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What rights does a father have following divorce or separation?

What rights does a father have? It’s a question we hear regularly from our clients, many of whom are worried that their divorce will leave them with little or no contact with their children.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to make child arrangements after divorce and answer the question which concerns divorcing dads across the country: what rights does a father have?


What rights does a father have: parental responsibility

If you’re wondering ‘what rights does a father have’, it may be a good idea to also look at our article on parental responsibility, in order to understand whether or not you have it.

In fact, the answer to the question ‘what rights does a father have’ largely depends on whether or not the father has parental responsibility for the child.

Those with parental responsibility have more legal rights. If a father has parental responsibility, the other parent must include them in important decisions about a child’s life. For example, if one party wants to move abroad with the child, anyone else with parental responsibility must agree in writing.

It is important to note here that it may be possible to apply for parental responsibility, if you don’t already have it.

What rights does a father have


What rights does a father have: making child arrangements with your spouse

What rights does a father have to see his child? A father has just as much right to see the child as the mother.

If possible, it’s always best to aim to agree with the other parent who the child will live with and how often the other parent will have contact with the child (and what form this contact will take). This is known as a ‘family-based’ arrangement.

For some families, this agreement can be relatively ‘fluid’, with arrangements for contact made on a weekly basis, when the parents are looking at their schedule for the week ahead. For others, this casual arrangement won’t work and stricter contact days and times need to be agreed.

If both parents can agree on how child arrangements will work following the breakdown of their relationship, the question ‘what rights does a father have’ will probably never come up.

If, however, an agreement cannot be reached, this is when the dad will often begin to research ‘what rights does a father have’, to find out where they stand legally.

Before involving the courts, it may be that mediation or Collaborative Law can help parents to agree child arrangements following separation.


What rights does a father have: how do the courts decide on child arrangements?

If you and the other parent cannot reach an agreement, it may be necessary to go to court to apply for a Child Arrangements Order. This court order will say where the child will live and the contact arrangements for the other parent.

When making a decision regarding child arrangements, a judge will not ask ‘what rights does a father have’ but rather ‘what is in the best interests of the child’.

For the majority of children, it will be in their best interests to maintain a relationship with both parents.

Many father’s (and mother’s) assume that because they have parental responsibility for their child, they have an automatic right to see and spend time with their child. However, this is not the case.

So, what rights does a father have? Parental responsibility (and whether or not a father has it) plays an important part. However, after divorce or separation, it is really what is in the best interests of the child that will take priority, with regards to where a child will live and how much contact they will have with the other parent.


Other articles that may be of interest to you?

How long does a divorce take?

What is the divorce process?

When is decree absolute granted in a divorce?

Decree Nisi – What does this mean in a divorce?

What are the first steps to divorce?

Is a cheap divorce really possible?

What is a managed divorce?


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you with an amicable divorce

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to divorce, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice on amicable divorce

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

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31st January 2020

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