BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: Panorama  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Panorama
A Father's rights
As the law stands at the moment, an unmarried father - even one in a stable relationship - has next to no legal rights over his child.

Parental responsibility is a legal term that gives the parent legal rights, responsibilities and the ability to make decisions on behalf of the child.

However, the number of people who have parental responsibility is limited to the mother and father if they were married at the time of the birth or have done since.

If the couple are not married, then only the mother has parental responsibility.

This means that the father has very few rights.

No consent

The most important factor of not having parental responsibility is that without it, the father cannot stop his child from being taken out of the country by the mother.

He would not be allowed to sign a consent form for medical operations or be able to have a say in the child's religious upbringing.

Technically - an unmarried father cannot even sign a school trip consent form.

The solution for unmarried fathers, if they don't want to tie the knot, lies in the law.

In order to officially be recognised as a guardian of his own child, the father needs to get hold of a parental responsibility agreement. This is a form which is available from the courts or by downloading it from the

Future welfare

Once the form has been filled in, with consent from his partner, the father takes the form to court and will be granted parental responsibility status.

This will allow him to have a say in the future welfare of their child - and means the mother cannot leave the country.

Even if the mother objects to such an agreement, a father can apply to the court to have this status given to him.

Panorama logo
 VOTE RESULTS
Would giving unmarried couples equal legal rights undermine marriage?

Yes
 39.93% 

No
 60.07% 

2775 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


Case Studies

Poll

The Law


Links to more Panorama stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes