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Child Support Law and Parental Responsibility

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 21 Feb 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Parental Responsibilities Law Child

Parental responsibility refers to the rights and privileges that unite the relationship between a parent and their child. This can also apply to any significant adult that plays an influential part in the child’s life.

EU Law And Parents

The European Union (EU) recognises the importance of Family Law and has rules on the jurisdiction of the enforcement of parental responsibility. This enforcement is recognised by uniform procedure that ensures the courts in the child’s resident state has the jurisdiction to rule on parental responsibility.

As part of the EU’s policies parental responsibility ensures the child has the right to maintain contact with both parents, regardless of where they live within the EU member states. The enforcement of access rights also seeks to prevent child abduction within the European Union.

Parental Responsibility In The UK

Under English law parents are responsible for upholding all the duties, powers, rights, authority and responsibilities in relation to their child. If the mother and father are married, at the time of the child’s birth, they share parental responsibility. However, if the parents are unmarried parental responsibility is given to the child’s mother, unless the child is the subject of an Adoption Order.

A civil partner can acquire parental responsibility, provided the other partner is in agreement with this arrangement. Parental responsibility must also be put in writing, in the case of a step-parent. A legal guardian may also be responsible along with someone who has a residence order stating that the child must live with them.

Parents And Child Support

Parental responsibility extends to providing a comfortable environment in which a child can be supported through childhood. Providing suitable shelter, clothing, food and educational items is also the parent’s duty.

In the case of families that are separated by divorce, legal separation or lone parents with absent fathers providing assistance, the form of a maintenance payment can help reduce the financial pressures of child-rearing.

Separated parents are legally duty bound to ensure their child, or children, are properly looked after. Parents with care, of the child, may experience difficulties in financially supporting the child on their own. Child support laws in the UK therefore obligate a non resident parent to pay a periodic amount of maintenance in order to provide financial assistance for the child in their home environment.

The Child Support Agency (CSA) and Child Maintenence Service (CMS) provides parents with care with a maintenance collection and distribution service that also assists with tracing absent parents.

In practice sharing parental responsibility means that adults must put the child’s interests first in any situation. A parental responsible person must do what is reasonable in any circumstance for the purpose of safeguarding the child’s welfare. This also means promoting and maintaining a safe, welcoming environment for the child to live in.

Shared Responsibilities

Sharing parental responsibilities requires that both parents consult on matters of importance that concern their child, regardless of their own relationship with each other. Understanding that the child’s welfare comes first is of paramount importance.

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My partner left my baby daughter and me 4months ago where we were living in Scotland and he now lives in Wales. I have tried to formalise arrangements for access but he is insisting that he wants to take the baby to Wales at regular times throughout the year for, a week at a time so nothing has been agreed. I have evidence of a lot of irresponsible behaviour in the past and therefore have genuine concerns about the safety and wellbeing of my daughter, not to mention the fact that he barely knows her due to his decision to leave. I am unaware of his address in Wales or if he is working, I know he has parental responsibility, but, when we haven't formalised an agreement, surely he doesn't have equal rights e.g. he couldn't just take her from the house without my permission - could he?
Scooby Sue - 21-Feb-18 @ 8:49 PM
Bee- Your Question:
Hiya just a bit of back ground info. I have 2 boys 11 and 9 and have recently separated from their father. However we continue to live in the same home, with him taking little or no responsibility for them financially,practically or any other way tbh. I was wondering if I stand any ground on a legal basis here although I do find it highly unlikely as iam aware we are still legally married. He is being difficult about divorce proceedings atm. Difficult about everything!

Our Response:
Speak to CMS, you may be able to claim child maintenance from him even if you are still living together. Therefore, you may wish to speak to CMS directly. Alternatively, if you cannot see eye-to-eye, perhaps you should suggest mediation to him as a way of deciding how you wish to move forward both practically and financially. Trying to resolve things amicably is always the best approach to take. However, I appreciate it is not always easy if the other parent refuses to compromise. If they don't then court is always seen as a last resort to solve a dispute. Hopefully, it will not get to that point. I think the message you need to relay to your ex, is that you are happy to discuss these matters rationally and come to a working arrangement between you. But if he refuses to deal with the issues facing you, then you will take a more official route.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Feb-18 @ 12:32 PM
LS - Your Question:
Could you please give me adviceMy partner would like to adopt my two children,aged 11 & 13, do we need my ex husbands permission?My children's biological father has not made any attempt to see or contact my children in 5 years. He seen them briefly for around 2 months in 2013 & it came to an abrupt end when I didn't feel he had my children's best interests at heart.For example taking my children to school late, telling my daughter that his step daughter had more right to be in his home,my daughter coming home with bite marks and scratches on her body from his younger child,my son cutting his back open after falling on machinery left laying around and sending my son to school with shoes on that were completely split. Before this 2 month period he had not had contact with my children since around 2009.My children's home and life is now with myself and my partner. My partner provides financially for the children and is a solid part of their every day life,doing school runs,looking after them if poorly, taking them to their social events and out of school clubs. Providing them with food, clothing and a roof over their heads.Although my ex husband has no interest or contact with my children he would still try and put a stop to my now partner adopting my children. If anything ever happened to myself I want peace of mind that my children's lives would not be turned upside down and they would be allowed to stay where they are happy and in the care of the person who they look upon as their dad. What can I do to ensure my children's step father can legally have parental responsibility if their biological father will not agree to it?

