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The Law and Single Fathers

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 3 Nov 2017 | 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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[Add a Comment]
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
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 @ 12:36 AM
Chris - Your Question:
HI there me and my partner have separated and she has turn nasty on me and issued me with a non acosication order to my daughter and now I can not see her atm what is the best way to go about this because it's so frustrating that I can not see her please help

Our Response:
A non-association and/or place restriction order may be imposed where the court is satisfied that it is reasonably necessary to do so to ensure that the offender does not commit any further offences. However, this is an NZ law, and we are a UK-based site, so I'm afraid we cannot advise. You would have to seek legal guidance in your own country.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Oct-17 @ 11:43 AM
HI there me and my partner have separatedand she has turn nasty on me and issued me with a non acosication order to my daughter and now I can not see her atm what is the best way to go about this because it's so frustrating that I can not see her please help
Chris - 5-Oct-17 @ 3:27 PM
Donna - Your Question:
Me and my baby's father have split. My son is 10 weeks old. He wants me to hand him over and let him have access to him away from me from a Friday to a Sunday every other weekend, so this inudes overnight stays. Would a court rule in his favour with my son being so small? I've offered him to come to my house every Monday and Wednesday evening and every other weekend for a few hours. And build contact up gradually. He has never got up to our son during the night so I'm reluctant to let him have him overnight just yet.

Our Response:
In cases such as this, mediation is a good option here. It is understandable if your son is young and you may be breast feeding. Staggered access is not an unreasonable proposition. It is in both your best interests to let your ex have a good amount of time with your son and get to know him properly if it is going to build to more access in the future. Therefore, trying to negotiate a fair agreement will not be penalised by the courts.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Sep-17 @ 2:43 PM
Me and my baby's father have split. My son is 10 weeks old. He wants me to hand him over and let him have access to him away from me from a Friday to a Sunday every other weekend, so this inudes overnight stays. Would a court rule in his favour with my son being so small? I've offered him to come to my house every Monday and Wednesday evening and every other weekend for a few hours. And build contact up gradually. He has never got up to our son during the night so I'm reluctant to let him have him overnight just yet.
Donna - 17-Sep-17 @ 2:35 PM
Mich - Your Question:
My ex partner and I separated in Feb 2013, we have children together and I have a 15 year old son from a previous relationship.Our relationship lasted 6 and a half years before it ended.Our relationship since it ended has been very hostile and so contact between us has been very minimal.I have received a date to attend court regarding my 15 year old being forced to stay with my ex partner every Wednesday and 3 Saturdays a month.Does he have any right to do this?I have a separate hearing for our other children which I have been expecting.But I am very confused as to why my ex believes he has a right to force my 15 year old to stay with him against his wishes especially with him not being his biological parent?I have not tried to stop contact or limit it at all I always try to encourage my son to have contact with him but being a teenager I don't feel that he should be forced by anyone.Any advice on this would really be appreciated.I cannot afford solicitors costs and am not entitled to any help via legal aid and so I will be standing alone in court in 2 weeks time.

Our Response:
As your son is now 15, the court will take his opinion on board (especially if your son is not your ex's biological son). Your ex doesn't really have grounds to force this issue. As a rule a court will treat all siblings the same where an ex is willing or wanting to continue to have contact with a non-biological child, especially when the biological children are continuing to see their non-resident parent and the NRP has brought the child up as their own. However, if your son no longer wishes to stay with your ex, then this should be made known in court. Citizens Advice will be able to help further, as may Child Law Advice here .
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Aug-17 @ 12:07 PM
My ex partner and I separated in Feb 2013, we have children together and I have a 15 year old son from a previous relationship. Our relationship lasted 6 and a half years before it ended. Our relationship since it ended has been very hostile and so contact between us has been very minimal. I have received a date to attend court regarding my 15 year old being forced to stay with my ex partner every Wednesday and 3 Saturdays a month. Does he have any right to do this? I have a separate hearing for our other childrenwhich I have been expecting. But I am very confused as to why my ex believes he has a right to force my 15 year old to stay with him against his wishes especially with him not being his biological parent? I have not tried to stop contact or limit it at all I always try to encourage my son to have contact with him but being a teenager I don't feel that he should be forced by anyone. Any advice on this would really be appreciated. I cannot afford solicitors costs and am not entitled to any help via legal aid and so I will be standing alone in court in 2 weeks time.
Mich - 23-Aug-17 @ 1:13 PM
Clark - Your Question:
Me and my baby's dad split up when baby was 18 months old he is now 4 for the past years I've gave him more chances than ever. He would sometimes not turn up, or turn up high as a kite or pick him up for an hour ring me complain and bring him back.For the last 9 months I've had no contact me or my son from him or his family his moved in with his new girlfriend (not legit) and her baby. He has paid me about £100 in the whole 4 years. I've tried to take him to csa but because his not living with her legit and working cash it hand so tax man won't find him I'm on a nil rate from him which is a joke Anyway long story short I want to change his surname because he don't pay or see his kid, he maybe 4 but he knows his dads a let down as he tells me ?? Is there a way I can do this without his consent because I know he won't let me

