We get many comments and questions from you about child support. We've taken a selection of your comments addressing the issue of keeping contact with your children and the fear of your ex taking them from you - and asked our expert to give some comprehensive information and advice.
The traditional view of the family set up has become something of a minority in 21st century society and because of this, a broken down relationship can lead to complicated legal issues. Whether you are recently divorced and wondering about the role your ex-husband has in your child's life, or you have a child from a relationship that has broken down, but were never married, you need to understand your legal position when it comes to creating an amicable situation for your child to grow up in. Here we aim to dispel some of the myths about parental access and to give you the advice you need to rebuild your life and your children's lives.
Parental responsibility (also known as PR) creates "responsibilities" rather than "rights" regardless of whatever the state of the parents' relationship, emphasising the view that each will maintain an equal, shared and continuing responsibility towards the child.
Where both the mother and the father have PR, they have the power to act alone unless there is a circumstance where, by law, each person with PR is to give consent i.e. in the case of adoption. In reality, holding PR gives the ability to make decisions in relation to the child's name, religion, school, consent to medical treatment and marriage etc.
Who has Parental Responsibility?
Below is a flow chart to help you determine if you have Parental Responsibility:
A mother always has PR. A father who is married to the mother at the time of birth will automatically have PR.
To clarify, for unmarried fathers, the situation is different. Unmarried fathers will have PR if:
They marry the mother after the child is born
They have jointly registered the child's birth with the mother i.e. their name is on the birth certificate
For pre December 2003 registrations, the mother provides a formal declaration of agreement that the father's name is to be added to the birth record and the father re-registers the birth to add his details
The court orders a residence order in favour of the father, although this will usually terminate when the resident order ends (generally age 16)
A birth parent has signed a parental responsibility agreement
A step-parent's PR agreement can be made by consent with all those already having PR for the child
By obtaining an adoption order from the court
Where a father has not automatically gained PR, the mother does not have to add the father's name to the birth certificate. However, this will not stop the father from being able to apply to the court for an order, such as a parental responsibility order, which may result in him acquiring PR.
Other family members
Other family members, taking grandparents as an example, do not automatically have PR. They would only be granted PR by a court if, for example, they were appointed as Guardian or were to adopt their grandchild for any reason. If a father with PR asks his parents to take care of the child, they can do so usually without the mother's agreement. However, the child would not be able to remain resident with the grandparents unless they had been granted a residency order by the court.
Voluntary access arrangements
If more than one of you has PR, then the best thing you can do for both your children and yourselves is to voluntarily agree to contact and access etc. If you can do this, then you are more likely to maintain a more harmonious relationship for the sake of your children. Additionally, it will prevent you from having to go to court and from having to pay court and solicitor's fees if you are unable to get legal aid.
Of course, this is the ideal scenario and not always a realistic one. If you cannot agree on residence and contact etc. then you may find that your ex will end up applying to the court for an order.
My Child has Been Taken Away From Me: What Can I Do?
Unfortunately in some circumstances, a father may take your child during agreed contact time and then refuse to bring them home again. If this happens and you are unable to negotiate with the father then you should call the police. However, the police may not be able to do anything. This generally comes down to whether or not the father has PR. If they do not, then the child is the mother's sole responsibility and the police may be able to take the child back to the mother. If the father does have PR, then in usual circumstances, they have the same rights as the mother to look after the child and therefore, so long as the child is not in any harm, the police cannot usually do anything about it. This can be understandably distressing for a mother. What can be done about it?
A person can make an application for a residence order, whether or not they have PR. For example, a father without PR can make an application for and be granted residency but then he will automatically acquire PR at the same time. It is unusual for a father to be granted residency as well as a mother as this would result in shared residency, which is not always in the best interests of the child. As a result, it is usually the mother who would be granted sole residency.
If a child has been taken by their father and the police cannot do anything, the mother can make an application for a residency order. If the child was snatched or she believes that her child may be in danger, then she can apply for an emergency ex parte application. This is also known as a 'without notice application' i.e. the other party is not given notice of the application. If the mother cannot make an ex parte application then an application can still be made but the father can attend and make his case. At the end of the hearing, the judge will make an order.
