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Your Legal Rights as a Parent

Author: Anna Martin - Updated: 21 April 2015 | commentsComment
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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@Dad1 - if you wanted to make the arrangements official, and/or your ex will not agree with your suggestions, you have three options; you can either continue with an informal arrangement and be prepared for her always dictating when you can see them. You can suggest you both attend mediation as you think you deserve more time with them. Or you would really have to take it to court and let the court decide what your arrangements should be. I can't say that it will rule in your favour, because it depends a lot on how your ex reacts. However, at least if it rules in your favour then if she goes against it, she will be breaching the court order. You may find our Separated Dads Facebook page useful, as there are many dads going through the same issues and if you scroll down the page, you should find a comment and replies applicable to you. Having been through it before, our followers can give some very good suggestions on the best way forward in this sort of situation. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Apr-15 @ 2:52 PM
Hi my wife told me she wanted a separationback at end of August just because she said she had fell out of love and there was no point in trying. We have 3 children and she was threatening to take them from the family home if I stayed, so I moved into a shared house in the hope she would change her mind. 2 months later she moved out of the family home and into a rented house with her new boyfriend, the family home was sold and split 50/50 i was always a hands on dad and I was offered 1 evening a week and every other weekend which to me is not enough and I think not right for the kids. I have recently changed my job so that I'm not working a ridiculous shift pattern I now work 1 day on 2 days off but have been told I can not have kids stay over night during week because of it disrupting there school routine but I can still carry on with the routine it's just they would stay at mine am I being unreasonable? Also due to new job I'm on less money so I did the on line calculator for maintenance and pay what it says but also contribute to their clubs and things but she says this is not enough and I should pay more as I only have them overnight everyother weekend but like I said before I want them more than what I do have them, just wanted to know if I was being unreasonable by my request and if not what to do next. Thanks?
Dad1 - 21-Apr-15 @ 10:11 AM
@mummy - did you ask for consent from you ex to move? As presumably he has parental responsibility and legally you would have needed his consent. You don't say how old your son is, but if he is over the age of 11, he may be asked his own opinion if Cafcass gets involved. If your ex takes you to court, because you can't decide between you, then it will be left up to the court to decide what is in the best interests for your son and who should make the trips (generally split down the middle). Obviously, not knowing both sides of the story and how Cafcass might view the arrangements, we couldn't possibly predict in whose favour this might go.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Apr-15 @ 11:47 AM
I split with my childs father 5 years a go and we agreed on every other week end visitation and agreed a maintenance amount. I moved 100 miles away nearer to supportive family and to put distance between us knowing that arguments in front of our son were not acceptable. Over a year a go, my ex stopped paying regular maintenance and his life has gradually taken a downward spiral. He has been caught up in drug related socialising, used drugs himself, lost his job, lost his home, got himself in financial difficulties, stopped paying half the mortgage on a property we jointly own and left me to deal wit it all, stopped paying maintenance, got in to trouble with the police and moved back with his mother meaning he has no seperate room or bed for my son to stay. He admitted a break down and failed to have his son for a regular week end visit. I fear he is not in a safe, stable or secure position to have my son over night and i have stopped him going, offering day access which he is refusing. I have tried to set up mediation but he says he will take me to court to fight for every week end access at my travel expense as i moved away. My son does not want to go every week end and does not want to go whilst he is living with his mother. What are his chances of gaining access every week end and of me being forced to drive 400 miles every week end at my own expense?
mummy - 16-Apr-15 @ 9:19 PM
@B - no, you do not have to reveal your address to your ex if you do not wish to. If for any reason you stop access to your child and he has parental responsibility and wants to regain access to your child, he can apply through the courts for an application for an order for disclosure of a child's whereabouts. This still does not mean your address needs to be revealed. But it will mean that he does have the right to serve the papers on you via the courts, in order to apply for the right to see his child. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Apr-15 @ 12:26 PM
Does a parent with equal responsibility (bad tempered father) have a right to the address of the other who is afraid?
