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Your Legal Rights as a Parent

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 16 May 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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Rossacos - Your Question:
Hi I'm a dad of 3 and have been looking after our kids for the last 5 years doing everything for the kids and all cleaning and running the home so my wife could have her job which she loves, as she gets to travel and make over 80,000 a year Now she has said to me she has meet someone and dose not want me anymore so wants a divorce How do I stand I still want the kids as she leaves for work at 7 and gets home 19:30-20:00 sometimes later I said I'd have the kids Monday to Friday and she can have every weekend with them , we got the house in her name as she was the bread winner we have been together 13 years married 7 year the kids are 13, 4 and a half and 16 mouths After the last two kids she went back to work 6 weeks after having them leaving me to do the lot How do I stand with the house and the kids and what can I get off her so I can look after our kids Any help please

Our Response:
If you are considered the primary carer, then there is no reason why you should not look after your kids on a day-to-day basis. Your best option is to discuss this with your ex and try to sort the logistics out between you regarding who cares for your children and where you should live. If you cannot agree or wish to have some third party intervention then mediation may work for you, as the agreement will be overseen and authorised by the courts. Unfortunately, if your ex doesn't agree to you becoming the primary carer and you cannot agree through mediation, the last resort would be court.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-May-16 @ 10:27 AM
Despite previously writing a letter agreeing to change my daughters surname to my marital name the bio-father has now refused to sign anything (depol forms) where do I stand? Can I go to court over this? Can I get a full name change or would i only be I intitled to a double barrel? My daughter is 5 and has two step siblings with the potential of having a half sibling, expresses her want of a name change.
Jade - 16-May-16 @ 7:45 AM
Hi I'm a dad of 3 and have been looking after our kids for the last 5 years doing everything for the kids and all cleaning and running the home so my wife could have her job which she loves, as she gets to travel and make over 80,000 a year Now she has said to me she has meet someone and dose not want me anymore so wants a divorce How do I stand I still want the kids as she leaves for work at 7 and gets home 19:30-20:00 sometimes later I said I'd have the kids Monday to Friday and she can have every weekend with them , we got the house in her name as she was the bread winner we have been together 13 years married 7 year the kids are 13, 4 and a half and 16 mouths After the last two kids she went back to work 6 weeks after having them leaving me to do the lot How do I stand with the house and the kids and what can I get off her so I can look after our kids Any help please
Rossacos - 15-May-16 @ 9:57 AM
Clare- Your Question:
Hi, husband and I have been separated for 6 months. He has always seen our sons aged 14 & 15 but not overnight until recently. I have no objections to this. However our 15 year old is playing us off against each other by not sticking to the original days we agreed, 3 with his dad and 4 with me. He will pick and choose when he stays over depending on how he feels. If I have asked him to tidy his room or help with chores he will just ring his dad and leave. Can I legally enforce set days without his dad's agreement. He is of the opininion he can stay at his house whenever he chooses with no notice at all being given to me. Thank you.

Our Response:
I think this is something you would have to sort out between you and your ex (if you are on reasonable terms with him) or via mediation if you are not. As your son is older he will have more autonomy, which will invariably increase the older he gets. So rather than taking it through an official process, it may be better that you and your ex work together to set out the ground rules between you.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-May-16 @ 9:55 AM
Hi, husband and I have been separated for 6 months. He has always seen our sons aged 14 & 15 but not overnight until recently. I have no objections to this. However our 15 year old is playing us off against each other by not sticking to the original days we agreed, 3 with his dad and 4 with me. He will pick and choose when he stays over depending on how he feels. If I have asked him to tidy his room or help with chores he will just ring his dad and leave. Can I legally enforce set days without his dad's agreement. He is of the opininion he can stay at his house whenever he chooses with no notice at all being given to me. Thank you.
Clare - 11-May-16 @ 5:18 AM
mand - Your Question:
Hello , please can anyone advise me. I am currently going through a very difficult divorce and my ex partner is refusing contact after our children where originally living with me. He had contact and refused to bring our sons back. I have had to apply to the family courts and have been lasing with cafcass etc. I am unable to afford a solicitor and am having to self represent when attending court. My dv officer attends with me as my mckenzie friend. My question is what can I do or who can I speak to , in order to see my children ? This has and is soul destroying not being able to be a mum to my boys. Please if anyone can suggest anything I would be very thankful