There are lots of other orders which the court can make, including contact orders, prohibited steps orders and specific issue orders.
What Factors Will be Taken Into Account?
When reviewing applications, the court will take a number of factors into consideration with regards to the child or children's welfare. These are:
What is best for the child and the feelings and wishes of the child. This is considered according to the child's age and understanding
How capable the parents (and any other relevant people) are of meeting the needs of the child or children
Any harm that the child is at risk of suffering or has suffered
The likely effect of a change of circumstances on the child
The age, background, personality, sex and any other characteristics that the Court believes to be relevant
The child's emotional, physical and educational needs
If you have been subjected to domestic abuse, this would clearly be a very important factor for the court to consider when determining what will be in the best interests of the child. If the father makes an application to the court then you can oppose it by giving evidence as to why he should not be given the order. You can oppose any application in much the same way.
When you find yourself fighting to look after your own child your emotions can begin to take over. It is important when you begin to plan your child's parenting and the access of the father that you understand the law and how it might impact on your child's future.
Remember that if your child's father is on the birth certificate, or you were married and are now divorced, the father has the same access to the child as you do in the eyes of the law. If they take your child or even threaten to do so, the police can often be powerless to change the situation. The best advice is to seek mediation and organise access in a written agreement, give yourself something concrete to work from. If your ex is unreasonable then apply for a residency order to ensure that you keep custody of your child.
I am 17 years of age and study child care at college .I have left home and living with my friends family.the question I would like answering is can they claim family allowance for me or can I claim anything to help towards my keep.My mother says she as cancelled my family allowance but I am not sure knowing her. my mother also receives maintenanceCAR for me
peggy - 31-Mar-13 @ 3:56 PM
My daughter has an 11month olds boy and the farther is on the birth certificate however He physically abused her and smashed the house up and only served a few months for this. .. He also has history of threatening behaviour and also assaulting his mother and brother. . My daughter is worried that he may be allowed access to his son . . . .surely this cannot be right with his history .. His family dont bother with cards,presents phone calls when baby was born more for his first Christmas !!!!!!!!!!
Nell - 25-Mar-13 @ 3:54 PM
I quote you:Unfortunately in some circumstances, a father may take your childNot in the least biased then?God forbid the mother takes our child away from me? :)Just a thought: the rest isn't too bad. But do we really need the bias?
chris - 13-Feb-13 @ 8:06 PM
I must say as a father who loves his son and has spent two years trying to gain equal access, that when reading your information, the intimation is,it would appear,that it is the father who has to be watched out for,that it is the father that is likely to snatch the child and that it is the father who is the root cause of many of the problems.Having seen my ex partner lie in court, make false allegations against myself and refuse to hand over my sons passport to me, so we can also have a holiday...I could go on...I would ask that you consider a more unbiased approach when giving information, as it is this outdated attitude that helps to maintain the inequality against fathers and our rights to be considered just as important to our childrens upbringing and welfare as mothers.
gentk - 4-Feb-13 @ 6:06 PM
see me and my my sons mum split up 2 weeks after finding out that she was pregnant. Ever ssince she has planned eeverything out to try making sure that i cant see my son by not telling me any appointments forr the baby scan scans, when he was born or anything till after it's already happened and too late to do anything about it it which i think is pathetic and childish in all honesty. So i want to be in my sons life and be the respectful role model that he needs me to be and i can also help out which iam doingh except i have to keep lying where the presents and money actually comes from and it's so unfair that woman get all these rights that us men who are wanting to do what they can to ensure that thee child/children get what they need and not have to worry about those woman who just want to be spiteful and self centered rather then having a childs real father in the childs life. what can i do so i can actually get the access from the courts and stuff, how do i go about it all?
