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Your Legal Rights as a Parent

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 16 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Parent Child Parent With Care Non

Losing full-time contact with a child is a difficult and painful outcome of any separation or divorce. The parent who retains day-to-day care of the child may not experience as much separation anxiety as the non resident parent, but they will however become more financially minded.

Maintenance payments from the non resident parent will help ease the financial pressure of raising a child, but unless parents agree to shared care or regular access and visits there may be other problems to overcome too.

Parenting Plan

A custody court order will include a parenting plan or visitation schedule which parents must adhere to. This plan is more likely to affect, and/or restrict, the non resident parent, particularly if the parents are not able to communicate effectively. Understanding and accepting that there will be imposed changes that will affect a non resident parent’s relationship with their child in some way, may enable the parent to consider expressing views openly prior to the custody order being finalised.

Many parents are able to make private arrangements that put the child’s rights and needs first. Joint custody or shared care will enable both parents to have regular contact with their child, and to contribute equally to the emotional, physical and financial aspects of child raising.

Making Modifications

A non resident parent may have a court order but may still experience problems enforcing it. Being flexible about re-arranging a visit keeps communication open. However, the parent with care must acknowledge the non resident parent’s rights.

If problems persist, threatening to withhold child support is not a good idea. If a parent has to go to court to enforce visitation any threats to stop child support payments will be held against them. Modifying maintenance is only acceptable if the parent with care has an increase in income whilst the non resident parent’s income has decreased, or a parent’s expenses have increased considerably through illness etc.

Parent And Child Rights

On the whole, the law allows parents to bring up their children in accordance with their own beliefs and values. This gives parents the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, provided the child’s well-being is never put at risk. Parents must accept that wanting their own way however, is not the same thing as exercising a right. Although parents have the right to set limits they do not have the right to enforce views.

A parent has the right to determine their child’s name, religion, form of education and healthcare. They also have the right to accompany the child outside the UK and agree on emigration issues. Parents who have a joint custody agreement share rights and parental responsibilities. If the child’s parents are divorced, however, the mother generally has charge of parental responsibility, although the father’s opinions can be expressed and documented.

A child’s rights state that a parent must ensure their child is safe from harm, has somewhere to live, has food, clothing, medical care and education and is financially supported.

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Jess - Your Question:
I've been split up with my ex for 5 years now. He has the children every other weekend. He's always said he'd take them for 2 separate weeks in the year during school holidays but this has never happened. Can I talk to him and insist this happens or is it a matter of him doing what he wants?

Our Response:
I'm afraid you or the courts will not force a non-resident parent to take their children.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Mar-17 @ 10:44 AM
I've been split up with my ex for 5 years now. He has the children every other weekend. He's always said he'd take them for 2 separate weeks in the year during school holidays but this has never happened. Can I talk to him and insist this happens or is it a matter of him doing what he wants?
Jess - 16-Mar-17 @ 2:44 PM
Slicewright - Your Question:
Hi me n my ex split up just before our daughters 1st birthday he has had no contact what so ever only payed maintenance for 3 months had nothing since,our daughter is 6 next week she has a step dad who has been in her life 3 and alfyrs now and calls him daddy my ex has been in and out of prison and hasn't even tried to see his daughter she doesn't even no wat he looks like and we've just received a letter for mediation there noway my daughter would even speak to him. Ring a stranger let alone had contact days with him so can I just refuse mediation??

