LEGAL EAGLE: I’m worried my children’s dad will take them away from me
They haven’t taken any action yet, but they have notified the father of my children - who has never been involved in their life before - and now he wants to see them again. I am worried he is going to take them away from me - what can I do?’
As the birth mother, you have something called “Parental Responsibility” which means you have the legal rights, duties, responsibility and authority a parent has for their children - for example, you are able to make decisions on their behalf such as providing consent to medical treatment.
The father has not been involved in their life before - does this mean he is not named on their birth certificates? For the children’s father to have Parental Responsibility he must either: be married to you, be named on the children’s birth certificates as their father, have entered into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with you or have a Court Order stating he has Parental Responsibility.
If you are the only parent with Parental Responsibility, you are the only parent with legal rights and duties for your children.
If he wanted to apply to the court for an order to give him Parental Responsibility to try and obtain legal rights as a parent, the court would only grant this if he had first shown commitment to his children, as well as other factors.
As he has not been involved in the children’s lives until recently, the court may be reluctant to grant this.
However, if he has Parental Responsibility by being named on their birth certificates, then he does have the same parental legal rights and duties that you have.
This does not mean however that he is entitled to "take them away” from you as you also have Parental Responsibility.
He may choose to apply to the court for an order to spend time with the children or to care for them. In this situation, we advise that you seek legal advice to obtain a Court Order called a Prohibited Steps Order in order to prevent him from removing the children from your care, or a seek a Child Arrangements Order to secure their placement living with you.
If you would like further advice, please get in touch with us at Ben Hoare Bell LLP on 0191 565 3112, or email [email protected]