The Father's Legal Right to Visitation and Establish Paternity

A father has the same rights as a mother, and contact cannot be legally terminated unless there are concerns that further contact will jeopardize a child's welfare. These concerns may be raised as a result of criminal offenses, drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, or any other inappropriate behavior that puts the child in danger.

Unfortunately, it is quite common for mothers to prevent a father from seeing their child simply by refusing to allow them to see them. Fathers, on the other hand, do not always recognize that they have the same rights as mothers. This means that, in terms of child contact, they have the same right to the child as the mother does.

In other words, a mother should not prevent a father who has parental responsibility from seeing their child unless there is a valid reason to do so that affects the child's welfare, as explained above. However, if the mother is responsible for the child on a daily basis, she can limit access or contact.

What are the legitimate reasons for denying a father access to his child?

The only valid reason to withhold contact under English law is if there is a risk of physical or psychological harm to the child. As a result, there are no valid reasons to prevent a father from seeing his child if he is late to the ordered contact or fails to pay child maintenance.

Your ex-partner cannot legally prevent you from having contact with your child unless continued contact is detrimental to your child's welfare; however, you may need to go to court to ensure that contact occurs.

A court order can legally prevent access to your child if there are safety and welfare concerns, such as:

  • illegal activity
  • domestic violence
  • Misuse of drugs/alcohol
  • any other inappropriate behavior that endangers your child

Reasons for denying a father's right to see his child that may not be valid include:

  • A parent refuses to make child support payments.
  • Sometimes a parent is late picking up or dropping off their children.
  • Even if an agreement or court decision states that a parent will see the children on a regular basis, the parent does not.

Legal access to children is not a "right." Parental responsibility (PR) confers certain legal rights and responsibilities, but there is no automatic right to 'contact.' Because the law is entirely focused on the child's welfare, decisions to allow you contact are made on the basis that it will improve your child's quality of life, not yours as a parent.

In the absence of any safety concerns, the court actively promotes the child's relationship with both parents. If you are unable to accomplish this and things become difficult, Blanchards Law is here to assist you. Our experienced family team can help draft agreed Child Arrangement Orders and Agreements by facilitating all types of dispute resolution processes.

Interrupting contact with a child in the absence of a court order

When a child arrangement or child contact order is in place, a parent may only discontinue child contact if there is a risk that continuing this arrangement will endanger the child's welfare.

If contact with a child is terminated, you may petition the court to enforce the existing order. An enforcement order is a court order that requires a parent who is in violation of a court order to comply with the order. The Order will generally be enforced unless the other parent can demonstrate a "reasonable excuse" for failing to comply with the Order.

If a parent to the Order violates the terms of the Order, an enforcement order may be obtained. e violating a child custody arrangement order If the court determines that there is no justification for a breach of court order, an enforcement order can be issued, which can be accompanied by penalties such as a fine or community service.

In some cases, a parent may apply to the court for an order without the presence of the other parent if they believe they pose an immediate danger to the child. This is referred to as an emergency 'without notice' order.

If the court is persuaded to issue a 'without notice' order, a second hearing will be held a few days later so that both parents can attend and defend the allegations made as well as present their own views to the court.

If the court believes that spending time with your child will benefit your child's welfare, it will be arranged. The government established a presumption in 2014 that the continued involvement of both parents in a child's life promotes that child's welfare. So, in most cases, unless it can be proven that you will endanger or harm your child, you will be allowed some level of contact. In cases of domestic abuse, however, the courts may consider whether there is a risk of harm to the other party if contact is allowed. Before making a final decision, the court will also consider a slew of other factors, such as motivation and commitment.

You can still apply to the court for a child arrangements order if you do not have PR and do not have a voluntary out-of-court agreement about contact. If the court orders your child to spend time with you or live with you, it should also consider making a PR order at the same time, if you don't already have one.

Even if you have an out-of-court agreement, you should still consider applying for parental responsibility, either through an agreement (known as a parental responsibility agreement) or through a court application.

