What happens to the children if we split up and we’re not married?

If you separate from your partner and are not married but do have children, it’s important to gain a detailed and accurate understanding of what your rights are as soon as possible.

Do you have parental responsibility?

In England and Wales, fathers have parental responsibility for their children if their name is on the birth certificate and the birth was registered after December 1st 2003. You will also have responsibility if there was no father listed before this date but you were added later, or if you have signed a Parental Responsibility Agreement. You may also be given a parental responsibility order by a court, or a Residence Order that says that the child can live with you. You will gain it if you go on to marry the mother, but you won’t automatically be given it if their mother dies and you are not married. If a civil partnership ends, you will get parental responsibility if there is an agreement or responsibility order from the court.

Are your rights being respected?

Parental responsibility gives you the opportunity to influence your child’s upbringing, even if they no longer live with you. This means having a say in issues like religion and medical treatment, though the mother will have the final say on issues regarding their day-to-day life. Fathers no longer living with their children will have a say on issues like changing schools, emigration, adoption and changing surnames as well as serious medical concerns. Your child may wish to make their own decisions on certain issues as they get older, which could mean your parental responsibility rights are reduced.

If you are experiencing difficulties in arranging contact with your child please contact us for advice. Call us on 01788 555042 or amandaweaver@newleafsolicitors.co.uk