the council and was told what i signed was for just living there i wasnt down as being a joint tenant She had to pull away my son when he saw me as he was screaming daddy......next thing i no she put him into care without telling me,i drove down to Dundee every week for review meetings got told I couldn't be in touch with him so hes 14 years old this September I cry every night thinking that hes never going to get in touch with me because hes probably been told I didn't want him.....any advice on what I can do Thanks
Jacko - 13-Jun-20 @ 8:13 AM
I am paying half the mortgage on the joint house me and my ex have. We have twins, so my maintenance is double and I’m paying half the mortgage and my own bills. I have managed to rent a room (literally my only option, I think) and now my ex is demanding that she sees where I live and what the set up is so that she can decide if she feels comfortable about letting the twins come here. Surely as the dad, I am grown up enough and responsible enough to ensure my children are comfortable etc? Am I completely wrong? Any suggestions please?
Scott Kenneth Johnso - 12-Jun-20 @ 8:43 PM
@pan.thats the best way stay calm don’t lose your cool over silly things .i can only imagine how frustrating that would be .i don’t see my daughter and I don’t like it .but for the reason you just stated I am glad I don’t see her .because I have settled down myself last thing I want is to deal with that pathetic stuff .i hope one day my daughter realises and doesn’t hold a grudge against me .
Chris - 6-Jun-20 @ 3:38 PM
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