Unmarried fathers’ rights

Ensure you know your rights

Many fathers are ill informed about their rights with regard to their children following a separation or divorce.



What are unmarried fathers’ rights?

Many fathers are ill informed about their rights with regard to their children following a separation or divorce. Maclaren Warner Solicitors are specialists in unmarried father’s rights and we will explain exactly where you stand in relation to having a say in who your child lives with, regular contact with the non-resident parent and also financial child support.

Contact with your child

The law generally accepts that it is in the interests of children to have regular contact with both parents.

Contact arrangements can take a number of forms including:

  • Direct face-to-face contact, including overnight stays and weekend stays
  • Extended visits at school holidays
  • The ability to take the children away for a week or two weeks during the long school holiday periods
  • Telephone contact in between visits
  • The ability to write letters, cards and send presents at regular intervals

In some cases ex-partners have informal agreements for contact to take place between the father and the child. Unfortunately, in some cases these arrangements can fall apart if one parent uses child contact as a bargaining chip, for example in cases of non payment of maintenance.

Financial maintenance and contact are two separate issues and contact with a child is not dependent upon payments of maintenance. It is the child’s right to have a relationship with both of its parents regardless of finances. However, 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

We have experienced family solicitors who will help you to work out the most suitable arrangements for contact with your children.

Please see our page on child contact for more information.

Parental Responsibility

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

  • Providing a safe home for the child
  • Having contact with the child
  • Protecting and maintaining the child
  • Disciplining the child
  • Choosing the child’s education
  • Choosing which religion the child is brought up in
  • Agreeing on the child’s health and medical care
  • Naming the child

Who has Parental Responsibility?

The natural mother of the child automatically has parental responsibility. If the parents are married at the time of the child’s birth then the father has automatic parental responsibility.

Unmarried fathers only have automatic parental responsibility depending on when the child was born. If you are the father of a child born after 1st December 2003 and you are named on the birth certificate, then you do automatically have shared parental responsibility with the mother. However, if your child was born before 1st December 2003, you do not.

Obtaining Parental Responsibility

If you do not have parental responsibility, then it can be obtained by one of the following methods:

  • Agreeing with the mother and signing a written parental responsibility agreement
  • Obtaining a parental responsibility order from the Courts
  • Obtaining a residence order, providing that the child lives with you
  • Marrying the mother
  • Being appointed as the child’s guardian

If you wish to apply for parental responsibility please contact us for a consultation.



Are we the perfect fit to help you?

Clients choose MacLaren Warner for our unwavering commitment to excellence, personalised service, and proven track record of achieving favourable outcomes. With a dedicated team of experienced solicitors, we offer tailored legal solutions, compassionate guidance, and unwavering support, ensuring our clients receive the highest level of care and expertise throughout their legal journey.

How to contact us

Our specialists are ready and on hand to support you through the process. Talk to us today to find out more.

68 Nottingham Road,
Eastwood, Nottingham,
NG16 3NQ
First Floor Finance Block
Wharncliffe Road
Ilkeston, Derbyshire

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