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What Are Parents' Rights on Separation?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 8 Jan 2017 |
 
Separation Parent Rights Child

The break up of a relationship is always stressful and can leave one or both parents feeling lost, hurt and bewildered. When you separate from the other parent of your child or children, there are certain rights and responsibilities that you need to understand which will help you to make better decisions for yourself and your child.

Parental Responsibility

Mothers automatically have parental responsibility for their children. Fathers also have this right if they were married to the mother when the child was born. If you are an unmarried father, you will have parental responsibility if your name is registered on the child’s birth certificate. You can also get a court order to get parental responsibility of the child, which does not in principle require the consent of the mother. If you separate from your partner and child, you do not lose parental responsibility.

Financial Arrangements For Your Child

When you separate, you will both need to make decisions about the welfare and upbringing of your child. This includes where the child lives and with whom, how the parent who is not living with the child will have contact with the child, and how the child will be supported financially. If you cannot agree this amicably, you will probably need to go to court to have arrangements enforced. Other issues that separating parents should discuss are holidays, education, who has responsibility for taking a child to a doctor, and what would happen if one of you became too ill to care for the child.

It invariably costs more for parents to live apart than together and if financial arrangements are not made this can cause hardship for the child. No matter how angry you feel about what has happened in the break up of your relationship, you should always remember that your child’s needs must come first. If you are able to come to a financial arrangement between yourselves about your child (known as a ‘private agreement’) then that is often best, but it does mean that your arrangement is not legally binding. If payments are not made under a private agreement, the Child Support Agency cannot get involved and help you recover this money.

What If We Can’t Agree?

If you cannot agree payment arrangements amicably, you may decide to use the CSA or get the court to decide. Using the court is likely to cost money, because you will have to pay court fees and will probably need a solicitor. Going to court over child support payments is not covered by legal aid, but if you are already going to court to determine other issues you can decide child support matters at the same time.

You should also look at changing your will after separation, or if you don’t have one, you should definitely make one! If you don’t have a will, your assets will be dealt with under the laws of intestacy. If you do have a will that is out of date, and your ex partner was the main beneficiary, your assets will go to your ex partner on your death.

What About Our Home?

In terms of property, one partner may decide to leave the family home. This can be problematic if the parents aren’t married, especially if a new partner moves in with your ex before arrangements can be finalised. In these situations, it is very important that you speak to a solicitor without delay. If you and your ex partner are married, one person automatically receives the other’s estate on death – which you will want to avoid if you have separated.

You don’t always have to sell your home on separation. You may be able to agree who pays the mortgage, or get a court order as to that effect. One partner may be able to buy the other partner out of the property, or you could decide to sell it at some point in the future.

Do I Have To Go To Court?

Not all separations and divorces end up in court. Some people are content to use a separation agreement, or to enter mediation in order to come to an agreement about issues between you, your partner and your child. Mediation is often much less stressful than having to resort to court action, and can also be cheaper than litigation. That said, you will have to use the court if you decide you are going to divorce. There is no way around this.

Speak To A Solicitor

In short, if you can possibly keep negotiations amicable then this is best. Things do however have a tendency to deteriorate and you can find yourself very short of money, or without a home, or both, if you decide to leave. In these circumstances, you should always contact a solicitor.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Foxy - Your Question:
Please can you give me some advice my husband and I seperated he met someone else once we split he had only known her for a weekend & moved in with her & her kids I do not want my children staying or going to this women's house until they have been together at least 6 months & I know it is serious between the two them. I don't think this is unreasonable we both agreed that when we met new partners the children would not meet Them for at least 6 months & even then only if it was a serious relationship & we had met the new partner first! However he has now changed his mind & wants my kids to be staying there with her & her two children for weekends they have only been together just over a month! What are my rights please??

