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Your Legal Rights as a Parent

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 23 Jan 2016 | 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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I separated from the father of my daughters over 5 years ago, prior to my youngest being born. They have always lived with me and I have never refused him access, he lives in London and we live in Cumbria. He has been seeing them 3 out of 4 weekends. However after discussions with the girls I have changed this to every other weekend. There are a few reasons behind this. A. Myself and my husband dont get very much "social time" with the girls, we seem to do all the school runs and the "hard work" and he flits in at a weekend and takes them out to do fun things. Plus our weekend wasnt always falling on when we were off (Im a nurse and my husband is a police officer) B. The girls are not having the opportunity to socialise with their friends as he is taking them out of the area. C. We are about to have another baby, and I dont want the girls feeling "pushed out" of the family ie "you go to your dads and let us have our little family without you" D. My side of the family dont have any time with the girls because they spend all their spare time with him. E. My eldest said shes bored when shes there and doesnt want to go anymore, but shes only 8. I have put these points to him, and well I got a solicitors letter saying hes not happy and if I dont go back to the original agreement he will take me to court. I dont think Im being unreasonable, and his letter highlights the fact that he has to travel to see them, well he's not from London, he chooses to live there. It also states that he does all the travelling at his expense, well we used to help out by meeting half way, then he got a discount on his CSA for travel, so why should we be spending our money travelling for him? Hes told his solicitor I recently moved to Cumbria, what is seen as recent in the laws eyes, we have been here two years, and it took him 9 months to contact the school to see how they were getting on, so the solicitor telling me that he should have a say in where they live, go to school and which GP they see, if he had an issue should he not have bought this up with me 2 years ago? Not when they are settled and doing very well? If this does go to court (as I have chosen to ignore this letter) would I be seen as being unreasonable?
EJW - 23-Jan-16 @ 6:27 PM
xfarawayx - Your Question:
Hi posted here awhile ago about my 2 sons and my ex wish I never got back in touch with him since he gave me his mobile number online all he s done is putting me down for over 2 weeks made me believe I could have contact via mobile he said I could talk with them meet up organised it for last Monday would let me know if the boys had day off work never heard anything again am deverstated heart broken my 2 sons thing I don't care he never pasted my messages onto them let know I love them he played a cruel game with me shouldn't be allowed to treat me like this I hate him and what hes done to me I will walk from Liverpool to Manchester to find them I have to as I love my sons and he is going to ruin my chances.

Our Response:
If your ex is denying you access, then you would have to take it through the courts. Your first step should be to send a registered letter to your ex-partner in which you ask him to reinstate contact between you and your children, and stating that if he does not do so, you’ll have to resort to legal action. Don't forget to take a copy of the letter for your records and keep your proof of sending. Don't forget to keep all your text messages of him promising contact also. If this produces no action, you have no alternative but to go to court and ask for an Interim Contact Order. The interim contact order allows you to have contact with your children until a full court hearing resolves the matter one way or another. In most instances, the court will allow some limited contact between you and your children in the interim. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Jan-16 @ 12:59 PM
hi posted here awhile ago about my 2 sons and my ex wish I never got back in touch with him since he gave me his mobile number online all he s done is putting me down for over 2 weeks made me believe I could have contact via mobile he said I could talk with them meet up organised it for last Monday would let me know if the boys had day off work never heard anything again am deverstated heart broken my 2 sons thing I don't care he never pasted my messages onto them let know I love themhe played a cruelgame with me shouldn't be allowed to treat me like this I hate him and what hes doneto me I will walk from Liverpool to Manchester to find them I have to as I love my sons and he is going to ruin my chances....
xfarawayx - 19-Jan-16 @ 5:36 PM
I've already been to court for access for my son. The courts ruled that I should have him every other weekend and in school holidays. It went well for about a year and then she stopped me from seeing him again. I want to take her back to court but can not afford it to regain my contact back. Since contact has stopped I've been told that I only have a limited time to live so I would want to spend as much time with him as I can. What advice can you give me
Scotty - 14-Jan-16 @ 7:45 PM
gem - Your Question:
I am required to attend a hearing as my ex has told a judge he has no contact with our son; however he does 3 times a week. I ask every day what contact he wants and he refuses to talk to me. His solicitor won't tell me what arrangements he wants. I'm angry because he's lied and has been believed now I have to go through the process. Can I stop this from going to court?