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here and Family Lives link here, which should help answer your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Feb-18 @ 10:13 AM
Hiya just a bit of back ground info. I have 2 boys 11 and 9 and have recently separated from their father. However we continue to live in the same home, with him taking little or no responsibility for them financially,practically or any other way tbh. I was wondering if I stand any ground on a legal basis here although I do find it highly unlikely as iam aware we are still legally married. He is being difficult about divorce proceedings atm. Difficult about everything!
Bee - 18-Feb-18 @ 7:47 PM
Could you please give me advice My partner would like to adopt my two children,aged 11 & 13, do we need my ex husbands permission? My children's biological father has not made any attempt to see or contact my children in 5 years. He seen them briefly foraround 2 months in 2013 & it came to an abrupt end when I didn't feel he had my children's best interests at heart...For example taking my children to school late, telling my daughter that his step daughter had more right to be in his home,my daughter coming home with bite marks and scratches on her body from his younger child,my son cutting his back open after falling on machinery left laying around and sending my son to school with shoes on that were completely split. Before this 2 month period he had not had contact with my children since around 2009. My children's home and life is now with myself and my partner. My partner provides financially for the children and is a solid part of their every day life,doing school runs,looking after them if poorly, taking them to their social events and out of school clubs. Providing them with food, clothing and a roof over their heads. Although my ex husband has no interest or contact with my children he would still try and put a stop to my now partner adopting my children. If anything ever happened to myself I want peace of mind that my children's lives would not be turned upside down and they would be allowed to stay where they are happy and in the care of the person who they look upon as their dad. What can I do to ensure my children's step father can legally have parental responsibility if their biological father will not agree to it?
LS - 18-Feb-18 @ 12:57 AM
K - Your Question:
After 4 years of my ex being absent from my children's lives I changed their surname to the same same as me and my husbands. He has now been absent from the youngest life for 12 years and I've just applied for his first passport they have said that I need my exs consent of name change my daughter has asked him as she has recently got back in contact with him and he's saying he won't give consent he has been absent for 12 years and owes 32 thousand in child maintenance. Does he still have the right to say no.?

Our Response:
Firstly, the fact your ex owes maintenance is a completely different issue to the one you are writing about and has no bearing. The issue here is that you changed your child's name without your ex's consent (if your ex has parental responsibility, you should have requested his consent). Likewise, he is refusing to authorise the passport application for your daughter. Your only recourse (if your ex refuses to attend mediation) is to apply to court, to ask the court to override his refusal. 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. With regards to the change in name, your ex can choose to make this an issue or not. However, again, this would have to be carried out through court.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Feb-18 @ 2:02 PM
After 4 years of my ex being absent from my children's lives I changed their surname to the same same as me and my husbands. He has now been absent from the youngest life for 12 years and I've just applied for his first passport they have said that I need my exs consent of name change my daughter has asked him as she has recently got back in contact with him and he's saying he won't give consent he has been absent for 12 years and owes 32 thousand in child maintenance. Does he still have the right to say no.?
K - 12-Feb-18 @ 7:12 AM
Pondy - Your Question:
My husbands son who’s 17years old has changed his surname by de poll and he hasn’t had no contact with him for about 3 years due to his ex being very difficult, will he still need to pay his ex child maintenance??

