Father’s Custody Rights (Child Arrangement Orders for Fathers)
Updated: Mar 19
In the past, mothers were often considered as sole custodian parents, and child custody was seen as a mother’s right and not a fathers right. According to a census conducted by the United States Census Bureau, only 17.5% of custodial parents are fathers.
However, as the times are changing now, the world is starting to realize that giving the child’s custody solely to the mother is not always in the best interest of the child and fathers can also have a major role to play in theory child’s development, just as much as a mother can.
If you’re a father seeking full child custody but have no idea where to start from, you’ve found the right guide. In this article, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about Child Arrangement Orders, how a father can apply for it, and give some tips to improve your chances of winning the case. Let’s get started!
Parental Responsibility and Child Arrangements
Both parents have equal parental responsibility for their child. This means both fathers and mothers are equally recognized by the court for having all rights and duties concerning their child.
If the child's parents are not married, the mother still automatically has parental responsibility, however, if the father has his name on the child’s birth certificate, he will share the equal parental responsibility with the mother and can apply to the Court for a Child Arrangement Order to get the child’s custody.
What is a Child Arrangement Order?
A Child Arrangement Order is an order that regulates who a child will live, spend time, or have contact with.
If the child’s parents are separating or getting a divorce and can’t agree on who the child should live or spend time with, either of them can apply for a Child Arrangement Order. Child Arrangement Orders can replace Residence Orders and Contact Orders, meaning if the father already has any of these orders, he doesn’t need to re-apply.
What are the Father’s Custody Rights in the UK?
According to English Law, both parents share equal responsibility to look after their children. Likewise, a child also holds a right to have a healthy and continuing relationship with both parents.
Following separation, it can get incredibly difficult for the parents to reach an agreement regarding the custody and contact of the child.
Who has Father's Parental Responsibility Rights to a Child?
Fathers have the same parental rights as a mother as long as the father's name is on the child’s birth certificate or if you have acquired the parental responsibility through the court.
Father’s rights can be practiced by those who:
· Are married to the child’s mother
· Have their name written on the birth certificate
· Signed a Parental Responsibility Agreement
· Granted a parental responsibility or residence order from the court
If you don’t have parental responsibility and want to acquire it, or trying to reach an agreement with your former partner regarding the child custody rights and contacts, you can speak to us right now.
Can A Mother Stop a Father from Contacting the Child?
According to UK law, the responsibility of taking care of the child rests on both parents, hence a mother can not stop the father from contacting his child. Similarly, when the child is in the father’s custody, the mother can not be prevented from contacting the child.
Nonetheless, if the contact is likely to be detrimental to the well-being of the child, the mother can stop the father from seeing the child, and vice versa.
Here are some reasons to stop the child contact with father:
· Exposure to the mistreatment or abuse
· Exposure to physical violence
· Any kind of drug or substance abuse
· Child’s exposure to the criminal activity
· Situations that limit the child's basic rights such as education
If the mother can prove that any of these conditions are true, the court will immediately ban the father from contacting the child, and vice versa.
Types of Child Arrangement Order for Fathers?
There are two main types of child custody for dads, or any parent; Full Custody, and Joint Custody:
Full custody, also referred to as sole custody, is where one of the parents takes the sole responsibility to care for the child and provide a roof for the child’s safety.
Although the court prefers for both parents to have shared child custody, it’s is possible for a a parent to obtain full custody of the child if they can prove that they are a better parent and letting the child stay with only them is in the child's best interest.
Joint or Shared custody is a type of arrangement in which parents share physical or legal custody of the child and equally contribute to the care of the child.
Joint custody is considered to be an ideal arrangement for both parents and the child involved due to the following benefits:
· Both parents have equal rights to see the child
· Both parents have the right to make important decisions about child
· The child has more security and stability
· The child is able to build a healthy relationship with both parents
· An unmarried father can see their children and be more involved with them
Some Key Factors Considered by the Court
If you want to have full custody you have to present some persuasive evidence as to how this new arrangement is in the best interest of your child.
Here are some important factors (not all, but all factors are listed in the welfare checklist), that a court will consider while determining if a father should get a full custody right of the child or not:
The first and most important requirement for a father seeking a child’s custody is to establish his paternity. Father may acknowledge paternity by signing the child’s birth certificate or admitting that he’s a father during a paternity proceeding in the court. If you’re an unmarried father and the mother of the child acknowledges you in court, the child’s paternity will not be questioned. If the mother refuses to acknowledge you as a father, you can seek court’s intervention to order a DNA test of the child to prove that you’re the biological father.
Bonding with the Child
The second most important thing the court will take into consideration is the father’s bonding with the child. You need to be proactive and prepared to answer all sorts of questions regarding your relationship with your child during the court proceeding. The court can also ask questions about past visitation, so it’s important to establish a regular visitation schedule that allows you to spend as much parenting time as you did before separation.
Child's Relationship with the Mother
If the mother is the primary caretaker of the child, the court will be reluctant to disturb the child custody arrangement which is already in place and working. The court will only consider altering the child custody arrangement in the favour of the father of the child is in danger. For example, the mother is using drugs or inflicting emotional or physical harm to the child.
How to Apply for Child Arrangement Order?
The first step in applying for a Child Arrangement Order is to attend a “Mediation Information Assessment Meeting” (MIAM). The purpose of this meeting is to establish whether or not both parties can make an agreement, rather than taking the matter to the court.
In the case you don’t reach an agreement regarding your child, you’ll have to apply to the court using the C100 application form along with all the relevant details. Here is complete guide on filling C100 form.
If you choose Court Help Ltd, we will prepare the application on your behalf, draft all the papers and lodge your application in court.
Once your application is submitted, the court will notify the other parent and also the CAFCASS, who essentially represents the child’s interest at the court, and check whether the child’s welfare is at risk.
How Do Child Arrangement Orders Work?
The first hearing usually takes place 5-6 weeks after submitting the application, in which the court usually focuses on the key issues of dispute and recommends the next steps to be taken.
If necessary, the court will order further hearings to present evidence, statements, or can appoint a CAFCASS officer to monitor the case and submit a report in the court to assist the court in making a final decision.
The court may also issue Interim Child Arrangements Order which is a temporary order of putting the child in the care of the father or making sure that the father is in contact with the child while further court hearings take place.
The Court's Final Decision
The final decision of the court is always made in the best interests of the child in light of all the evidence and report submitted by the CAFCASS officer.
Please keep in mind that courts are less likely to alter the existing custody arrangements if they seem to work well.
How Long Does a Child Arrangement Order Last?
The Child Arrangement order usually lasts until the child reaches the age of 16, unless the court specifies otherwise. After that child will have the right to decide how much contact he wants to have with the non-resident parent.
How Can We Help?
Here at Court Help Ltd, we have a strong team of Child Law Specialists who have extensive experience in handling all types of child custody and child visitation cases.
We’ll help you through all the documentation and paperwork and point you in the right direction to win your child custody battle and get the results you’re hoping for.
We pride ourselves on reuniting hundreds of fathers with their children through legal access and shared child custody for fathers. If you’re also being deprived of your father’s rights and looking for a strong team who can prepare you to fight for the father’s custody rights, then call us today at 07375757510 or drop an email at help@inCourt.co.uk
Please do note this article is NOT legal advice and should NOT be treated as legal advice.