What are my rights as a father to see my children?

The answer to this question is very much dependent on a few different factors such as whether the father is married to the mother or not, whether his name is on the birth certificate, and whether he has parental responsibility for the child or not. 

Parental responsibility is the legal rights and responsibilities a parent has over a child such as providing a home, protection, and maintenance.  

Unlike a mother, a father does not automatically have parental responsibility and can apply for it if he is not married to the child’s mother and not listed on the birth certificate. 

In actual fact, having parental responsibility does not give you an automatic right to have contact with your child. Contact is centered around the child’s best interests.

What does the court consider when granting the father contact with the child?

When assessing what rights a father has over his child, the courts will consider the child’s welfare and best interests under the Children Act 1989. This is judged on a case-by-case basis and includes the following considerations:

- The child’s feelings and wishes.
- The child’s emotional, physical, and educational needs.
- How a change in circumstances would affect the child.
- The child’s age and background.
- Any potential harm suffered or risk of harm to the child.

If the parents cannot decide on when a father can see his children, the court can intervene and put a child arrangements order in place to decide where the child lives and how often it sees each parent. 

In this scenario, the process includes an assessment made by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) to ensure that there are no safeguarding concerns. 

When can the court stop me from having contact with my child?

The court can stop a father from having contact with his child when there is a risk to the safety and welfare of the child. For instance, if a parent or partner is involved in criminal activity, if there is any history of or suspected domestic abuse within the home, or drug and/or alcohol misuse. The court is concerned about whether there is any inappropriate behaviour that could put the child in danger.  

What happens if there are no safeguarding concerns?

If there are no risks to the child, the court will likely promote a relationship between you and your children. The access that you have to your child will be dependent on the child’s wishes and other factors that are outlined above. 

What should I do if I am denied contact with my child?

Each situation is different and if you cannot come to an amicable arrangement with the child’s mother, then you can apply to the court for a child arrangements order or contact a solicitor for further information on how you should proceed. 

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At GloverPriest, we understand navigating the law can be a difficult task to take on alone. That’s why we created this comprehensive guide to help promote information for everyone to use.

If you’re looking to speak to a solicitor, please call us from the number below. Alternatively, you can fill out our online form and we’ll be right with you.

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