Our Response:
You can refuse mediation. But then your ex will be able to pursue the matter through court. It would then be up to the court to decide whether your ex having contact with your child is in your child's best interests.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Mar-17 @ 12:49 PM
Hi me n my ex split up just before our daughters 1st birthday he has had no contact what so ever only payed maintenance for 3 months had nothing since,our daughter is 6 next week she has a step dad who has been in her life 3 and alfyrs now and calls him daddy my ex has been in and out of prison and hasn't even tried to see his daughter she doesn't even no wat he looks like and we've just received a letter for mediation there noway my daughter would even speak to him. Ring a stranger let alone had contact days with him so can I just refuse mediation??
Slicewright - 16-Mar-17 @ 12:02 AM
Missy - Your Question:
HelloI have a 6 month old daughter who stays at her dad's house twice a week. I drop her of and pick her up but now he has a new girlfriend and they have a new house together to which I'm not allowed to know the address of for no reason at all. I have stopped my daughter staying out until I can know the address of where she is living bearing in mind she is only 6 months old. Long story short her dad is taking me to court so do I have right to know where my 6 month old baby is staying those 2 nights a week? Thanks

Our Response:
I'm afraid we can't predict what the court may decide. The court will decide upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your child and also consider the reasons why your ex does not wish you to know his address. This, weighed against your justifiable reasons for wanting to know the address will be decided upon either via Cafcass and/or on the day.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Mar-17 @ 1:57 PM
Eri - Your Question:
Hi, I have just received a Child Arrangements Order from the court. It was a consent order and my ex's barrister wrote out your agreement. One of the agreements were that my ex will be handed our daughter's passport 21 days in advance before a planned holiday. It has now however occurred to me that this means I cannot take our daughter on holiday abroad before his planned holiday as he will be in possession of the passport! For instance, I would like to go on holiday with our daughter 1st-7th Apr and he wants to take her 9th-16th. The order also states that our daughter lives with me. It also states in the order "However, this does not prevent the removal of the child, for a period of less than 1 month, by a person named in the Child Arrangement Order as a person with whom the child shall live"Does this paragraph override the 21 days in advance of handing my ex the passport if it clashes with my planned holiday, or will I get into trouble if I do not hand him the passport before the 21 days?

Our Response:
I think in this case you can come to an agreement with your ex over this as some flexibility is allowed on occasion. If you think your ex may agree to a temporary deviation from the order, then any changes to a contact order must be agreed by both parties. One party cannot unilaterally decide to change the order or apply additional terms. Therefore, you may wish to ask your ex directly to re-arrange on this occasion, or ask your solicitor to request the change by letter and determine a new date when you will hand your daughter's passport to your ex. However, if you refuse to hand the passport over after the agreed date and well in time for your ex's holiday with your child, then you will be liable for a serious breach. Likewise, if your ex refuses to agree to the date changes, then you would have to take the matter back to court (which is unlikely to be heard in time). In terms of importance, handing the passport over on the agreed date comes before you being allowed to take your child out of the country for a month. Therefore, if your ex disagrees with the requested changes and you refuse to hand the passport over on the specified 21 days, then you will be in breach.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Mar-17 @ 11:20 AM
Hello I have a 6 month old daughter who stays at her dad's house twice a week. I drop her of and pick her up but now he has a new girlfriend and they have a new house together to which I'm not allowed to know the address of for no reason at all. I have stopped my daughter staying out until I can know the address of where she is living bearing in mind she is only 6 months old. Long story short her dad is taking me to court so do I have right to know where my 6 month old baby is staying those 2 nights a week? Thanks
Missy - 14-Mar-17 @ 9:00 PM
Hi, I have just received a Child Arrangements Order from the court. It was a consent order and my ex's barrister wrote out your agreement. One of the agreements were that my ex will be handed our daughter's passport 21 days in advance before a planned holiday. It has now however occurred to me that this means I cannot take our daughter on holiday abroad before his planned holiday as he will be in possession of the passport! For instance, I would like to go on holiday with our daughter 1st-7th Apr and he wants to take her 9th-16th. The order also states that our daughter lives with me. It also states in the order "However, this does not prevent the removal of the child, for a period of less than 1 month, by a person named in the Child Arrangement Order as a person with whom the child shall live" Does this paragraph override the 21 days in advance of handing my ex the passport if it clashes with my planned holiday, or will I get into trouble if I do not hand him the passport before the 21 days?
Eri - 14-Mar-17 @ 12:54 PM
Hi, I have just received a Child Arrangements Order from the court. It was a consent order and my ex's barrister wrote out your agreement. One of the agreements were that my ex will be handed our daughter's passport 21 days in advance before a planned holiday. It has now however occurred to me that this means I cannot take our daughter on holiday abroad before his planned holiday as he will be in possession of the passport! For instance, I would like to go on holiday with our daughter 1st-7th Apr and he wants to take her 9th-16th. The order also states that our daughter lives with me. It also states in the order "However, this does not prevent the removal of the child, for a period of less than 1 month, by a person named in the Child Arrangement Order as a person with whom the child shall live" Does this paragraph override the 21 days in advance of handing my ex the passport if it clashes with my planned holiday, or will I get into trouble if I do not hand him the passport before the 21 days?
Eri - 14-Mar-17 @ 6:44 AM
Hi, I have just received a Child Arrangements Order from the court. It was a consent order and my ex's barrister wrote out your agreement. One of the agreements were that my ex will be handed our daughter's passport 21 days in advance before a planned holiday. It has now however occurred to me that this means I cannot take our daughter on holiday abroad before his planned holiday as he will be in possession of the passport! For instance, I would like to go on holiday with our daughter 1st-7th Apr and he wants to take her 9th-16th. The order also states that our daughter lives with me. It also states in the order "However, this does not prevent the removal of the child, for a period of less than 1 month, by a person named in the Child Arrangement Order as a person with whom the child shall live" Does this paragraph override the 21 days in advance of handing my ex the passport if it clashes with my planned holiday, or will I get into trouble if I do not hand him the passport before the 21 days?
Eri - 13-Mar-17 @ 10:46 PM
ked - Your Question:
Can a child aged 14 speak for themselves, a court was put in place at aged 12 , if the child makes a decision that they do not want to go to the other parents on 'their' weekend is there anything that can be done. My child is currently scared to stand up to his dad who threatens to take me back to court if he says he doesnt want to go or.if there are other family plans that fall on 'his' weekend. im also concerned that there are severe safeguarding issues whilst he is there. He is mentally.unstable.and plays silly mind games. I want to go back to court as hes messing with both boys heads, they are aged 19 and 14. He thinks he can still tell them what they.can and cant do. its a control thing