Our Response:
There are no specific rights either parent has that says it is right or wrong for your children to meet your ex's new partner etc. As both of you have parental responsibility it is up to you to negotiate between yourselves, if you cannot come to mutual agreement, then you may wish to consider mediation. Mediation is when two or more parties meet to resolve problems before the matter reaches court. It is most often used in family proceedings and is a formal negotiation. The courts can accept the agreement of the mediation instead of having to go through the court process, although it is subject to final court approval. Mediation takes place in front of a neutral third party. The mediator has no pre-conceptions and will not force you to make an agreement. They will assist the two parties in taking turns in the conversation, and helping you reach a decision that you are ready to agree with. Mediators do not pass judgment or offer guidance; they are there, in effect, to facilitate conversation between the two sides. If your ex refuses mediation and you still refuse to stop access for instance, then he would have to take the matter to court for the court to decide.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Jan-17 @ 1:00 PM
Please can you give me some advice my husband and I seperated he met someone else once we split he had only known her for a weekend & moved in with her & her kids I do not want my children staying or going to this women's house until they have been together at least 6 months & I know it is serious between the two them. I don't think this is unreasonable we both agreed that when we met new partners the children would not meet Them for at least 6 months & even then only if it was a serious relationship & we had met the new partner first! However he has now changed his mind & wants my kids to be staying there with her & her two children for weekends they have only been together just over a month! What are my rights please??
Foxy - 8-Jan-17 @ 10:18 PM
Hilda - Your Question:
I've been together with father of my kids for 21 years.Unfortunately we both are not on the same page and I belive is best for the both of us to separate. Our kids ages are 20,14,12,7, so my question is what rights do I have to stay in the home. The house is only under his name.

Our Response:
If you are not married, then it depends on several factors such as how long you have been together, who will be the primary carer of your children, please see CAB link here which wil explain more. If you have lived in the property with the father of your children for a considerable amount of time and have contributed to the upkeep etc, you may be able to register an interest which may give you some financial rights. If you are the primary carer of your children, then a court may allow you to stay in the home until your youngest child finishes full-time education. However, you would need to seek legal advice in order to explore your options.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Jan-17 @ 2:46 PM
I've been together with father of my kids for 21 years.Unfortunately we both are not on the same page and I belive is best for the both of us to separate. Our kids ages are 20,14,12,7, so my question is what rights do I have to stay in the home . The house is only under his name .
Hilda - 5-Jan-17 @ 12:30 AM
Hello, me and my partner have separated and he taken our 2yr old son and won't bring him back and now he is trying to take our 6 months old daughter away! He is telling me I am not a fit mother when I clearly am I have a stable home for my children and my partner has no home or income what shall I do?
Carla - 1-Jan-17 @ 4:10 PM
Jord - Your Question:
Hi me and my partner are still together, things are bad atm because she won't let me take my son to my parents house to see them which hurts me a lot, do I have any rights that would allow me to do so without her permission. My parents haven't done anything wrong all they want is the best for me and my little family and want to help us in anyway shape or form. My mum especially is madly in love with my son (15 weeks old) and adores him but my fiancé has stopped them both from seeing him for a month exactly now, please help

Our Response:
It is still very early days and your child is still very young, and it sounds as though your partner is being over-protective, which can happen in the first few months. If you have parental responsibility, then you have as much right as your partner to take your child to see your parents and/or make decisions regarding your child. However, much depends on whether this could make your current situation worse. You don't give the reasons why your partner is refusing to let your parents see your child, but if you can sit down and talk to her about the matter rationally, then this may help. Hopefully, it will blow over in time, as it really is something you would have to try and negotiate between yourselves.
ChildSupportLaws - 2-Dec-16 @ 2:24 PM
Hi me and my partner are still together, things are bad atm because she won't let me take my son to my parents house to see them which hurts me a lot, do I have any rights that would allow me to do so without her permission. My parents haven't done anything wrong all they want is the best for me and my little family and want to help us in anyway shape or form. My mum especially is madly in love with my son (15 weeks old) and adores him but my fiancé has stopped them both from seeing him for a month exactly now, please help
Jord - 2-Dec-16 @ 8:57 AM
Tommy - Your Question:
Hi me and my partner (not married) split 12 weeks after the birth of our daughter (her second child) she is saying I can only see her twice through the week to hers for a couple of hours and I can only take her to my house once a week for a few hours but I can't take her anywhere she is also saying she won't ever spend a Christmas with me it will always be with her and her son she keeps moving the goal post as at first she said I can see her everyday which I want to I will pay what ever I need to towards he but I feel she needs to spend as much time with her dad as she does her mum if I went to court would I get minimum 3 days a week with my daughter also would I get to alternate having her at Christmas

