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What are my rights as a father?

Published on 29 December 2016 | Modified on 6 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett
Child Solicitors

Most of the legal rights given to parents are by way of Parental Responsibility (PR). PR means ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property by law’. So a person with PR can make decisions, for example, about where the child lives, any medical treatment they require, their education such as what school they attend and any religious practices they take part in.

All mothers automatically have PR. As a father you will acquire PR providing:

  • you are married to the mother at the time of the birth.
  • you are not married at the time of the birth but you later marry the mother.
  • you are not married and you are a father of a child who was born on or after 1st December 2003 and you are registered on the birth certificate.
  • you are named in a Child Arrangements Order as having PR either because the child lives with you or spends time with you.
  • you enter into a PR agreement with the mother and register it at the Principal Registry of the Family Division of the High Court.
  • you obtain a court order giving you PR.

If you have are separated from the mother and you have PR, each of you can act independently to exercise this, however if you both can’t agree it can be a cause of conflict.

On a day-to-day basis a parent with PR can make decisions such as activities the child undertakes, how the child spends their time, attendance at routine medical appointments, parents’ evenings and school functions without notifying or consulting anyone else who has PR.

Previous cases tell us that someone with PR can make the following decisions for the child but these should be notified to the other person with PR.

  • Medical treatment in an emergency
  • Holiday bookings and taking the child abroad during school holidays or agreed contact time
  • Planned visits to a GP or nurse and the reasons for this
  • Change of address within the local area that would neither disrupt contact arrangements nor require a change of school.
  • Changes in living arrangements, including a change to those who are or will be living in the same household.

The following is a list of decisions that require all persons with PR for the child to make in consultation with one another:

  • Selection of the school that the child is to attend, including making school admission applications.
  • Applications for authorised absence from school and reasons for this.
  • The child’s living and contact arrangements during school holidays.
  • Planned medical and dental treatment beyond routine check ups.
  • Stopping of prescribed medication for the child.
  • The age at which the child should be able to watch videos recommended for children over the age of 12 and 18.
  • Change of the child’s surname.
  • Relocation to another part of England and Wales or overseas.

If no agreement can be reached, the issue will need to be taken to court to make a determination. At Poole Alcock our experienced lawyers can act quickly to get your issue before the courts and help you to exercise your rights as a father for the benefit of your child.

Call our Freephone number 01270 625478 (24/7, 7 days a week) and arrange to meet with an expert Family Law Solicitor for a free, no obligation, initial consultation at one of our offices. Or use the contact us link on our website and we’ll call you.

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