Graysons has expertise in dealing with issues involving unmarried couples and couples who have separated.
Fathers are often ill-informed about their rights concerning children from previous relationships. Our expert solicitors can explain what rights you have as a parent and help you to exercise those rights, through the courts if necessary.
Parental responsibility is a term used to describe your rights and responsibilities in relation to your children. You can only make decisions relating to issues such as education, medical treatment, religion and general upbringing if you have parental responsibility.
It is often assumed that the biological father of a child automatically has parental responsibility, but this is not always the case. You have parental responsibility if:
- You are the child’s mother
- You are the child’s father and you were married to the child’s mother when the child was born, even if you have since divorced
- You have legally adopted the child
- You are the father of a child born after 1st December 2003 and your name is on the birth certificate
If you do not meet the criteria above and want parental responsibility you will need to:
- Marry the child’s mother
- Obtain a parental responsibility agreement that is signed by the mother
- Obtain a parental responsibility order through the courts
Contact with your child
However, simply having parental responsibility does not give you automatic right to contact with your child if you are not the resident parent.
Many unmarried and separated couples agree between themselves on when the non-resident parent can see their child (or children) or have them to stay. This type of informal agreement can work well in some situations; however, it can present problems if the parent with whom the child lives changes their mind and stops contact from taking place.
Unfortunately this is a common occurrence and we are frequently contacted by people (usually fathers) who have been stopped from seeing their child.
In these circumstances it is often appropriate to apply to the court for a child arrangements order. This can determine who your child should live with and what contact they can have with the non resident parent.
You can also apply for orders which prevent the other parent from doing something that you don’t agree with (prohibitive steps order) or deals with a specific issue such as schooling (specific issues order).
In all circumstances the court’s decision will be based primarily on what is in the best interests of the child.
Contact us for a consultation to see how we can help you.