Cohabitation Awareness Week 2017

 

47.6% of children born in the UK in 2016 were born outside marriage or civil partnership (Office for National Statistics statistical bulletin 19th July 2017), yet many unmarried parents do not understand the implication that this has on their legal relationship with their child or their financial obligations.

Today we will consider unmarried parents’ legal relationship with their children and tomorrow we will move on to consider the financial obligations.

Your relationship with your child

Who has Parental Responsibility?

For most parents, it is important that they have parental responsibility for their child.  If you hold parental responsibility for a child you have a responsibility for that child’s wellbeing.  In order to fulfil this responsibility, you have the right to make legal decisions for that child, including decisions relating to their education, religion, medical treatment and name.  So, for unmarried couples with children, do both parents always have parental responsibility? Here are the facts:

  • The birth mother will always have parental responsibility for a child.
  • A married father will automatically have parental responsibility for a child
  • An unmarried father does not automatically have parental responsibility
  • When does an unmarried father have parental responsibility for a child?
    • In the following circumstances: –
    • From 1st December 2003, if he jointly registered the birth with the mother and is named on the birth certificate;
    • If he has entered into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother;
    • If the court grants him a parental responsibility order.

The best thing to do if you want to ensure that you have parental responsibility for your child is to register the birth with the mother.  It is generally accepted that it is better for a child’s long term identity and emotional health for both parents to be named on their birth certificate.

It is of note that when parents are married, either parent can register the birth without the other present.  In order for a mother to include a father’s details on the birth certificate when he is not present at the registration, or for an unmarried father to register the birth without the mother present, the parent who is not present at the registration must make a statutory declaration.

Does an unmarried father have the same rights as a married father after separation?

The short answer is, yes.  If the parents cannot agree arrangements for the child, an unmarried father can make an application to the court for a child arrangements in the same way that a married father can.  If an unmarried father does not have parental responsibility, an application should also be made for a parental responsibility order.

You should be aware that when a father does not have parental responsibility, the mother does not have to consult with him when making decisions for a child or when removing the child from the jurisdiction (taking them outside England and Wales, whether on a temporary or permanent basis).  If you are unsure as to whether you have parental responsibility for your child it is vital that you seek specialist family law advice and, if necessary, take steps to obtain parental responsibility.

Tomorrow we’ll publish part two of this blog on unmarried parents’ legal rights and look at the issue of finances.

95 responses to “Unmarried parents – legal rights  (Part one)

  1. Needed a bit of help the father to my son his saying he is not bringing him back to me don’t know Wat I can do as we have nothing in play with custody needing asvise

    1. Thank you for your comment Samantha. Regardless of whether you have a formal order in place, if your son usually lives with you and you receive child benefit for him then you have the presumption of residence. If your son’s father will not return him then you should take urgent legal advice about making an application for a specific issue order for your son to be returned to your care and a child arrangements order formalising the time he spends with each parent.

    2. Hay I have 2 children same dad for both boys name Is on both birth certificates, we split 3 years ago and he has taken them every weekend since, other then that hes turned very bitter and has reported me to social services with false accusations which was cleared haven me arrested and is trying to take me to court to get full custody for both children as I have asked for some extra support with my youngest son who has behaviour issues. I’m just seeing where this could go as this is really emotionally draining me and my anxiety goes from 0 to 100 in seconds when he makes threats about my children and myself

    3. Dear Shirley – it is important that you seek legal advice from a Resolution specialist. We are unable to provide specific advice in this forum.

  2. Hi, my little girl lives with me and sees her dad 2 nights a week. He is advising that he gets the right to say which school out girl goes to and unless he agrees I am not allowed to put her in a school unless we both agree (not sure this will happen). He is also saying with descisions about school and where she lives he has a say. But he wants her in a school by him and that’s not ideal for me as she lives with me. What are my rights in these sort of decisions?

  3. Hi I have got job offer abroad and want to move there with my son, but my sons father whom I am not married to but followed me to register the birthcertificate is on the birthcertificate, and he doesnt want to move abroad with us, what is my options at this, how big is the chances for the mother to gain sole custody as an unmarried mother of the child

    1. Thanks for your comment Delilah. You and your son’s father share parental for your son, so neither of you should remove your son from the jurisdiction of England and Wales without the other’s permission (whether permanently or for a holiday). If you wish to move abroad with your son and his father does not agree, you should make an application at court for permission to remove him from the jurisdiction. The court will make the decision based on what it deems is in the best interests of your son and will need to balance any benefits of the move for your son against the impact it will have on his relationship with his father. You will have to put forward a detailed proposal showing how the move will impact on your son, including how you propose to maintain his relationship with his father. I strongly recommend that you take specialist advice from a Resolution family lawyer about your situation.