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. As a rule you may be able to apply for an interim contact order which will allow you to have contact with your children until a full court hearing resolves the matter one way or another. What you will have to do is remind the court at a directions hearing of the length of time before the full hearing will occur. This can often be six months or longer, and it should be specified that this can be detrimental to your relationship with your children. In most instances, the court will allow some limited contact between you and your children, although it’s unlikely to be staying contact (allowing the children to stay overnight with you) if your ex objects. He might also demand supervised contact, and the court will generally accede. Prior to the hearing you should inform both the opposing solicitor and the court itself that your side will ask for interim contact and be asking for oral evidence. This will avoid any adjournment. If your children have previously lived with you before you were denied access this will help your case. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-May-16 @ 11:59 AM
Hello , please can anyone advise me . I am currentlygoing through a very difficult divorce and my ex partner is refusing contact after our children where originallyliving with me . He had contact and refused to bring our sons back . I have had to apply to the family courts and have been lasing with cafcass etc . I am unable to afford a solicitorand am having to self represent when attending court . My dv officer attends with me as my mckenzie friend . My questionis what can I do or who can I speak to ,in order to see my children ?This has and is soul destroyingnot being able to be a mum to my boys . Please if anyone can suggest anythingI would be very thankful
mand - 9-May-16 @ 4:36 PM
Sarah - Your Question:
HiMy ex in the past has shown little interest in his son, only seeing him when he wants to. We no longer live together and suddenly he wants to be involved in his sons life, he is on the birth custody ate however has been Violent previously due to a bad temper. Where do I stand legally?

Our Response:
Your ex as the father has the right to apply to the courts to see his son, if you will not agree to access, or cannot agree through mediation. Most courts will allow the father some level of access whether it be through a contact centre to overnight stays. Much depends on whether your ex was charged with violence. The courts will always act on what it thinks is in the best interests of your child. If it goes to court, before the hearing Cafcass will get involved. A Children and Family Reporter will compile a report.It’s their job to interview both parents in the case, as well as your child (if older), and any others who might be needed, which could mean social workers, medical professionals, or even relatives. From the interviews they conduct, the reporter will determine two things: whether there should be contact allowed, and, if so, how much. It’s a measure of how important the Cafcass recommendation is that the court will almost invariably adhere to it. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-May-16 @ 11:40 AM
Hi My ex in the past has shown little interest in his son, only seeing him when he wants to. We no longer live together and suddenly he wants to be involved in his sons life, he is on the birth custody ate however has been Violent previously due to a bad temper. Where do I stand legally?
Sarah - 3-May-16 @ 1:45 PM
Pippa - Your Question:
When I found out I was pregnant my baby's dad left me immediately & so I continued the remaining of my pregnancy alone. My little one is nearly a year old now and he has never seen him or even asked about him. My Ex's family are involved in baby's life (on occasions) when it suits. He isn't on my baby's birth certificate but he does pay maintenance after he requested a DNA test first. If my ex does decided now or even in the future that he wants a relationship with his son, where does he stand? Can he gain access?

Our Response:
He will have the option to take the matter to court as every parent is allowed the option to be able to see their child. If you don't agree to awarding him access in an out-of-court agreed arrangement, then he will have to option to take the matter to court. It will then be up to the court to decide whether to award access and what level the access will be.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-Apr-16 @ 1:50 PM
When I found out I was pregnant my baby's dad left me immediately & so I continued the remaining of my pregnancy alone. My little one is nearly a year old now and he has never seen him or even asked about him. My Ex's family are involved in baby's life (on occasions) when it suits. He isn't on my baby's birth certificate but he does pay maintenance after he requested a DNA test first. If my ex does decided now or even in the future that he wants a relationship with his son, where does he stand? Can he gain access?
Pippa - 24-Apr-16 @ 10:20 PM
Flick - Your Question:
Hi, me and my partner have a court order for access to his daughter including the right to life decisions such as schools. His ex is trying to get his daughter into a school miles away, as it's a school her new mother in law works at but he has said no, what are his rights in this as it is breaching a court order?

Our Response:
If they cannot agree between themselves, then your partner should suggest Mediation rather than taking the issue to court as a breach. A solicitor's letter may also work, reminding his ex of the obligations she has in respect to the court order.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Apr-16 @ 12:53 PM
Hi, me and my partner have a court order for access to his daughter including the right to life decisions such as schools. His ex is trying to get his daughter into a school miles away, as it's a school her new mother in law works at but he has said no, what are his rights in this as it is breaching a court order?
Flick - 21-Apr-16 @ 6:36 PM
Dee ess - Your Question:
Thank you for your reply. He says that his attorney has told him that he can gain custody because he can financially provide for her better and he has a large house. He also says that he will use my history of Ptsd against me too. Is this correct?

