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The Law and Single Fathers

Author: Anna Martin - Updated: 2 March 2015 | commentsComment
 
Parental Responsibility Father Parent

Unless a single father has a Parental Responsibility Agreement or Order he has few legal rights, regarding his children. A single father does however have the right to make a court application for contact. He also has responsibilities to his child, which mean it is his obligation to ensure his child is properly looked after and supported emotionally, physically and financially.

The Lack Of Legal Rights

If an unmarried father jointly registers the birth of his child he automatically has Parental Responsibility. If he does not jointly register his child however, the father has no rights over the child, and can only act on their behalf in an emergency. Having no legal rights over his child means that the single father has no say over the naming of the child, his/her religion, where the child should be educated, what kind of medical treatment they can have or even over the child’s adoption. The father also has no access to the child’s official documents or medical records, and is not able to get a passport for the child.

The child’s father does however have to pay Child Support on demand,but is entitled to apply for a Parental Responsibility Order if the mother of the child is unwilling to agree to a Parental Responsibility Agreement.

How Can A Father Acquire Parental Rights?

If communication with the child’s mother is open, simply asking for Parental Responsibility may be all it requires. If she is happy to agree all a father has to do is download a Parental Responsibility form from the Internet, sign it and send it off to court. If the child’s mother doesn’t sign a Parental Responsibility form however, the father is able to make a direct application to the courts.

On reviewing an application from a father the court will take into consideration how much commitment the father is able to offer the child, the degree of attachment between parent and child and the reasons why the father is making an application for Parental Responsibility.

Rights Over Contact

If a couple disagrees over contact arrangements a father can apply to the court for an interim contact order. This is done by attending a directions hearing and a consent order may be made if there are disagreements between the child’s parents. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court may issue an order regarding care and contact. This is only done in cases where the child will benefit from the changes in contact. On the whole, however, the child’s welfare is given paramount consideration by any court of law.

Does A Step-Dad Have Any Rights?

Maintaining relationships after separation can be difficult. It is the mother’s responsibility to allow her child to have contact with a step-parent. If she prevents contact a father may apply for a contact order, provided the child lived with him for at least three years. However, a father does not have any Parental Responsibility if he is not the natural or adoptive parent.