  4. Hi, I had a baby (born prematurely) with my boyfriend at the time. We stayed in hospital for a long time for my baby to get better but relationship with my boyfriend did not last. I have two other small children. Since coming home, my boyfriend has decided to keep my baby in his house and prevents me from seeing him. For the past 5 months I’ve only seen the baby few times. This is causing me to be depressed and I’m not getting any great help from social services. I want to make application to court for custody. I’m on benefits and want to know what I can do and apply for. Thank you

    1. Hi Yvonne, I am sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time. I encourage to you seek advice from a specialist lawyer as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there is not usually legal aid available for family cases but there is an exception if you are a victim of domestic abuse. Your boyfriend’s behaviour sounds controlling and I wonder whether this was a characteristic of your relationship. If so, you should explore whether you can produce the evidence required to qualify for legal aid. https://www.gov.uk/legal-aid/domestic-abuse-or-violence

  5. Hi, I am an unmarried mother with the father of my child on the birth certificate so I know he has parental responsibility. I can prove physical domestic violence as he was arrested 3 years ago for assaulting me. I decided to give a chance and are still together. However the verbal and emotional abuse continues and I am now in therapy. This has given me the courage to want to leave and I have told him. He will not agree to our daughter living with me. I can also prove inappropriate behaviour which gives me further cause for concern. All of which was visable on our daughters iPad. I feel trapped, can I make arrangements for alternative accommodation for me and my daughter and leave?

    1. Hi Lisa, thanks for your comment. Generally, you should consult with your daughters father before changing her residence and make an application to court if agreement can’t be reached between you. However, if your daughter’s father poses a risk to either of you this may not be appropriate and you may need to take urgent action without informing him first. I would need a lot more information about you and your family before I could properly assess the current risk to you and daughter and advise you as to an appropriate course of action. I urge you to get in touch with a specialist family lawyer so that you can get the right advice for your situation as soon as possible. I don’t know what your financial position is, but if you are financially eligible you may be access legal aid as a victim of domestic abuse.

  6. Hi i’m a male in an emotional abusive relationship with the partner of my 2 young children.
    She is continually threatening to kick me out of our family home. i am now fighting back( not physically) and telling her i’m leaving as i don’t want my kids to grow up in this toxic environment. She now threatens me with not ever being able to see my kids again and i will only be able to see them through a contact centre.
    We are not married however my name is on their birth certificate. I worry she is right, so i continue to stay in a loveless and abusive relationship as i will sedona anything to be with my children can you advice me if she is correct and i would only have access to my children through a contact centre.

    1. Hi Jim, thank you for your comment and I am sorry to hear you are having such a difficult time. If you were to decide to end your relationship and it was not possible to agree suitable arrangements for the children to spend time with you, then you should make an application to the court. The presumption is that it is in a child’s best interests to have a relationship with both parents. Contact centres are often used for interim arrangements if one parent is alleging that the other parent is a risk to a child. However, at a final hearing (when the court will consider the evidence relating to any allegations and find that the allegations are true or untrue) a final order for contact at a contact centre would only be made if the court felt that the parent in question poses a risk to the child.
      It is important to remember that there can be a long term emotional impact on children if they are exposed to high levels of conflict or domestic abuse between their parents. I urge you to seek some support so that you can make the best decisions for you and your family. Men’s advice line – http://www.mensadviceline.org.uk/ ManKind Initiative – https://www.mankind.org.uk/ If I can assist further please do not hesitate to contact me.

  7. Just a question,with family law? Dose the father have right if his name is on the birth certificate we’re not married and the child dose not have his surname.
    Dose he still have the same right as the mother?

    1. Thank you for your comment. All mother’s automatically have parental responsibility for their children. If you are not married and your child’s father is not named on his birth certificate he does not automatically have parental responsibility for your child. This means that you do not have an obligation to consult him on issues relating to your child’s welfare. He is however your child’s legal parent.

  8. quick question.
    both my partner and i share parental responsibility but i worry for the safty of my twins when i leave them with him!, he is a good dad on paper he provides for them but there have been time where iv seen him ignore, shout and even be some what nasty to them if they cry or wont be quiet! he is also verbally abusive to me always threaten to hit or take the girls away from me. I’m wanting to leave the relationship and have told him this but he keeps making me feel guilty for “splitting up the family” and using him for the things he does for us, we all live with my parents at the moment and when I tell him to leave he just don’t go or as I said before he mentally bullies me and telling me I will never see my baby’s again!
    how would I go about getting full or sole custody or actually getting him to leave ?

    1. Thanks for your comment Kirsty. I am sorry to hear about your situation. If you want to end the relationship there is support available to you, I suggest that you contact Women’s Aid in the first instance. It is also sensible to speak to a specialist family lawyer who is a member of Resolution. You mention that you are all living with your parents at the moment. If the property is owned or rented by your parents (rather than by you and your partner) then it is unlikely he has any right of residence. Would your parents support you in asking him to leave the property?

  9. My partners x partner is taking him to court not to see his son or let him back in Scotland from England.
    He pays weekly payments always has done. Looks after him through the holidays when she working .goes down and stays when she’s away with work .She sends him of to his uncles when she has no childcare .my partner was charged with domestic towards her but she was drunk and was always abusing him physical and verbaly and he wouldn’t hurt a fly he is such a loving person and is totally at his wits end with the stress and it’s causing problems with us .please advise

    1. Thanks for your comment Freya. Your partner’s situation sounds complex and it is not possible for us to provide advice without having a meeting with him in order to properly understand the situation. I suggest that your partner seeks advice from a specialist family lawyer who is a member of Resolution.

  10. Hi im having a baby and im not with the father and havnt been for awhile we was seeing each other for a short while until i found out i was pregnant he asked me to be his girlfriend but it only lasted a week when baby is born i want the baby to have my last name not his however if i put the father on the birth certificate can he then say then change the babys surname?

    1. Thanks for your comment Jennifer. You can register your child’s birth on your own without the father and give the child your surname. Whilst the father will be your child’s legal parent, this means he won’t have parental responsibility for your child.