Our Response:
Usually you will be offered Mediation in the first instance, in order to ensure couples can come to a mutual agreement and to prevent the costly and time-consuming process of going to court. This means you can work to a decision regarding access terms between you. If you refused Mediation, then court is the subsequent next step.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Jan-16 @ 12:08 PM
I am required to attend a hearing as my ex has told a judge he has no contact with our son; however he does 3 times a week. I ask every day what contact he wants and he refuses to talk to me. His solicitor won't tell me what arrangements he wants. I'm angry because he's lied and has been believed now I have to go through the process. Can I stop this from going to court?
gem - 13-Jan-16 @ 5:44 PM
Kasee - Your Question:
Divorced from my ex 10yrs ago. He has refused any arrangement to access children who live with me. I work 3 jobs to support the family as he's lied to cms that he is jobless. Said to him to tell me a week before coming to see the kinds but he won't rings me about 11 to say he's on his way. so the last few times (3) I went to work now he has written to court that am denying him access and not availing the kinds when he wants to see them. I said ok find a childminder of your choice and pay them if I have to work will leave the kinds there for you.no reply to that.what are my chances in court.

Our Response:
I'm afraid we cannot speculate what a court may decide. However, Cafcass will get involved and you and your ex will be able to relate your side of the disagreement. Please see link: What Goes into the Cafcass Family Report? here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Jan-16 @ 1:50 PM
Divorced from my ex 10yrs ago. He has refused any arrangement to access children who live with me. I work 3 jobs to support the family as he'slied to cms that he is jobless. Said to him to tell me a week before coming to see the kinds but he won't rings me about 11 to say he's on his way .... so the last few times (3) I went to work now he has written to courtthat am denyinghim access and not availing the kinds when he wants to see them. I said ok find a childminder of your choice and pay them if I have to work will leave the kinds there for you ...no reply to that...what are my chances in court......
Kasee - 12-Jan-16 @ 12:16 AM
My ex is leaving the country without my children for almost one month and leaving my children with their grandma whilst she is gone. I have my children every two weeks for four days and on holiday times for two weeks straight. Do I have a right to insist the childrenstay with me whilst she's away. As I feel they should have at least one of their parents looking after them whilst she's on the other side of the world. Thr trip she is taking is her own personal holiday to meet her boyfriend she met online.
ric - 9-Jan-16 @ 6:14 PM
Ive been split from my ex for just over 3 years. We have 3 children together. I've recently gone back to work and have got my childminders. They are husband and wife and have been childminding 10 & 20 years. They have all the checks and have achieved "outstanding" ofsted. They are lovely lovely people. The kids are happy too. My ex is trying to tell me I'm not to allow our children there until he has met them. If Ido he will go to the police and report them! Can he do this or am I within my rights to still send them there? Thanks
Loumusicka - 8-Jan-16 @ 6:16 PM
Col71 - Your Question:
Hi, I have a child arrangement order after taking my ex to court when she refused access. I work a shift plan which was agreed at court 6 months ago however my shifts have now changed and my ex partner has refused to accept my proposal for the new Rota which is nearly the same as the old one. I've tried to resolve the matter with her without luck, could you plse advise what my next course of action will be regarding the courts?Thanks

Our Response:
While you are in effect breaching the court order by changing the times of the order, this is out of your control as your circumstances have changed. Therefore, if your ex refuses to change the times of your court order, or attend mediation in order to come to a different agreement, then you may have to apply for a variation to the order through the courts. Frustrating, I know, but if your ex wont agree, this is your only option.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Jan-16 @ 12:24 PM
Hi, I have a child arrangement order after taking my ex to court when she refused access. I work a shift plan which was agreed at court 6 months ago however my shifts have now changed and my ex partner has refused to accept my proposal for the new Rota which is nearly the same as the old one. I've tried to resolve the matter with her without luck, could you plse advise what my nextcourse of action will be regarding the courts? Thanks
Col71 - 4-Jan-16 @ 10:28 PM
Ann - Your Question:
I have 2 kids.Ive been separated from my live in partner for almost 2yrs now.because he's aggressive.the matter is Im working abroad now for my family and I will.stay here for a year.Im afraid he take my kids away.from.me.what should I do.Plss help

Our Response:
You could apply for a Prohibited Steps Order through the courts. A Prohibited Steps Order (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. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Dec-15 @ 12:48 PM
xfarawayx - Your Question:
Hi I was with my ex partner for over 20yrs and throught the years I put up with a lot of violent abuse couldn't handle it anymore I left him 5 years ago in no state of mind I couldn't take our 2 sons made myself homeless ive tried sooo hard to get contact with my boys and hes making hard for me now I find out hes moved away is he allowed to do this?? I don't know where hes gone am in disappear as its coming upto Christmas cant send them cards am heartbroken need some help please :(((((((((((((((