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@chappo - if you want your daughter to stay overnight and your ex is being difficult, you can apply through the courts for a special issue order. They may want you to go through mediation first, but then if your ex doesn't agree it will be up to the judge to decide.
Matt - 2-Mar-15 @ 10:17 AM
@Matthew - I think the best thing would be to apply for an official residency under through the courts, at least then the mother can't take them back if residency is awarded to you. Please see Child Custody Rights article here. You don't really want your sons to be pulled from pillar to post, as while you may have parental responsibility and can keep hold of your children should you wish, so your ex can also take them back given the opportunity (but I don't know of any six-week rule, she would have to apply through the courts for them to be returned). I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 2-Mar-15 @ 10:06 AM
Social Services recently advised me off the record to pick my two little lads up and not take them back to my ex and kids mum who was under a Child protection order for last year which i only found out about 4week ago and severely neglecting them i have finished work and am looking after them but was told yesterday after 6weeks the mother can just take them back i find this disturbing and the reason she will want them back is That Her Money for themwill stop. Everything seems to be "i cant really say this" by social Services and other so called proffesionals, i fear for their safety should she get them back and think their world Has already been turned upside Down. Really appreciate aby help on this.
Matthew Nettleton - 26-Feb-15 @ 1:15 PM
i see my daughter who is 4 for 2 hours wednesday and friday and 8 until 6 on a saturday i live with my new partner for 5 months my girl has been coming round now for about three months .my ex refuses to let me have my child overnight on the basis that its because she does not sleep in her own bed tet she lets her stay at various relatives houses ie my mum .her aunties .and her grandads so this is clearly not the case do i have any rights for a overnight stay thanks chappo
chappo - 26-Feb-15 @ 7:37 AM
@CarloV - at 14 the courts should take your daughter seriously if she expressly wishes to live with you. If you decide to take it to court for a residency order Cafcass will interview her and make her opinion known.
Chris - 25-Feb-15 @ 2:12 PM
I'm looking for advice on how to deal with getting my 14 year old daughter to live with me. She's desperate to leave her mother's home due to a bullying and controlling step father. I have tried to talk with her mother but she now just refuses to talk about it. My daughter is no seeing a doctor and is on anti depressants. I'm desperate to help her. Me and her mother were never married although I have been an active father since she was born. And am named on her birth certificate and pay monthly maintenance. Does anyone know my leagal rights or options at this point?
CarloV - 23-Feb-15 @ 5:19 PM
@dorothyann - in this case I suggest you speak to someone personally who may be able to give you some structured advice if he is concerned about his daughter's welfare. You can get in touch with Family Lives via its website here who can give you some free and confidential advice on the matter. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Jan-15 @ 2:46 PM
im asking here on behalf of my son. his relationship with his partners mother has broken down and things are really getting nasty. his ex partner has mental issues, a personality disorder and also looking like bi-polar. she was sent for counselling some time ago but after 2 sessions, wouldnt go back. she is making all sorts of threats. stopping my son seeing his little one, and she really is a daddies girl. and he had a phone call last night from her mother (also diagnosed with some mental issues, schizophrenia)accusing him of all manner of things, which arent true, (his ex-partner appears to be making it up as she goes along,) and threatening to send people round to get his legs broken. he is living with me, (i am 67) and these threats are therefore threats against my home. he is now very seriously concerned for the well being of his daughter. what can be done to get her out of there???? there is also another boy, not my sons child, but he has been his surrogate dad since the boy was 3 and he is now 11. he calls him dad. and he adores my son and she has already but a block on the seeing each other.
dorothyann - 8-Jan-15 @ 11:20 AM
@Goodbye - I'm going to direct you to our partner page Legal Aid Withdrawal: How to Represent Yourself, link here. There are now a lot of fathers representing themselves and you will find on our Facebook page a posting from Dec 4, with many fathers giving advice and talking about their own personal experiences of taking up their own cases in court. Don't give up, there is help out there.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Dec-14 @ 2:48 PM
