Father’s rights

With Father’s Day approaching, it is often a time to celebrate the father/child relationship. However, for some it will merely highlight any issues with care arrangement for children if those are present.

What rights does a father have?

There is now a presumption in law that it is a child’s best interest to spend time with both parents unless the contrary can be shown.

It is important to consider whether you have something called ‘Parental Responsibility’ (‘PR’). This concept gives parents certain rights and responsibilities in relation to a child; for example, the right and responsibility to be involved in making important decisions such as schooling or healthcare.

Fathers who were married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth will automatically have PR. If you are not married, whether you have PR will depend on when the child is born:-

  • If before 1/12/2003 then PR is obtained by a Court Order or PR Agreement (reached between the parents and lodged at Court)
  • If after 1/12/2003 then PR is obtained by the above and additionally, by being named on the child’s birth certificate

The Court will consider a number of things when determining whether to make a Court Order to give a father Parental Responsibility – to include the level of commitment shown, the attachment between father and child and the father’s reasons for wishing to acquire PR.

How can I resolve any care arrangement issues?

It is almost always better to try and agree care arrangements for your children with the other parent. If you aren’t able to do this on your own then there are other ways to do this with the assistance of a professional, to include Mediation and Roundtable Meetings.

As a last resort, a Court application can be made, there are four categories of applications that are most common:-

  • ’Live with Order’ – specifies whom the child will live with and can specify whether that is one parent, or a child lives with both parents;
  • ’Spend time with’ – states how often, and on what terms, a child is to have contact with a person who doesn’t live with that child;
  • Prohibited Steps Order – prevents certain steps being taken in relation to the child, such as taking a child abroad, or changing school, without first getting the court’s permission;
  • Specific Issue Order – sets out precisely how a particular issue concerning the child, such as a medical issue, should be handled.

If you would like any further information or advice on the issues contained in this article, then please contact Victoria Strode.

Mogers Drewett

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