A dad’s right to enjoy Father’s Day

19th June 2015

Father's Day this Sunday, is a time for children to celebrate the important role that Dads play in their lives.

But with almost 48 per cent of babies in this country now being born out of wedlock, an expert in family law explores how the rights of married and unmarried fathers are different when it comes to the law.

"Whatever role a father plays in the lives of their children, when it comes to parental responsibility (PR), marriage is one of the main factors," explains Hannah Nicholls of Midlands based solicitors, Higgs & Sons.

"The Children Act 1989 states that where a child's father and mother were married to each other at the time of birth, they each have parental responsibility for the child. However, where the father and mother were not married to each other at the time of birth, only the mother has parental responsibility for the child.

"It may seem unequal, perhaps even unfair, but that is the reality in terms of the law."

Hannah advises that this need not be the end of the matter for fathers in these circumstances.

"An unmarried father can still acquire PR in a number of ways. If the child was born after 1 December 2003 and the father is named on the birth certificate, then once registration has taken place he will have gained PR. Marrying the mother of the child will also automatically give the father parental responsibility as will entering into Parental Responsibility Agreement with the child's mother.

"In more contentious circumstances where the mother and father disagree, then a court order can be sought which can grant parental responsibility to the father."

Though the final option may be a last resort, Hannah advises that without PR, unmarried fathers could find themselves in a position whereby they are unable to make important decisions regarding their child.  Lack of PR may also affect their ability to make applications to the court concerning the child if necessary, such as any order for Child Arrangements.

"The make-up of the modern day family doesn't always reflect the traditional idea of married parents with 2.4 children, but fathers still have a key role to play in the upbringing and development of their children," concludes Hannah.

"Father's day is a great celebration of family life whatever their circumstances, and Dads who have taken steps to ensure they have rights as a parent will be able to enjoy the day with their children even more."

Should anyone require more information about PR or reaching PR agreements/applying for an order then contact the Higgs & Sons' family team on 0845 111 5050.


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