My ex partner is a counsellor and has decided to up and leave ,call it a day 2 months ago. There has been no physical or emotional abuse. She has refused my offer of maintenance which was far above what the cms require and opened a case. The cms told me not to pay her direct and only through them all in hand but is dragging on a bit no fault of mine. My ex partner is giving me a one hour visit in a local children's centre where she used to work weekly. She refuses to let me have anytime unsupervised with my daughter ie walk or café etc and at weekends. The problem is that I work during the week. I have found out I have rights when my name is on the birth certificate but only after paying for mediation ,lawyers and court fees. The split has also placed me in poverty. I love our new baby dearly and want to be there for her but. I am calling it a day because it will ruin me emotionally and financially. I support mothers with legitimate issues of abuse but am disheartened that fathers can't see their children as a starting point and if there are legitimate issues that can be proven, access should be restricted accordingly. My case is my ex is using my daughter as a weapon to control and hurt and I feel I have to walk away. The irony is I did not want more children and she did but then felt she had to leave me. But it is all my fault I hear single mothers brigade shout. Well there will be no one to shout at in my case .My daughter is a victim of all this and as a father I have not enough resource to include her in my life as a father and daughter should be. Can anyone help? REALITY IS MOTHERS ARE IF FULL CONTROL AND FATHERS HAVE NO RIGHTS unless they have lots of money .Naturally I feel upset that the laws in this country are antiquated and not congruent with fathers that wish to continue fathering after separation.
Goodbye! - 17-Dec-14 @ 1:21 PM
I split from my ex 4 years ago because he physically assaulted 1 of my children. When he left I was 3 months pregnant and we had 14 month old twin boys. My ex has not seen or had contact with the twins for 4 years and he has never met my now 3 year old. All of a sudden I am getting messages from the girlfriend telling me that they will both get access to the boys whether I like it or not and the girlfriend even asked me for my address so they could come to my home. What am I supposed to do? My twins both have mental disabilities so they need lots of extra support which myself and my partner provide for them. The girlfriend is going on about my finances as well which I don't see has anything to do with her. My ex has never regularly paid for the boys he has just given drips and drabs here and there and I actually stopped the csa claim a couple of months ago because he was not paying anything anyway. Any advice would be great please.
chelby - 21-Aug-14 @ 2:10 PM
My son was 18 yrs. old when his girlfriend gave birth to twin daughters. This was in 2000. The girls were born two months prematurely in Michigan. My son signed the birth certificates at that time. He had issues with drug addiction and bipolar disorder. Needless to say he was in and out of jails and prison in Michigan and Wisconsin more than he was out. During the time he was incarcerated, the child support kept adding up including fees. They say he owes 11,000 in back child support!Anyway, he has now been doing good, is in his 30's and has a son with a new girlfriend. They are currently living together with her parents. Whenever my son had a job or was on unemployment, WI. took out child support. Now he has been working steadily with a good job, for the past few months, paying child support and even insurance for the girls. He hasn't seen seen them since they were 1 yr. old. They are 13yrs. old. Today he got a letter from the WI child support agency stating that they took $1000.00 from his joint checking and savings accounts to pay for arrears and fees. He is just devastated. We are so happy he is doing good finally, and now they are causing enough upset that I worry if he will give up. To do this especially at Christmas time when he was just getting on his feet, is awful, not to mention that both checking and savings accounts were in both his name and his girlfriends name.
Sandy - 4-Dec-13 @ 11:04 PM
My daughter recently splitfrom her partner due to domestic violence towards her and also lack of commitment to their baby son. Please could some one advise me if he or his mother will have any rights to access. they have not tried to contact the baby for 5 months and her ex's mother has also lost access to her own 2 children to her ex partner due to her lack of parenting skills. They do not care for my grandson and my daughter just wants to raise her son in a loving and caring enviroment. Please could someone give me any advice which may help. Thankyou.
concerned nanny - 3-Apr-13 @ 1:51 PM
My husband left me a few days after our baby was conceived (1st child) I am currently divorcing him on grounds of domestic abuse. What rights will he have once the baby is born in June 2013? I do not want him to see the child, because he is a violent alcoholic. He has a reasonably well paid job. I am unemployed. Thanks.
Seasick Steve - 28-Mar-13 @ 5:31 PM
My wife and I separated 6 months ago.Via mediation, it was forced upon me that I would get access every Wednesday overnight and every other weekend Friday to Monday.I feel strongly that it should be 50/50 as I was an extremely involved and hands on father. I particularly dislike the long spell every other weekend thur am through to Wednesday, when I don't see the children and am only allowed 1 phone call. Although I was the major wage earner, my ex also has a good job (32 hrs a week), I have always had some flexibility and been able to drop off and pick up from school etc and be largely on hand if the children were ill etc. What are my chances of getting improved access, if going to court.My children are 11 and 8. Thank you for your advice.