Our Response:
It is very difficult for me to advise in general terms without knowing the full background to your case i.e whether your child is under foreign jurisdiction etc. Of course your ex is going say he has a chance as his solicitor is his client and is being paid to work on his behalf. In turn I can only suggest you seek advice from a UK-based international family law solicitor who will be able to advise fully. Half an hour or an hour of proper legal advice should help establish both yours and your ex's rights.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Apr-16 @ 1:55 PM
Thank you for your reply. He says that his attorney has told him that he can gain custody because he can financially provide for her better and he has a large house. He also says that he will use my history of Ptsd against me too. Is this correct?
Dee ess - 13-Apr-16 @ 7:21 PM
Dee ess - Your Question:
My daughter was born in February 2015 and her father is American citizen. Her father has never seen her in person despite me giving him every opportunity to do so. He has only sent 1 payment for her and bought one set of clothes for her since she was born. He does not make contact to ask how she is. I regularly send him photos of her but he never asks for them. He has seen her on Skype but this has always been initiated by me, not him. He has said he is going to send regular payments for her but he never does and always has an excuse not to. Now I have told him that I will be filing a claim for child support but now he is saying that he is going to take me to court for custody due to the fact that I have a history of ptsd. Can he do this?

Our Response:
He can take you to court. However, the it is highly unlikely he would stand a chance of gaining custody of your daughter. Plus, the costs of his taking this to an international court would be hefty, and he would possibly be advised against applying for custody as no court is going to decide to move a child across the world to a non-resident parent unless absolutely necessary. Please see REMO link here, if you need to find out about reciprocal child maintenance orders.
ChildSupportLaws - 11-Apr-16 @ 11:20 AM
My daughter was born in February 2015 and her father is American citizen. Her father has never seen her in person despite me giving him every opportunity to do so. He has only sent 1 payment for her and bought one set of clothes for her since she was born. He does not make contact to ask how she is. I regularly send him photos of her but he never asks for them. He has seen her on Skype but this has always been initiated by me, not him. He has said he is going to send regular payments for her but he never does and always has an excuse not to. Now I have told him that I will be filing a claim for child support but now he is saying that he is going to take me to court for custody due to the fact that I have a history of ptsd. Can he do this?
Dee ess - 10-Apr-16 @ 11:56 AM
Elaine - Your Question:
Hi my ex refusing me seeing my kids where do I stand

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. 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, 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. 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. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Apr-16 @ 2:56 PM
Hi my ex refusing me seeing my kids where do I stand
Elaine - 28-Mar-16 @ 2:53 PM
A woman I know isn't a NZ resident aged 25 has 3 children to a man 64yrs olds who fiscally abused her. He collects the Solo parenting benifit and says she lives 2 doors down. He holds her passport and children's birth certificates and is made to sleep on the floor. She is petrified and scared he will or his family will get her children if she tries to leave him. What can I do?
Flower - 27-Mar-16 @ 6:15 PM
Sweet - Your Question:
My sister has a resident order for my niece and nefu that are under 16 and they want to go back to there mother does it have to go court? Or can we deal with it, in the family??

Our Response:
It depends on whether there is a specific reason why the children were removed from the parents and should not live with them. It is always advisable to take the matter back to court for a variation, it means there can be no misunderstandings then.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Mar-16 @ 10:42 AM
My sister has a resident order for my niece and nefu that are under 16 and they want to go back to there mother does it have to go court? Or can we deal with it, in the family??
Sweet - 22-Mar-16 @ 1:07 PM
Unknown - Your Question:
Father- I have residency of my 2 little girls but my ex recently has been threatening to take them away, put them in a school closer to her as she's demanding money I've not been instructed to give her as 'taxis' (most the time she finds lifts) cost her to much to pick up twice and drop of once a week to the school I've chose. Can she change schools without my permission because I have residency? Yes she has PR but the judge didn't see her as the best parent for my girls to go to at thatnpoint in time

