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Your Legal Rights as a Parent

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 22 Nov 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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Hi. My son is 4 years old. He stopped seeing his dad when he was 2 and I heard nothin from him until I applied for child maintenance from him. So after not seeing my son for just over a year he gets in touch about seeing him so I allowed contact firstly supervised then 1-1. My son is in full time school and I agree to let his dad have him Wednesdays after school for tea till around 5:30pm then every other Saturday from 11am overnight until the Sunday till around 5pm. And then on the weekends he doesn't stay over he has him either Saturday or Sunday 11-5 ish. Which I think is very reasonable and more than enough contact to maintain a good relationship. He has now gone to see a solicitor as he wants my son every Wednesday night for tea as before plus every other weekend Saturday from 11am till he drops him at school on Monday morning.. and then on the weekends he doesn't stay over night he wants him 11-5:30 on either the sat or Sunday. Which will then initially leave me seeing my son for only one full day every other weekend as he is in school Monday - Friday. Is it just me who thinks this 'demand' is totally unreasonable and would court give him all this access even though I give him more than enough as it is. Baring in mind he has only been seeing my son for 10 months. And as he is so young I really don't want him staying over night on a school night as I think it would cause confusion to his routine as this is only his first year at full time school. Please could someone advise me I'm so stressed over it! Thanks.
Rebkel - 22-Nov-16 @ 10:20 PM
Hi. My son is 4 years old. He stopped seeing his dad when he was 2 and I heard nothin from him until I applied for child maintenance from him. So after not seeing my son for just over a year he gets in touch about seeing him so I allowed contact firstly supervised then 1-1. My son is in full time school and I agree to let his dad have him Wednesdays after school for tea till around 5:30pm then every other Saturday from 11am overnight until the Sunday till around 5pm. And then on the weekends he doesn't stay over he has him either Saturday or Sunday 11-5 ish. Which I think is very reasonable and more than enough contact to maintain a good relationship. He has now gone to see a solicitor as he wants my son every Wednesday night for tea as before plus every other weekend Saturday from 11am till he drops him at school on Monday morning.. and then on the weekends he doesn't stay over night he wants him 11-5:30 on either the sat or Sunday. Which will then initially leave me seeing my son for only one full day every other weekend as he is in school Monday - Friday. Is it just me who thinks this 'demand' is totally unreasonable and would court give him all this access even though I give him more than enough as it is. Baring in mind he has only been seeing my son for 10 months. And as he is so young I really don't want him staying over night on a school night as I think it would cause confusion to his routine as this is only his first year at full time school. Please could someone advise me I'm so stressed over it! Thanks.
Rebkel - 22-Nov-16 @ 9:38 PM
My daughter recently refused temporary access to her about to be expected, due to his treatment of their child. As a result he is taking her to court to gain access. The child in question is 9 and doesn't want to have sleep overs but would only like to see the father every other Saturday for a couple of hours.Will the court accept this or will the child be forced into to spending more time with the father?
Yianna - 22-Nov-16 @ 12:24 AM
I have two sons... one being 6 and the other 8. Their father is on one of their birth certificates, but not the other. He disappears for years/months/weeks at a time and then comes back around, blames me for his absence and then demands to see them again. This lasts for about a week or so before the circle starts all over again. He is now threatening to take me to court, as apparently the days and times that I have tried to arrange access for him don't suit his availability (I believe I have been very fair). He has never financially supported either child in the almost 9 years. There has also been a history of domestic violence towards myself. I am just wondering where we stand in all of this? I want to do what is best for my children.
Bex - 19-Nov-16 @ 7:06 AM
Dee - Your Question:
My partner has a daughter with his ex & she has recently moved house, she refuses to give him the new address & we have to collect his daughter from a supermarket car park. We have a child contact order through court already for his daughter, & he pays regular maintenance. His ex is a very unreasonable person & makes contact very difficult. My question is, does my partner have a legal right to know his daughters address?

