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Your Legal Rights as a Parent

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 21 Apr 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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Somerset- Your Question:
Hi, I recently took my child's mother to a family court to request Parental Responsibilty as I was not named on my sons birth certificate. The judge granted me PR, however since that day the mother has blocked my phone number so I have no initial contact in case of emergencies, plus she has moved out her home recently and not advised me where my son is now homed. Do I have any rights when it comes to having a direct phone line to my sons mother and do I have rights to know where he lives?

Our Response:
You would have to apply back to court to have the PR order enforced. If your ex has taken your child away without your consent (which is a requirement if you have PR), then she has breached the order. You would have to fill in a C4 form, which is an application to disclose the whereabouts of a child. This will allow the court to put a trace on your child which will in turn allow you to have the papers served to once again bring the matter to court. However, while a court will put a trace on your child, it does not have to disclose your ex's address if she wants this to remain confidential. The court will outline the terms of the order and what the mother must supply by law in terms of you having PR.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Apr-17 @ 2:30 PM
Hi, I recently took my child's mother to a family court to request Parental Responsibilty as I was not named on my sons birth certificate. The judge granted me PR, however since that day the mother has blocked my phone number so I have no initial contact in case of emergencies, plus she has moved out her home recently and not advised me where my son is now homed. Do I have any rights when it comes to having a direct phone line to my sons mother and do I have rights to know where he lives?
Somerset - 21-Apr-17 @ 6:04 AM
Gemma - Your Question:
Hi my partners ex has a residence order through the courts where the ex gets the custody of the children living with with her. My partner sees the children in school holidays as they live far away and this is the agreement that the ex wanted. This easter holidays the children have come down and they will be going back at the end of the holidays. My partners very reliable friend will be taking them back home as he is going on holiday and will be driving past where they need to go but my partner will not be in the car. My partners ex knows my partners friend from when they were together. Is this allowed that he will be dropping the kids off without the father present as we are now having problems off the ex saying this is not allowed. Thanks.

Our Response:
This should be agreed between the parents. There is no law to say this is or this is not allowed (unless specified in the court order). However, if the matter is not resolved between both parents, it can lead to bad feeling and/or the mother claiming your partner has breached the court order.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Apr-17 @ 2:35 PM
Hi my partners ex has a residence order through the courts where the ex gets the custody of the children living with with her. My partner sees the children in school holidays as they live far away and this is the agreement that the ex wanted. This easter holidays the children have come down and they will be going back at the end of the holidays. My partners very reliable friend will be taking them back home as he is going on holiday and will be driving past where they need to go but my partner will not be in the car. My partners ex knows my partners friend from when they were together. Is this allowed that he will be dropping the kids off without the father present as we are now having problems off the ex saying this is not allowed. Thanks.
Gemma - 18-Apr-17 @ 11:10 AM
Hello, please I need urgent advice, I have a court arrangement on my kids, the dad is to have one overnight each weekend and see the other for few hours in the presence of my family member or I if non is available. Now this week no one is free and I have appointment as well, so have arrange a childminderswho is like a family friend to have the kids and he can pick from her and see the other there too, also I would be working soon on most of these days and these arrangement might have to happen often, but he is saying I can't usethe minder, that he won't pick from there and if he would have to stay and the the child there then I must be there, the children are available to him but his threaten that if I dnt he would take me to court again. Am tired of going to court and is not good for my kids too but I got other things to do and would like to move on with my life. And He just remarry also so I would have thought that suppose to work for him. Please advice, am so tired of all hiscontrolling attitude and trouble. Thank you
Teb - 8-Apr-17 @ 12:06 AM
Sandy - Your Question:
We have a court order in place following divorce where my ex has our 2 children 3 nights of the week. Will he have to pay full child Maintaince to me or a reduced amount as he cares for children 3 days & those overnights too? Thank you

Our Response:
His child maintenance will be assessed on the amount of nights he has the children overnight, yes. You can see more via the gov.uk link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Mar-17 @ 2:10 PM
We have a court order in place following divorce where my ex has our 2 children 3 nights of the week. Will he have to pay full child Maintaince to me or a reduced amount as he cares for children 3 days & those overnights too? Thank you
Sandy - 27-Mar-17 @ 10:29 PM
My brother has parental responsibility. His ex would like to take their children on holiday, my brother is more than happy to write a letter of consent however his ex is being very secretive and reluctant to give across the passport details and issued from dates to coincide with letter of consent. Worried she may have fraudulently had their names changed without father's consent and is now afraid to release passport details. Anyone with previous experience of this? My brother wouldn't want to stop them from holidaying but would clearly like the correct passport details.
Lunasands - 25-Mar-17 @ 2:24 PM
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
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