Abc123 - 25-Dec-12 @ 9:19 AM
I have been in family court today to ask the court to get Cafcass to talk to my two children. When I arrived Cafcass was already in with the judge. When it was our turn to going with our counsel, the judge started shouting that I was only there cos I did not agree with last decision made in court by the other judge, he then went on to say to my ex's counsel to contact the aid commission to get my aid revoked cos they should not waste money on me. The reason I have been returning to court is because my ex has been physically and mentally violent to my children especially my daughter now aged 12. I am now scared for my children, you see I am deaf so if I have no legal aid I cannot represent my self as I won't be able to hear anything. It is in my file that was given to the court, so the judge must be aware of this. Cafcass will speak to my children, but I do not hold much with them, my daughter is frightened to say anything about it to her teachers so how will a visiting stranger to the school fare. I was a house husband looking after my children and do all the housework etc. for 9 years taking beatings and mental abuse, 7 of then sleeping on the settee as I was protecting my children by staying there. I left after she attacked me in front of my son, the look on his face will haunt me forever, I left so they would not witness anymore.
kvh2012 - 14-Dec-12 @ 11:11 PM
All I can say is that the only people to blame is the courts and the government. I am from Portugal and this would never take place. How is it possible that a woman has the right to determine if the kid can or not see his/ her father? I don't understand it! I have 11 year old son and since he was 1 month old his mother uses him to get to me. Eventually things calmed down and I got some access, as soon I wanted to legalise my rights and create an account for him she went ballistic fabricating lies and stories changing her contact information and falsely accusing me of not loving my son... Now not even my mother can get hold of her family as before,and I know for a fact if I attempt to show up at their place they will call the police falsely accusing me of being abusive. How can I possibly fix this? How can I possibly stand by my son? The law does not care about the kids well beings if they did they would be chasing the laws like everywhere else in the world! To all the females out there that use their kids to get their way... Grow up! One day your sons and daughters will leave you all alone to live with their fathers as they miss our emotional support and hopefully don't grow up to be so messed up in the heads like you! I hope someone can help me fix my situation as very soon he will be a teenager, angry and lost... RICO I will always love you always be here for you. Miss you little man.
To my sons - 9-Dec-12 @ 3:30 PM
Hi I have 2 daughters that have been that have been put in to long term fostercare because my x partner negleted them after 5 years of battle in the courts I've lost I had 30 allegations we had a fact fining hearing all allegations were droped as the judge belived they were fabricated by my x. We had 3 differnt guardians the last 1 completley lied and failed my assesment. They said I did have insight to my did have knowledge in my kids emotional needs but not deep enough!! I've also done a parenting course. In trying to get in back in to court but my family and friends are telling me it be easier if I'm in a relationship I would like to know if this is true?? Please can any 1 advice me. My contact is reduced to 3 times a year. Hope everything works out for you guys on here. Please to all the men stick by your kids you don't know what you got untill its gone!To the women please stop using your kids has weapons you messing there childhood have so please stop this!!
kahn - 11-Nov-12 @ 6:20 PM
I have an 8month child to a guy I've known over 10yrs. I was in between moving cities for a good job when I fell pregnant. He said even though we went together he'd help financially, emotionally and once baby was here share weekends... He had 3jobs when pregnant and now has one. He paid half towards a pram and bought a pack of vests- this is all he's ever purchased! He paid £20 pw from her being 6weeks old to 6months (worked out is equiv to £2 per day) which he continuously moaned about and tried stopping when he didn't go into work for toothache,he has been on 2 holidays in 12months to napa aswel as spemdung money getting pissed up with his joker mates every weekend & in past few months had sent texts saying how he wont have baby weekends, any judge will favour him???? He works less than 16houts on thurs and sat night.... He has continuously been a let down when supposed to have baby- with lame excuse after excuse, followed by evil hurtful messages how I'm a bad mum that doesn't deserve a social life or luxuries (as I explained I carnt afford Internet/sky etc) he also texts when he's out with the lads with the whole "haha I'm out on the town one of us has a life away from Facebook" and that he didn't have an option when it keep to the