Our Response:
No he doesn't. His ex is entitled to keep this from your partner, if she chooses. As long as she keeps to the terms of the court order, then his ex is not in breach.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Nov-16 @ 12:51 PM
My partner has a daughter with his ex & she has recently moved house, she refuses to give him the new address & we have to collect his daughter from a supermarket car park. We have a child contact order through court already for his daughter, & he pays regular maintenance. His ex is a very unreasonable person & makes contact very difficult. My question is, does my partner have a legal right to know his daughters address?
Dee - 17-Nov-16 @ 6:07 AM
Lucy - Your Question:
I've recently got out of a domestic an violent relationship and be cause of the trauma I turned to drink which ended to me putting my 2 boys in voultnry temperate care now ive been told I'm very unlikely to get my children back due to my alcohol intake but I dont my youngest as I'm not aloud and my eldest son is now 7 and just recently his father has come into his life after so many years and is able to c him when e wants where as I have to go once a week to a contact centre I know I've done wrong but nobody seems to care

Our Response:
The fact your ex is allowed to see your child has no bearing on whether you are allowed to see your child (in terms of fairness) as his case is different to yours. Any court would wish to see that you had made concerted efforts to change your lifestyle and/or received help, and that you have had a significant period of having turned your life around before your case 'may' be reconsidered. However, this is supposition as much also depends upon the greater circumstances, which we know nothing about. A court will always decide on what it thinks is in the best interests of your children, and currently it thinks it is not in the best interest of your children that you have unsupervised access. I'm afraid, where is goes from here is down to your own actions to try and rectify the situation. People may not 'seem' to care if they cannot see you have made significant progress. It's not that they don't care, it is that unless there has been a turn around, they cannot begin to think about trying to work towards a solution on your behalf.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Nov-16 @ 11:02 AM
I've recently got out of a domestic an violent relationship and be cause of the trauma i turned to drink which ended to me putting my 2 boys in voultnry temperate care now ive been told I'm very unlikely to get my children back due to my alcohol intake but I dont my youngest as I'm not aloud and my eldest son is now 7 and just recently his father has come into his life after so many years and is able to c him when e wants where as I have to go once a week to a contact centre I know I've done wrong but nobody seems to care
Lucy - 15-Nov-16 @ 12:38 PM
Kel - Your Question:
Hi I have custody of my two children aged 4 & 8. I took my ex to court as he was refusing to give my children back I agreed to every other weekend and a midweek visit ( overnight or few hours) the girls choice. Last weekend he had the children and due to his neglect and stupidity he put my 4 year old in danger by putting her and 4 other children in the boot of a car no seatbelts or strapped in and resulted in her splitinging her head open wasn't huge but then didn't seek medical advise bought her home. So I took her to a&e and she had to have her head glued.she's only 4 my question is ive stopped the access as I can't trust him to keep her safe.where do I stand with this.I've reported it to the police and it has been reported to social services I just don't know how legally stable I am? Any help would be really helpful!

Our Response:
If you have a court order and you have stopped access, then you are effectively in breach of the court order, which will mean your ex can apply to the courts to have the order enforced. However, if you have a good reason for stopping access as a result of this event, then the courts will take this into consideration and will decide on what it thinks is in the best interests of yoru children.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Nov-16 @ 12:12 PM
Hi I have custody of my two children aged 4 & 8. I took my ex to court as he was refusing to give my children back I agreed to every other weekend and a midweek visit ( overnight or few hours) the girls choice. Last weekend he had the children and due to his neglect and stupidity he put my 4 year old in danger by putting her and 4 other children in the boot of a car no seatbelts or strapped inand resulted in her splitinging her head open wasn't huge but then didn't seek medical advise bought her home. So I took her to a&e and she had to have her head glued....she's only 4 my question is ive stopped the access as I can't trust him to keep her safe....where do I stand with this...I've reported it to the police and it has been reported to social services I just don't know how legally stable I am? Any help would be really helpful!
Kel - 6-Nov-16 @ 7:21 PM
My husband and i have 4 children. He was married before and has a daughter with his ex. She is 15 years old now. His ex has also gotten married and is pregnant now. My husband pays his maintenance but she wants morw. He gave her more and now she wants another increase. We live drom hand to mouth. Everytime she threatens ti take him to court. What can we do to make her stop.
spike - 4-Nov-16 @ 8:25 PM
So he gets away with it just like that ? Because im too poor to prove hes lying ! This country is so wrong
Fara - 25-Oct-16 @ 9:24 PM
Hi would love so help . My ex has taken custody of my 8 month old baby taking it though court and told LIES saying im a danger to my son with no evidence as i had to get a job straight away to stop myself from being homeless i cannot afford court and i would no represent myself às you can imagine him lying it will be too much for me to handle . While i were with him he put me though a seriouse amount of mental physical and emotional abuse . Hes a complusive liar and will do about anything to stop himself looking the bad one . I have not seen my son in over a month its so heartbreaking and shocking as they have just taken his word for it and punished me . I had a court letter through saying further pending order he can have full custody as long as he makes sure my son has contact with me . The last time i spoke to my ex was lastweek just begging why he would do this to me . He replied with sexual remarks towards myself and totally unrelevant sexuall things . If i agree to see my son while hes in his care he will never stop doing this . So as the court letter says will the refuse him full custody if i refuse contact with my son while hes in his care ? I just cannot handle anyore abuse off this man please someone help
Fara - 25-Oct-16 @ 9:21 PM
Phil - Your Question:
Hi, wonder if you can offer any advice. I currently have a child arrangements order and I am in the process of court again for a variation in the order. I have a new partner and have recently moved in with her where we spend time with my daughter. My ex is now refusing me contact with my daughter, telling me that I won't be seeing her until she has the address however my partner does not which for this to be shared due my ex giving her abuse previously and that she has two young children of her own and has concerns about my ex and her previous behaviours. Can you offer any advice please?