matt or Paulo - 22-Dec-12 @ 6:44 PM
hi been on csa calculator and for one child the differance is over 20 pounds aweek rang csa they told me that i was paying the old rates and would be till the child left shcool.the ones on website were the new rates and nothing could be done is that true
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corey - 10-Nov-12 @ 10:45 PM
can a father stop his mother takeing grandchilden on holiday abroad even if the mother has said they can do the couple are no longer together and he doesnt support them
piggy - 1-Nov-12 @ 6:23 PM
I am a worried nanna!My youngest daughter is in an "abusive" relationship that sometimes becomes violent. She is struggling to find the courage to escape with her children. Her oldest child is 5 yrs old and from a previous relationship. However, she has a 10 month old daughter with her abusive partner and each time she attempts to leave him, he threatens her regarding their daughter saying she can leave with her son but the baby stays with him!!! I have organised for her to go to a women's refuge on two occasions recently, but she will not go anywhere with out BOTH her children. Her partner is a cannabis smoker and often their clashes are started when she asks him not to smoke in the home with the children there. I have read so much advice (often contradictory), that I am now confused. How can I help my daughter and grandchildren escape to a better life, without breaking the law???
Crayon - 31-Oct-12 @ 9:16 PM
Me and my boyfriend broke up in beginning of Desember 2 weeks after we have broken up I found out I was 8 weeks pregnant, but he already had another girlfriend, we were together for 5 years. i went through my whole pregnancy alone without him, during my pregnancy he kept on telling every one that he is not the father of my child, after the birth of our son, he wanted DNA tests and i agreed, the tests shown positive. our son is 2 months old, and he demands to have the child for the whole day and a whole weekend. I didn`t register him as the father, because he wasn`t there when our son was born. What can I do?. Does he have any rights to stand on, because he wants to take me to court?
Pinkie - 28-Sep-12 @ 8:12 PM
I hope someone can help please. I have two children, !0 and 15. Sinse Feb 2011 I have had shared custody with their father (both children wanted this arrangement) We had a court order stating that my ex husband (my childrens father) was not allowed to bring the two children into contact with his partner of two years because he refused for me to meet her. I only wanted to meet his partner to build trust so I knew who the person was involved with my children. I felt he had something to hide by not allowing me to meet her so it was mentioned in court. The judge ordered a police safe guarding check to be carried out on her but she declined to sign giving consent for records to be checked (clearly didnt want anything coming out of the woodwork) Because she didnt comply with the court, they persumed the worst and stated in the order that she is not allowed to come into contact with the children unless I have had a face to face meeting with her and given them both written consent to say Im happy for my children to be around the mystery woman. 2 months ago my ex husband said he wants to move in with his partner and asked if I would like to have full custody of the children WOO HOO!!! HELL YEAH!!!!!!!! No hesitation I said yes!!!!! (I have been fighting for them for a long time, hes a bully, controling, and vindictive and intimidating and very bitter, and will hurt me through the children) He knows he couldnt take the children with him because of the court order so allowing me full custody was his only option really. I have sinse discovered that the reason his partner wouldnt have the police check done was because she has convictions for drugs, this alarms me a lot as I have no choice but to let the children visit him at weekends and of course she is there. But if I didnt allow they wouldnt see their dad. They have been in my full custody now for 5 weeks (and its amazing!!! they are back where they belong, safe and sound with their mum) but my worry is, I feel he should be paying maintenence, he has no mortgage with his partner, no rent, she owns the house, just a few bills, they both work and I am on the bones of my you know what, trying so hard with my work, the house and everything. I am so scared that if I mention money or contact the CSA he will attempt to take my babies back from me. Thats the way he is, he would rather hurt his children and them away from their mum (he did it before just to hurt me, not thinking of them) knowing they are settleld with me, rather than part with money. Could he take them back? Sorry for the novel!
mumsie - 28-Sep-12 @ 7:41 PM
Every time I do research on this topic, websites are contradicting each other so I really hope you could shed some light on this.
My partner has his 15 year old daughter living with him after having lived with her mother for 12 years. All those years, my partner paid his ex wife child support. Now that she lives here, we are wondering if his ex wife owes him child support and if the family allowance she is still claiming should actually go to him.