Our Response:
Yes, a name change makes no difference to child maintenance payments. Your husband still has a biological son he is responsible for helping to financially support, regardless of what name the son chooses to be known as.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Feb-18 @ 2:25 PM
My husbands son who’s 17years old has changed his surname by de poll and he hasn’t had no contact with him for about 3 years due to his ex being very difficult, will he still need to pay his ex child maintenance??
Pondy - 3-Feb-18 @ 9:21 PM
claire - Your Question:
My partner has a 6 year old daughter with his ex. He has fought for access since birth. He had to pay for a dna test as there was doubts he was the father. Once this was proved he contributed financially but has had to fight for access. The ex is so consumed by hatred she has done everything she can to prevent contact. She has moved areas twice and it took a long time to track her down. My partner has been in court 20+ times in the last 6 years. He has been awarded contact each time and she failed to turn up so it was back to court again and many times she didnt even bother turning up. The judge held her in contempt of court and sentenced her to community service which she never bothered to turn upto. In the meantime social services got involved due to her and her new husbands drug taking/dealing, alcohol and domestic violence on front of the children. They asked if we would be willing to take custody of course we agreed. It went to court and unbelievably she was given another chance as long ss she allowed regular weekly contact with my partner. As usual she did not turn up and disappeared again. She has breached 10 contact orders and 5 enforcement orders and has got off scot free. My partner stopped paying csa as this was feeding her drug habit and has been told that the csa will halt payments if the mother is in breach? We have just found out shes moved 5 hours away so again my partner has to apply for court to which she prob wont even turn up? Social services/cafcass a total waste of time.please can someone advise what to do as my partner just cant take much more.thank you x

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, the only recourse your partner has is to apply to the courts again. Only the court has the power to enforce this order in whatever way it sees fit.
ChildSupportLaws - 2-Feb-18 @ 12:02 PM
My partner has a 6 year old daughter with his ex. He has fought for access since birth. He had to pay for a dna test as there was doubts he was the father. Once this was proved he contributed financially but has had to fight for access. The ex is so consumed by hatred she has done everything she can to prevent contact. She has moved areas twice and it took a long time to track her down. My partner has been in court 20+ times in the last 6 years. He has been awarded contact each time and she failed to turn up so it was back to court again and many times she didnt even bother turning up. The judge held her in contempt of court and sentenced her to community service which she never bothered to turn upto. In the meantime social services got involved due to her and her new husbands drug taking/dealing, alcohol and domestic violence on front of the children. They asked if we would be willing to take custody of course we agreed. It went to court and unbelievably she was given another chance as long ss she allowed regular weekly contact with my partner. As usual she did not turn up and disappeared again. She has breached 10 contact orders and 5 enforcement orders and has got off scot free. My partner stopped paying csa as this was feeding her drug habit and has been told that the csa will halt payments if the mother is in breach? We have just found out shes moved 5 hours away so again my partner has to apply for court to which she prob wont even turn up? Social services/cafcass a total waste of time...please can someone advise what to do as my partner just cant take much more...thank you x
claire - 1-Feb-18 @ 9:58 PM
I have and 8 year old son who has never seen his father as he got somebody else pregnant at the same time and chose not to stand by me. He made me have a paternity test through the csa which proved his was the dad! He pays monthly for him but choses not to see him. Am due to get married next year and have a 2 year old daughter with my partner. We would like to give my son our name too. Will my ex still need to pay maintenance if we change his name by Depole x
Wardy - 16-Jan-18 @ 2:53 PM
Gems - Your Question:
My sons dad who I haven't been with for some years owes me near £2000 in maintenance, where do I stand with stopping access until some maintenance is paid?? This amount is only in the last 9 months I'm not counting the rest! Many thanks

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access are not related and not dependent upon each other. In other words a court would not condone you using your child as a financial bribe. You should try to sort this issue out separately. Requesting your ex attends mediation may be an option if you cannot agree between you. Or contacting CMS directly may also help.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jan-18 @ 11:17 AM
My sons dad who I haven't been with for some years owes me near £2000 in maintenance, where do I stand with stopping access until some maintenance is paid?? This amount is only in the last 9 months I'm not counting the rest! Many thanks
Gems - 14-Jan-18 @ 4:41 PM
Mum - Your Question:
I've recently split with the father of two of my children. We were unmarried but he is on the birth certificates and the children have his surname. The relationship failed to an affair on my behalf of which I'm not proud of, However he left the family home with the children and there passports and is denying me access. What can I do to have my children returned ? I don't even want a fight, I want my children to have both parents equally in there lives.