      You should be aware that the father could apply for a declaration or parentage (which would add him to the birth certificate) or make an application for parental responsibility, for a child arrangements order to spend time with the child or for a specific issue order to change the child’s name. His chances of success in any application would depend on the circumstances at the time.

  11. I am unmarried and my son’s father is not on his birth certificate. We are not together for over a year. My son turned 1 today. Is there a time limit that the father has to be put on the birth certificate? He has known that my son is his for over a year but has done nothing about it which I’m grateful. My problem is every time he wants to see me and I say no, he threatens to go to court and put his name on the certificate. Do I need to deal with this for 18 yrs or is there a time limit he has?

    1. Thanks for your comment Tina. There is no time limit on your child’s father applying for a declaration of parentage at any time, which would update your son’s birth certificate. He can also make an application for a child arrangements order in respect of your son or for parental responsibility. You may wish to consider attending mediation.

  12. Hi, Im a father and have parental responsibility of my child as per birth certificate. My partner is the main bread winner works 5/6 days each week.
    I stay at home actively looking for work and going for interviews. I also take care of the child from the moment my partner leaves for work to when she comes back.
    My partner constantly threatens me to leave the rented house (iam not on the rental agreement) as i am not contributing enough to the bills without considering my daily raising child cleaning the house etc.
    Have i got some rights? Should i be recognise dor what i do?
    N

    1. Thank you for your comment. If you are not on the tenancy agreement and are not married, it is unlikely that you have any right to live at the property. You rightly identify that you have parental responsibility for your child as you are named on the birth certificate, so you and your partner have equal rights and responsibilities in respect of your child. A specialist family lawyer will be able to advise you and help you make the right decisions for your particular circumstances.

  13. Hi,
    My 10 year old son has lived with his father during the week for the last 2 years and he comes and stays with me every weekend, give or take a few that he may spend with his dad. Prior to that, he lived with me during the week and stayed with his dad at weekends.
    His father and I are unmarried and have generally had a good relationship when co-parenting our son.
    However when we do occasionally not get on, we have extremely explosive arguments where he constantly threatens to not let me see my son.
    Since he has a much larger income than I do, I worry that he legally challenge my access to my son and not let me see him.
    Where do I stand? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

    1. Thank you for your comment Harriet. It is positive that you and your son’s father generally have a positive co-parenting relationship, but I am sorry to hear that when you don’t get on your son’s father threatens to stop you seeing him. As a preventative measure, I would encourage you both to meet with a family consultant to discuss how you can best deal with conflict when it occurs in your co-parenting relationship. If your son’s father ever did obstruct your son spending time with you, I would recommend trying to resolve the issue in mediation. If this isn’t possible then you would need to issue an application for a child arrangements order at court.

  14. I am not married to my ex who is the father of my baby. I didn’t put him on the birth certificate because he threatened to get full custody.Despite seeing him weekly he wants to take me to court when the time he already has he abuses by watching football on his phone or the tv, he almost dropped him in order to pick up a call. I have to be with my baby as he’s breastfed on demand and my baby’s dad doesn’t know how to care for him safely despite me trying to show him (but him not listening/thinking he knows best) he is very controlling and has been aggressive since Baby was born yet refuses to acknowledge this

  15. Hi, my daughters father has brought up several small issues trying to say I’m not looking after her correctly and challenges me on a lot of things. She resides with me since he walk out when she was one years old. Eventually I got him to agree to regular contact and a schedule to keep consistent. He previously had an issue with drugs but I have no idea if he is involved now. He has a high paid job and I do not. Since I met met my partner and had another baby things have changed.. the challenge of my parenting etc… Then he met his partner and he now wants to have her more than he does which I don’t agree too. He wasn’t really interested the first few years of her life and now the party life style has died down he wants more control and contact. He also tries to say her health is suffering, I’ve been to the GP who said she is healthy. I believe he was emotionally abusive when we were together and my anxiety spirals when having to deal with him. Where do I stand? I’m scared he is going to try and fight for custody and I can’t afford a solicitor. Please help

    1. If you or your daughter’s father do not believe that the current arrangements for your daughter are in her best interests, either of you can make an application for a child arrangements order. The court would then decide what arrangements are in your daughters best interests and can make an order that she lives with one parent and spends time with the other, or that she lives with both parents at defined times. Most people would like to be represented within proceedings, but unfortunately for financial reasons many parents have no option but to act as a litigant in person and manage the litigation without legal representation. There is little legal aid available for family cases; to be eligible you must be on a low income and able to prove that you are a victim of domestic abuse perpetrated by the other party. I encourage you to consider mediation, to try to resolve this issue between you for your daughter’s sake. You can find an accredited mediator in your area here.

  16. hi
    i am father of my daughter. we have done Islamic marriage and split up. now i want to take my daughter responsibilities but my partner haven’t register me on birth certificate. and she want to take daughter to abroad. whats the legal aid for me.

    1. Hi Basit. This is a complex issue and you should seek urgent advice from a specialist family solicitor. Unfortunately, legal aid is not available in family cases unless you are a victim of domestic abuse perpetrated by the other party. You can find the eligibility requirements here.

  17. If the father doesn’t turn up for the birth certificate signing and has been very unsupportive through the pregnancy and we aren’t together anymore…
    I know he can apply for parental rights. I obviously believe he isn’t capable to look after the child. Could I disagree with his application to the court? Could I stop him getting rights/custody?

