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Your Legal Rights as a Parent

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 24 Apr 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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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
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
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