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The Law and Single Fathers

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 13 Nov 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
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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I am currently in dispute with my wife over the payment of monies regarding our children. I have the children alternating Friday & Saturday's, sunday night & Wednesday night. I pay my wife a days maintenance as well as her collecting sll the benefits. I have long argued that my wife should be buying clothes & paying for school dinners, hair cuts & school uniforms. But she insists that on top of the money I pay I should also be paying towards all the items listed and more. Please can you tell me who is right, if at all either of us are. Thsnks
Chris78 - 13-Nov-18 @ 12:41 PM
I am fortunate enough to have both my daughters in my full time care due to a useless mother. She does not provide for my 2 children or even send cards on their birthdays but social services are still will to pay for her to see her children knowing she is not providing or supporting them with anything and that I am still paying bills from a house that she kicked me out of and couldn't manage her bills to then be told by child matinece if I want to claim I would first have to pay out to get started and as me and their mother are not on speaking terms if she misses payments have been told I will have to pay a missed payment fee it's so one sided great job to all you dad's that are revolving your life around making time for your children and providing (probably for their mums luxury items and nights out while your in all weekend with your kids) equal rights I think us as men are now on the other side of unfairness against men
Ajterry - 22-Oct-18 @ 1:33 AM
Hi, I've been separated from my daughters mother for 2 years. Access was initially 2 alternate weeks, one week my daughter was with me Friday and Saturday nights, the next it would be Thursday and Sunday, so we would each get a weekend to ourselves. Our daughter was in nursery, and everything worked fine. I was required to work one Saturday morning a month, which slotted in no problem on one of my free weekends, my ex worked alternate weekend short shifts while I had our daughter. We would swap and change days around quite regularly to accommodate each others plans. This lasted well over a year. My Saturday shift was then changed to every 3rd week, and the trouble started. My ex retorted with "that just doesn't work, she's with you every Saturday and Sunday now, that's it". And I went along with it, also seeing her for a few hours on a set weeknight. I have been attempting to build a relationship over the last 6 months with a new partner, but in that time have only managed one full weekend together, having to make do with a weeknight, where I'm up early for work, and a Friday where I'm either still picking my daughter up in the early afternoon, or working again first. This is always at her house, as she has a 5yr old son, who sees his dad once a week, and she works full time and employs childminders where necessary. It's been a struggle nonetheless, but I've done my best to not rock the boat with my ex, and put my daughter first. My ex now has a new job, requiring her to work 1pm until 5:30pm. She has dictated that her mum will collect our daughter Monday to Wednesday at 3:15 pm, and myself Thursday and Friday from after school club at 5, her mum cannot do these pick ups as she already looks after her sisters children on those nights. She also wants me to now switch everything around, have my daughter every Friday and alternate Saturdays, and she can't stay out on a school night. We literally live 5 minutes walk from both each other and the school. I have tried to put forward options of rotas that still have me doing the lion share of weekends, but not every single Friday, and these are being flat out rejected. My long-winded question is, can she do this? If I've presented other options, that are only being knocked back on her opinion that it's not in our daughters best interest to stay at mine on a weeknight, do I have any grounds to refuse? She has taken on a job without checking any part of it first, and expects me to just fall in line, and basically have no life of my own, while she has 6 of every 8 weekend nights free and works part time. That can't really be considered a balance can it? The sticking point is literally a 2 hour window on a Friday before she finishes work. Surely it's not unreasonable to say that can be covered by childcare? I'm offering to do some but not all Fridays, but along with weeknights so I still have my daughter twice a week. It's her stubbornness on that that's stopping any progress. Any he
Carl - 14-Sep-18 @ 3:50 PM
Will - Your Question:
Hi,My ex-partner and l split before our daughter was born (her decision). My ex deliberately kept me off the birth certificate and l have no parental rights even though lm not a criminal, l don't do drugs or drink alcohol to excess etc and have done nothing wrong. I have always paid child maintenance and never missed a payment. We agreed through mediation that l would see my daughter once a week but it was initially just for 1hr but now it's for 5hrs. My daughter will be 5 next month and lm hoping to ask for my name to go on the birth certificate. I also wish to increase my time with my daughter. Just wondering what l could do if she refuses the birth certificate or the increased access? Thanks.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. The link here , should tell you all you need to know.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Jun-18 @ 3:42 PM
Hi, My ex-partner and l split before our daughter was born (her decision). My ex deliberately kept me off the birth certificate and l have no parental rights even though lm not a criminal, l don't do drugs or drink alcohol to excess etc and have done nothing wrong. I have always paid child maintenance and never missed a payment. We agreed through mediation that l would see my daughter once a week but it was initially just for 1hr but now it's for 5hrs. My daughter will be 5 next month and lm hoping to ask for my name to go on the birth certificate. I also wish to increase my time with my daughter.Just wondering what l could do if she refuses the birth certificate or the increased access? Thanks.
Will - 20-Jun-18 @ 9:23 PM
@Brummie - it's the children who are put first by CMS not the mothers - it just seems like it's the mothers who are favoured as it's the mothers who generally still look after the kids.
Judeb - 30-Apr-18 @ 2:59 PM
Is seems like the law is all in the mothers favour, emotionally n financially...unfair system..
Brummie - 28-Apr-18 @ 11:14 PM
Rod - Your Question:
My ex is dying of terminal cancer which is as sad as can be.but now she's told me that she's giving guardianship of our 15 year old son to her brother I see my son every weekend take him to football have no criminal record just wanted to know if she can legally do this

