Norrie Waite & Slater
Family Solicitors
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What are the rights of Unmarried Fathers?

If you have a child and you are not married to the child’s mother, we can advise you on your right to see your child as well as the law in relation to finances and who the child should live with.

It is in the interests of children to have regular contact with both parents and this is generally accepted by law.

We can assist you to come to an arrangement with the child’s mother about who the child will live with and how much contact the other parent should have. This can often be done through negotiation, however in some cases Court action will have to be taken. This can result in a ‘Contact Order’ which will state exactly when the child will spend time with the non-resident parent. This can include taking the child to the other parents home, visits to the child at home, activity based contact, overnight stays and holidays.

Child financial maintenance is a separate issue which should not become entangled with the issue of contact with the child. In some cases, the mother may stop contact between the child and their father due to maintenance not being paid. If this is the case we can assist you. Contact with your child is not dependent on payments of maintenance and the child has a right to contact with both parents, regardless of finance.

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental Responsibility is the term used to describe who has the rights and obligations in making decisions which affect the child’s life. It includes the following legal rights and responsibilities:

  • Providing a safe home for the child
  • Living with the child
  • Naming the child
  • Protecting the child
  • Responsibility for the child’s property
  • Choosing and providing for the child’s education
  • Choosing the child’s religion
  • Agreeing on the child’s health and medical care
  • Consenting to medical treatment for the child
  • Disciplining the child

The biological father of the child does not always mean that you have an automatic right in law to parental responsibility. Similarly, if you are listed as the father on your child’s birth certificate, this does not always mean that you have automatic parental responsibility.

Parental responsibility becomes important if you separate from the child’s mother and you are not married to her. If you do not have parental responsibility then you do not have a legal say in the child’s upbringing.

Whether or nor you have automatic parentalfree consultation responsibility depends on a number of factors including when the child was born, whether you are married to the child’s mother and whether you are listed on the child’s birth certificate.

If you do not have automatic parental responsibility then it may be possible to obtain it through a family lawyer.

Please contact us and we will determine whether you have parental responsibility and if not, how we can go about obtaining it for you.

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