Fathers’ rights to custody of children

02 February 2021

As a father of children living in the UK, you are entitled to have a say about how your children are raised and how often you see them.

If there are certain issues that can't be agreed on, even with the help of mediation, our Family Solicitors can help you apply to the Family Court for a Court Order.

Parental responsibility

In England and Wales a father will automatically have parental responsibility over a child if they are named on the birth certificate or married to the mother. Parental Responsibility gives you the right to make decisions about a child’s upbringing.

If you aren't married to the mother or named on the birth certificate, there are other ways to get parental responsibility. If the child’s mother, or anyone else with parental responsibility (like a grandparent) agrees to you having parental responsibility, you can make a joint application to Court.

If you can't agree this, it’s still possible to apply to the Court yourself for an order granting parental responsibility.

Child arrangements

A father has just as much right to contact with their child as a mother. When two parents do not live together, it's important to try and create a practical timetable when each parent can see the child.

As a father, you and the child's mother can agree this informally between yourselves, or if this isn't possible, a mediator can help you to reach an agreement. Although a decision reached through mediation isn't legally binding, you can then make an application to the court for the terms to be reflected in a Court Order. If either parent doesn't stick to the agreed schedule, the Court can take steps to enforce the order.

If you can’t reach an agreement about how often the children spend time with you, you can make an application for the Court to decide. It's likely you'll need to attend a mediation session before you can make the application.

Other family court orders

Fathers have the right to object to a mother’s suggestions regarding the child's upbringing and may not need permission from the Court to do so. If you are opposed to a specific issue, such as what city the child will live in or where they go to school, you need to make an application to the Court. Then a Judge will make a ruling.

This application can also prevent mothers (or others with parental responsibility) from moving house with the children or doing something else that you do not agree with. This is known as a Prohibited Steps Order.

See 7 Types of Family Court Orders for information about:

  • Specific Issue Orders
  • Prohibited Steps Orders
  • Child Arrangements Orders
  • Non Molestation Orders
  • Occupation Orders
  • Pension Sharing Orders
  • Maintenance Orders

To find out more about your rights in any given family law situation, or what type of Court application you may need to make, our Family Solicitors can help you.

Once we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work to be done, that price will not change.

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