When a marriage ends in divorce or separation, men often feel as if their rights are fairly limited or unrecognised by law, particularly when children are in the picture. There is no one rule that applies to every father’s rights to see their children. Individual circumstances are taken into account from both sides of a separated couple before any legal terms can be laid down.
So what kind of rights does a father have during, and following on from a divorce where his children are concerned? It all depends entirely on the father himself, his personal circumstances and on the relationship shared with the mother.
Currently in UK law, father’s rights, and even parental rights in a general sense, do not exist. However, any legal rights either parent shares over their children tend to fall under the umbrella term of ‘Parental Responsibilities’. Parental responsibility basically states that you have a duty to care for and protect your children. Where a father’s rights are concerned, this boils down to their right to share in decision making for the benefit of their child. This can include decisions regarding where they will be schooled, giving consent to medical treatments, choosing their religion and so on.
The main concern divorced fathers are faced with, whether or not they live a long distance from their children, is the amount of contact they can expect to get with their children. For child contact to be regular and straightforward, arrangements must be made with the consent of both parents. In some cases, men can feel as though the mother has automatic control over the amount of contact they may have with their child but thankfully, this type of conflict is in the minority and the law is progressing ever closer towards granting fathers equal access following a divorce.
Above all else, the children of a separation or marriage breakdown must be considered first, and this should mean that personal feelings between the mother and father should not enter into any decision that will affect them. There is no one pattern of care or child access that applies to every domestic situation but both parents must consider what it is they can realistically provide to their children as individuals. If one parent works longer hours than another, for instance, the parent that is able to see their child the most should never use this to wield control over the other. Both parents need to stay in civil communication with one another to ensure a straightforward process for the sake of the children.
Ultimately, the rights a father has in relation to his children varies from case to case. The outcome will always hang on whether or not they are able to support themselves and their children. Do you have a stable income? Do you live in safe and reasonable lodgings? Fathers who are in the midst of divorce, or those who are just coming out of one, should raise these questions with a legal professional to give themselves the best chance of gaining an equal share in parental rights.
The legal framework for family law in the UK is complex and wide-ranging. Only by having the expert assistance of a family law solicitor at your disposal can you be sure that your interests are being represented effectively. Contact us today to see how Wiseman Lee can help you with your situation.