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Father's Day: What are your Rights after Divorce or Separation?

Father’s Day is celebrated across the UK every year to recognise the role of fathers, step-fathers, father figures and grandfathers.

Unfortunately for many fathers the day can be a painful reminder they are unable to spend the day with their children. This is usually as a result of separation or divorce. If you are in the same position it is important to know your rights. 

Parental Responsibility

This term refers to the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority, which the parent of a child has in relation to the child. A non-exhaustive list includes protecting and maintaining your children, providing them a home, having contact with and living with them.

A mother automatically has Parental Responsibility (PR) for their child when they give birth. In contrast however PR is not an automatic right for fathers. Father’s can only obtain Parental Responsibility in the following circumstances:

  • if a father is married to the mother they will have PR; or
  • if they are unmarried the father will only have PR if (after 1 December 2003) his name is registered on the child’s birth certificate.

Contact with your Child

Following separation or divorce, parents can come to an agreement on how to share contact. If however, you are unable to come to an agreement, and your child is prevented from spending time with you, you can look to come to resolve contact disputes through either mediation or a court order as detailed below:

Mediation

This is a voluntary, confidential and privileged form of dispute resolution. The mediator is an impartial third party who helps the parties negotiate the terms for contact and settle their dispute out of court.

Child Arrangements Order

The final option is to apply for a Court Order. This is the last resort for many people. 

When deciding on whether to make a Child Arrangements Order the Court’s paramount consideration will be what is in your child’s best interests. These include but are not limited to the following:

The ascertainable wishes and feeling of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding.

  • The likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances.
  • How capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs.

If you require any advice concerning contact with your children, or would like more information about your options, please do not hesitate to contact our Family Team.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Categories: Family & Relationships

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