What is the legal position regarding parental access in England and Wales? The position is that it is in a child’s best interests to have a positive relationship with both parents. In this article, we look at how long does a father have to be absent to lose his rights in the UK?
However, there is an exception. If the child or the parent who has primary care is likely to suffer significant harm if the child has a relationship with the parent they don’t live with.
The key legal terminology for fathers is parental responsibility.
This is where a parent has “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority which by a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.”
What Does Parental Responsibility Mean?
It means that a parent is recognised as having the responsibility to make day-to-day decisions when the child is in their care. Plus important decisions along with all parties who have parental responsibility.
Interestingly, the mother of a child automatically has parental responsibility from the day they are born. While a father does not.
So, How Does A Father Gain Parental Responsibility?
- They are registered on the child’s birth certificate as the father. As long as the child was born after 1 December 2003
- The father was married or in a civil partnership with the mother on the day the child was born
- The father enters into a parental responsibility with the mother
- Or the father obtains a court order that grants him parental responsibility
No matter how much time a father spends with their child, whether it’s every day or never. A father who has parental responsibility will retain it unless there is an order from the court that removes it – but this is incredibly rare.
Can A Parent Lose Parental Responsibility?
Each case is treated on its own individual circumstances. So if a father has been absent from a child’s life for a significant amount of time, then it might be a slow process to reintroduce them.
For any absentee parents, the situation isn’t always straightforward.
The legislation is there to give the courts a legal basis on which to work from. It it doesn’t give an absent father any right to make contact or have an influence in their life.
Major conflicts usually arise around access to a child, whether that’s supervised, unsupervised, overnight stays, or anything else. This is also usually an issue because, in most cases, it’s determined through either a court order or mediation.
The reality is that whether a parent is absent for 6 weeks, 6 months, or 6 years, the rights of both parents via parental responsibility don’t change.
In fact, while access to a child is the main issue. When it comes to the breakdown of a relationship or a fractious former relationship. Resolutions can be achieved with the help of legal professionals.
The welfare of the child will ALWAYS be the priority in the court’s eyes. So it’s worth considering if there are any issues in addition to the absence of a father as well.
Both sides of legal representation AND the court will always act in the child’s best interests. It doesn’t matter whether the father has been absent for a long time or barely any time.
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