    1. Thank you for your comment Emily. I am sorry to hear that you have not felt supported by your child’s father. As father, he can make an application at court in relation to your child, for example for parental responsibility and/or a child arrangements order for the child to spend time with him. If you can’t reach an agreement, the court will make the order that it believes is in your child’s best interests having considered the evidence. I suggest that you seek advice in relation to your particular circumstances from a specialist family lawyer.

  18. My ex partner and I have a 3 month old baby, he’s not on the birth certificate but I allow him to have contact every week, he’s threatened me with court to get parental responsibility because I call all the shots and I don’t want his other children and family coming to see him (not yet) would the courts give him shared responsibility even though I allow contact every week? And would they order me to allow my baby to have contact with his other kids and family?

    1. Thank you for your comment Kelly. The general principle is that it is in your child’s best interests to have a relationship with both parents, unless there is evidence that this would place a child at risk. The court will generally grant a father parental responsibility if he does not already have it. This gives the father the right to be consulted about decisions relating to the child’s health, education and welfare. The amount of time that a court orders a child should spend with a parent will depend on the individual circumstances of the case. I recommend that you seek advice from a specialist family lawyer about your situation.

  19. I need some assistance. The father of my daughter is on the birth certificate (daughter is three) and I have done a 60/40 split with him. The problem is he is emotionally abusive and Im having trouble with evidence proving that. Example, I contact child support and when he got the letter he went crazy on the figure they stated (he earns a lot of money). Hes bombarding me with texts saying he will lose his house and be bankrupt because of me. I left his house after 6 years in a relationship with nothing (I worked hard on the family home and in rented accommodation and shared everything bought for our daughter. Hes threatening to take me to court and how he wants 50/50 of our daughter but its so he doesn’t have to pay anything. I’m worried he will get 50/50 for the wrong reasons and this will impact our daughter, shes only little.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Harriet. If your partner does issue an application it would be for a child arrangements order. This is an order which specifies who a child is to live with and who they are to spend time, and when. The court would make the decision based on what they believe is in your child’s best interests. You should seek advice about your particular circumstances from a Resolution specialist family solicitor.

  20. The father of my two daughters(8&3) is proposing for us to go to court for custody.we are no longer together,never married and his name is not even on their birth certificate.so m afraid he might win full custody as I hav already moved on living with onother man.

    1. Thanks for your comment Rinah. If your child’s father made an application at court it would be for a child arrangements order. This is an order that specifies who a child lives with or spends time with, and when. As your child’s father is not on the birth certificate he does not have parental responsibility, but it does not sound like his paternity is in dispute so he is still a legal parent and entitled to make an application. The court will make a decision based on what is in the best interests of the children. You should seek advice from a specialist family solicitor about your specific circumstances.

  21. My daughter father is on birth certificate, my home is in my sole name, i have child benefit, we are not married can my partener take my daughter without my consent had he made number of threats ??

    1. You and your partner should seek to agree arrangements for your daughter and neither of you should attempt to impose a change to the status quo without the other’s agreement. I recommend that you seek advice from a specialist family lawyer about your situation, we would be happy to help.

  22. I got pregnant for my boyfriend who is from the UK, while he was in an African country. I still live in an African country. He was happy at the time. But as soon as I delivered the baby he traveled back to the Uk and never saw the child. He has ignored all my messages and calls ever since. 6 years have passed since the child was born and the father has never been part of her life nor offered any type of financial support for the child. The father is married to another woman in the UK and has 4 other kids. At this point, I want two things. First, I need him to start supporting the education and welfare of our child. I am not financially well off. So, I am not in a financial position to give the child the best quality of life possible. But I think my baby deserves a better life than I can afford to give and have given for the past 6 years. Second, I need him to assist in getting the child legally registered as a British citizen, which she is by decent so that it will enable her to enjoy certain educational privileges and rights as a British citizen since I am not a British citizen and do not live in the UK with our child. I need solid advice on the options I have to achieve my objectives so that my child can have a better life.

    1. In what ways can I compel the father of the child who lives in the UK to accept parental responsibility for our child and to start supporting the child’s education and welfare financially?

    2. How can I get my child registered as a British citizen by virtue of the father’s nationality as a British, with or without the father’s help?

    1. Thank you for your comment Jennifer. We are specialist family lawyers and are not able to assist with your citizenship enquiry. Both you and your child currently live outside of the UK, so the courts here to do not have jurisdiction over your child. You should contact a specialist family lawyer in your country.

  23. Hi im not married with father of my child and hes not in his Birthcertficat so do i have right to see his family and his house for my child safry because he try to take my son out with me and i cant trust him as i really dont know about him because we had very short relationship between us

    1. Thank you for your comment Mana. As your child’s father is not on his birth certificate he does not have parental responsibility for your child. He is however your child’s legal parent. It is generally considered important for children to have a relationship with both parents and to know their extended families, so long as it is safe for the child. I do not know enough about your situation to comment in this regard. If you and your child’s father cannot agree arrangements for him to spend time with your child, he has the right to make an application for a child arrangements order and/or a parental responsibility order. I recommend that you seek independent legal advice about your particular circumstances.

    2. Thank you for your comment. As your child’s father is not on the birth certificate he does not automatically have parental responsibility. He is however your child’s legal parent. The general principle is that it is in your child’s best interests to have a relationship with both parents, unless there is evidence that this would place a child at risk. You say that you don’t know your child’s father well as it was a short relationship. I suggest that you meet with a family consultant or a mediator with your child’s father to try to establish trust between you so that your child can have both parents in their life moving forwards.