Our Response:
It will really be up to the courts to decide what it thinks is in your child's best interests. Therefore, I'm afraid it is impossible to advise upon.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Oct-16 @ 2:29 PM
ABBEY - Your Question:
My husband and I parted after 11 months due to adultery alcohol and the physical and mental abuse of both my children Divorce soon followed and I was granted custody Their dad attempted to tarnish my reputation and made false statements designed to create great upset and mistrust to my sons myself family and friends. Tools to accomplish these aims was false vile statements. I successfully completed a range of courses with the many aspects of caring and looking after children. I have cleared my name and I am trying to see my twin sons as one of my strengths is I never give up and I want my sons and love my twin sons. My ex has always told untruths. Can you please advise?

Our Response:
I'm not sure what you wish me to advise on. You don't say whether you were granted a residence order through the courts, and/or if your ex has access to your sons, which makes it difficult to understand what you are asking. If your ex has told untruths in the past, then hopefully the Cafcass report and the courts will be able to uncover this. However, you will have to clarify your question more clearly in order for us to be able to answer it fully.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Oct-16 @ 10:21 AM
My husbandand i parted after 11 months due to adultery alcohol and the physical and mental abuse of both my children Divorce soon followed and i was granted custody Their dad attempted to tarnish my reputation and made false statements designed to create great upset and mistrust to my sons myself family and friends . Tools to accomplish these aims was false vile statements . I successfully completed a range of courses with the many aspects of caring and looking after children. i have cleared my name and i am trying to see my twin sons as one of my strengths is i never give up and i want my sons and love my twin sons . My ex has always told untruths . Can you please advise?
ABBEY - 16-Oct-16 @ 5:17 AM
Hi, wonder if you can offer any advice. I currently have a child arrangements order and I am in the process of court again for a variation in the order. I have a new partner and have recently moved in with her where we spend time with my daughter. My ex is now refusing me contact with my daughter, telling me that I won't be seeing her until she has the address however my partner does not which for this to be shared due my ex giving her abuse previously and that she has two young children of her own and has concerns about my ex and her previous behaviours. Can you offer any advice please?
Phil - 15-Oct-16 @ 9:06 PM
Have I got any rights to know where my daughter lives.? As I want to have access to my granddaughter.!!! But I'm taking my daughter to court for grandparents rights, but letters from court and mediation can't get I touch with her.! My ex won't give me the address either. Where do I stand???? Regards Eugene Antony Taylor
Tony - 15-Oct-16 @ 1:22 PM
Sezza - Your Question:
Hi I was wondering how I stand regarding emotional abuse n and controlling behaviour towards me and my children. Although my child don't live with me my ex uses the control of the system to take away all my rights he tells me when I can't see my kids and tells them I don't want to see them. What can I do to stop this

