Fathers Rights and Responsibilities if Not on Birth Certificate
Family structures can be very complicated when it comes to the interpretation of the rights of a father over a child. This is especially so when the father is excluded from the birth certificate. This is because a biological father is not necessarily considered to be a child’s legal father unless certain statutory thresholds are achieved. A father’s name may be excluded from the child’s birth certificate for several reasons. These reasons may include divorce, separation, missing father, perceived irresponsibility, or an intent by the mother to have them excluded. Regardless of the reason, it is essential to know that excluding the father’s name from the birth certificate has some negative implications on the child. This article addresses the rights of a father whose name is excluded from the birth certificate in the UK.
What Parental Rights and Responsibility is About?
An individual is considered to be a legal father if they have parental right and responsibility over a child. Parental responsibility is a legal framework used in the UK, also referred to as parental responsibilities in some regions within the UK. It refers to the rights and responsibilities of a parent towards a child. While parental responsibility comes naturally for mothers, fathers must be listed on the birth certificate or get married to the mother to have it.
But how vital is Parental responsibility? It entitles the legal parent with the capacity to make critical decisions is it pertains to the life of the child in question. Such decisions include;
- Decide on the child’s academic life, including the type of education they should get and where they should attend their school.
- Deciding on the child’s name, their registration, and changing of names where applicable.
- Assigning a guardian to the child, in the case of death of the parents.
- Consenting medical treatments or surgical operations of the child.
- Consenting the child’s religion before they become of age to choose for themselves.
- Reviewing the child’s medical records.
- Consenting going for vacations to foreign countries or with other organizations.
- Representation of the child in court proceedings.
Fathers Rights if Not on Birth Certificate
Even though parental responsibility is not automatic to biological fathers, they are not completely excluded from certain rights over the child. For example, fathers whose names are excluded from the child’s birth certificate, are entitled to the following rights;
Whether a father has access to the child or not, they are still obliged to take care of the financial needs of the child. Biological fathers are allowed to cover all the costs in the life of their child. Children can also be included in their father’s health insurance plans as well as share in the benefits of social security of the father in the event of the father’s death. However, child maintenance is an entirely separate function from parental responsibility.
Child Custody or Residence Order
Upon an agreement with the child’s mother, the father can be allowed to live with the child. The father can also apply for Child Custody through the court to allow him to reside with the child in his premises.
Through the ‘child agreement order’, which is also known as the contact order, the father can regularly have direct access to the child. This is applied only if there is no possibility of processing an agreement between the two parents.
Court Order for Particular Issues
A father has the right to file a petition in the contest against specific issues as it pertains to the upbringing of his child. For example, a father may contend against the changing of the child’s name. If the case is ruled to his favour, then the mother is obliged to consult the child’s father before proceeding with the process of name changing. The father must be involved in any important decision to the child’s life, if not involved, then they have a right to file a petition to oppose the mother’s decisions.
Interdict or Prohibited Steps Order
This order prohibits the mother from undertaking some activities or events with the child or taking the child to certain places without the full consent of the father. In this case, the father must be involved in deciding the kind of activity the child should undertake, and the kind of places the child visits. The mother would be in the wrong if she makes such decisions without involving the father or without the father’s consent.
Applying for Parental Responsibility
To have full rights, responsibilities, duties, and authority over a child, unmarried fathers should make applications for parental responsibility. Parental responsibility will give them a chance to be more involved in their child’s life and gain rights to make important decisions for the child. This is done through various ways which vary with different regions within the UK.
Fathers whose names are excluded from the birth certificate in Scotland can get parental responsibility through the following ways;
- Marriage with the child’s mother.
- Court order on parental rights and responsibilities over a child.
- Signing a parental responsibility agreement form and registering it in court together with the mother.
- Appointment as guardian upon the death of the mother.
- Residence order by the court
The above applies for children born before 4th May 2006. For those born after this date, fathers have additional thresholds that validate their attaining of parental responsibility. These include;
- Joint registering of the child’s birth with the mother. Here, the father is officially recognised as the child’s custodian and gains rights over the child.
- Reregistration of the child’s birth. There must be proof that you are the child’s biological father. A DNA test could be necessary for verifying the biological connection of the father and the child.
Wales and England
For fathers of children born before 1st December 2003 in Wales and England, the following are the thresholds to be met in attaining of parental responsibility;
- Getting married to the mother.
- Obtaining a parental responsibility court order.
- Signing and recording a parental responsibility agreement in a court together with the mother.
- Residence order from the court.
- Appointment to the guardianship of the child in the event of the death of the mother.
The following thresholds apply to fathers of children born after 1st December 2003, in addition to the requirements mentioned above;
- Reregistration of birth.
- Joint registration of birth by the two parents
The family law regulating parental responsibility in Northern Ireland has changed since 15th April 2002. The changes require fathers to reregister their child’s birth with proof that he is the biological father of the child. These changes also require fathers to jointly register the child’s birth for parental responsibility.
Additionally, unmarried fathers in Northern Ireland can have parental responsibility by meeting the following thresholds;
- Getting married to the mother
- Having a parental responsibility court order.
- Having a residence order.
- Appointment to the guardianship of the child upon the death of the mother
- Signing and recording of a parental rights and responsibility agreement form.
Parental Responsibility Petition
Once a petition has been filed in the court by the father seeking parental responsibility, the court takes into account several factors before making a ruling. Such factors include;
- Paternity. This is proof that the parental responsibility applicant is the natural father of the child in question. The court will enquire from the child’s mother on whether the father in question is the child’s biological father. If she disagrees with the application, the court orders DNA tests to be done to get the full proof of paternity.
- The devotion of the father to the child.
- Father-child attachment.
- The purpose of application
- The mental capacity of the father to undertake parental obligations. Here the court may also examine the father’s criminal records. The court will not grant a mentally unstable person the rights to parenting.
Any ruling on parental responsibility will be made to the child’s advantage. If the application is accepted and ruled in favour of the father, he gains full rights to parental responsibility. This places the father at an equal position as one who has been there since the child’s birth. He gains the right to any decision pertaining to the child’s life and any future plans for the child.