Unmarried Fathers Legal Rights
Many unmarried fathers are ill informed about their rights and responsibilities with regard to their children following a separation or divorce.
At Hoole & Co. we are experienced in dealing with unmarried fathers rights and we will explain exactly where you stand in relation to having a say in who your child lives with, regular contact with the non-resident parent and also financial child support.
Unmarried fathers and contact with your child
- Regular, direct face to face contact, including overnight stays and weekend stays
- Extended visits at school holidays
- Telephone contact in between visits
- The ability to take the children away for a week or two weeks during the long school holiday periods
- The ability to write letters, cards and send presents at regular intervals
In some cases ex-partners have their own informal agreements for contact to take place between the father and the child. However, it is not uncommon for arrangements like this to fall apart if one parent uses child contact as a bargaining chip, for example in cases of non payment of maintenance.
Financial maintenance and contact with your children are two separate issues and contact with a child is not dependent upon payments of maintenance. It is the child’s right to have a relationship with both of its parents regardless of finances. However, it must be noted that it is the responsibility of all parents to provide financial support to their children, regardless of whether or not they have contact with them
We have experienced family solicitors who can help you to work out the most suitable arrangements for contact with your children.
Please see our page on Living Arrangements for more information.
Parental Responsibility is a legal phrase that describes who has the rights and responsibilities in making decisions that affect the child’s life. Parental responsibility includes the following legal rights and responsibilities:
- Providing a safe home for the child
- Protecting and maintaining the child
- Having contact with the child
- Disciplining the child
- Choosing the child’s education
- Choosing which religion the child is brought up in
- Agreeing on the child’s health and medical care
- Naming the child
Who has Parental Responsibility?
The natural mother of the child automatically has parental responsibility. If the parents are married at the time of the child’s birth then the father has automatic parental responsibility.
Unmarried fathers only have automatic parental responsibility depending on when the child was born. If you are the father of a child born after 1st December 2003 and you are named on the birth certificate, then you do automatically have shared parental responsibility with the mother. However, if your child was born before 1st December 2003, you do not.
If you do not have parental responsibility, we can help you to obtain it. It can be obtained by one of the following methods:
- Obtaining a parental responsibility order from the courts
- Obtaining a residence order, providing that the child lives with you
- Agreeing with the mother and signing a written parental responsibility agreement
- Marrying the mother
- Being appointed as the child’s guardian
If you wish to apply for parental responsibility please contact us for a consultation.
If you would like to discuss an issue with one of our family law solicitors, please contact us and one of our specialist team will be happy to advise you.