Our Response:
You would have to suggest your ex either attends mediation to sort out specific access times or if your ex refuses, take the matter to court. If you are issued with a court order to see your children, then your ex will have to adhere to this and will not be allowed to change the days/times. Therefore, you may wish to seek legal advice in order to explore your options.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Oct-16 @ 2:13 PM
Hi I was wondering how I stand regarding emotional abuse n and controlling behaviour towards me and my children. Although my child don't live with me my ex uses the control of the system to take away all my rights he tells me when I can't see my kids and tells them I don't want to see them.What can I do to stop this
Sezza - 13-Oct-16 @ 9:49 PM
Mermaid- Your Question:
Hi. My partner and his ex separated over a year ago, they have a six year old daughter between them. Until recently the mother has been far from amicable with arrangements for access, this has been sorted although she still occasionally messes about with plans changing at the last minute etc. She has just got married and is now planning to move and change the child's school. She hasn't consulted the child's father about this decision she's told him that's what she's doing. I understand that legally he should be consulted and voice concerns or agreements but this hasn't taken place. She sees it that she is the mother and has all the rights. Where does he stand with this and what should he do?

Our Response:
The only option the father has is to take the matter to court if he has an issue with the action his ex is taking and thinks it is not in his daughter's best interests. If he disagrees with the move and thinks his ex may do this without permission, then he has the option to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. A PSO, is an order granted by the court in family cases which prevents either parent from carrying out certain events or making specific trips with their children without the express permission of the other parent. This is more common in cases where there is suspicion that one parent may leave the area with their children. If the move is only local and he disagrees with the school move, then he has the option to apply for a Specific Issue Order through the courts. Specific Issue Orders, much like the name suggests, are orders sought from the family court to determine a particular matter in connection with the exercise of PR. These orders can cover a wide range of issues that parents cannot agree on. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. With both orders, the court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Oct-16 @ 2:32 PM
Plant - Your Question:
Question; My ex has always been an erratic driver and was involved in a collision while our child was in the car. I am now very worried it will happen again and so I have said my ex cannot take our child in the car until I am more comfortable with how he drives. Our child is under 1. Do I need a court order or is it enough that I ask my ex not to do it?

Our Response:
It is enough that you ask your ex not to do this, but there is no recourse should your ex decide to assert his own parental responsibility rights and make the decision for himself. If you wish to make the matter more official, then you may have to apply through the courts for a Specific Issue Order. Specific Issue Orders, much like the name suggests, are orders sought from the family court to determine a particular matter in connection with the exercise of PR. These orders can cover a wide range of issues that you and your ex-partner cannot agree on. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Oct-16 @ 12:37 PM
Question; My ex has always been an erratic driver and was involved in a collision while our child was in the car. I am now very worried it will happen again and so I have said my ex cannot take our child in the car until I am more comfortable with how he drives. Our child is under 1. Do I need a court order or is it enough that I ask my ex not to do it?
Plant - 11-Oct-16 @ 7:49 PM
Hi. My partner and his ex separated over a year ago, they have a six year old daughter between them. Until recently the mother has been far from amicable with arrangements for access, this has been sorted although she still occasionally messes about with plans changing at the last minute etc. She has just got married and is now planning to move and change the child's school. She hasn't consulted the child's father about this decision she's told him that's what she's doing. I understand that legally he should be consulted and voice concerns or agreements but this hasn't taken place. She sees it that she is the mother and has all the rights. Where does he stand with this and what should he do?
Mermaid - 8-Oct-16 @ 7:18 PM
We have a 10 year old daughter and we are having trouble with her half sister and her family. We have previously allowed them contact and even allow our daughter to stay with them often even though we don't get on. Things have turned nasty however and they threatened my partner physically when she went to collect them. We have kept these text messages. We have now informed her half sister and family that no longer will we be taking her up there and all contact will now stop. They are now trying to get myself sacked from my employment claiming they have proof i have done something wrong and claiming to have phoned my emloyer. Neither are true though. Now they are threatening us with legal action for access. I dont think they have any rights but im not sure. Could you advise? They keep saying when she is 12 she can decide but again i dont think thia is true. She is only her half sister and the trouble is feom the half sister and the half sisters mother. Any help would be great
Craig - 8-Oct-16 @ 5:47 PM
Me and my ex partner have had an agreement in place a year now but has actually expired in April 2016, of which until now, my son starting school I feel there needs to amendments made to the rota, of which we both keep the same amount of days but he is not willing to compromise. The reason I feel this now needs to change is my son has since started school, and when picking him up everyday he becomes very upset and confused to where he should be, I feel this comes in to play with affecting his welfare (emotional state) I do not want his school life to suffer and feel mostly being with me during the week would help this (but his father still keeping his same amount of days) What I want to know is can I change this if he refuses anyway or would I have to take it to mediation? As I feel this is a long process to go down and do not want my son suffering?
Dontknowwhatelsetodo - 27-Sep-16 @ 9:21 PM
DazLee - Your Question:
I have a boy aged 7 and I had a court order for me to see him for 7 hours on a Sunday on the outlook at extending time to over nights a year has past with no change, even the summer holidays which is 7 weeks I was not allowed one extra day it had to be inplace of my several hours on the Sunday, sorry forgot to mention I was working during this year which I've recently had a job change which includes compulsory working on the Sunday to which I tried to rearrange the day I get him. I've been told she will not change the dates I get him and now I'm left in a pickle I want to see my son no matter what but I need to be an active working member of society. I have made contact with a lawyer but I know from previous experience that it will take ages to get back into court. Is this allowed can she control my working situation and also the housing will not rehome me closer to my work until she discloses that my kid comes to visit me at my home with the view to staying over I'm at my wits end