B - 11-Apr-15 @ 9:17 AM
@Justin - I'm afraid that whether you see the children or not is irrelevant in CSA cases. You legally have to pay to support them regardless.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Apr-15 @ 11:23 AM
How much does a father pay CSA, if he does not see the children?
Justin - 5-Apr-15 @ 12:02 AM
@at - I am sorry to hear this. You really would have to take it to court and perhaps self-litigate with the help of a McKenzie friend who do not charge. I have included a guide to representing yourself in court here and you may also get a court order fee remission, see link here . I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Mar-15 @ 2:04 PM
@pop - I am very sorry to hear this tragic news. Do you know if your son and his wife left a will nominating a guardian? If so, this will be taken into consideration. If they haven't nominated a guardian then it will be up to the court to decide. It would mean close friends and family members can step forward to nominate themselves. Much would depend upon your own relationship with the child and involvement in his life. The court will determine who is best suited for the job based on what is in the best interest of the child through evidence collected and given throughout the hearing. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Mar-15 @ 10:26 AM
I left my husband with my son as i had postnatel deprsion i now have him 3.5 days a week but my ex keeps changeing things saying he didnot say things this is now hurting my son what can i do to get him full time i have no spear money after my rent ext and my ex will not give me any. He get all the benefits help
at - 29-Mar-15 @ 3:01 PM
my son and his wife have died they have one child can I get rights for him.
pop - 28-Mar-15 @ 4:02 PM
@Desperate Mother - you say your ex has no parental rights, is he not named on the birth certificate? If this is the case then the police should be able to help and bring your son back to you. I also don't understand why the CSA have not followed this up as he should be supporting his children as it is not up to him whether or not he decides to pay. You don't say how long the CSA have been chasing him for money, but if you are unhappy with the service that the CSA is offering, you can complain via the link here. In addition if you are unhappy with your son being at his fathers then you can go through the courts via the link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Mar-15 @ 10:56 AM
My ex partner and I split up almost 4 year ago, we have 3 children ages 12, 9 and 6. We had an arrangement in place that we both agreed to (without any court intervention) that I have (the mother of my children) custody of our children, and that my ex partner (their dad) saw the children over a weekend. The set up was he had them from Friday evening after school, until mid afternoon Sunday, when they were returned to me. My ex is being chased by the C.S.A. he refuses to pay any money for the children with the excuse that he doesn't want me to have to the money. That he will buy them anything they need when and if they want it. This is not acceptable as he still has to pay this money regardless. Obviously, me being the single parent and only working seven and a half hours a week, receiving job seekers allowance etc, I do not always, after buying food, providing them with their clothes etc, have a lot of money left. This doesn't cut any ice with the childrens father. When my children ask for money for school, especially my 12 year old son, I don't always have the money to give him, to a point, where he started stealing money from me. This was dealt with and his father was informed, in hope that he would also listen to his dad that stealing is not acceptable. My ex then uses this against me and many other things I have spoken to him about, to a point where he has telephoned the Social Services twice, firstly reporting me saying that he believes I am neglecting the children, which when investigated was unfounded. Secondly, quite recently he reported me again to the Social Services, this time with the excuse that he believed my children were being neglected because they had nits. This again was unfounded (children do get nits) and he is now been added to their books as a Malicious Referral. Now I'm really desperate, because my young son (12 year old) decided apparently that he no longer wants to live with me because he doesn't want to live with his younger sisters, he just up, left and went to his dads house. At this point I had no idea my son had gone to his dads, I thought he was at football at the after school club. I then received a telephone call from his dad saying that my son had turned up there. As you can imagine I was frantic and demanded my son to be returned home. Instead of his dad working with me on this, he decided that my son should stay there as he has to take into consideration what our son wants. I told him he must make him return home and that I would collect him from school the next day, only to be rang by the police saying I could not do this, that if my son wants to stay at his dads house he can. I haven't seen my son since, he has telephoned to say he would come, but each arrangement he has made he as telephoned to say he can't come for one reason or another.This all happened last week and I am beside myself. I need to know what my rights are as his mother and his legal guardian. My ex doesn't have any parental rights
Desperate Mother - 10-Mar-15 @ 10:27 AM
@aliki - I'm going to direct you to one of our partner sites which should answer your question, called, Naming Children's Guardians in Your Will, link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Mar-15 @ 11:57 AM
Hi. My 5 year old son is pernamently under my care. He doesn't see his,dad at all as dad is not interested. My son's,dad took me court some time ago claiming I didn't let him see his child (that wasn't true). Court decided not to give any order as father wasn't committed to have regular contact with his Child. My son doesn't even remember his father as he meet him few times,only. We were never married. The worry I got is that I don't know what rights his father got over my son. What happened if something happened to me. Is,my family( my mum) have any rights over my son. Do I have to go to court to do smth about this situation. Also my son got only polish passport his dad become brutish some time ago and I would like my son to have British passport too. I don't really know how to start This process. My exs name is on birth certificate. Pls what is the best way to protect stability and safety of my child.
