If you’re going through the process of separation, break-up, or divorce, then one of the first questions you’re probably going to ask is: How much access is a father entitled to?
If there are children involved when a relationship breaks down, there are a lot of things to consider.
So, How Often Can A Father See His Child?
When it comes to parental access (including fathers) in England and Wales, the standard legal position is that it’s in the best interest of the child (or children) to have a positive relationship with both parents.
And the term that’s relevant here 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.”
There is an exception, however. If the child or parent who has primary care of the child is likely to suffer significant harm if the child has a relationship with the parent they don’t live with.
Now, it’s worth noting that every case is different and will be considered on its own merit. So if the father has been absent for some time, then this might affect the amount of contact they are afforded initially.
It’s down to the discretion of the court, as the legislation simply provides the courts with the legal basis to work from, rather than giving outright guidelines.
So, this could mean that an absent father doesn’t have the automatic right to make contact or play a role in their child’s life…
The court will always look to ensure that both parents play a role in their child’s life wherever possible – and it’s important to note that.
The reality is that most conflicts in a break-up involving children relate to access – whether a father wants unsupervised visits, overnight stays, or anything else.
So, long story short, a father who has had no contact but has parental responsibility still has a right to see their child, as long as it’s in their best interests.
But that will be up to the discretion of the court and will depend on individual circumstances.
The welfare of the child will ALWAYS be the priority in the court’s eyes – and you MUST be aware of this before seeking out the advice of a legal professional.
What Is Reasonable Father Access?
Short answer – it depends.
As we’ve said, the legal position will always be that both parents should play a role in the child’s life, and the neutral position is for shared custody.
The reality, however, is that one parent will be responsible for the main care of the child, and the other parent will be required to pay child maintenance.
Child maintenance, also called child support, is money that’s used to help pay for your child’s living costs.
It’s paid by the parent who doesn’t ordinarily live with the child to the person who has the most day-to-day care of the child.
Essentially, you’ll be eligible to receive child maintenance payments if:
- You’re the main carer for the child
- The other parent doesn’t live with you as part of your family
Crucially, there are definitions of a child which are relevant here – either someone under 16 or someone under 20 as long as they’re in approved education or training.
Essentially, there is no one-size-fits-all rule for reasonable access.
It will depend on what you consider to be a suitable arrangement. This might mean both you and your former partner compromising.
Some parents might see their children every day, some only at weekends, some only on holidays, some just once a month. It will depend entirely on your circumstances and the arrangement you come to.
What About Legal Advice For Parents?
If you believe you require legal advice to proceed with your child maintenance case, it’s worth looking for solicitors in your area that assist with children’s matters.
Solicitors Near Me connect you free of charge with specialist family law solicitors.
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