If so, how do we claim for this?
Thank you for your time and thank you in advance for your response.
CJ85 - 24-Sep-12 @ 4:06 PM
Hi my son is 2 he usually stops his dads every saturday but keeps comin home ill. iv had to take him docs and hospital past few week. n never seems right in himself. can i stop him from going? please help
missy12 - 24-Sep-12 @ 2:04 PM
Mother and father separated.Have one daughter with Downs Syndrome, presently aged 12.Contact order in place - father sees her every other weekend and after school once a week.Relationship between parents not a good one and mother feels bullied and intimidated. What will happen when the child reaches the age of 18?Will the mother be at liberty to live wherever she chooses without having to tell the father?Presumably when a child reaches the age of 18 they normally make their own choices as to whether they continue their relationship with the absent parent but what happens if that child has special needs?
Tiankerbell - 19-Sep-12 @ 2:01 PM
Hi. I recently stopped my ex from having contact with my 20month old son due to him refusing to bring him back when he was poorly. He had been having our son every other Saturday for 6 hours but each time, he came back poorly. He doesn't have PR and is not registered on the birth cert but is paying maintenance. I have now received a letter from his solicitor stating that he wants to be included on the certificate and gain PR. He has also lied by saying our son has stayed overnight and has been over every week for tea!!! He was emotionally abusive to me throughout my pregnancy so I left him before our son was born. I spent 10 months with my parents before going back to him on a trial basis as he told me he had changed. I left 4 months later. Does anyone know if he will be granted PR and access? Worried that he will take our son and not return him to me and I'm also worried for the welfare of our son too! Please help
Proudmum - 18-Sep-12 @ 7:10 PM
my x takes my daughter once a fortnight to his house but wont tell me where he lives do i have rights to know where he is taking my children, also does he have to have a bed for her, as she is sleeping in his bed over the whole weekend and i don't think that's right. i have a restraining order on his as a previous domestic abuse in the past when we were together, so i cant even check his house myself so how do i get to go check that he gets a bed for her? we have a solicitors letter written up with arrangements as he kept messing them up before and its hard without it as im not allowed any contact with him.
shaz - 13-Sep-12 @ 8:42 PM
my x takes my kidsonce a fortnight to his house but wont tell me where he lives do i have rights to know where he is taking my children
buddy - 12-Sep-12 @ 4:07 PM
my ex husband has not got a bed for my son as he gave his bedroom to a lodger. when my son sleeps he has to sleep on the floor in his sisters room or the sofa , is this acceptable or should he have a bed to sleep in .
jo - 10-Sep-12 @ 10:47 AM
I have a 10 year old son and I am divorced from his father. His father is a Narcissist and is Bipolar. He was diagnosed a couple of years ago but doesnt take the medication he is supposed to.
I remarried a few months ago and he is causing so many problems since then and I feel is jealous of the life we provide for my son and the relationship that my husband has with my son.
My son has not been going to see his father for over a year. Mostly because his father never called to see him but then the last time he was there overnight, my son told me they slept in a car so after that, I refused to allow him to have overnights unless he could prove that where he was staying was HIS place and he refused.
Now that he is paying child support (almost 32k behind) he suddenly started forcing the issue of him seeing my son and threatened to take me to court AND my son wanted to go so I let him go stay with his father for 6 weeks over the summer break. My ex lives with his girlfriend, her son and her son's grandparents (on his fathers side.. I know confusing)... Anyway, they did nothing over these six weeks except take my son's cell phone that I got him after the whole sleeping in the car thing and told me and my son that he could not talk to me.
When my son came back home he was traumatized to sleep in his own bed (which he has slept in since the day he was born) and afraid to go to bed because of a movie that my ex let him watch about a 10 year old boy that kills his entire family, told him it was based on a true story which it was NOT and now my son thinks that this could happen to him because he is 10.... What type of father does that? Is there anything that I can do? My son is now in counseling to help him work through this and to find out if anything more went on over there. I dont want to let him go back over there! Please help!