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. I'm afraid there is little that can be done before Xmas. You would need to apply through the courts for access and you will also need a C4 form,which is an application for an order for disclosure of a child's whereabouts. Your ex should have asked your permission to move away from the area with your children and you would need to seek some legal advice regarding your options.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Dec-15 @ 11:56 AM
I have 2 kids..Ive been separated from my live in partner for almost 2yrs now.because he's aggressive.the matter is Im working abroad now for my family and I will.stay here for a year.Im afraid he take my kids away.from.me..what should I do. Plss help
Ann - 23-Dec-15 @ 6:40 AM
hi I was with my ex partner for over 20yrs and throught the years I put up with a lot of violent abuse couldn't handle it anymore i left him 5 years ago in no state of mind i couldn't take our 2 sons made myself homeless ive tried sooo hard to get contact with my boys and hes making hard for me now i find out hes moved away is he allowed to do this??i don't know where hes gone am in disappear as its coming upto Christmas cant send them cards am heartbroken need some help please :(((((((((((((((
xfarawayx - 22-Dec-15 @ 9:05 PM
kaz - Your Question:
Myself and my ex split up in 2008 ive taken him to csa for maintenance and to this day still havnt recived any payments now my youngest who is 17 is asking if she can take him to court herself for non payment ????? advice please as I dont know if she would be charged by a solicitor or if the ex would be charged or I would be ??? I cant afford to pay a solicitor help and advice needed please

Our Response:
I'm afraid your child cannot take a father to court for child maintenance. You don't say why your ex has not had to pay and what has made it difficult for the CSA to take payments. However, if you feel you have been unfairly treated you can complain, please see link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Dec-15 @ 10:10 AM
myself and my ex split up in 2008 ive taken him to csa for maintenance and to this day still havnt recived any paymentsnow my youngest who is 17 is asking if she can take him to court herself for non payment ????? advice please as i dont know if she would be charged by a solicitor or if the ex would be charged or i would be ??? i cant afford to pay a solicitor help and advice needed please
kaz - 21-Dec-15 @ 1:17 AM
Hi i am currently going through a breakup and he has moved 400 miles away we have a 4 year old daughter and he wants to take her to hos gor visits im not appy with this as there has been one occasion she went there with him he got arrested and she was stuck with his mum 400 miles away with nothing i could do its a 7 hour drive and i dont drive also we broke up as he was being controlling on drugs and locked his self in my house with my children 2 whom dont belong to him i said he can see her whenever he wants but in wakes not scotland now hes threatening to take me to court to get accessto take her to scotland . Will the courts allow this x
queeny - 25-Oct-15 @ 5:25 PM
maz - Your Question:
I have 5 children who are now in care. I was diagnosed ptsd.I have 4 children with one guy and my daughter with another. The father of my 4 children did not want his name on the birth certificates and it states 'unknown'. He has never payed maintenance either. Social services have alowed him to have access to my children plus have steed he has to see my daughter that is not his. He has no parental rights how can social services justify this. can ANYONE tell me what MY rights are regarding this.