  24. Hi me and my partner have split up and she is now saying she is gunna take my son to another part of the country can I stop that I have proof that the whole way through the relationship she was cheating and was finding reasons to end it so she could get with the new guy wich is what she has done now straight after we ended what can o do to make sure my son is not taken too far away

    1. Thank you for your comment Kieran. I would encourage you and your child’s mother to discuss this issue in mediation. You do not say in your comment whether you are named on your child’s birth certificate; if so you have parental responsibility for your child and your child’s mother should consult with you about decisions such as changing your child’s school or doctors surgery. If you and your child’s mother cannot reach a consensus in mediation, you should discuss your options with a specialist family lawyer.

  25. Hi there- please could you clarify whether parental responsibility includes right of custody/accommodation of the child? My ex partner is named on the birth certificate but has never shown any regard for our son’s financial or emotional care/upbringing, nor bothered to be there for when there have been medical emergencies or shown any concern after. The responsibility of providing for him financially and otherwise has only ever been with me even during our relationship- he refused to live together. However he’s now insisting on being able to see our son whenever he wishes and has refused outright to provide any financial contribution despite my agreement that he can send whatever he can afford as long as it’s a regular payment. My ex has a criminal record for possession of firearms and has numerous harassment orders from other women on him and was also having multiple physical relationships with other women throughout our relationship. Would he still have equal standing if he were to pursue custody of our son?

    1. Your son’s father shares parental responsibility with you, so has the right to be involved in all decisions relating to health, education and welfare. If you and your son’s father cannot agree arrangements for your son between you, then he could make an application to court for an order that your son spends time with him. The court would then make a decision based upon what it thinks is the child’s best interests, but there is a presumption that it is good for a child to have both parents in their life. The court will need to assess whether or not it thinks that your son’s father poses a risk to him. You should be aware that financial disagreements between you and your son’s father are not considered relevant to the question of whether your child should spend time with him. You should contact the child maintenance service to make a claim for child maintenance.

  26. Hi. Me and my daughter’s father have both names in my daughters birth certificate. The thing is we’re unmarried and not in good condition for almost 3 yrs. I’m planning to go abroad but I’m leaving my child with my current partner. Would that be able to work? Thanks

    1. Thank you for your comment. As you and your daughter’s father are both named on the birth certificate you share parental responsibility for your daughter. You both have the right to be consulted when decisions need to be made about her education, health or welfare, including were she is going to live. You will also need to put a legal framework in place if a third party without parental responsibility is to care for your child. You should seek advice from a specialist family lawyer to discuss the framework that best suits you.

    1. Thank you for your comment. If you are unmarried, you and your partner should discuss and reach an agreement on your child’s surname before registering the birth.

  27. My daughter has split from her boyfriend, they have a 20 month old and house together, he refuses to leave the house even though his parents have 3 spare rooms!! Can she force him to leave? His parents gave them £10k deposit for their house and his reason for staying is he says he owns more of the house!

    1. Thank you for your comment. If the home is owned in joint names then your daughter and her ex-partner both have the right to live there. The court would generally only remove this right if one party was a threat to the safety of the other. It is not unusual for separating couples to have to live together until the long term housing position can be resolved. I strongly recommend that your daughter seeks advice from a specialist family solicitor so that she can consider her options; if we can assist you further please do contact us.

  28. As my daughter (of 1 years) father signed the birth certificate with me, I understand he has parental responsibility. But out of curiosity, if anything was to happen to me that resulted in death, am I, the mother, able to able to pass on my parental responsibility to my parents (the grandparents), as I do not have full trust in the fathers or his families abilities to effectively raise my daughter. Would be great to get an understanding of a situation like this.
    Thank you.

    1. Thanks for your comment Poppy. There is no way for you to automatically pass your parental responsibility to your parents upon your death. If you are concerned that your daughter’s father cannot safely care for her if you were to pass away, you should appoint your parents as a Guardian in your Will and instruct your parents to make an application for an order that your daughter lives with them upon your death. Unless your child’s father agrees that she should live with your parents, the court would then decide what was in your daughter’s best interests.

  29. Hi, I have been with my partner for just over 2 years, I feel pregnant very early on in the relationship and it was never my intentions to become a mother before finishing university but because my partner had suffered cancer and was told he couldn’t have kids again (he already has one child with a previous partner which he never sees) we took it as a blessing. But throughout the pregnancy he was abbusive and controlling, he never let me talk to my friends about how I felt and constantly checked my phone incase I had communication with people. Since the birth of my son things have only got worse, I do not want to be with him anymore, he is an absolute waste of a father. He sleeps in till 3pm on most of his days off, doesn’t help with my son at all and doesn’t even attend his doctors appotiments. The only time he gives our son attention is when we are arguing and I want to leave, he never lets me and threatens to take my son away from me. He since has carried on being manipulative and controlling, none of my friends or family like him as they see how much I have to do for our son and how little he does, and on top of this the way he speaks to me. I’m only with him in fear that he will take my son away from me, I need help and I need it fast in the descreat of manors, please give me any advice.

    1. I am sorry to hear that you are in such a difficult situation Faith. I would recommend that you contact a support agency such as Women’s Aid straight away. You should also contact a specialist family solicitor in your area who is a member of Resolution, who will be able to advise on the steps you can take to separate, with the safety of you and your son at the centre of this process.

