Separation: Know Your Rights as A Father

Whether you have recently separated from your wife or girlfriend, or have a child with someone who you are not in a relationship with, it is likely that you are left with many questions about the role that you can have in your child’s life. Even if you and the child’s mother are on good terms at this time, it’s important to learn what your rights are as a father. Knowing what the law says that you can and cannot do will help you figure out how to address any conflicts that may arise and lead to a happier situation for everyone involved.

Legal Responsibility As A Father

The answer to this question depends on several details. First, if you were married to your child’s mother at the time that the child was born, you automatically have Parental Responsibility in the UK. While many people automatically think of child support when they hear this term, Parental Responsibility encompasses a number of rights that you have. The law states that with Parental Responsibility, you have the right to have a say in whether your child changes schools. You also have rights in whether they move to a new country, changes his or her surname, is adopted, or even if they can go on holiday with another family. If your child has a serious medical issue, it also means that you have a say in their care.

Furthermore, you may still have Parental Responsibility even if you were not married to your child’s mother at the time of his or her birth. If your child was born after 1st December 2003 and your name is listed on the child’s birth certificate, UK law states that you automatically have Parental Responsibility and all of the rights that that entails.

Father’s Rights To Make Big Decisions

While Parental Responsibility grants you the right to have a say in major decisions in your child’s life, many fathers also wish to have a say in other decisions as well. Unless you have residence of your child, you do not have any legal right to make these ‘lesser’ decisions. Residence may be granted to the father by the courts, though it is most often given to the mother.

Will I need to pay child support?

Regardless of your past relationship with your child’s mother, the law states that you are required to pay child support. How much you pay is determined by the Child Support Agency, or CSA. Their decision is based on your earnings, as well as how residence of your child is divided.

When will I no longer be legally responsible As A Father?

As a child approaches their teenage years, many fathers wonder how long they will be obligated to pay child support, or when they will no longer be able to have a say in key decisions in their child’s life. Parental Responsibility is terminated at the time that a child leaves school. But that age may be different for each child. Legally, they may leave as early as 16, but if they choose to attend university, Parental Responsibility continues until they are 19 years of age.

Bio: Lewis Murawski is the marketing and business development manager at Diem Legal and Managing Director of Kahootz Media. Need professional help with digital marketing? You can connect with Lewis directly on LinkedIn


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