aliki - 4-Mar-15 @ 9:51 PM
@Charlie - Have you asked your son and daughter where they would like to live? Your daughter is entitled to make up her own mind and now your son is 14, he will be entitled to have his opinion too. So, if they are in agreement with wanting to live with you, then it is perhaps best to take it back to the courts if you want this to be made official.
Bella - 2-Mar-15 @ 10:57 AM
@Chappo - I think should you wish to have her overnight that you would have to apply through the courts if your ex is not in agreement. You will probably be asked to attend mediation first in order that things can be sorted out between you. It's whether you want to rock the boat or not, or stick with thigs as they are and perhaps when she is a bit older your ex may change her mind. It might also be worth asking her straight out why she doesn't want you to have her over and whether she can justify her reasons.
Sean - 27-Feb-15 @ 1:52 PM
After a divorce 6 years ago a court order was agreed with the children, now 14 and 16, to live with their mother in a new house 5 minutes away. I have them to 2.5 days a week without fail and have paid the full designated maintenance every month without fail. Now the kids are older and both parents are working I'd like joint custody as I feel I'm almost paying for them not to be here with me, whilst paying my ex's mortgage, who now has a partner living at the house. Whilst this is partly about money it's also an important time in my son's (14) life who I think needs a little more direction, structure etc.
Charlie - 26-Feb-15 @ 4:18 PM
Hi I see my daughter for a hour and half Wednesday and pick her up from school every Friday and keep her until my ex comes home at six and pick her up at 8 15 Saturday morning as she will not allow her to stay with me but does not mind her coming all day she said it is because my daughter does not sleep on her own that's why she can't stay but she lets my daughter stay at her grandadsand other family members overnight we have been split 13 months now and I have been with my new partner 10 month and lived with her for 5months and my daughter has been coming round here for 3 months
Chappo - 25-Feb-15 @ 7:18 PM
Hi I have full custody of my daughter of 5 years old legally by court order,can I still ask my ex to give me permission to travel to Paris with my daughter for her 5 year birthday surprise?Please I really need a clear understanding on this,thank you.
lilian - 4-Feb-15 @ 11:48 PM
@loosey - if you have parental responsibility then your daughter can stay with you if you don't wish to take her back. Your ex would have to take it to court - but it could make things much worse if you take this approach and may end up with the police being involved. It would be better if you sat down with her and talked it though or requested mediation. Or perhaps you could begin by having your daughter a couple more nights than usual. Has your daughter broached it to her mum and if so what did she say? It seems to me that you'll have to tread carefully here, but it would be much better if you could agree mutually and for it to seem like your daughter shouldn't have to choose.
Lee - 3-Feb-15 @ 3:15 PM
My wife and I split last May. we have two kids aged ten and six. My wife moved to another town twenty miles away and moved the children's schools also. She did this without my permission but as she had accused me of assaulting her to the police I could not prevent this from happening. However this issue is now resolved and as I have seen my children fairly regularly i have had no issues until recently whenmy ten year old daughter has requested that she wants to come and live with me and return to her old school. she says her house is not nice (damp) and her mum constantly goes out leaving her being babysat by her older brother. She broke down last weekend begging me not to take her back and it broke my heart to do so. what are my rights as an extremely concerned father??