If you have an informal agreement or no agreement and your ex-partner denies you access to your child, you may need to take the following steps:

  • discussing the issue and attempting to resolve it without confrontation
  • seeking advice from a solicitor, who can send a legal letter outlining your proposals
  • referring the matter to a family mediator in your area for alternative dispute resolution
  • applying to court for a child arrangements order (interim decisions may be required before the court has all of the information it needs to make a final order, so plan on several court appearances throughout the process)

If you already have a court order or other legally binding agreement in place regarding your child's arrangements and your partner is violating it, you can:

  • discuss the problem in person or communicate through mutual contact) to find a solution without involving the court and causing further conflict
  • Write to your partner through your solicitors, outlining some options for resolving the situation.
  • apply to the court to have the order enforced Your ex-partner could be fined, imprisoned, or have the order (which may include penalties) enforced by the court.

What if my child refuses to interact with the other parent?

In some cases, a child may refuse to communicate with the other parent. Contact should be encouraged unless there is a reason that could jeopardize their welfare. You could speak to your child or directly to the other parent to find out why they are refusing contact.

Finally, if the court orders contact, it must be followed. As a result, you as a parent must try to maintain contact in order to prevent the other parent from enforcing an existing court order.

Can I change the current order in place instead of discontinuing child contact?

Yes, a court order can be changed if circumstances have changed since the initial arrangement was made. Our child specialists can help you change any terms of an order and are available for consultations if needed.

If your child contact has been terminated and you require legal advice and assistance, please contact our child law specialists right away. Similarly, if you want to discontinue child contact, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible to ensure that your actions are protected by the benefit of legal counsel.

Our family law experts have assisted hundreds of parents on both sides of the aisle and are always available to advise and assist. If you have any questions about Child Arrangement Orders & Agreements or anything else, please call us at 0333 344 6302 or use our contact form. All initial inquiries are complimentary and without obligation.

If you are a father and your ex-partner is denying you access to your child or is refusing to acknowledge your paternity rights, our child specialists can help you arrange contact arrangements through Child Arrangement Orders & Agreements. To learn more about your rights as a father, please call us at 0333 344 6302 or email us at [email protected].

Parental Responsibility Is Removed

Parental responsibility continues until a child turns 18 or marries between the ages of 16 and 18. In reality, it empowers parents to make critical decisions about their children. For example, the child's name, medical treatment, and preferred school. It also allows a father to obtain information such as school reports and medical records.

What rights do absent parents have if they re-enter their child's life after a long absence?

It is a common misconception that once a parent (usually a father) leaves the family unit, they relinquish all rights and influence over how their children are raised. That is not the case, and even if a parent is absent for an extended period of time, they retain the right to influence how their children are raised. If a parent's name appears on the birth certificate, they are presumed to have Parental Responsibility under the Children's Act of 1989.

In short, whether a parent is absent for six months or six years, the rights of both the mother (via Parental Responsibility) and the father are unaffected. In many cases, contact is the most contentious issue, but with a little help from our family law experts at Blanchards Law, resolutions can be reached. Regardless of how long the absentee parent has been away, the child's welfare must be the top priority throughout the process. Both the courts and any legal representatives will always prioritize their own interests.

Can a father's right to see his child or parental responsibility be revoked?

'Yes,' a father's right to see his child can be revoked. However, this is only in very rare cases. A mother can petition the court for an order removing a father's parental responsibility and paternity rights. However, it is only granted in a few cases where the circumstances are exceptional. A father's parental responsibility/ paternity rights for a child will not be terminated if he has committed adultery or is in prison.

When the father's parental responsibility is not removed

When deciding whether a father should lose parental responsibility/ paternity rights for his child, the court's primary concern is the child's welfare. Parental responsibility will not be terminated under the following conditions:

  • When a child refuses to make contact
  • Where a father will not see his child
  • When a father refuses to pay child support
  • Where a father refuses to participate in his child's life or has 'disappeared'
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