Our Response:
I'm afraid I cannot really advise if your children are in care and Social Services have become involved. Regardless of whether your ex has paid maintenance or not, he is still entitled to access to his children, as access is not dependent upon whether he can (or does) financially support them or not. If you do not wish for your ex to see your children, then you would have to apply through the courts for a Specific Issue Order. Much like the name suggests, these are orders sought from the family court to determine a particular matter in connection with the exercise of Parental Responsibility. These orders can cover a wide range of issues that you and your ex-partner cannot agree on, such as preventing someone from having contact with your child. However, please bear in mind, there is no guarantee that the court will rule in your favour.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Oct-15 @ 12:34 PM
I have 5 children who are now in care. I was diagnosed ptsd .I have 4 children with one guy and my daughter with another. The father of my 4 children did not want his name on the birth certificates and it states 'unknown' . He has never payed maintenance either. Social services have alowed him to have access to my children plus have steed he has to see my daughter that is not his... He has no parental rights how can socialservices justify this.... can ANYONE tell me what MY rights are regarding this..
maz - 4-Oct-15 @ 6:14 PM
Hi, I have a son who will be 11 years in December 2015.My ex wife & I both have parental responsibility and we have a joint parenting arrangement, where my son stays with me on Tuesdays and Thursdays, plus alternate Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays. I pay maintenance every month. My ex wife is now saying she will be moving away to somewhere about 2 hours away and will be taking my son. Can you please advise me if I have any say in this proposed move? Thank you.
Winnie - 2-Oct-15 @ 12:54 PM
i recently split from his girlfriend and have 2 young sons. I have been paying maintenance and been having kids every weekend. I asked her if we could make it every other weekend but she flipped and is now refusing me access and came to my house and took my sons back.what can I do as need help
jj - 19-Jul-15 @ 7:53 PM
Me and My boyfriend split up 2 years ago....he's had regular contact with our son every weekend from the age of 6 months up until 2 months ago when he was arrested and I had to go and collect our son from his next door neighbour! He was arrested for something serious so in light of this situation I sort advice from social services who help me to come to the decision that the contact he was having should be cut to every other weekend....friday night till Sunday tea time......his dad was happy with this but wanted an extra Saturday with our son and an evening once a week to take him out for tea.....I agreed to this but then thought about it and decided that an extra Saturday a month was too much as work full time and work weekends so my free time with our son is limited too.....he isn't happy that I won't allow him to have him an extra Saturday.....he's also unhappy that I have moved in and bought a house with my new boyfriend and is seeking advice about residency and his access. I have been nothing but fair with him and our break up was very difficult as he was very controlling and is still trying his hardest to control everything two years on.....we do not communicate very well and I am puzzled as to what his next moves will be regarding his access and residency of our son?
Jen - 13-Jul-15 @ 4:56 PM
Hi, Children live with the mother 40 minutes drive away. Mother is the primary carer and I have the kids every other weekend (Friday-Sunday). The mother wishes to take children 13 & 15 to live 2.5 hours drive away to punish father (very jealous and bitter, despite her being the one that cheated!). She also wishes to reduce the level of contact between father and children. Is the mother permitted to do this? Will she be required by law to drop the kids off on the Friday night and pick them up on the Sunday night if she moved so far away? Or would she be required to cover the costs of extra fuel to collect and return the kids? Can she be stopped with a court order? Thanks.
drama&kids123 - 8-Jul-15 @ 3:09 PM
I'm in middle of a divorce.I have not been working since my first child was born. I got a property under my and my partner ( husband) name where we live now. As I'm not working and if i leave the kids with their father until I get myself sorted ( until I find a job) and once that's sorted, do I have a chance to get my kids back to live with me. If I leave them with their father then does he have more right over them then me.I really don't want to loose my kids please let me know what is the best thing to do.
kt - 23-Jun-15 @ 12:17 AM
@baby - your daughter has to be around the age of 11, then she is allowed to voice her own opinion.
Abi - 19-Jun-15 @ 1:01 PM
my x partner and i were at court lasy year he gave me a time table so i had to agree wae him as i dont work hes sees his daughter 1 and half days a week thats wat he wanted but the other week his sister in law tryed to attack me in front of my daughter and he sat in the car and done nothing .then he never showed up for his daughter this weekand every time he comes up hes got someone in the car way him. am just wondering wat age can the child decide if she dosnt want to go wae him any help i can get would be great
baby - 17-Jun-15 @ 1:58 PM
I walked out on my daughter in 2011 and have not had any contact with her since then. I have always sent birthday and Christmas presents. I have tried to contact her father (who has residency of her) to ask how she is/ if I can see/speak to her and he's completely ignored me and deliberately kept me from seeing her. I have also tried mediation to which he did not show up. It is due to go to court - what are the chances of me winning full residency of my daughter (I have kept the messages I sent her father as proof I have attempted to ask about our daughter) she is 9 years old now and I haven't seen her since she was 5. I also should add that I live in Sheffield now and my daughter is still in Eastbourne with her father. Also when mediation attempted to call his home number they were told that nobody by that name lived there but I have proof they are still living at the same address. Also he stopped my mum from seeing her and she took it to court. If I win full residency will his court orders then become void or will I still have to only allow my mum to see her when they say? Thanks in advance for any replies.
Mumsy1 - 15-Jun-15 @ 10:03 PM
@Tildasmum - you will be in breach iof the court order and if you stop contact, he may apply back to the courts to have the order enforced. However, Cafcass wil invariably get involved, and if she is fearful and doesn't want to see her father, given she is now 12, she will be allowed to have her say in respect of the compiling of the report. The court will then take her views on board and decide what they think is in your daughter's best interests. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jun-15 @ 2:47 PM
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