Patti - 7-Sep-12 @ 6:43 PM
do i need to inform my daughters father that im going on holiday for two weeks if his name is on the birth certificate, however he hasnt paid a penny towards her since we split,and hasnt seen her in over 3 months.i know the rules if there is a resident order which means i can take her on holiday for up to a month (28days) without consent, however there is no residence order, can i still take her without his consent??? please someone help its so confusing
confusedwoman - 2-Sep-12 @ 12:33 PM
Hi, My daughters mother left us when my daughter was 2 years old. (she's now 6 nearly 7) I'm in the RAF and have raised her with no financial support from the mother since the day she left. At first contact was every couple of weeks but this has gradually reduced over time. She has not seen her daughter since Dec 2010 when she came up and had her for a couple of days. Phone calls are very sporadic and when she failed to see her in Apr 12 as promised to her daughter I decided to not answer her phone calls. It took about 2 unanswered calls for her to stop trying, she's made no other attempt in that time to make contact. The mother is not working has had (still?) contact with drugs, alcohol dodgy people, I don't even know where/who's she living with. Tonight out of the blue she phones my house phone at 2300 and threatens to take me to court to have her daughter (citing that she won't have to pay and I'll have to pay a fortune, this is the kind of mentality I'm dealing with!) I know no judge would now grant her residency but contact? My daughter never speaks of her (I have not encouraged this) she is happy and settled and I don't want this mother coming in to her life and then leaving a possible car crash which no doubt she will. Where do I stand in the eyes of the law? Would she be able to get contact? would I have to drive my daughter to Norwich (we live in Whitby) as there's no way she'll have the means or finance to get up here? I guess I'm just concerned, Any advice would be helpful, Thanks, Tom
tom - 2-Sep-12 @ 12:28 AM
please help.please could someone email me some advice.ive recently split with my partner who is 8 months pregnant with my baby.shes threatening to stop me seeing the baby and says she isnt going to put my name onthe birth certicate.can she do this? is it legal? i dont want to leave the baby in her care as she has a history of drugs.she has two kids from a previous relationship who both livewith there father.she had a daughter who she gave up for adoption 15yrs ago.and another 5 yr ago.can anyone tell me what i should do and if i would have a strongg case for appying for sole custody.this is my 1st child and i cant sit back and watch this happen.please help
davie - 2-Sep-12 @ 12:25 AM
My ex partner doesn't see our children as he refuses to get a job as he doesn't want to pay child maintainance. My son today who is 10 has gone out to the park and decided to walk to his dads, and now his dad is refusing to bring him home and Ive had threats today from his new wife. What do i do? Can i call the police in the same way that I could if I had a residence order? I claim the childrens child benefit but really not sure on what to do.
Lorrainepicks - 1-Sep-12 @ 6:42 PM
I have just became a father roughly about a month ago now and the mother has registered the child on the birth certificate without my name and consent.
I've done some research on this website about what rights I have but I don't really understand them. Could someone please give me some advice on what I should do.
If I take her to court and succeed could I have my name registered on the birth certificate?
mike - 28-Aug-12 @ 7:20 PM
I have a 5month old daughter im a single parent and at first things were great my ex would come over to mine evey night to help out as I was really ill after having my little girl but then things just stopped and we split up I later found out he cheated on me and after we split started up a relationship with this girl but I never stopped him from seeing her and we would make arrangemts for him to come over at certian times and days as time went on he would come over less and less and stopped paying child support for her its been two weeks now and I have had no contact from him untill the other night saying he wants to see her next week I dont want him being a part time dad and seeing her when he wants is there anything I can do please help.
XeliseX - 23-Aug-12 @ 9:21 PM
@Tommy, yes of course you are entitled to claim child support. Your ex has a responsibility to support his child. The fact that his partner is expecting does not mean that his responsibility to his other child stop. If he is refusing point blank to pay any support then I would advise you to ring the CSA. Iknow they get a lot of bad press but in my experience they did their job and I stared to receive maintenance. Buying your daughter things does not account for child support, I'm sure you buy her things but you also feed, clothe and house her - which is what child support is suppose to help with. Good Luck!