Our Response:
Children can begin to speak for themselves after the age of 11 and the court will listen and take their opinions on board. However, although the court will listen, they will still decide upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your child.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Mar-17 @ 10:49 AM
Can a child aged 14 speak for themselves,a court was put in place at aged 12 , if the child makes a decision that they do not want to go to the other parents on 'their' weekend is there anything that can be done.My child is currently scared to stand up to his dad who threatens to take me back to court if he says he doesnt want to go or.if there are other family plans that fall on 'his' weekend. im also concerned that there are severe safeguarding issues whilst he is there.He is mentally.unstable.and plays silly mind games.I want to go back to court as hes messing with both boys heads, they are aged 19 and 14.He thinks he can still tell them what they.can and cant do... its a control thing
ked - 12-Mar-17 @ 8:30 AM
Kez - Your Question:
If I voluntelery gave my day to day duties up as a mother while I went into rehab to get better what would be my rights now I have left the rehab and doing good and there are no court orders. Thanks

Our Response:
If your ex does not agree with handing yours and his children back to you, then you would to have to apply for a child arrangement order through the courts, please see link here. The court will decide what it thinks is in the best interests of your children regarding which parent has residency of the children.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Mar-17 @ 12:27 PM
If I voluntelery gave my day to day duties up as a mother while I went into rehab to get better what would be my rights now I have left the rehab and doing good and there are no court orders. Thanks
Kez - 2-Mar-17 @ 1:10 PM
Sophie - Your Question:
Hi me and my ex split up when I was pregnant cause he was beating me up and threatening to hit me in the stomach and kill our unborn child now my son is born and he is 4 months old I didn't put my ex on the birth certificate cause I had good reasons now he is threatening to take me to court and get custyed can he do this and he said they will ask for a dna test but I can refuse that can't I. Can someone please give me some advice and help me I don't won't to lose my boy

