Fathers’ Rights to Custody of Children

14 June 2017

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 cannot 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 fathers who are named on the birth certificate or who are married to the mother of their child will automatically acquire Parental Responsibility. Parental Responsibility gives you the right to make decisions about a child’s upbringing.

If you are not married or named on the birth certificate, there are ways of acquiring Parental Responsibility. If the child’s mother, or any other person with Parental Responsibility (for example a grandparent) agrees to you getting Parental Responsibility, you can make a joint application to Court. If you cannot agree and you are not named on the birth certificate, it’s still possible to apply to the Court 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 consider how best to develop a practical timetable for contact between parents. This can be done in many ways, including the parents communicating directly between themselves, or using the services of a Mediator to help reach an agreement. Although any decision reached through Mediation will not be a legally binding agreement, you can then make an application to the Court for the terms to be reflected in a Court Order. In the event that either parent does not 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 take steps to make an application for the Court to decide. Under most circumstances, you will need to attend a Mediation session before you are able to proceed with the application. You can attend this session alone if the child’s mother is unlikely to agree.

Other Family Court Orders

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

This application can also prevent mothers (or others with Parental Responsibility) from moving with the children or doing something 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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