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Rights and Responsibilities of Unmarried Fathers

It is common for unmarried fathers to not be fully aware of their responsibilities and their legal rights towards their children, particularly when a separation has occurred.

We can help you understand exactly where you stand and the legal rights that you have with the aim of establishing contact which is in the best interest of your children.

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Gaining contact with your child

In England, the law commonly accepts that it is in the best interests of a child to have frequent contact with both parents.

Contact arrangements can take many forms including:

In some cases ex-partners have their own informal arrangements for contact to take place between the father and the child. These arrangements are often the best way of dealing with matters and keeping contact amicable. However, it is not unusual for arrangements like this to fall apart if one parent uses child contact as a bargaining chip. E.g. in cases where payment of maintenance is an issue.

When it comes to finances the Financial maintenance and contact with your children are two separate legal issues. Child contact is not reliant upon payments of maintenance. It is the child’s right to have a relationship with both of their parents irrespective of finances.

It must be noted that it is the responsibility of all parents to provide financial support to their children, regardless of whether or not they have contact with them.

Our experienced family solicitors can help you to work out the most suitable arrangements for contact with your children.

Please see our page on Child Living Arrangements for more information.

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What is parental responsibility

Parental responsibility is a legal saying that describes who has the rights and responsibilities in making decisions that affect a child’s life. Parental responsibility includes the following legal rights and responsibilities:

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Who has parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is automatically given to the birth-mother of the child. Similarly, if the parents are married at the time of the child’s birth then the father also has parental responsibility.

When it comes to unmarried fathers they only have parental responsibility if their child was born after 1st December 2003 and if they are named on the birth certificate. If your child was born before 1st December 2003, you do not have parental responsibility, even if you are named on the birth certificate.

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How to obtain parental responsibility

If you do not have parental responsibility, we can help you to obtain it. It can be gained by one of the following methods:

If you wish to apply for parental responsibility please contact us and we’ll be happy to talk you through your options.

If you would like to discuss another issue with one of our family law solicitors, please contact one of our specialist team.

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