Our Response:
If your child's father has parental responsibility, then you would have to ask his consent, please see link here for more information.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Jul-17 @ 3:02 PM
Me and my baby's dad split up when baby was 18 months old he is now 4 for the past years I've gave him more chances than ever. He would sometimes not turn up, or turn up high as a kite or pick him up for an hour ring me complain and bring him back. For the last 9 months I've had no contact me or my son from him or his family his moved in with his new girlfriend (not legit) and her baby. He has paid me about £100 in the whole 4 years. I've tried to take him to csa but because his not living with her legit and working cash it hand so tax man won't find him I'm on a nil rate from him which is a joke Anyway long story short I want to change his surname because he don't pay or see his kid, he maybe 4 but he knows his dads a let down as he tells me ?? Is there a way I can do this without his consent because I know he won't let me
Clark - 24-Jun-17 @ 8:29 PM
I am looking for agroup that advocates for dads to have shared custody of kids. I really need this for my emotional well being.I need a group that I can talk to help me make sense why a woman would take kids away from a devoted father.
john - 20-Jun-17 @ 12:19 AM
Phill - Your Question:
Me and my ex partner separated many years ago and we had two children, we never married but the children are mine and had my name on there birth certificates. After not having any content with my children in 11 years I found out that my ex partner (there mother) has changed the kids surnames in to hers! Does she have the legal right to do so without my knowledge or permission? Because I'm still paying for CSA for children not in my name! Any help would go a long way.

Our Response:
Your ex can use another name unofficially i.e through school and GP etc, without having to seek authorisation from you as their father (if you have parental responsibility). However, if she wished to change your children's name via Deed Poll, then she would have to seek your consent and if you refuse, apply to court. Please see link here for more information.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Mar-17 @ 2:54 PM
Me and my ex partner separated many years ago and we had two children, we never married but the children are mine and had my name on there birth certificates. After not having any content with my children in 11 years I found out that my ex partner (there mother) has changed the kids surnames in to hers! Does she have the legal right to do so without my knowledge or permission? Because I'm still paying for CSA for children not in my name! Any help would go a long way.
Phill - 24-Mar-17 @ 1:11 PM
Hello. Me and my sons mother have been split up since he was three months old he is now six. I have always had regular contact and paid money dorectly to the mother without any problems. Although lately she has been cancelling me seeing my son last min if she decides she wants to something with him instead which i find distressing and upsetting. I have also been asking for my son to stay with me overnight which he wants to but the mother is always coming up with excuses and saying she is nervous about him staying overnight without giving me reason as to why. I dont know where to go from here as i feel like im hitting my head against a brick wall. Also her mother and father step in and are the ones to inform me when she cancels on me and i i know if i bring up the subject of speaking to a solicitor she will have her mum and dad do the dirty work of dealing with it rather than her!! Help
Ren - 5-Mar-17 @ 10:04 PM
Dave - Your Question:
My wife and I divorced 4 years ago and did nt obtain any parental agreements from court. Slowly over the past years I have been seeing less and less of my daughter as her mother has said it was our daughters decision not see me so much. I have today been told by my ex that because I told her off last week that she does nt want to see me any more. She got upset in school and spoke with a mentor and has decided not to see me. What rights do I have to speak to the school mentor and do I have rights to know what my daughter has been advised?

