Are you a single parent?
Charlotte Friedman is a family therapist who supports and advises women after separation or divorce. Charlotte has a degree in psychology, a Master’s degree in family therapy and 25 years of experience as a barrister and judge practising family law. She specialises in situations in which children are involved.
Q. I am pregnant and have just ended what was an abusive relationship with my baby’s father. What are his rights regarding the baby? And do I have to put his name on the birth certificate?
A. Well done for ending an abusive relationship so that you can concentrate on your pregnancy. You are not legally obliged to put the father’s name on the birth certificate. If you are not married, the father will not automatically have what is called, Parental Responsibility for your child. Parental Responsibility is defined as, ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.’
If the father had parental responsibility he would need to be consulted on education, health, religion and other major decisions in your child’s life.
He will only get this if you jointly register the birth, or you agree to him having parental responsibility or if you don’t agree, he goes to court and gets a parental responsibility order.
You will need to wait and see if he pursues a relationship with your baby, but if he wants to and you do not consent he will need to apply for PR and for contact to your baby and the court will take into account anything that you have to say about him and his involvement with your child.
Q. I’m 17 weeks pregnant and single and wonder how it will be for the baby with just me – I worry that I won’t be enough.
A. I understand your worries and those worries are often made worse by all the hormones racing round your body and the tiredness that comes with pregnancy. What your baby will need is love and care and the fact that you are worrying now that you won’t be enough, is a good indication that you are already putting your baby’s interests way up there. It sounds like that is one lucky baby. If you feel alone, there are often pregnancy classes in your neighbourhood, or your local hospital where you will meet other mothers. There are also networks locally for single mothers. Ask at your GP’s surgery or look on the internet. Make use of them and your community will grow. You are truly not the only one in your position, although it may feel like it. A bit of effort now to find others through local groups will reap rewards for you. Remember, you may need others to support you, but your baby only needs you.
Q. I want to take my little one on holiday for a week. Do I need permission from his dad to take him out of the country?
A. The answer to this depends on your circumstances. You will need to look at the following options and see, which set of circumstances, applies to you.
If you are not married or have never been married to your child’s father and he does not have Parental Responsibility, you do not need his permission.
However, if he has Parental Responsibility either by Court Order or because you jointly registered your child’s birth or you agreed that he could have it, then you will need to seek his permission.
If you have a residence order you can take your child out of the country for up to one month without consent.
If you were married or are married to you child’s father then he will automatically have Parental Responsibility and you will need his permission.
I’m sorry if it seems complicated but there is no one size fits all answer. Good luck.