Our Response:
We cannot predict what a court may decide, I can only suggest you take some legal advice in order to explore your options. Much always depends upon how hard your ex is willing to fight in order to prevent you having access. However, the courts are also aware that many resident-parents have no grounds to prevent access and will do its best to ensure you as the father has a fair amount of access to your child.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Dec-16 @ 12:31 PM
Hi me and my partner(not married) split 12 weeks after the birth of our daughter (her second child) she is saying I can only see her twice through the week to hers for a couple of hours and I can only take her to my house once a week for a few hours but I can't take her anywhere she is also saying she won't ever spend a Christmas with me it will always be with her and her son she keeps moving the goal post as at first she said I can see her everyday which I want to i will pay what ever I need to towards he but I feel she needs to spend as much time with her dad as she does her mum if I went to court would I get minimum 3 days a week with my daughter also would I get to alternate having her at Christmas
Tommy - 1-Dec-16 @ 11:26 AM
My partner and I separated 4 years ago we have daughter who is six. She has been going to his every other weekend until three weeks ago when my shift pattern was becoming impossible and I asked if she could go to his every weekend. Essentially I organise care for 5 days and he 2. He is telling me he is not happy with this....but me and my daughter are both much less stressed, so I am unhappy at the thought changing back . Is there anything I can do to make him share the care of our daughter in this 2 to 5 split so me and her have a better balance. He is named on her birth certificate. Thankyou.
Flainey - 18-Nov-16 @ 6:43 PM
Sue - Your Question:
My partners daughter stays at his mother's house over night. 3-4 times a week as the childs mother works nights. Would this affect my partner on how much he has to pay child maintenance as we think £300 is alot to pay as it is shared care. We have explained this situation over the phone and haven't got anywhere.

Our Response:
I can only direct you to the child maintenance calculator so your partner can assess how much he should be paying, based upon the number of nights he has the children overnight, please see link here. Much also depends upon the amount of nights your partner's ex states he has the children overnight. However, if your partner can prove he has the children to the frequency he does (and his ex is denying this) then the CMS have to take this into consideration.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Nov-16 @ 12:12 PM
My partners daughter stays at his mother's house over night. 3-4 times a week as the childs mother works nights. Would this affect my partner on how much he has to pay child maintenance as we think £300 is alot to pay as it is shared care. We have explained this situation over the phone and haven't got anywhere.
Sue - 9-Nov-16 @ 5:27 PM
my boyfriend and i got separated but we have a son, together with my son, we leave his place without his permission because of some problems. my son and I living our lives without his presence, without his support. but he contacted me to get our son back, .what should i do? he, in the first place didnt support us financially or emotionally.
niya - 25-Oct-16 @ 3:13 PM
Hi. Well i have 2 kids with my partner (we're not married) we live together but things aren't goinggood between us. He has 1 kid with each two different women. I don't know how he's working out that situation. He says that the fact that he has two kids with different women doesn't matter that he still can take the kids away from me because i don't work or have anyway of maintaining them. He may buy there needs but he doesn't give himself time to spend with them, he rather go out with his "friends". I'm the one who is with my kids 24 hours a day. I care for them when all he does when he's home is grab for like 2 minutes. So i want to know who has the most possibility of keeping my kids or what are the options?
thali - 18-Oct-16 @ 11:44 PM
The father of my two children has kept the kidsdue to the fact I no longer want to be in relationship so he's used kids against me and they are on child protection due to domestic violence towards me and around kids & I haven't seen them for over a month & had to seek legal advice because he has parental rights, so now I've had to fight for my kids through courts which I'm still waiting for court date even though my kids have not been took through the system. I have another child who is with me because the father of my two girls isn't the father to my son who is with me so he has no rights over my son.
ckin2u1989 - 14-Oct-16 @ 8:52 PM
starlativia - Your Question:
Hi, I'm not married, my partner has patental responsibilities over our two children. He is Italian and I'm Spanish. Here in UK we are in hardship, living over the benefits system. In Spain I own a house and I can find a job. He does not agree on me taking the children to Spain. Can a court see as a benefit for the children to take them back to your country of origin if in UK they have to rely on the benefits system and rent accomodation? Also does legal aid cover the cost of this? Thanks