Our Response:
If you are named on the birth certificate and have parental responsibility of your son, you can challenge this. Even if you do not have PR of your son, you can challenge your ex's decision through the courts. 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 - 17-Apr-18 @ 11:47 AM
My ex is dying of terminal cancer which is as sad as can be .but now she's told me that she's giving guardianship of our 15 year old son to her brother I see my son every weekend take him to football have no criminal recordjust wanted to know if she can legally do this
Rod - 16-Apr-18 @ 4:29 PM
Donn - Your Question:
Hi Im an unmarried single dad and sole supporting for my only son living with me temporarily this time because the mother is working overseas in the middle east but we have broke up cut our communications last two years ago and she's enjoying her single life out there with other man. Since the unmarried father is a "lose-lose priority" in the law when the mother goes home. How can I fight my right as a father aside from child support and visitation rights? Can she restricts me in having my son live with me since she haven't showed her support with us through the years.

Our Response:
If you wish to apply for your child to live with you permanently and your ex disagrees, you would have to apply for a child arrangement order which will determine with whom your child should live. 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. If your son is in school in the UK and you have had him for a while, plus his family is in the UK, then you stand a good chance of being awarded residency. Your ex has effectively given up her primary carer status if she has left him with you to care for your son for longer than what could be determined as a holiday.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Mar-18 @ 10:08 AM
Hi Im an unmarried single dad and sole supporting for my only son living with me temporarily this time because the mother is working overseas in the middle east but we have broke up cut our communications last two years ago and she's enjoying her single life out there with other man. Since the unmarried father is a "lose-lose priority" in the law when the mother goes home. How can I fight my right as a father aside from child support and visitation rights? Can she restricts me in having my son live with me since she haven't showed her support with us through the years.
Donn - 24-Mar-18 @ 5:55 PM
WaTiff - Your Question:
I had a girlfriend with whom we had a daughter. After jointly taking care of her for one and a half years, my girlfriend left for another man cut our communications. I have tried to reach her atleast to see my daughter and fulfil my paternal responsibilities but she never picks my calls. What should I do to bond with my daughter? I fear she might suffer without my awareness. I need to know how she's doing

Our Response:
You can see via the gov.uk link here , which will tell you all you need to know about how to gain access. In the first place, a solicitor's letter outlining your rights as the father of your child may bring your ex to the table to negotiate access.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Feb-18 @ 12:41 PM
I had a girlfriend with whom we had a daughter. After jointly taking care of her for one and a half years, my girlfriend left for another man cut our communications. I have tried to reach her atleast to see my daughter and fulfil my paternal responsibilities but she never picks my calls. What should I do to bond with my daughter? I fear she might suffer without my awareness. I need to know how she's doing
WaTiff - 22-Feb-18 @ 10:49 PM
Emess- Your Question:
HiCan my unmarried baby’s father apply to the court to have our child bearing his surname?Thanks

Our Response:
He can, but it is unlikely a court would allow this. You as the mother have the final decision on what surname you wish to call your child.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Jan-18 @ 12:59 PM
Hi Can my unmarried baby’s father apply to the court to have our child bearing his surname? Thanks
Emess - 22-Jan-18 @ 11:38 PM
JC19 - Your Question:
Hi, My question is a bit personal, so I won’t go into too much detail. I have a 6year old and a new partner. My ex won’t allow me to take my child out with my new partner or allow me to take them out on my own, for insecurity reasons. Now as the Mum I know I have rights, but I also know he has his rights as a father. I’m not interested in child maintenance, I work nights so he has more responsibility through the week while I’m at work. He doesn’t work so personally I think that works in his favour. What is getting to me and is effecting my life with my child is that he keeps throwing rules down and things I can and can’t do. It’s like I have to bow down to his rule when it comes down to our child. But I’m at a loss really. I don’t know the full ins and outs of it all. I know as the Mum I have full responsibility, and I know he has too being the father on the birth certificate. But I can’t seem to move on with my life without him stopping me from spending time with my child, weather it’s on my own or with my partner. I feel as though I’m living two lives and it’s not only unhealthy for me but confusing for my child. What makes it more difficult is that I have recently given up my rented home to save for a mortgage. So it makes my situation a little difficult.