  30. What rights do I have as a father with parental responsibility and who should I consult regarding my rights if I was to separate from my partner? We are an unmarried couple with a child and owing properties together. I look after the child whilst the partner is at work so I am the main carer. I would like to have equal rights in relation to my child and of course there are the legal issues around the properties own together. thank you.

    1. Thank you for your comment Peter. As you and your partner share parental responsibility you each have an equal say in decisions relating to your child, including decisions relating to health education and welfare, such as where they should live. You should seek advice about your particular situation, including child arrangements and the jointly owned properties. Please contact me and I would be happy to assist you.

  31. I have 2 children with my ex. He signed our first daughters birth certificate not our youngest. We have spit up and he has been given a harassment order. And told to stay away from my property.
    He turned up with no arrangement today as our younger daughter has chicken pox. I refused him entry to my house had to call the police too.
    He is threatening me with all sorts. He sees the girls, hasn’t paid for them since we split. Last time he had them he was threatening not to give them back. The last arrangement (only last weekend)he didn’t show up. After promising the girls a great day.
    He sent a long message he doesn’t want to be involved.
    Because he is their dad he feels he has right to show up to my house even though he has a harrasment order. Saying he is getting social services involved I said do it go ahead. I am sole carer for the girls and provider I don’t want him involved with them now because just caused upset and distress I can’t go through the drama every single time the threats the abuse the kids get effected.

    1. Thank you for your comment Leanne. We are unable to provide specific advice on this forum, however I strongly recommend that you seek specialist legal advice about your situation. Please do contact me directly and I will be happy to assist you.

  32. About 16 months ago, I separated from the father of my kids after he admitted to being a drug addict and a repetitve cheat since the beginning of our 12 years relationship. I allowed him to stay at home to help him stop taking drugs but our relationship became increasingly impossible to manage and eventually he moved out 4 months ago.
    We jointly own a house, in which I live with my daughters, and 3 rental flats in a joint ownership contract. We are attempting to decide on our separation amicably but we don’t seem to see eye to eye.
    So I have a few questions:
    1) If I used money that I received as inheritance to help with our house renovations, can I claim this money back when we separate finances?
    2) If I still live in our jointly owned house, should he still pay half of the mortgage? What happens if he doesn’t?
    3) Should I have to pay half of his rent too?
    4) Does the fact that he has maintained an unfaithful relationship and a drug addiction (using our joint money without my knowledge and thus agreement) affect his situation in this separation?
    5) Is there any consequences regarding the law if he is still being an alcoholic and using drugs recreationally?
    Thank you so much for helping me in this matter, it has been a roller coaster those past few months and I am trying to keep a positive relationship but I realise that I am clueless of where I stand in terms of the law. So thank you so much in advance.

    1. Thank you for your comment Pauline. I am unable to provide specific advice in this forum as I would require more information about your situation first. I suggest that you contact the office to make an appointment with one of our specialist family solicitors.

  33. Hi, I have a one year old daughter, her father is listed in birth certificate and it’s an emotional abuse relationship. One he slapped me but I decided to try again but emotional abuse didn’t end. I was thinking few time about living him but mostly I’m afraid that he would take our daughter. He said that he would do everything just so I can’t have her. I don’t want to go to court just yet but I would like to know how possible it is that he would get a full custody? I just can’t risk losing my daughter.

    1. Hello Julia, thank you for your comment. It is really important that you seek legal advice regarding your specific situation. Please do get in touch if you would like to make an appointment so I can assist you.

  34. My partner and I are separating and have lived in rented accomodation. We are unmarried and he is named on the birth certificate. Due to living arrangements I am having to move with my child into my parents house but due to my partner falling out with them he is now threatening to take my child from me even though he will live with his mother. Please could you advise?

    1. I am sorry to hear you are going through a separation. You and your partner share parental responsibility and should agree arrangements for where your child should live and how often they should spend time with each of you. If you are struggling to reach an agreement directly between yourselves, you should try mediation. If you cannot agree, neither of you should enforce a unilateral decision and you would have to make an application to the court although this should be considered as a last resort. If I can assist further, please do contact me and we can arrange to meet.

  35. Hi, have a child a few months old, bf broke up with me when he heard about pregnancy, he stayed in touch and has been supportive since the birth but he is very patronizing, comes over everyday, is trying to push me away, wants to be involved in everything, he has been disrespectful to my friends too. His name is on birth certificate. He earns way more than I do. If he applied what is the likelihood of the court granting him 50% custody and/or living arrangement that the child lives with him please?

    1. Thank you for your comment. As your child’s father is named on the birth certificate you share parental responsibility with him. This means that you both have the right to be consulted on decisions relating to your child, including the time she spends with each parent, between you directly or using the mediation process. If you and your child’s father cannot agree, then legal action can sometimes be necessary. If the court is asked to decide child arrangements then they will look at what is the best interests of your child given the particular circumstances of your case. I suggest that you contact a specialist Resolution lawyer who can assist you.

  36. Hi I’m separated from the mother of my daughter since 2 years. She is nearly 4 years old (July).

    My family live far away (abroad). I’m alone and I manage to build a balance home for my daughter.

    I have my daughter 3 nights a week for the moment. From Saturday 5.30pm until Tuesday morning. I’m self employed and my work requires me to be available after school and work time during the week and Saturday during the day.