Our Response:
You will not lose your child. While your ex can take you to court, if he is not registered as the father, then he has no current rights. However, what the court can order is a DNA test to take place and if the test comes back positive, the court can award contact (usually supervised at first).
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Feb-17 @ 12:47 PM
Hi me and my ex split up when I was pregnant cause he was beating me up and threatening to hit me in the stomach and kill our unborn child now my son is born and he is 4 months old I didn't put my ex on the birth certificate cause I had good reasons now he is threatening to take me to court and get custyed can he do this and he said they will ask for a dna test but I can refuse that can't I. Can someone please give me some advice and help me I don't won't to lose my boy
Sophie - 26-Feb-17 @ 7:05 PM
Me me my mrs have a 3 mounts old son she. Didn't put me on the birth certificate on purpose even though she knows I'm the. Dad I do smoke weed now and again. But only when. I'm out of the homebut she's stopped me from seeing him for no real reason purely because her family's don't like me what can i do about this
Blazer - 25-Feb-17 @ 4:09 PM
Blue - Your Question:
Hi me and my ex have been separated for 5 years he was horrible to me and our kids it was his turn to have the kids so I went on holiday with my new partner I have come back and he won't let me have the kids back he says he's exercise his parental responsibility please help me I don't know what to do

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this, this is every parent's nightmare and something that happens rarely, but if it does it can be extremely stressful. If your ex has parental responsibility and he is refusing to return your children then unfortunately the police cannot intervene and return the children to you, as they cannot take sides in issues where one parent decides to exercise their parental responsibility rights. Therefore, I can only advise (which I imagine you have done by now) that you seek legal advice as you will have to apply to have your chidlren returned via court. A solicitor's letter outlining your rights, the possible repercussions of his actions and the effects on your children, may jolt him into action. However, if he still refuses to return the children then you will have to apply for an interim contact order and a child arrangement order which will determine through the courts who your children should live with. I hope the situation manages to resolve itself soon.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Feb-17 @ 2:02 PM
@Toots - I think this means that neither parent can withold consent to take the children on holiday and if the parent does withold consent, the other parent can take the children and the police will not intervene.
AnnaY - 22-Feb-17 @ 12:35 PM
Hi me and my ex have been separated for 5 years he was horrible to me and our kids it was his turn to have the kids so I went on holiday with my new partner I have come back and he won't let me have the kids back he says he's exercise his parental responsibility please help me I don't know what to do
Blue - 21-Feb-17 @ 11:03 PM
My ex and I have a child arrangements order regarding contact arrangements for our 2 children whom reside with me. Part of the order states that each parent must obtain the others consent for an overseas holiday and each parent must not unreasonably withhold that consent. At the bottom of the child arrangement order it states that the person with whom the children reside can remove the children for a period of less than one month without the consent of the other. It seems that the order contradicts itself somewhat and its very unclear as to which part has the most weight. Can anyone help with some clarification on this matter please?
Toots - 21-Feb-17 @ 6:59 PM
Hi, I am in a situation where we have agreed shared parenting where the children spend just over half the time with their Mum and the rest with me. My situation has changed and I need to get the agreement amended so I no longer have the children for as long - it is proving impractical (particularly the school run) and I am in danger of losing my job due to childcare commitments. I have had to rent a property further away from school than their mother has been able to buy, due to financial constraints. At the moment this is a 3 bed property, but I am going to have to downsize, as this is proving too costly, especially as their Mother (who initially went to her parents for 6 months) has been able to buy a property (we had an agreement where I paid reduced maintenance for the children during the period she was living at her parents, and I stretched myself to give the children a 'proper' base while she got on her feet, now I am paying full maintenance and need to move). Can I insist that their Mother have the children for a longer period? (I acknowledge I will have to pay more child maintenance). What would happen if I had to move completely out of the area due to work? Regards
DadO - 17-Feb-17 @ 12:24 PM
Mrs smith - Your Question:
Hi.Try to cut a long story short.my ex and I separated over 10 years ago our son nearly 13 we went through a messy court case when son was 8.anyway it ended up with him having residence with me having night in week and every other weekend and half of all holidays.everything been going fine my son older now and sometimes prefers to stay with mates etc so I have to accept that.i moved away with my new partner and my other two kids (from previous) contact with my son was agreed by my ex and that due to distance I could have my son either all holidays or half.again depending on what he wanted to do at the time (my son) he come to me for a week over Xmas not a problem and arrangements were made again to have him then a week later his dad texts saying he has concerns as my son doesn't have his own room. (he shares with two others at his dads) and that he doesn't like my partner (we been together nearly two years and never had a prob until now!) My son is upset about his dads decision but is too afraid to speak up.in my eyes this is bullying he likes to feel like he's in control he won't have it that it's only hurting our son and believes he's doing the right thing! I'm a good mother my other kids are happy and safe there is no reason he should be doing this! What can I do he's clearly breaking court order!