Our Response:
Where you cannot agree between yourselves, your only recourse is to suggest mediation and if your ex refuses to negotiate, apply to court, please see link here . 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.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Jan-18 @ 3:04 PM
I've recently split with the father of two of my children. We were unmarried but he is on the birth certificates and the children have his surname. The relationship failed to an affair on my behalf of which I'm not proud of, However he left the family home with the children and there passports and is denying me access. What can I do to have my children returned ? I don't even want a fight, I want my children to have both parents equally in there lives.
Mum - 6-Jan-18 @ 2:23 AM
Rose - Your Question:
My sons dad doesn't see his son for more than a year now, he used to be abusive towards me. My question is does he have parental rights even though he is not involved in his life? I search but it inst quite clear. We were never married and the relationship ended before the birth of my child.

Our Response:
As specified in the article, if the father of your child was registered as the father on the birth certificate, then he may have parental responsibility, please see link here. PR doesn't end unless officially ended by the court, regardless of what part your ex plays in your son's life. However, it is very rare that a court will remove parental responsibility. If your son's dad was 'not' registered as the father on the birth certificate, then he has no parental rights.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Jan-18 @ 2:25 PM
Hi I'm pregnant with a little boy unplanned and don't know the guy very well and I don't know to much about his lifestyle or family and he has been abroad for literally my whole pregnancy, obviously I will have to get to know his family when I have the baby and he is back and see the whole setup but he hasn't got his own place, and I don't really see him as a responsible adult what are my rights as a mother I have so much anxiety over this if he is not on the birth certificate and wants parental rights would he need to prove his maturity to the courts and is child maintenance and parental rights linked? He talks like my son is going to come everywhere with me but I don't want my little boy hanging around unresponsible dad doing nothing with his friends and I don't think he will be doing constructive dad things? Helpppp im so worried I don't want my son speaking slang and looking up to somebody who is not educated and constructive
Curiosbunny - 5-Jan-18 @ 12:43 AM
Mrs s - Your Question:
I have a son who has just turned 10. He hadn't seen his biological father (an ex boyfriend) or had any contact apart from a brief visit when he was only 3 years old as he wasn't interested. My husband and I had reached the decision last year, that we both believed would be beneficial for my son, for my husband to adopt him. Long story short, as part of the court proceedings they have to attempt to find and notify biological father to get their permission. He came out of the woodwork, so to speak, and opposed the adoption. Despite lying in court and not having any legitimate reason why he hadn't bothered all these years, adoption of my son was not allowed. His biological father doesn't have parental responsibility as isn't on the birth certificate. My husband was awarded legal parental responsibility only. My ex is now building a relationship with my son & I am supporting this, if very.cautiously!! Can I apply for child maintenance payments from his biological father even though he hasn't got legal parental responsibility?

Our Response:
Yes, you can apply for child maintenance. Every biological non-resident parent is responsible for paying towards the day-to-day care of their child. However, you would not be able to claim retrospective payments, only payments from when you first register the claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Jan-18 @ 10:42 AM
I have a son who has just turned 10. He hadn't seen his biological father (an ex boyfriend) or had any contact apart from a brief visit when he was only 3 years old as he wasn't interested. My husband and I had reached the decision last year, that we both believed would be beneficial for my son, for my husband to adopt him. Long story short, as part of the court proceedings they have to attempt to find and notify biological father to get their permission. He came out of the woodwork, so to speak, and opposed the adoption. Despite lying in court and not having any legitimate reason why he hadn't bothered all these years, adoption of my son was not allowed. His biological father doesn't have parental responsibility as isn't on the birth certificate. My husband was awarded legal parental responsibility only. My ex is now building a relationship with my son & I am supporting this, if very.cautiously!! Can I apply for child maintenance payments from his biological father even though he hasn't got legal parental responsibility?
Mrs s - 3-Jan-18 @ 9:08 AM
my sons dad doesn't see his son for more than a year now, he used to be abusive towards me. My question is does he have parental rights even though he is not involved in his life? I search but it inst quite clear. We were never married and the relationship ended before the birth of my child.
Rose - 2-Jan-18 @ 4:10 PM
Hi i seperated from my ex partner 20 months ago although not divorced. I have a 16 year old daughter who is not biologically his, he has supported her financially for 14 years this includes paying £40 a week since we split up for maintanance. He has now decided that he isnt going to pay this although still wants to be known as dad ect. Is there anything that i can do? I have been off work for nearly 2 years due to nearly dying from sepsis so we are really struggling financially.
Tasha - 29-Dec-17 @ 6:22 PM
Hi there I'm separated two years ago.my ex claims she is pregnant from me in her 12 week ( we had a contact just about 3month ago) and she will ask for child maintenance as doos as she will have the baby . I'm hardly surviving under mortgage and personal loan payments. What will happen for this case please . Regards
Alan - 24-Dec-17 @ 1:45 AM
I'm separated two years ago . My ex claims she is pregnant in his 12th week from me now( we had one contact about 3 month ago) and she is not gonna abortion . Then she will ask for child maintenance as soon as she will havethe baby . I'm so broken . Devastated as I'm hardly surviving under mortgage and personal loans . What will happen on this case please?
Alan - 24-Dec-17 @ 1:39 AM
Abi211314 - Your Question:
Hi I have a 9 week old son to my ex who left us when I was pregnant I have numerous domestic cases with the police against him for violence. He was at the birth as I asked him to I’ve offered him to have our son 2 days a week but not to go to his mothers and she smokes cannabis and offered to buy my son on numerous occasions of which I have proof. He is refusing to see our son or pay anything towards him or even to buy nappies etc he isn’t on the birth certificate as he didn’t show up on the day although informed of which I have proof again. If I go through csa will he be able to get perental responsibility and will he be aloud to take our son round to his mothers? I’ve offered to put him on the birth certificate after 1 year of seeing his son. He is admiment he wants to see our son but refuses to until I get csa what should I do or do I let my son grow up without his dad because he’s being selfish? Please help