Our Response:
Yes, you would have to take the matter to court to move back to Spain. However, a court will consider what it thinks is in the children's best interests and if you can prove your children would have a better life in Spain, it will be considered. You can check whether you would be eligible for legal aid via the link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Sep-16 @ 11:04 AM
Hi, I'm not married, my partner has patental responsibilities over our two children. He is Italian and I'm Spanish. Here in UK we are in hardship, living over the benefits system. In Spain I own a house and I can find a job. He does not agree on me taking the children to Spain. Can a court see as a benefit for the children to take them back to your country of origin if in UK they have to rely on the benefits system and rent accomodation? Also does legal aid cover the cost of this? Thanks
starlativia - 20-Sep-16 @ 10:38 AM
Anonymous- Your Question:
I am married to my husband and have a daughter who is 1 year and 4months old.My marriage is at a stage where we abuse each other and he has hit me twice now. In short I can't live with him anymore. Problem is I am on a dependant visa. My husband and daughter are British and I am on extensions till another 5 years. I do not want to leave the country and want full custody of my daughter. I have been tthreatened so many times on sending be back to my home country and never show me my daughter's face. I can't stand him but my daughter is all I have and want.How will this work. do you have a solution for it pls.

Our Response:
You would have to seek legal advice regarding this as if you separate and you are on a dependent visa then you would have to either apply for a new visa or return home, please see link here. If your husband does not give his consent to return home with your daughter, you would have to request permission through the courts. The court will then decide what it thinks is in your daughter's best interests. It is difficult to speculate what your position would be, or what a court may decide, that's why speaking to a legal professional will help you further here.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Sep-16 @ 2:09 PM
I am married to my husband and have a daughter who is 1 year and 4months old. My marriage is at a stage where we abuse each other and he has hit me twice now. In short I can't live with him anymore. Problem is I am on a dependant visa. My husband and daughter are British and I am on extensions till another 5 years. I do not want to leave the country and want full custody of my daughter. I have been tthreatened so many times on sending be back to my home country and never show me my daughter's face. I can't stand him but my daughter is all I have and want. How will this work .. do you have a solution for it pls.
Anonymous - 15-Sep-16 @ 12:14 AM
Murphy - Your Question:
I need to know what holidays I'm untitled to and how many days I can have each year for summers. I have a 5yr old and 3yr old, I just had a court order finalised a few months ago. But holidays weren't included as in summer ones, Someone had said that 2016 I'd get 2 long wkends then 2017 I'd get a full week and a long wkend then 2018 I'd get 2 full weeks cand anyone confirm that. Thank you

Our Response:
You can calculate your holiday entitlement via the gov.uk link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Jul-16 @ 12:57 PM
I need to know what holidays I'm untitled toand how many days i can have each year for summers. I have a 5yr old and 3yr old, I just had a court order finalised a few months ago. But holidays weren't included as in summer ones, Someone had said that 2016 I'd get 2 long wkends then 2017 I'd get a full week and a long wkend then 2018 I'd get 2 full weeks cand anyone confirm that. Thank you
Murphy - 5-Jul-16 @ 5:27 PM
Jacy - Your Question:
My partner and I split up we are not married, I want to keep my daughter to live with me she is 19 months old but he is making my life very hard. What does the law says ? Can he take her from me? What is the best thing to do in this case?Thank you