Our Response:
I'm afraid your only recourse would be to take the matter back to court. While there is a court order in place, a lot has changed since the original court order was issued, i.e changes where you live/ changes to the original court order etc. If your ex does not agree with the set-up at your new home and refuses to let your son visit, then you have no alternative than to either request your ex attends mediation in order to try to resolve the issues outide court and/or if he refuses, apply back to court to get the order enforced/varied.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Feb-17 @ 11:18 AM
K-Koselka - Your Question:
Hi just wondering how Me and my fiancé go about getting custody of our daughters back. My fiancés mother has got custody until they are 18 and won't allow the girls to see or even speak to us but we have had contact through snapchat secretly and FaceTime as they are 11 and 9 and disclosing to us that thier grandmother is physically abusing them and telling them basically that they are better off without us so severe emotional harm too,we have had social services involved as the girls are texting us saying 'please come get us we don't wanna be her' but they won't disclose this to social services and the social worker has said if their grandmother thinks it's best for them not to have contact that's the end of it! The social services won't even look at a USB we have with all evidence of texts and pictures and videos of the girls discussing what's going on at home! Please can someone help us by telling us how to get them back as the girls won't open up and the social just think they are telling us what we want to hear! Please help x

Our Response:
Your only recourse is to take legal advice to see if you have a case. Much depends upon what the original court order specifies. If it specifies the children are to have no contact with you, then this is not their grandparent's decision, but the courts. Plus, you will be in breach of that order if you have contact with the children, and there could be serious repercussions for you. If the court order specified you should have some contact and your children's grandparent is denying you contact against the court order, then you will have a case to take the matter back to court (for contact at least). However, regardless of what your children are saying to you directly - the court will always decide upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your children. If the court has decided you should not have custody of your own children, there must have been a very good reason that made the courts come to this decision. Taking children away from their parents is rare, so getting this decision overturned would not be easy.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Feb-17 @ 11:09 AM
Hi. Try to cut a long story short...my ex and I separated over 10 years ago our son nearly 13we went through a messy court case when son was 8..anyway it ended up with him having residence with me having night in week and every other weekend and half of all holidays.everything been going fine my son older now and sometimes prefers to stay with mates etc so I have to accept that.i moved away with my new partner and my other two kids (from previous) contact with my son was agreed by my ex andthat due to distance i could have my son either all holidays or half..again depending on what he wanted to do at the time (my son) he come to me for a week over Xmas not a problem and arrangements were made again to have him then a week later his dad texts saying he has concerns as my son doesn't have his own room.. (he shares with two others at his dads) and that he doesn't like my partner (we been together nearly two years and never had a prob until now!) My son is upset about his dads decision but is too afraid to speak up...in my eyes this is bullying he likes to feel like he's in control he won't have it that it's only hurting our son and believes he's doing the right thing! I'm a good mother my other kids are happy and safe there is no reason he should be doing this! What can I do he's clearly breaking court order!
Mrs smith - 13-Feb-17 @ 12:28 PM
Hi just wondering how Me and my fiancé go about getting custody of our daughters back. My fiancés mother has got custody until they are 18 and won't allow the girls to see or even speak to us but we have had contact through snapchat secretly and FaceTime as they are 11 and 9 and disclosing to us that thier grandmother is physically abusing them and telling them basically that they are better off without us so severe emotional harm too,we have had social services involved as the girls are texting us saying 'please come get us we don't wanna be her' but they won't disclose this to social services and the social worker has said if their grandmother thinks it's best for them not to have contact that's the end of it! The social services won't even look at a USB we have with all evidence of texts and pictures and videos of the girls discussing what's going on at home! Please can someone help us by telling us how to get them back as the girls won't open up and the social just think they are telling us what we want to hear! Please help x
K-Koselka - 13-Feb-17 @ 11:39 AM
Misi - Your Question:
Hi,my husband left the house 3 days ago and want to meet a child I have no problem if he will proceed through a court and meet a child but the problem is I don't want to see him again in my life because when he was with me he abuse me and hit me and I always try to make tie up my family I don't want to give my child a plot life but 2nd time he left me so again again I can't take emotionally stress its effect on my health so how it's possible I can't see him again but still he can meet with a child Thanks