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access are not connected. By law, a non-resident parent has to help support their child by paying child maintenance, regardless of whether they see the child or not. This means you can claim child maintenance and it does not mean your ex will be granted access. He would have to either agree with you regarding access. Or, suggest you both attend mediation and if you refuse, then will then have the option to apply to court.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Dec-17 @ 2:27 PM
Hi I have a 9 week old son to my ex who left us when I was pregnant I have numerous domestic cases with the police against him for violence. He was at the birth as I asked him to I’ve offered him to have our son 2 days a week but not to go to his mothers and she smokes cannabis and offered to buy my son on numerous occasions of which I have proof. He is refusing to see our son or pay anything towards him or even to buy nappies etc he isn’t on the birth certificate as he didn’t show up on the day although informed of which I have proof again. If I go through csa will he be able to get perental responsibility and will he be aloud to take our son round to his mothers? I’ve offered to put him on the birth certificate after 1 year of seeing his son. He is admiment he wants to see our son but refuses to until I get csa what should I do or do I let my son grow up without his dad because he’s being selfish? Please help
Abi211314 - 19-Dec-17 @ 6:06 PM
Tink - Your Question:
My child is 9 for 4 years the father had on off contact. After a long time of court orders the father hasn't had contact with my child for 5 years now, as he wanted a section 7 report done which didn't go in his favour.He's also been in and out of prison since his last contact.Can I have his P.R taken away? He's basically abandoned my child!

Our Response:
It's rare a court will take parental responsibility away from one parent, unless absolutely necessary. It would be a matter for the courts to decide what it thinks is in the best interests of your child. Therefore, you would be best advised to seek legal guidance to see whether you have a case.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Dec-17 @ 11:08 AM
My child is 9 for 4 years the father had on off contact. After a long time of court orders the father hasn't had contact with my child for 5 years now, as he wanted a section 7 report done which didn't go in his favour. He's also been in and out of prison since his last contact. Can I have his P.R taken away? He's basically abandoned my child!
Tink - 18-Dec-17 @ 7:46 PM
DavieMndy - Your Question:
My ex-wife and I separated years ago. Since 2014, my children have been living with me and have zero contact with their mother. Their mother doesn’t attempt contact and my children don’t want any contact whatsoever with their mother. Their mother has not contributed financially towards them since 2014 and we don’t know where she lives, we have no means of contacting her.Their ages are 17 and 12. Child benefit is in my name as is tax credits.Do I have sole parental responsibility?Also, my fiancée (getting married in 2018) wishes to adopt my children, is this possible without their mother agreeing?Thank you.

Our Response:
If you wish to claim child maintenance, you should get in touch with CMS Options and they will put a trace on your ex. Your ex still has parental responsibility of your children, and if your current partner wishes to adopt them, your ex would have to give her written consent, please see link here for more information.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Dec-17 @ 3:47 PM
My ex-wife and I separated years ago. Since 2014, my children have been living with me and have zero contact with their mother. Their mother doesn’t attempt contact and my children don’t want any contact whatsoever with their mother. Their mother has not contributed financially towards them since 2014 and we don’t know where she lives, we have no means of contacting her. Their ages are 17 and 12. Child benefit is in my name as is tax credits. Do I have sole parental responsibility? Also, my fiancée (getting married in 2018) wishes to adopt my children, is this possible without their mother agreeing? Thank you.
DavieMndy - 18-Dec-17 @ 2:25 PM
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