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The Law and Single Fathers

Author: Anna Martin - Updated: 2 August 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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@Shaddy - given she has parental responsibility then she can. Should you object to this move, then you could apply for a Prohibited Steps Order or Specific Issue Order through the courts. A Prohibited Steps Order (PSO) is an order granted by the court in family cases which prevents either parent from carrying out certain moves events or making specific decisions regarding their children without the express permission of the other parent. Specific Issue Orders are orders that parents pursue from the family proceedings court to resolve a matter in connection with the exercise of Parental Responsibility. These orders can cover a wide range of issues that you and your ex-partner cannot agree on. However, the courts may want to know the specific reasons why you can't take care of your child over this time.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Aug-15 @ 11:35 AM
hi i have to grand kids by my son and his ex i get to see my grandson 13 but not my granddaughter 4 she has been doin this to me since sh had her son everytime she fellout with my son or was just in one of her moods i never got to see them and thats when my son was still withher she seems to think she can control meand keep hurting me when i was late with my grandsonsbirthday she didn let me meet my granddaughter till she was 11months old thats the kind of person she is i am realy missing my granddaughter and i know she will be missing me what can i do as i cant aford a lawyer as i dont work as i have bad health
granma - 2-Aug-15 @ 8:19 PM
Come across a difficult matter where my separated wife is going on an all ladies holiday for a week near Xmas. She asked me if I could have him whilst she's away but I refused because of work commitments so she's going to put our four years old son in the care of her boyfriend. Is she allowed to do it?
Shaddy - 2-Aug-15 @ 4:25 PM
@mom :) - I'm afraid the judge can make a decision on how he/she sees fit. However, it seems a pointless decision to make if your partner does not have a relationship with his mother and if Cafcass has been involved then this should be put to his Cafcass representative. I find it odd that the judge is willing to wipe the case. most courts of law do their best to keep the father a constant in their child's lives. Occasionally, a judge will get frustrated if they think their time is being wasted.
MT - 27-Jul-15 @ 12:42 PM
Hi my partner has been battling courts for eight months now on custody of his wee girl the ex the mother of child has told court she doesn't trust him so she wanted him to be supervised we could not underrstand y as he's niver done anthing for her not to trust him anyway he did supervised visits and the ex then told more lies in court everytime his solicitor tried bring it forward for the child to be back in our home two days a week. So he then had to go through a contact centre as anythig he proposed to her in court she turned down so really everything has went her way anyway he done eight weeks of contact centre and had been noticing the child did not feel comfortsable in the place so told court he wanted it out of the contact centre and back into our home his solicior put this to her solicitor to which it was a no go my partner then said he wanted out child to be involved in the contact as they miss eachother to which his ex said she didn't want her there !! The juge then said he has two options he either does the contact at his mums house to which he has no relatioship with anymore or the juge will wipe the case.Can this be done?v I find it very unfair he's been constant through court has done all that the ex watnted and now this has anyone else had this??
mom :) - 24-Jul-15 @ 6:00 PM
@Rosa - Yes, you can apply for the form C4, which is an application for an order for disclosure of a child's whereabouts. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 11-Jun-15 @ 3:08 PM
Hi all, in January I won custody of my son through the social services (not courts) because he was being mis-treated and witnessed horrible things whilst living at his moms. The SS decided it would be better for him to live with me and my partner because we have stability but as it goes all the stress from fighting for him has took its toll on our relationship and we are splitting up, I would like to know what would happen to my son now? Will be be taken into care? Go back to his mom? Or can I apply for housing to find our own place as I'm sleeping in his room with him under the same roof as my ex at the minute? Thanks
Topdad - 11-Jun-15 @ 11:07 AM
Hi my partner is trying to get access to his daughter via a court order as the mum is being extremely difficult and refusing access. He's messaged her and asked for her address and we think she has moved in the last few weeks but she refuses to answer and blocked him on Facebook. Does he have a right to know the child's residing address? The court has said he can't submit the c100 without the mothers (respondant) address is there any other way of finding it out? We know what nursery his daughter goes to does he have a right to request her address from them as the daughter obviously lives with the mum and the address would be the same? If that makes sense! Many thanks
Rosa - 10-Jun-15 @ 7:20 PM
I have recently separated after 11 yrs. My ex decided that she has "other things" to do in life, that dont involve me! We have an 8 yr old daughter together, and she has a 17 yr old daughter (whom I've helped care for since she was 6yrs old.) My problem is that my daughter is desperate to live with me, and her mother has admitted that she is going to put herself before my daughter. My story is a long one, but I am looking for an answer to.. does the childs opinion count?Mark