Our Response:
If you have Parental Responsibility, you have every right to speak to the school regarding this.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Feb-17 @ 11:29 AM
My wife and I divorced 4 years ago and did nt obtain any parental agreements from court. Slowly over the past years I have been seeing less and less of my daughter as her mother has said it was our daughters decision not see me so much. I have today been told by my ex that because I told her off last week that she does nt want to see me any more. She got upset in school and spoke with a mentor and has decided not to see me. What rights do I have to speak to the school mentor and do I have rights to know what my daughter has been advised?
Dave - 27-Feb-17 @ 3:18 PM
HI there, I wanted to know where I stand on something! I have two children now aged 15,17. Both me and there mother split many years ago after here running away with someone else. Since then I've never seen or heard from them! I have a postal address (which I believe is her mother's) but even when I send letters and cards I received nothing! My question is that does she have any legal right without my permission to change the childrens surname? I've recently found out my children have been raised and schooled up in her surname, yet it's my name on there birth certificates! I've also been amd still am paying the CSA for them! Any help or advice will go a long way
Tomcat - 10-Feb-17 @ 1:10 PM
Katie - Your Question:
Hi, quick question. My son's father is not on his birth certificate and has provided very little for him financially, emotionally or physically. I have now had enough of trying to make him see he is a father and showing him how to take responsibility. My son is now 8 and this has been going on for the last 5 years and I'm at breaking point. He treats by son so badly and my son has a step father (my other 2 children's father) who has brought him up since birth and looked after him like his own. I want to now cut contact in hope that he does take me to court to fight for his son but knowing that he will not do this. the was I see it is that my son's emotional wellbeing is more important to me than this man that sees him one a month for 8 hours and refuses to be the father my son deserves. Legally can he just take me to court for assess and to gain parental responsibility? Would this be judge on the last 5 years of his actions?

Our Response:
I'm afraid we cannot predict whether your ex will be awarded parental responsibility (as a rule PR is generally awarded). However, PR does not guarantee parental access and it is here where you would have to convince the courts it is not in your son's best interests that access is awarded, should your ex decide to pursue the matter through the courts.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Jan-17 @ 12:00 PM
Hi, quick question. My son's father is not on his birth certificate and has provided very little for him financially, emotionally or physically. I have now had enough of trying to make him see he is a father and showinghim how to take responsibility. My son is now 8 and this has been going on for the last 5 years and I'm at breaking point. He treats by son so badly and my son has a step father (my other 2 children's father) who has brought him up since birth and looked after him like his own. I want to now cut contact in hope that he does take me to court to fight for his son but knowing that he will not do this... the was I see it is that my son's emotional wellbeing is more important to me than this man that sees him one a month for 8 hours and refuses to be the father my son deserves. Legally can he just take me to court for assess and to gain parental responsibility? Would this be judge on the last 5 years of his actions?
Katie - 23-Jan-17 @ 3:18 PM
Hi. Myself and my girlfriend of 6 years have recently split. We have a 3 year old son and we jointly registered his birth in England. I'm named on the birth cert. The split has, so far, been amicable. I'm Irish and my ex seems somewhat open to the idea of me moving back and taking our son. Is this possible? Is there a process that we need to go through?
Asdf - 30-Dec-16 @ 2:46 AM
DD - Your Question:
Me and my daughters mother split up in august 2015. In september 2015 my ex was back into drugs so I took my daughter to live with me. My ex has been sectioned 3 times under mental health act over the past 10 years and still uses drugs as do her family. I was informed by social services that I do not need to seek full custody as they were happy that I had done the right tbing and that my daughter was in the right placr. Social servicrs are no longer involved. My ex is hoping she can have our daughter at weekends but I dont want this due to the drugs/people who frequent her home (again drugs) and the state of the house. My daughters school has noticed a massive improvement in her happiness, punctuality, appearance and education since ahe came luving with me and has also never missed a day of school. Where do I stand as a father with parental responsibility?