Our Response:
I assume your ex is the day-to-day 'primary carer' of your child? Or do you have shared-care? Also, is your ex the one who claims child benefit? If so, then he is classesd as the primary carer. If as the primary carer, is is restricting access, then your only option is to request your ex attends mediation in order to establish some sort of weekly routine and care of your child. Your ex has no right to request that your new partner does not have contact. However, if he is attempting to forbid this and is restricting access as a result, then your only option is to apply to court in order to establish what the court thinks is in the best interests of your child.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jan-18 @ 1:56 PM
Hi, My question is a bit personal, so I won’t go into too much detail. I have a 6year old and a new partner. My ex won’t allow me to take my child out with my new partner or allow me to take them out on my own, for insecurity reasons. Now as the Mum I know I have rights, but I also know he has his rights as a father. I’m not interested in child maintenance, I work nights so he has more responsibility through the week while I’m at work. He doesn’t work so personally I think that works in his favour. What is getting to me and is effecting my life with my child is that he keeps throwing rules down and things I can and can’t do. It’s like I have to bow down to his rule when it comes down to our child. But I’m at a loss really. I don’t know the full ins and outs of it all. I know as the Mum I have full responsibility, and I know he has too being the father on the birth certificate. But I can’t seem to move on with my life without him stopping me from spending time with my child, weather it’s on my own or with my partner. I feel as though I’m living two lives and it’s not only unhealthy for me but confusing for my child. What makes it more difficult is that I have recently given up my rented home to save for a mortgage. So it makes my situation a little difficult.
JC19 - 14-Jan-18 @ 6:29 PM
I've got a 10 week baby and my ex hadn't let me see her for 4 weeks now . I was paying her money directly then she went to CSA behind my back the day before I got paid so now I'm liable to pay for the same month twice. I amicably asked for the money back then she cut contact saying she's seeking legal advice. Will it go against her when it reaches court as she's having none of it about mediation. All I want is access to my daughter and bond with her and I feel like she's using her a weapon and meal ticket. Kind regards Phil
Phil - 30-Dec-17 @ 5:03 PM
i split up with me ex when my 2 children were 2 and 9 months. the reason we split was because i found out she was doing cocaine. we never went to court for anything and agreed amicably on when i would see the children. now she is trying to dictate when i can and cant see them, She is a stay at home single mum, i work full time. But would me mentioning the Cocaine make a difference in court, i don't want to get nasty and spiteful about it, but i want to see my children at least every other weekend, and she is trying to make it 1 weekend a month or every 3 weeks.
George - 20-Dec-17 @ 11:26 AM
Callun - Your Question:
Hi,I have been working on the railway for 4 months now and the work is not regular enough for me to arrange dates as to when I have my son. I normally work on a Saturday guaranteed and my son's mother knows this, but yet she insisted I have the day off to have my son and obviously I responded with "I cannot afford to take the day off" she told me then that I have blown my last chance at seeing him, I've let him down, I am a waste of space and plenty of other inappropriate things. I want to know is she allowed to restrict me from access or do I have the rights go and take him for a couple of days? Everything is settled between us and I am paying direct to her through CMS I also signed the birth certificate at the same time.

Our Response:
If you cannot agree between you, then you would have to arrange to try to resolve this issue via mediation. The last resort is court. It is never a good idea to take a child without the other parent's consent as this can backfire. You would need to come to a compromise. There are two parents in most families to bring a child up. If Saturday is your usual day of taking your child and has been previously, then the mother may expect you to work around this, as a primary carer would. You don't say what the situation is regarding why your ex requires you to take your child on a Saturday. But if it is a case that she has to work also, then it would be unfair to prioritise yourself as the one who needs to work first. Fair negotiation is needed here.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Dec-17 @ 11:15 AM
Hi, I have been working on the railway for 4 months now and the work is not regular enough for me to arrange dates as to when I have my son. I normally work on a Saturday guaranteed and my son's mother knows this, but yet she insisted I have the day off to have my son and obviously I responded with "I cannot afford to take the day off" she told me then that I have blown my last chance at seeing him, I've let him down, I am a waste of space and plenty of other inappropriate things. I want to know is she allowed to restrict me from access or do I have the rights go and take him for a couple of days? Everything is settled between us and I am paying direct to her through CMS I also signed the birth certificate at the same time.
Callun - 7-Dec-17 @ 1:10 PM
Jj - Your Question:
Myself and my ex split up along time ago we have a son whose 10, I have parental responsibility she has had my son and her other kids took off her under child protection plan, she is still getting her income support and other money's for kids and refusing to give me anything for our son, I'm not bothered about me getting the money but is she still in her rights to receive that money when only having our son 6 hours a week.?