    My daughter will go to school in September and her mom wants to go back to work full time. She wants to have 2 full weekends a month . I can sacrifice Saturday (which is a massive sacrifice with work and drop incomes) but I can’t sacrifice time during the week or I will be unable to cover my life expenses.
    Her mom says that I have to see my daughter 4 days a month and can look after her during the week sometimes. The problem is that I have to work after school and I have nobody to help me to look after her on evenings.
    I can’t imagine having to see her 4 days a month from September and I have a very good relationship with my daughter, she get used to see me every week for 2 years.
    I want to go to mediation but my ex says that I should pay for it because she can’t afford it. I don’t know what to do…

    Do i have to sacrifice my work and my incomes for being able to see my daughter more often? Can her mom decide when i can and can’t see her? If we go to court, am I going to lose my right to see my daughter every weekend? Is the fact that I’m a man/dad will affect the court or the judge? As I know that men/dads are not very popular.

    I’m ready to compromise and split the weekend in half and why not, keeping the agreement as it is. I’m ready to drop Saturday from work (we talk about £556/month before tax) but I can’t afford to lose more.

    My daughter needs to have contact with me as I’m very present in her life from the start.

    1. Thank you for your comment. We cannot advise on specific issues, and this is a fairly complex matter. I would suggest that you contact a specialist Resolution family lawyer who will be able to provide you with the advice that you need.

  37. I am a single mum with a daughter to a man I never married. He is named on the birth certificate.

    Or daughter is 12 and has lived with me in Spain for 6 years with her older sister (15). Her father still lives in the UK and sees our daughter (freely) at Christmas. Easter, summer holidays and Bank Holiday weekends.

    We just visited the UK for the Easter break and a day before we were due to leave my daughter said “mum, if like to stay here for a few weeks and try it out.”

    I was devastated although agreed as I feel convinced she will realise that a 12 year old girl approaching adolescence needs her mum’s support. After 2 days her father sent me stipulations in regard to her education and his plans. It became clear that he had planned this and after 2 weeks of laying foundations with my daughter it is clear that he sees it as a permanent thing.

    My daughter has always lived with me. I have not discussed the situation with her father as he “wants nothing to do with me. ”

    I have never prevented him from seeing his daughter and have often cancelled our own family plans to accommodate his.

    The reality has hit me that he did not intend to let her come back to live with me (and her ‘step’ sister.

    She has a school residential trip in 3 weeks and he has already told her “she cannot go as she no longer goes to school in Spain” (we are legal Spanish residents). She desperately wants to go and she has told me she thinks she has make a mistake and wants to come home.

    Were do I stand legally and what can I do?

    Can you recommend someone to speak to?

    Thanks in faith

    1. Dear Thudu, thank you for your comment. I suggest that you seek urgent legal advice on this specific matter. A specialist Resolution lawyer will be able to assist you. Alternatively, please do contact us if we can help further.

  38. Help me please i need some advice. Me and my girlfriend have recently seperated, we both work and our son is 8 years old and she has now said that she wants to limt my access to see him as she wants to try and build a better relationship with him. me and my son have a wounderful relationship and have done since he was born, we have never been apart longer than 24hrs, i take him to school, pick him up from school, never missed a play, sports day, parent teacher night and so on. we are out together every weekend or week day during the holidays and have an excellent relationship. his mum is a good mum but they do not have the best relationship together and more offten not they clash, my son was very upset when i explained i would not be living with them anymore (as was i) and has been begging to come and live with me but his mum will not let this happen as she wants to try and build a better relationship with him. this is having a real negative impact on my sons life and on mine, where would i stand on having at least 50/50 custody instead of every other weekend? i am on his birth certificate but me and his mum are unmarried. please any advice is desperately needed…….

    1. Thank you for your comment. If you are named on the birth certificate then you share PR for your son with the mother, which means that you have the equal right to make decisions for the child. If you cannot reach agreement with the child’s mother then you should take legal advice to explore your options. If we can assist then please do not hesitate to contact us.

  39. My ex partner and I have parental responsibility, we were not married but he is in our son’s birth certificate.
    Since changing jobs after 5 years, our sin is 6, his father is demanding to know who is looking after our sin and when.
    I have a fully checked out nanny plus my new partner works from home, si takes him to school and stays over sometimes.
    Sometimes my son goes home with his friend and parent after school, and is collected from there.
    Do I have to provide my ex with a daily diary when I am away from home at work sometimes 2 days per week, or should he just accept the fact I am a responsible and loving parent. I get so frustrated. With his demands and feel he is being unreasonable with no justification.

    1. Dear Nim lal, thank you for your comment. We are unable to provide specific advice, however I do recommend that you seek legal advice from a specialist family lawyer. You can find a lawyer local to you on the Resolution website. I hope that assists.

  40. Hi, I have a friend that had separated from his partner, they are un married but he was down on the birth certificate from birth. She is using the child as a bit of a weapon and seems to think she is in complete control. My friend feels that he has no rights and she can do what she wants. He thinks that she has the right to take him away from him whenever she wants. Is this the case? I feel like it’s not as in this day and age both parents should have equal rights when it comes to their children and not one sided on the mothers side. Please help, thank you

    1. Thank you for your comment Jeff. If your friend is named on the birth certificate then he shares PR for his child with the mother, which means that he has the equal right to make decisions for the child. If he cannot reach agreement with the child’s mother then he should take legal advice to explore his options. If we can assist please do not hesitate to contact us.

