In the UK, almost half of children are now born to unmarried parents which significantly increased in the recent years, escalating enquires regarding the rights of unmarried parents and most commonly about the rights of unmarried fathers.

This article breaks down certain aspects about the right and responsibilities an unmarried fathers have and what procedures can be approached in regard to the custody of the child(ren).

Parental rights and responsibilities
In section 3 of the Children Act 1989 where parental responsibility is defined as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.”

Briefly, an unmarried father can have about the same parental responsibility as a married father can. The mother of the child automatically has parental responsibilities, and the father can obtain these responsibilities by attaining one of the following:
1. The father in question obtains a Parental Responsibility Order
2. He enters into a formal Parental Responsibility Order with the mother of the child, which will be filed at court.
3. He (the father of the child) is jointly registered the birth with the mother and his name is on the birth certificate and the child is born after 1st December 2003.

The parties involved must attempt mediation before making an application, unless the application for the court order is urgent.

What is mediation? Mediation is a process that allows negotiation between two families regarding the future arrangements for the children with the help of a neutral third party. Mediation is recommended when the two parents find it hard to agree.

Custody rights
The father can apply for a Child Arrangements Order. This means when the application is granted this would set out when the child is meant to spend time/live with the father and if it is in the child’s best interest to have contact with both parents, unless there are circumstance to the contrary.
A father is also able to apply for a ‘joint live with’ order to the court. If granted, the child would set to live with both parents.
If the father wishes to be the main carer and have the child live with him, he needs to make an application to the court.

“How do I take my child abroad if I am unmarried and/or separated?”
If the father wishes to take his child(ren) abroad on holiday, he must obtain a Permission from everyone with Parental Responsibility or a court order.
For further information on the aspects of Family laws and Child Arrangement orders or if you want to apply for a joint to live with order then contact us on 01983 632006 or email