pregnancy and be she's here I should deal with it....Nice guy eh! I'm currently on benefits and hate it I want to carry on studying and wrk part time as planned when pregnant but he says he won't get a job to support me or my lifestyle and we aren't together do my bills are my problem attitude.... So I said I'll have to get a f/t job because I physically am struggling and he somehow had got out of paying decent money and pays £8 a week CSA /: he now is saying that if that's the case he wants full custody but how does this work it's not what I wanted to do but what other choice do I have if I don't want to be on benefits :( he won't work but will have his daughter and take the tax credits ???? Where do I stand on this- I wanted to finish my A1 assesors qualification so I can teach within a training school/academy/college so once baby is at school the hours/holidays will work in my favour....
Bebe - 18-Oct-12 @ 2:22 AM
I am pretty disturbed by some of the mens comments on this board about where maintenance money is being spent and what on etc. When a parent is sole carer of a child there earning potential is greatly reduced, even when a child starts school. It is very difficult to find a job within school hours or pay huge sums of money on childcare to enable parents to work full time. If you care to seek legal advice you will realise that maintenance is actually paid to the parent who has sole responsibility because looking after a child reduces there ability to work, this means that quite often it is there income and they can choose to spend it however they choose. If that is on a night out because they are a full time mother and need time out from one of the most difficult jobs in the world then so be it. They are entitled to spend maintenance money on whatever they choose. As long as the child is fed, clothed and looked after properly then there is no control over how maintenance is spent. It is a misconception that maintenance is for the child it is for the parent who is looking after the child to care for the child and themselves due to reduced working potential. Its pretty simple really.
Pollyrox - 19-Sep-12 @ 9:32 AM
my girlfriend and i split up in february 2012 after 11 years together. she has custody of all 3 of my children. when we split she told me that she personally didnt want any money from me, only that if our 3 kids needed anything, ie clothes, shoes, day trips away with school etc. that i would cover all that which i had absolutely no problem with at all, as i love all of my children and would not have them go without if i can afford it. i have now became the whipping boy in recent weeks where every time i see my kids she uses it as an excuse to start throwing insults verbally abusing me and threatening me with violence, now the ex is demanding cash to be paid to her or she will contact the csa and have me over a barrel, as i said i have no problem supporting my children financially but fear that if i bow to her wishes the money wont be spent on the kids but on her nights out which she has regularly. all i need to know is where do i stand legally? should i bow or contact the csa myself and explain my circumstances? please help :(
theabused - 25-Jul-12 @ 3:46 PM
My ex left me 4 another woman 6 months ago, he only asked to see our daughter who is 1 yo Sundays 11-4, like a mug i would drop her off at his house and pick her up, he always had an excuse for why he couldnt even give me petrol money, when he had her i would provide all her food, nappies, wipes etc he had also cancelled on our daughter a few times as something else came up. I then told him that although i would never stop him seeing our daughter i could not afford to drop her off/pick her up and provide everythin, due to reduction of hrs at work and child care costs. He offered to pay me £5 for petrol and her upbringing per week, in the 6 months i have only recieved £5, since i have stopped bringing her to him, he has refused to pick her up and will now not reply or make payment to my new csa claim. He then contacted me and asked to have his daughter 1 sunday in april, we agreed to meet half way and he never showed, no contact to say why, although his family tell me he was drinkin the night before. Now 3 months later he has contacted me saying he needs my address for a lawyer! I have never stopped him seeing his daughter and lack of contact was due to him, he is on the birth certificate but has like i said only paid £5 in the last 6 months. What rights will he have, as he is threatning to take my daughter full time, yet he is not reliable and too selfish to take care of her properly, she also doesnt know him anymore.
Cris - 21-Jul-12 @ 7:11 PM
In reply to kez You should be grateful that you get to see a lot of your daughter unlikemany other fathers on here. There is no way to find out what the money is being spent on, It sounds like you have a bit of a vendetta against the mother, why cause a problem if you have good access? I think the threshold to claim any benefits are £16000 per yr, so i would say no you are not entitled to benefits.
cuff - 6-Jul-12 @ 7:40 AM
hi, im a singe dad i get to spend a good bit of time with my daughter i am on the birth certificate & give the mother 200 a month, however im not sure if the money is being spent on her is there anything i can do to make sure it is?? also i work full time earning just over 17000p/y am i entitled to any benefits?