Our Response:
If the father of your child is registered on the birth certificate and has parental responsibility, then if both parents have PR and one parent is keeping the children against the other's wishes, the police CANNOT help, even if the children do not normally live with them. However, if the parent does not have PR, the police will be able to intervene. If you are concerned about this happening then you can apply for Child Arrangement Order, which is an order which determines where your child lives. If you can show that your former partner is not able or appropriate to look after your child, you may be able to get an order stating that the children should live with you. However you will need to evidence this.If you are worried that your ex may take the child without your consent you can also apply for a Prohibited Steps Order through the courts. A PSO is an order granted by the court in family cases which prevents either parent from carrying out certain events or making specific trips with their children without the express permission of the other parent. This is more common in cases where there is suspicion that one parent may leave the area with their children. We have all heard the stories of a parent taking their child for the weekend and not returning them or going abroad with them and it becoming extremely difficult for the other parent to get their child back. Thankfully, this is one of the scenarios that a PSO seeks to prevent. If your ex is threatening to take your child, then you should seek legal advice to explore your best options.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jun-16 @ 11:08 AM
My partner and i split up we are not married, I want to keep my daughter to live with me she is 19 months old but he is making my life very hard. What does the law says ? Can he take her from me? What is the best thing to do in this case? Thank you
Jacy - 14-Jun-16 @ 12:44 PM
Gily - Your Question:
Me and partner has spilt up and she moved away only 20 min up road but when child is sick who is Responsible To take the time of work to look after the child please

Our Response:
If you have parental responsibility the caring of your child should be a shared matter, if you agree this between yourselves. There are no legal rules to say who should take time off, but in an ideal world it should be shared fairly and equally between both parents.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-May-16 @ 10:24 AM
Me andpartner has spilt up and she moved away only 20 min up road but when child is sick who is Responsible To take the time of work to look after the child please
Gily - 17-May-16 @ 11:10 AM
Zyna - Your Question:
I'm married and living under my in laws with my husband and 2 babies. I'm under a spouse visa and my marriage isn't going very well for quite some time now. I'm not sure what my rights are as a mother to my children and a wife to my husband? And is it possible to take my children back to my country even if they are British citizens? How will it work? Help please. Thanks

Our Response:
You cannot take the children out of the country without your husbands consent, if you do so it can be classed as abduction. I suggest you seek professional legal/immigration advice to see what your rights are regarding remaining in the country if you divorce.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-May-16 @ 1:50 PM
Zyna - Your Question:
I'm married and currently living in London with 2 babies with my husband under his parents house. I'm under a spouse visa and I'd like to know what are my rights as a mother to my children and a wife to my husband and the father of my kids? My marriage is not going very well for quite sometime now and I don't know if I can cope anymore. If I decide to go back to my country is it possible to take my children with me?

Our Response:
You can return to your home country with your children only if you can obtain your husband's consent. If he does not agree to this then you would have to take the matter to court in order for the court to decide. If you decide to take your children without your husband's consent, then you face being charged with abduction.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-May-16 @ 2:25 PM
I'm married and living under my in laws with my husband and 2 babies. I'm under a spouse visa and my marriage isn't going very well for quite some time now. I'm not sure what my rights are as a mother to my children and a wife to my husband? And is it possible to take my children back to my country even if they are British citizens? How will it work? Help please. Thanks
Zyna - 6-May-16 @ 10:23 AM
I'm married and currently living in London with 2 babies with my husband under his parents house. I'm under a spouse visa and I'd like to know what are my rights as a mother to my children and a wife to my husband and the father of my kids? My marriage is not going very well for quite sometime now and I don't know if I can cope anymore. If I decide to go back to my country is it possible to take my children with me?
Zyna - 6-May-16 @ 10:18 AM
I'm living with my husband and 2 kids with the parents of my husbands house. I'm under a spouse visa and my children are UK citizens. Marriage is not going very well and I don't think I can cope anymore. I'd like to know my rights as a mother to my children if we separate? And can I take my children to my country if possible?
Zyna - 6-May-16 @ 9:59 AM
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