Our Response:
If you are the resident parent then it is up to you whether you grant access to your ex. If you refuse, and your ex objects to this, she would be able to apply to court. Whether the court issues her with unsupervised access will be dependent upon the circumstances and whether the court thinks it is in the best interests of your child. Before the matter went to court, Cafcass would get involved and write a report, please see link here. From the interviews they conduct, the Cafcass reporter will determine two things: whether there should be contact allowed, and, if so, how much. It’s a measure of how important the Cafcass recommendation is that the court will almost invariably adhere to it. It’s their job to interview both parents in the case, as well as the children, and any others who might be needed, which could mean social workers, medical professionals, or relatives. If your ex does wish to pursue the matter through the courts, it may be worth you applying to the court for a residency order, which means the court will determine who your daughter should live with on a full-time basis, which is highly likely to be you, as it is rare the courts would take a child from one parent and hand them over to the non-resident parent (except in extreme cases). Therefore, if your child is happy and content, then this won't be an issue. A residency order in your favour will mean that as your ex has parental responsibility, she will not be able to refuse to hand your child back to you, if she decided she wanted to keep her (if she has PR and there is no residency order she could keep your child and the police could not get involved). As you explained, you excercised your own PR rights when you were concerned about your child's welfare and took her from your ex. I hope this helps answer your question. You may also wish to seek some legal advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Oct-16 @ 12:01 PM
Me and my daughters mother split up in august 2015. By september she had gone off the rails by taking drugs so i took my daughter to live with me. Her mother is hoping to have her at weekends but she still takes drugs, her family take and sell drugs, her house is rotten, she has been sectioned 3 times in 10 years under mental health act due to drugs use. My daughter, since living with me, has not missed a day of school, been punctual. Her teachers have noticed a marked improvement in her attitude, happiness, appearence. Social services are no longer involved as they was happy that she was with me and com0leted all relevant assessments. The told me i dont have to seek full custody unless my ex goes down this route. Where do i stand as a father with parental rights.
DDDDD - 30-Oct-16 @ 7:59 PM
Me and my daughters mother split up in august 2015. In september 2015 my ex was back into drugs so i took my daughter to live with me. My ex has been sectioned 3 times under mental health act over the past 10 years and still uses drugs as do her family. I was informed by social services that i do not need to seek full custody as they were happy that i had done the right tbing and that my daughter was in the right placr. Social servicrs are no longer involved. My ex is hoping she can have our daughter at weekends but i dont want this due to the drugs/people who frequent her home (again drugs) and the state of the house. My daughters school has noticed a massive improvement in her happiness, punctuality, appearance and education since ahe came luving with me and has also never missed a day of school. Where do i stand as a father with parental responsibility?
DD - 30-Oct-16 @ 7:53 PM
Maddie - Your Question:
Hi,I became pregnant by accident during a very short relationship which ended due to the father being very obsessive and can become verbally abusive when I rebuke his affections - something I have no interest in as we simply would not work as he scares me, this would not be a healthy environment for my first child. Had anyone got any advice as to my rights regarding surname and also whether he has the power to try and take my child from me? He has become very threatening because I have had to put my foot down as he wont allow me any space from him and I am only 3 months into pregnancy, the stress is causing me lack of sleep and stomach cramps. Can somebody shine some light on my rights as everything ive looked into only refers to partners? Thanks

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether you register him as the father on the birth certificate. If you do not, then he does not have any rights and should he choose will have to apply for those rights via court. If you do not register his name, then should he try to take yours/his child from you, the police can get involved. However, if he is registered as the father, it means he automatically is awarded parental responsibility and should he try to take the child, the police cannot intervene and you would have to take the matter to court to have your child returned (should for any reason he refuse to hand him/her back). Please be aware, it is 'extremely' rare a father will try to take the child and only in very isolated incidences does this happen.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Sep-16 @ 12:39 PM
Hi, I became pregnant by accident during a very short relationship which ended due to the father being very obsessive and can become verbally abusive when i rebuke his affections - something i have no interest in as we simply would not work as he scares me, this would not be a healthy environment for my first child. Had anyone got any advice as to my rights regarding surname and also whether he has the power to try and take my child from me? He has become very threatening because i have had to put my foot down as he wont allow me any space from him and i am only 3 months into pregnancy, the stress is causing me lack of sleep and stomach cramps. Can somebody shine some light on my rights as everything ive looked into only refers to partners? Thanks
Maddie - 27-Sep-16 @ 1:16 PM
Bobskie - Your Question:
I have full parental rights as a father yet my ex partner had gave my son to my sister on a temporary basis on which I now have him living with me and I've bn in his life for three years since his birth.his mother started to relapse on drugs and I'm just wanting to no what can I do if she ever try's to come to my house to take him because she is also very manipulative and plays the claim game ever so well.i have already recieved legal aid for a matter that happened months ago becausecshevattacjed me also in which I had to restrain her and the police were envolved.it was after that when she relapsed and now I have my son and I'm in the birth certificate so what rights do I have to keep her away and can I now claim for his child benefit thanks

Our Response:
You would need to take the matter to court in order to apply for a child arrangement order, please see gov.uk link here which will determine who your child should live with. If you are now considered the primary carer then you can apply for child benefit directly.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Sep-16 @ 12:20 PM
I have full parental rights as a father yet my ex partner had gave my son to my sister on a temporary basis on which I now have him living with me and I've bn in his life for three years since his birth.his mother started to relapse on drugs and I'm just wanting to no what can I do if she ever try's to come to my house to take him because she is also very manipulative and plays the claim game ever so well.i have already recieved legal aid for a matter that happened months ago becausecshevattacjed me also in which I had to restrain her and the police were envolved.it was after that when she relapsed and now I have my son and I'm in the birth certificate so what rights do i have to keep her away and can I now claim for his child benefit thanks
Bobskie - 12-Sep-16 @ 4:00 PM
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