kez - 2-Jul-12 @ 1:49 PM
Hi, I split with my ex nearly 3 years ago and we have a 9 year old daughter. I went to court to get an agreement so that I could see her on one day every weekend for 10 hours. My ex rarely uphold this agreement and I tried taking her back to court to fight it but she refused to attend. I have regulary paid for my daughters needs or given my ex weekly payments. I have done this every week since we spllit. My ex has now contacted the csa and they are claiming i have not paid anything for the last 3 years and want to bill me for it. I have reciepts for some payments I have sent and proof of direct debits i had in place directed to my ex, what can I do? I am working but not earning enough to pay for a solicitor and all the other living costs. I last paid maintanence 2 weeks ago to cover until the end of July I cant believe I have to pay again and Im so eager to get to see my daughter regularly. Please help
stevet - 27-Jun-12 @ 9:46 PM
I am going to be a single father living on my own soon is there any help I can get towards all my bills?with only one wage coming in I have to try and cover everything and support my daughters.Thanks.
gleavesy - 21-Jun-12 @ 7:25 PM
my now ex wife and daugther moved to spain when she was 8weeks old we got divorced in spain as i saw my daugther five days a week when we were separated the court asked me if i wanted to keep that arrangement which i did i all so paid maintance every month as asked by the court my ex then remarried and told me they were moving back to the uk never asked just told me they said i could speak to beth thats her name by email hotmail facebook i coul even ring her at home even though my ex new husband wasnt happy about so off they went beth and i were devastated but we spoke for 2weeks then it was beths out even on a school night then i got told theyd change her surname to theres to stop any question o i told them that i wasnt happy and that as i did not give my permission by law i still was allowed to see beth five days aweek so they cut off all access to beth it got to christmas and i was desprate so i pleaded with them they said if i sent a fax saying i give beth permission they would get her to speak to me so like a fool i did ive not heard from them at all they wont return my calls email even blocked me on facebook please tell me how is this right then david camarron goes on tv and fathers that dont see there children are criminals what about women like my exand her new husband are they not crooks i do not no where to turn for help pleaseeeeeeeeee
bandana - 19-Jun-12 @ 8:06 AM
Hello I have just been deported from Uk for working with a false ID My legally married wife has got another partner in Uk We have 2kids together during our 9years of marriage before separation My ex wife is a NIgerian and myself but she has denied me access to my children since I was brought back to NIgeria Pls how can I fight for the custody of my children from Nigeria
Henroski - 15-Jun-12 @ 4:21 PM
im a single father of a 5yr old boy, i like to have peace & respect with all the people in my life, but for some or other reason when it comes to her she just uses and abuses the right of being my sons mom, my son stays with her and then when she has her bad moods then im not allowed to see my son, i dont earn a big salary but i try to do what i can, pay the cresch and buy clothes and stuff for him....she is a lesbian that doesnt work and nor does her partner... now she wants to take me to court and sue me for money i dont have, then she tells me i must write my son off then she will leave me alone and i can carry on with my life, she cost me several jobs and thousands of rands of debt that she made on my name because of my son, its as if she is telling me to write him off... what do i do? im stressing and messing up at work?
chris - 4-Jun-12 @ 1:29 PM
I am a nonresident father who saw our beautiful daughter 3-4 times a week with 2 overnights. A few times a year she stayed a whole week. My ex girlfriend broke up our 13 year relationship when she met someone else. I paid her debts, and started 215 month maintenance right away for our daughter. My ex became angry when I got married two years after our breakup and "reported me" to the csa (we had a private agreement before this) for more money because she didn't want another woman having influence in our daughter's life -my wife is a wonderful woman and my ex refused to meet her. My ex withheld contact with our daughter for three months while the csa were working on the case to get more money as she told them I never see our daughter. Well,my ex got more money based on my "never seeing our daughter" and I am now "allowed" to see my daughter on my own, without my wife, only for an hour or two away from my home. How is it the csa ignored 2 years of steady contact making a decision on three months (imposed) no-contact which was an obvious withholding. How is this fair? My ex also refused to give me parental rights, a car (she has both), the house and everything in it- as she threatened to disappear with our daughter if I asked for anything. I was the sole supporter all those years. I am in heartbreak over our daughter. I am in financial hardship now.
disbelief - 31-May-12 @ 9:37 AM
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