Our Response:
You could either request via your solicitor that your ex instructs a third party to pick up and drop off your son. Or you could arrange for a family member to be there when your ex calls to pick up your child. Another alternative would be for your ex to pick him up and drop him back at school if he has your child overnight. If you are still only going through the early days of making arrangements, then this can be arranged via mediation. If your ex applies to court, the courts will want you both to have tried to resolve these issues through mediation first before your ex will be allowed to apply directly to court. If you make arrangements via mediation - then you can state your preferences and avoid the stresses of court.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Feb-17 @ 10:30 AM
Hi,my husband left the house 3 days ago and want to meet a child I have no problem if he will proceed through a court and meet a child but the problem is I don't want to see him again in my life because when he was with me he abuse me and hit me and I always try to make tie up my family I don't want to give my child a plot life but 2nd time he left me so again again I can't take emotionally stress its effect on my health so how it's possible I can't see him again but still he can meet with a child Thanks
Misi - 12-Feb-17 @ 2:51 AM
Hi just wondering how Me and my fiancé go about getting custody of our daughters back. My fiancés mother has got custody until they are 18 and won't allow the girls to see or even speak to us but we have had contact through snapchat secretly and FaceTime as they are 11 and 9 and disclosing to us that thier grandmother is physically abusing them and telling them basically that they are better off without us so severe emotional harm too,we have had social services involved as the girls are texting us saying 'please come get us we don't wanna be her' but they won't disclose this to social services and the social worker has said if their grandmother thinks it's best for them not to have contact that's the end of it! The social services won't even look at a USB we have with all evidence of texts and pictures and videos of the girls discussing what's going on at home! Please can someone help us by telling us how to get them back as the girls won't open up and the social just think they are telling us what we want to hear! Please help x
KK - 11-Feb-17 @ 8:40 PM
Hi just wondering how Me and my fiancé go about getting custody of our daughters back. My fiancés mother has got custody until they are 18 and won't allow the girls to see or even speak to us but we have had contact through snapchat secretly and FaceTime as they are 11 and 9 and disclosing to us that thier grandmother is physically abusing them and telling them basically that they are better off without us so severe emotional harm too,we have had social services involved as the girls are texting us saying 'please come get us we don't wanna be her' but they won't disclose this to social services and the social worker has said if their grandmother thinks it's best for them not to have contact that's the end of it! The social services won't even look at a USB we have with all evidence of texts and pictures and videos of the girls discussing what's going on at home! Please can someone help us by telling us how to get them back as the girls won't open up and the social just think they are telling us what we want to hear! Please help x
KJ - 11-Feb-17 @ 8:38 PM
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