Our Response:
You would have to speak to Department for Work & Pensions directly. Your ex should not be claiming for a child /children who do not live with her.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Dec-17 @ 3:18 PM
Mike - Your Question:
Hi I'm a single father 2 children who live with me full time. They see their mum every other week end.I'm am looking to take them on hoilday to Australia their mum has said no. Am I alowed to take them on holiday with Me? And can she stop them from going they are 8 and 10.Kind regards Michael Wilson

Our Response:
You must get the permission of everyone with parental responsibility for a child or from a court before taking your child abroad. If your ex refuses, you would have to apply through the courts for a Specific Issue Order. Specific Issue Orders, much like the name suggests, are orders sought from the family court to determine a particular 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. 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 - 4-Dec-17 @ 12:47 PM
Myself and my ex split up along time ago we have a son whose 10, I have parental responsibility she has had my son and her other kids took off her under child protection plan,she is still getting her income support and other money's for kids and refusing to give me anything for our son,I'm not bothered about me getting the money but is she still in her rights to receive that money when only having our son 6 hours a week.?
Jj - 3-Dec-17 @ 9:17 PM
Hi I'm a single father 2 children who live with me full time. They see their mum every other week end.I'm am looking to take them on hoilday to Australia their mum has said no. Am I alowed to take them on holiday with Me? And can she stop them from going they are 8 and 10.Kind regards Michael
Mike - 2-Dec-17 @ 5:55 PM
Hi I I have had 50/50 split custody of my daughter for the past 2 years since I split from my ex when my daughter was about 18 months. My daughter will be starting school September 18, I have recently found out my ex has taken it upon her self to enroll her in a school where she live with out consaulting me. I want watsbest firmy daughter and not being involved with this decision I was not happy. When I confronted her over this she told me she’s going to see someone over this and wants to go to court. Everything up till now has be amicable and verbale agreed only no Court orders. Where do I stand on this issues as I feel I should have be consulted on all matter from doctors to school, anything that involves my daughter? Please help many thanks
Dave - 19-Nov-17 @ 9:54 PM
Lynne - Your Question:
Does my x have the right to see my children if he is not paying maitence

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access have no bearing on each other and should be treated separately. For instance, if a non-resident parent (ie father) is out of work, then it would be unfair to punish both him and/or your children by restricting access if he cannot pay. Therefore, these two issues should be separated. If your children's father is deliberately not paying child maintenance, then you should take this matter up with him directly, or via CMS who can attempt to extract the money from him. However, if you restrict access on the basis of him not paying, then he would be able to apply to court to have access reinstated. Children should not be used as financial weapons and a court would not condone these actions. Although, if was seen to be deliberately avoiding paying when he is earning a living and paying tax via HMRC, then a court can place a child maintenance order on him at the same time.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Nov-17 @ 3:38 PM
Does my x have the right to see my childrenif he is not paying maitence
Lynne - 3-Nov-17 @ 11:57 AM
@C Davies - I had to comment on your post as what a difficult time this must be for you, especially as you have just got residency and to receive this bomshell out of the blue. Go and see a family law solicitor, mine was great as she knew every angle. I really hope this is a case of your ex telling an outright lie because she is hurt and angry. Do you think your son is your son? Have you ever had any doubts before? Does he look like you? If you are on the birth certificate and have brought your son up since birth and you now have residency then you should stand a good chance of being able to continue to bring up your child, but I hope it doesn't come to this.
JaKE - 23-Oct-17 @ 9:32 AM
Hi I recently got custody of my son from my ex. Basically to cut a very long story short she left me for someone else took my son and then basically stopped sending him to school and generally wasn't putting him first. So I got joint parental responsibility and residency she was seeing him weekend and collecting from school this all happened in June this year. Then 3vweeks into the school holiday she takes an overdose. So now there are safeguarding issues so I stopped her seeing him on her own and made surecaomeone was with her when she saw him. Now after 5 months she says he's not my son My name is on the birth certificate and he's also got my last name. I have practically raised him since he was born he's 6 now. I'm going back to court to get the order changed but she's now saying she wants a DNA test. My question is. IF he isn't mine how do i stand legally? Could I adopt him as mine as my name is on the birth certificate and she basically signed him over to me when we went to court?
C Davis - 22-Oct-17 @ 7:58 AM
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