  41. Hi, I have a friend who had a baby 10 years back and now he got a letter after 10 years for childcare maintenance service. He is now married and have his own family, the ex she never tried to contact him after their baby and went right away. All of sudden after good 10 years she’s asking for child rights, so i want to know what does the law says what can he do. he’s not willing to pay because they never contacted him before and after having his own family all of sudden they are asking for rights.
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I strongly suggest that your friend seek legal advice from a specialist family lawyer in relation to this matter. A list of lawyers local to you can be found on the Resolution website.

  42. Hi my son and his girlfriend have just parted they have two boys and they are both in his name she is being really unreasibable the split was amicable the csa have told him how much he needs to pay her per month abd he has agreed he loves his boys and i look after them every week on cerrain days ge is so frightened she will stop him seeing them as she wants more money from him he cannot afford what should he do

    1. Dear Linda. Thank you for your comment. We cannot give specific advice on this forum unfortunately but I would suggest that your son seek legal advice from a specialist family lawyer. A list of lawyers local to you can be found on the Resolution website. I hope this assists.

  43. Hi, my daughter is only a week old and I was with her father who is on the birth certificate but now we’re splitting and he wants me to leave and him keep the baby, can he do that? What rights do I have? Please help, thank you

    1. Charlotte, I am not able to provide specific advice in these comments but I recommend that you seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible.

  44. Discovered I’m a father to the 12.5 year old child was I was unmarried and she was separated and has two children with her ex husband. Two DNA tests proved last year her ex husband was not the biological father and significantly limits his contact with the child. I have not requested for DNA testing although I am not disputing that its not mine.

    Ive been married 5 years and have a baby on the way. I made it clear to her that I have no interest in the 12.5 year olds wellbeing, neither do I wish to bond or be part their life, or wish to acknowledge him as my own child (despite highly likely we are biologically linked)

    The ex is taking my comments extremely seriously and demands I tell my family and wife about my 12.5 year old. Seeing I have no obligation to inform anyone, I am nervous that she may begin contacting my parents. Although I do not see what she would wish to achieve by doing so without my permission when its evident I do not want part of that child?

    My name isn’t on the child’s birth certificate neither do I give permission to sign it and I do NOT want to have any legal parenting responsibilies (via a PRA – i.e. meeting, spending time, bonding etc..).

    1) What legal advice can I seek if the ex decides to inform my family members without my permission about the child? Can she be prosecuted?

    2) Is it correct that I can continue with my life with no Parental Responsibility (i.e. via PRA), seeing my name is not on birth certificate and will refuse permission to be included as the father on birth certificate? If the child wishes to meet me that request will instantly be denied by myself.

    3) She may request for Child Support Payments, do I understand the claims cannot be backdated and will only start if she makes a case (i.e. on child’s 13th Birthday next year)? I do not have a problem but there is only 3 years left until child turns 16. What value would there be in claiming now for her?

    1. Thank you for your comment Harry. Although you do not have PR for your child, as you were not married to your child’s mother and are not named on the birth certificate, you are still your child’s parent. This means that you have an obligation to pay child maintenance in accordance with the child maintenance service’s calculation. This can only be back dated to the date of claim. Child maintenance is payable until a child reaches the age of 19 or leaves full time secondary education, whichever is the later. As far as I can understand from your comment, your child’s mother would not be committing a criminal offence if she shared your child’s existence with your extended family. You have made it clear that you do not want to know your child, but your parents and extended family may feel differently. Studies show that it is likely to be in your child’s best interest to have a relationship with their extended family.

  45. My brother is in an emotionally abusive relationship and has a 1 year old daughter, he is named on the birth certificate, he has a rented property they live in which is only in his name, he wants to kick his girlfriend out but wants to keep custody of his child, the mother doesn’t look after the child often and takes her to her mums for her mum to look after the child and doesn’t give the father a choice on weather he can look after his child, when my brother asks to see his baby he is just told that child care has been sorted and to leave the child at her mums house.sone weeks he only sees the baby once a week even though the baby lives with him because the mother of the child is too busy to look after her and leaves her at her mums house, if he was to kick her out of the property does he have equal rights to custody or would custody automatically go to the child’s mother, they aren’t married.

    1. Thank you for your comment Hayley. Your brother and his partner share parental responsibility for their daughter and both have a right to be consulted about to all decisions relating to her. I strongly recommend that your brother seeks specialist legal advice before taking any action. He could prejudice his position by ‘kicking out’ his partner as you suggest.

  46. Hi,
    I am a father of two children. Me and their mother have been together for 3 and half years. We are not married. We’ve lived at the same address for over 3 years. She owns the mortgage I pay her monthly rent for living there and we split the nursery costs 50-50. We also split other miscellaneous costs 50-50. We are both in a OK paid jobs and working full time. We jointly registered the children’s birth so I Know I have parental rights.

    To cut my long story short I am thinking of leaving her as we do not love each other anymore and we are living a miserable loveless relationship at the moment but we are being civil for the sake of the children. If I leave I want the kids to stay with her so there is no battle there. She’s a really good mother and person, we just don’t love each other anymore. My question is:

    1. Can she demand that I continue to pay rent towards the mortgage as I currently do due to the fact that kids will be staying with her pretty much most of the time?

    2. What else can she demand payment for?

    1. Dear Jim, thank you for your comment. These are very specific questions and we cannot answer them in this forum, nor without knowing the full facts beforehand. If you would me to assist please contact us and I will be able to provide you with legal advice. Many thanks.

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