A Father’s Friend – Top 10 Tips for Separated Fathers

A Father’s Friend was founded by Shane Paul in 2021. The goal for the company is to make the whole process of child arrangements in the family court more fair, straightforward and as stress-free as possible. A Father’s Friend shares these 10 tips for separated fathers.

1. Parental Rights!

If you are on the birth certificate, then you have rights and decisions that you can make about your child. If you are not on the birth certificate and you believe you are the father, then you can make a simple application through the family court to obtain parental rights, which is the first step to then applying for a child arrangement order.

2. Are you having a disagreement around whether you are the biological father?

If so, please be aware that if you undertake a private DNA test and then you go to court, this will not be recognised or accepted by the family court. It is best to make a parental responsibility application whereby the courts will then instruct an independent DNA test, typically carried out by CAFCASS and sometimes will be free of charge.

3. Do you find it difficult to have regular set access to your child?

If you find yourself in a position where your contact is infrequent, or plans are changed on a regular basis by the resident parent and it is affecting your child and the relationship you have with them, then you can do something about it by applying to the court for a set access plan called a child arrangement order.

4. Do disagreements around money effect access to your child?

The Child Maintenance Service and the family courts are not intrinsically linked. When it comes to paying for your child and having access to them, these are treated as different entities. If there is a dispute around maintenance payments, these should not impact on any of the child arrangements you have in place as the family court is not interested in money, just the welfare of the child and they strongly believe in children having regular access to both parents, as long as they are safe to do so.

5. Are you being threatened or blackmailed about seeing your child?

Do you find yourself in a position where, if you are asked to do something for the resident parent, that it can come with a vailed threat that if you don’t comply, your access to your child will be restricted or stopped? Family courts do not take kindly to erratic or disruptive behaviour around the child having access to regular contact with both parents. Children should not be ‘weaponised’ in disputes and where possible they should maintain the contact they are used to having. Applying for a child arrangement order through the family court can assist in avoiding such situations in the future.

6. Is your ex-partner in a new relationship with a person you have evidenced concerns about?

When most relationships breakdown, often new partners become involved who then have regular access to your child and can end up living in the same house. This can sometimes become a fraught situation and in some cases the new partner may demonstrate behaviours that are not in your child’s best interest. If an evidenced situation does occur, you can apply to the family court for a prohibited steps order which, if the court decides, can set out clear instructions that this person cannot be around your child.

7. Has your ex-partner moved away and you are no longer aware of where your child lives?

If you find yourself in a situation where you no longer know where your child lives or have never known the exact location and you have parental rights, you can make an application to the family court for a location order. This means the courts will track the location of your child. If you were to make such an application, it may well be worth also applying for a child arrangement order at the same time so you can have an order in place for regular access.

8. Are you in a disagreement with your ex-partner about medical treatments for your child?

After the recent pandemic, it became clear that some parents (separated or not) had differing views around the vaccine, and this became more apparent with separated families. The resident parent may wish to have the child vaccinated and you may not; what can you do in a situation such as this? You can apply to the family court for a specific issues order with regards to medical treatment and decisions. This order, if approved, would mean that both parents would need to agree or go back to court for a judge to decide.

9. Is your ex-partner thinking of relocating abroad or moving your child’s school without your permission?

In both instances you, as a parent, should be consulted. However, sometimes the resident parent thinks they are allowed to make these decisions. This is not the case – you have a right to be consulted and you can apply to the family court for a prohibited steps order outlining that any decisions around change of schools or relocating abroad are with your consultation and consideration.

10. Do you have a current child arrangement order in place, but your ex-partner is not adhering to it?

Are you in a position where you have been to court and have a current child arrangement order in place, however your ex-partner keeps failing to adhere to the terms of this agreement? You can take action to address this by applying to the court for an enforcement order. If the judge decides that your ex-partner has been unreasonable in not upholding the court order, they may be asked to meet your costs for having to come back to court. Essentially, a child arrangement means that it has more consequences than an informal agreement, therefore it can save you less pain and disruption moving forward.

Should you need help with your child arrangement order and navigating the family court, A Father’s Friend is an alternative to using a solicitor as we offer transparent pricing by offering fixed fee services. To find out more please visit https://www.afathersfriend.co.uk/

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