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UKfamsol, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 560
Experience:  Very experienced specialist family law solicitor, qualifed in 1994
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I have a child of 8 and am unmarried to his father but we have

Customer Question

I have a child of 8 and am unmarried to his father but we have been living as a family for 8 years, apart from times apart when his father has been working and living abroad- he is actually a resident in another country. He has just ended the relationship- do I have any rights or does he have any obligation to me and our son?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  UKfamsol replied 4 years ago.
Hello and thanks for your question.

I need a bit more information first:-

1. Is the father named on your child's birth certificate?
2. What is the nationality of both of you?
3. If either of you are not British, do either of you have indefinite
leave to remain in the UK?
4. Is there any dispute between the two of you about which of you
your child should live with?
5. Has the father made any threats to take the child to where he
6. Which country is the father living in?
7. Even though the father no longer live in the UK, does he work for
a British company, or the British government in the country where
he lives?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hello. Fathers name on the birth certificate. We are both British and no dispute re where our son lives - with me. No threats by the father. He spends a lot of time in Australia working for his own Australian company . Thankyou
Expert:  UKfamsol replied 4 years ago.
Hello and thanks for the extra information.

It makes no difference that you are not married to the father of your child. You both have rights and obligations in relation to your child, as follows:

If there is no dispute that your son is to live with you, then there is no need to apply to court for a residence order.

As the father is named on the birth certificate, that means he has parental responsibility for your son. All mothers automatically have parental responsibility. Fathers can acquire parental responsibility in various ways, one of which is to be named on the children's birth certificate as the father.

The effect of a father having parental responsibility means that he is entitled to be consulted about all major decisions in the child's life, and if he does not consent, then you must obtain leave of the court. A major decision would be eg if you wanted to change the child's name, or emigrate, or change the child's school. You do not need to consult the father about day-to-today decisions eg what time the child goes to bed, what he is to wear, or have for his tea etc.

Having parental responsibility means that the father is entitled to be kept informed of any medical issues, and to receive a copy of the child's school reports - unless there is a good reason why not eg if he was harassing you and obtaining the school reports or medical records meant he could harass you more.

With regard to contact with his son, it is government policy that a child should have contact with the parent that he does not live with unless there is very good reason why not. However, exactly how that contact should work in practice depends on the particular circumstance in each case. Contact needs to be arranged so that it is beneficial for the child ie does not disrupt the child's life as far as possible, and in a way that the child is safe and happy and properly looked after (if away from the parent that he lives with.) In your case, your son's contact with his father might be via telephone, Skype, email, facebook etc with maybe yearly face-to-face contact when his father visits the UK? And you could specify whether you felt that that face-to-face contact should be supervised or unsupervised, and if supervised who by, where, for how long etc.

If your proposed contact arrangement is disputed, then either one of you can apply to the family court for a contact order. Your obligation is to promote the contact between your son and his father, as long as it is in your child's best interests. ie the child should not - as far as possible - be made to be affected by end of the relationship between you and his father, as he is still entitled to have a relationship with his father, even if the two of you no longer want to be together.

The above (parental responsibility, contact and residence) is all covered by the Children Act 1989.

Quite separately from whatever is decided between you or ordered by the court under the Children Act 1989, your son's father has an obligation to pay child support under the Child Support Act 1991.

You can either negotiate between you what he is to pay - see

or you can apply to the CSA.

As the child' s father lives in Australia, the Australian CSA may be able to help. Here's the link:-

Alternatively, you can apply to your local magistrates for a maintenance order, which once granted if your ex still does not pay, can enforced in the Australian court, as a results of agreement between the UK and various countries including Australia under the REMO regulations, (Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders). The REMO unit deals with the foreign court on your behalf.

If you click on this link and scroll down, you will see how to apply to enforce a maintenance order.

The Reunite charity offers (amongst other services ) a specialist family mediation service for families that are living apart, so if you need any help in negotiating either contact or child support, ring them! Tel no: 0116 2556 234. They are really helpful.

I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck.

I hate to specify - but please rate my answer ok, good or excellent - or I get nothing for my time!!! (so the website keeps all).)

Thanks and best wishes....

Expert:  UKfamsol replied 4 years ago.
Hello again.

I see that you looked at my answer yesterday - but you have not accepted it.

Is there anything you feel I did not cover in my answer?

Or is there anything you would like further clarification on?

Let me know! I'll do my best!

(I'm away for a few days from today - back Saturday - so I will answer any follow-up question from you as soon as I get back. )

best wishes....