Our Response:
You can apply for a Specific Issue Order if you can give good reason why this should not take place. However, if the children are living with your ex, regardles of the residency order, then the court may side with her. Please see link: here.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Mar-16 @ 12:10 PM
Father- I have residency of my 2 little girls but my ex recently has been threatening to take them away, put them in a school closer to her as she's demanding money I've not been instructed to give her as 'taxis' (most the time she finds lifts) cost her to much to pick up twice and drop of once a week to the school I've chose. Can she change schools without my permission because I have residency? Yes she has PR but the judge didn't see her as the best parent for my girls to go to at thatnpoint in time
Unknown - 17-Mar-16 @ 3:37 PM
I have full custody of the children, both children are British and Canadian, plan to move back to Canada, of course have to tell their father that we will move for better future of the children, the father does not allow me to take them, as he wants them instead, if I decide to move, I was only here because of the marriage of which fell apart almost 6 years ago, just recently divorce, what one must do? Wanted to do this all in good terms not through the court of which will take time and money.
Bianca-Nicolle - 12-Mar-16 @ 4:01 PM
Please can someone give me some advice. I am going through a very messy divorce right now and my ex is threatening taking me to court to get a shared living arrangement whereby our child would live with me one week and him the next. This would be immensely disruptive for my child and make things like childcare so difficult. I already support regular access (weds evenings, Thursday's over night and every other weekend) as well as as much contact with him as he would want. Could a court force this to happen?
Concerned mum - 24-Feb-16 @ 4:22 PM
candles - Your Question:
My story is complex, my son has been paying the mother of his child every month since he was born to date, she let him see his son a few times, then all of a sudden it stopped, he applied through the courts to see him, she only turned up twice then she said he wasnt his dad, so we paid for a dna test which proved he was the father, she still wouldnt let him see him, unbeknown to us, she was also getting csa from another guy who is on his birth certificate as his father, apparently they split up quite a while ago, but, the step dad only found out about the dna in court last week (when we found out about him) and he now is wanting for my grandson to live with him, papers have been served on my son of a child arrangement order, what can we do? thanking you in advance

Our Response:
If your son is the biological father, then he will have the priority regarding access of his son over the stepfather who is not biologically related, regardless of him being named on the birth certificate. I hope this answers your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Feb-16 @ 12:17 PM
my story is complex, my son has been paying the mother of his child every month since he was born to date, she let him see his son a few times, then all of a sudden it stopped, he applied through the courts to see him, she only turned up twice then she said he wasnt his dad, so we paid for a dna test which proved he was the father, she still wouldnt let him see him, unbeknown to us, she was also getting csa from another guy who is on his birth certificate as his father, apparently they split up quite a while ago, but, the step dad only found out about the dna in court last week (when we found out about him) and he now is wanting for my grandson to live with him, papers have been served on my son of a child arrangement order, what can we do? thanking you in advance
candles - 22-Feb-16 @ 5:55 PM
Georgie- Your Question:
I am trying to give advice to my sister who's had a daughter with a man she didn't marry. They currently have her 50/50 but now and it's not been a problem "as such" but now she is reaching school Age and they live an hour and a half away from each other the debate has started about what school she will be enrolled in and where she will be living Monday-Friday. - the father receives the tax credits and child benefit for her and has gone on and enrolled her in a school next to him - my sister wants her daughter Monday- Friday and to enrol her in her hometown. Who has the overall say? Does it make a difference that he receives the money for her, and where does my sister stand with receiving the money and having her for main day to day Monday - Friday? Their is no compromising with the father he doesn't want his daughter "just weekends" he also wants her in the main. I can see this getting messy as my sister has said she will just take her back fully and take him to court is this the answer? Does the mother have the right to just take her baby like I said they are not married but he is on the birth certificate.?

Our Response:
If the father is in receipt of the benefits, then he is usually considered the primary carer. If your sister has Parental Responsibility, then she is entitled to keep her child, but so its the father too (if he has PR) and the case would either have to be resolved by Mediation or through the courts. Your sister would have to apply for a child arrangement order which will decide where and with whom her daughter should live, please see link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Feb-16 @ 2:53 PM
I am trying to give advice to my sister who's had a daughter with a man she didn't marry. They currently have her 50/50 but now and it's not been a problem "as such" but now she is reaching school Age and they live an hour and a half away from each other the debate has started about what school she will be enrolled in and where she will be living Monday-Friday. - the father receives the tax credits and child benefit for her and has gone on and enrolled her in a school next to him - my sister wants her daughter Monday- Friday and to enrol her in her hometown. Who has the overall say? Does it make a difference that he receives the money for her, and where does my sister stand with receiving the money and having her for main day to day Monday - Friday? Their is no compromising with the father he doesn't want his daughter "just weekends" he also wants her in the main... I can see this getting messy as my sister has said she will just take her back fully and take him to court is this the answer? Does the mother have the right to just take her baby like I said they are not married but he is on the birth certificate ...?
Georgie - 19-Feb-16 @ 12:13 AM
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