Our Response:
I'm afraid the only option here is to take the matter to court and ask for a variation. If your ex refuses to vere from the court order, then you have no real choice here. Therefore, it means you either take the job and ask for temporary flexible working (if you show your employer your court order), or you relinquish the Sunday with your son until the matter goes to court. The other issues you mention may also be able to be dealt with through court. I know it's tough and I do empathise, the difficulty you have is an ex who refuses any compromise.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Sep-16 @ 12:54 PM
I have a boy aged 7 and I had a court order for me to see him for 7 hours on a Sunday on the outlook at extending time to over nights a year has past with no change, even the summer holidays which is 7 weeks I was not allowed one extra day it had to be inplace of my several hours on the Sunday, sorry forgot to mention I was working during this year which I've recently had a job change which includes compulsory working on the Sunday to which I tried to rearrange the day I get him. I've been told she will not change the dates I get him and now I'm left in a pickle I want to see my son no matter what but I need to be an active working member of society.....I have made contact with a lawyer but I know from previous experience that it will take ages to get back into court......Is this allowed can she control my working situation and also the housing will not rehome me closer to my work until she discloses that my kid comes to visit me at my home with the view to staying over I'm at my wits end
DazLee - 14-Sep-16 @ 8:01 PM
Icequeen74 - Your Question:
Hi I am a mother of two 9 and 11 they live with their dad due to marriage break down and he made me leave and wouldn't let me take the children. My parents are on side with him and don't have anything to do with me. All three make it difficult to see my children they dictate to me when I can see them and they don't really encourage them to see me even thou the children want to see me. They wouldn't let me go to my child's birthday party even thou my child wanted me there. I haven't done anything wrong apart from my marriage breaking down I have no support. I provide for my children and want more contact with my children

Our Response:
I can only suggest you seek legal advice regarding this if you wish to take the matter further and your ex refuses to attend mediation.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Sep-16 @ 11:44 AM
San - Your Question:
I'm a single parent to 2 girls aged 4 and 6. Mother has broken contact arrangements twice in the last 4yrs and is extremely inconsistent with contact and has only seen them on average once every 3months. She hasn't contributed a single penny since our separation. What are my rights as the girls are now settled in school and I feel that her coming back in for a day is going to cause more emotional harm than good to them. Mm

Our Response:
As any non-resident parent with parental responsibility they will always have the option to apply through courts for a contact order. However, if you are concerned your ex may wish to try and reclaim your children, then you can apply for a residence order which determines where your children would live, please see link here. With regards to child maintenence, this is a separate issue to child access and neither have a any bearing on each other. If your ex is eligible to pay child maintenance i.e she is earning a wage, then if she refuses to contribute to her children's welfare directly, then you can apply via the CMS link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Sep-16 @ 10:04 AM
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