scouseafrican - 4-Jun-15 @ 1:59 AM
@auntie - I am sorry to hear this. Did your sister appoint a guardian to the children? If you are concerned about their wellbeing, you could always approach him directly and informally and ask whether you could help out. Or, you may be able to take it to court, especially if you had a long involvement with them and the father had little. You will need to seek legal advice over whether it is possible. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-May-15 @ 2:55 PM
I am an auntie of 2 children whom are my sister'a children which passed away recently. The children are looked after the father and I am concerned about their wellbeing. I would like to help looking after them. What are my legal rights? Many thanks
auntie - 11-May-15 @ 12:07 AM
@kev - I am sorry to hear this and yes, it can be very difficult in practical terms and particularly because of the hours you work. However, you have a little time to try and sort something out. Could you apply for flexible working hours? See link here . Or, it might be that you could look for another job that would fit in more with being able to see your children. You don't say what your ex's situation is and whether she works or not, because it is understandable that she as well as you wants to spend quality time with your children at the weekends. If you had a job that finished at 5pm and began at 9am then it might be that you would be able to have your daughters overnight and take them to school the next morning. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Mar-15 @ 11:56 AM
@stewie69 - I'm afraid when couples split up, they also move on and that's where the likes of step-fathers and and step-mothers come in that can have a close relationship with the children because they are ultimately sharing care. Likewise, should you meet another woman then it might be that your children would begin to forge a relationship with her and that would surely please you to know that all was going swimmingly. Is it not better that your child feels that she can confide in this new man and ask him to help where needed? It surely would be worse and more disruptive for both her and you, if she disliked him. I can see how you must feel and it is never easy when it seems like another person is coming in to take your place. But you are your children's father and I am sure they love you very much as you have the blood bonds from birth. We now live in an age of the extended family and a much of it is about getting on with the other people our ex's choose to have relationships with. If you work with it rather than against it, I'm sure it will work out better than you think. Yes,there will be bumps in the road as you work around issues, but the fact that this man is willing to help your children where needed, can surely be only a positive thing. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Mar-15 @ 12:34 PM
@Overpaying Daddy - it is always best to pay either by direct debit or at least somewhere where it is registered as there really is no way to prove you have paid by cash. You will need to look back through your statements to find out how you paid. I am unsure whether there is any redress for the grievance caused, you would have to contact the CSA directly. You can however, complain to the CSA, via the link here if you felt it too was at fault for your grievance. I hope this helps
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Mar-15 @ 12:14 PM
I work 2pm till 10pm so I have my daughters monday and Thursday 9 till 1 and sundays 9 till 3. I will forever be upset that I dont see them everyday considering I did nothing wrong in the breakup of the relationship. My two girls mean more too me than anything and I live with such guilt when they get upset when I drop them off. why in this day and age cant their be a law that enables fathers a right to see their children legally and binding. iv been told when they start school it will be every other weekend, that scares me more than anything
kev - 15-Mar-15 @ 9:30 PM
Hi I have 50/50 rights of my 2 children have a court order I see them all I can Wednesday Thursday after school until 7 pm and alternative weekends and when ever there is anything else my ex needs everthing was going ok until she found someone else now she tells him everything what happens in school / home and I find out of other people for example my youngest was sent home from school and she phoned her new fella instead of me i carnt talk to her as she won't listen what can i do thanks
stewie69 - 14-Mar-15 @ 10:48 AM
The mother of my only son and ex from a very long time ago (thank god) has filed for me to pay some maintenance arrears which the vast majority of don't exist. I have sent evidence to the CSA showing what I have paid from when the claim started (September 2014) to present day and during this time due to the confusion the situation has caused, I have built up arrears of £200 ish which I intend on clearing asap. The total arrears however are showing as £600 approximatelybecause of a claim she made in 2009. That particular issue was resolved very quickly, I continued to pay maintenance direct without missing a payment however she failed to inform CSA that I was still paying and is now refusing to tell them that those arrears are null and void. I am not sure whether I paid in cash or by standing order at that time and now I have been informed that I may be taken to court. Where do I stand if I paid cash and can't prove it? Alternatively, if I prove I have paid said arrears, can I prosecute her and/or the CSA for the unnecessary grievance this has caused?
Overpaying Daddy - 13-Mar-15 @ 7:46 AM
@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
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