loosey - 2-Feb-15 @ 3:02 PM
My ex has said she doesn't want my daughter to live with her any more. My daughter is 8 and I would love her to live with me. I am in abu dhabi with my new wife who is very supportiveof my daughters pending arrival. What do I have to do to prevent my ex allowing my daughter to come one day then changing her mind the next and screaming kidnap. Basically how do I become the legal resident parent? Many thanks in advance.
chamb7914 - 23-Jan-15 @ 4:23 AM
My husband is the father of our 2 children, we spilt yesterday, and they want to stay with me. I have managed to get back in our private rented house with the girls, he left yesterday and on the same day he asked if he could pick the girls up tomoro, so my daughter can have her b day party at nannies. Nannie and bampi have only just come back into their lives as i called them, otherwise their son would be homeless, i didnt want that, my husbands family were cut off through my husbands own choice, now their all playing happily family and suddenly everythings my fault. I dont want to let the girls go yet til i know that i have the main rights of my children, as im scared they will all decide to keep my children there with them, my husband and i were threatened twice by his mother when we were together, that she would try and take the children from us, i will not stop him or his family seeing the children once i get a court order, i just dont want my children whisked from under my feet, can they do that to me?
tasha - 11-Jan-15 @ 12:03 PM
@Feefee - this is understandably a tricky situation you have found yourself in and one that I think you would be better to talk to someone personally who can give you some direct and constructive advice. I have included the Family Lives website here here. The fact that you have moved away from the area where your children are schooled puts you in a difficult position as courts won't want to disrupt their stable environment. The longer they are with him the more he will be able to say they are 'settled' where they are. I sympathise with how powerless you feel, and it's not as if he is doing anything untoward, in theory he is just making it easier for them to stay in their local school and should you have wanted to move them you would have had to apply for his consent anyway. So, I think it is best that you put some form of plan together in order to get the equilibrium you need again.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Jan-15 @ 10:16 AM
Just reread that. Its not about money but i don't want to move again but if they stop my rent ill have to once more. And to a smaller place where there'd be no room for the children. All i want is my kids back. And im happy (and welcome it) for them to spend time with him. He's just hellbent on getting at me Feefee
Feefee - 8-Jan-15 @ 12:30 PM
Hi. I am a lady who has separated from my 5 and 9 year olds' father for 2 years. I am on benefits and he has a decorating firm and does well financially. Since i met my new boyfriend who works and stays with me half the week he's trying to destroy me. The father and i shared the upbringing of our daughters with me having them the majority of the time. Due to circumstances beyond my control I have had to move several times so for the sake of the children and he's had them stay with him more of late. We agreed this is because he has a car and can drive them to school before work and pick them up easier than me making the two bus, hour and a half journey each way twice a day. I could have moved them to school locally but thought they had had enough upheaval with me so agreed till i was settled. He asked for parental responsibility and i had no problem granting it as ive never been obstructive and he said "he may need to take them to the doctor or hospital or something". Now, im settled and wish to return to our previous agreement he's insisting they will remain majority with him - knowing full well that this means i wont get the child benefit and which will mean im no longer entitled to any rent for a room for the kids as they "live with him". I dont know which way to turn. I dont want them to stop seeing them but i want our equilibrium back. Can he effectively hijack the kids? Have i any rights? Who can i turn to without social services getting involved as i dont want to stress the kids at all. Can I get courts to get my kids back for me? Im at the end of my tether with all his manipulation. Any help gratefully accepted Feefee
Feefee - 8-Jan-15 @ 12:24 PM
@Lilyson - yes you must address this right away. Our partner article When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access link heremight help you kick-start the process. You will need to fill in the contact form c100 which you can find via the gov.uk link here . I hope this helps. Should you need any other advice we also have a Separated Dads Facebook page which you may be interested in that offers advice and support from parents in similar situations to yourself.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Jan-15 @ 10:24 AM
My ex has just stopped me seeing my 6 year old twins. After 5 years of seeing them at weekends she says now I can only have them once a month. Is this legal. Is there anything I can do
Lilyson - 6-Jan-15 @ 5:43 PM
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