Jade - 17-Aug-12 @ 2:00 PM
Hi me & my ex partner of 13 years have a 7 yr old child together,he is living with his partner & her children whilst she claims as been single !! My daughter lives with me & sees her dad every other weekend,he is in full time employment but wont pay to support our child,him & his partner r expecting ,he says he wont pay to support her because he buys her things! I claim working& tax credits as i work part time am i entitled to claim child support ????
Tommy - 17-Aug-12 @ 1:39 PM
To Lindsay, I was in the same situation, except he pretends heis interested because his mother and sister make him, even though they never see my kid, they are all v odd. He is just threatening, ignore him, he's a bully and a pathetic coward, if you can, don't take his money, it's not worth it, trust me, I have been there with scumbags like that, It's not worth any money, these sort of men are only interested in one thing....themselves!!
SF1975 - 14-Aug-12 @ 10:25 PM
My situation is different and long. A girl I had a one night stand with gave birth to my daughter. The mother has a history with drugs, suicide attempts, anxiety, depression, bi-polar. I said I wanted to be involved in my daughters life and saw her every week and paid child support voluntarily.I was left off the birth certificate but after 2.5 years I got PR through the courts. The mother abandoned my daughter in Leicester by dropping her on my door step. I continued working and caring for her for 8 months while she went on holiday to clear her head... I allowed her contact where over a weekend where she ran away and stopped me seeing my daughter for 2 months (also 2 previous times she had stopped me seeing her when she was younger)
I took her to court for contact which I was granted but she had moved to London. I spent 6 months travelling to get her at weekends then I was offered a London based job so I moved to be closer. The mother then called the police and was found armed with a knife threatening to kill herself and with my daughter with her. Social services supported me becoming full time carer. I started her in nursery and had 4 days to decide which school she would go to. I tried to keep the mum involved offering contact with me or her mum present. she committed to seeing my daughter about once a month for a few hours. the mum moved back to leicester and spent the next year dossing on friends sofas, in squats, not working or paying any child support.
I met someone and moved on with my life and her daughter and we all moved in together like a family in london. My ex did not like this and subsequently tried to snatch her back again to put her in a school in leicester however her own mother now sick of the situation had texted me to warn me of her intentions. due to the instability in her mental state and the snatching threat (based on that she had already snathced her back) I suspended all contact until we could go to court.
The mum is now pushing fo full custody in leicester. My daughter is 6 soon and has lived in london for 3 years and with me for the past 2 years.
My daughter has been diagnosed with attachement disorder from the first 3 years of her life with her mum. she is very difficult and can not trust anyone. she has big problems with abandonment but I am the only person she trusts and the only one she has a real bond with.
I feel guilty I have had to suspend contact and know it will look bad in court but the situation I am in now is not one that I got to over night. I have been pushed and backed into a corner over 6 years by past actions from the mothers side.
currently the mum is sending the police to my house as she has concerns about me and my partner. My partner owns a day nursery which is seen as outstanding by offseted ... we live above it. the police said they said she is making waves and for us to expect it to get worse but they need to respond if a child is mentioned.
The mum is now contacting the s
tom - 8-Aug-12 @ 2:22 AM
I'm a dad, not the best, but by no means the worst. My daughter stays with me 3.5 days a week. That's shared care...7 divided by two equals 3.5...
I'm not going to bleet on about how the C.S.A "appears" biased against fathers but more to the point, how when all things being equal like my shared care do I then have to pay the mother when she already earns more than me and receives child benefit?
There was no devine intervention in our daughter being brought into the world. It took two people to make her so I understand when fathers like me "appear" to be rather annoyed at how the system "appears" biased towards us dads.I want to bring up my daughter and want to do it equally with her mother, but please can anyone answer me this...who is financially supporting me to bring up our daughter?