Being the father, birth certificates and mother and baby units

(83 Posts)
Samreed Tue 04-Mar-14 22:24:58

Hi. Not sure if this is the right place but I'm at a bit of loss.

My ex and I had a beautiful baby late last year. Just before the birth she ended our relationship. Obviously reasons for this are important but since we're both biased and we both look at the situation differently all you would get is my version, and that wouldn't really help. Regardless, the reasons, in my opinion, were petty and easily overcome with better communication and understanding on both sides. And sometimes we're all guilty of being bad at that.

Anyway, I was there just after the birth (she had moved to her mothers house some months before - a good 6 hour drive) and I was there for the first week and have gone back every month since then, as often as time, etc, allows.

I have been as involved as I can be, I love this little baby as much as I can, I have been supporting her financially, and I want to be a part of her life. I have another child, from a previous marriage, and have been a loving caring father to them for the last 8 years. So I'm not new to this.

My ex was diagnosed with PND very soon after the birth. Looking back on the whole pregnancy I can understand this, her behaviour was often erratic and she was very nervous (she's an older mum at 41, with a history of depression). Sadly PND was almost expected.

Recently her PND has been getting worse and worse, despite increased meds, etc. I almost speak to her mum daily now to keep up to date on her status and of course my baby's well being. Her doctors have now advised that she and the baby be taken into care at a mother and baby unit. Having looked into this, and considering it a last resort, both her mum and I agree this is best for both her and baby.

But here's the thing. She registered our baby's birth and didn't name me as the father on the birth certificate. I still don't understand why. There was no violence in the relationship, no abuse of any kind, and I was genuinely excited and keen on welcoming this little life into the world. But with the PND I haven't ever broached this, something that bothers me a great deal, for fear of making things worse.

My concerns now are obvious. When she's admitted I have no legal responsibility over the child, I won't be able to make any decisions about her care, and if heaven forbid the worst should ever happen I'd have to go through the courts to get my child back from the state.

Am I right in thinking this? What can I do? I want my ex to get better. I have no intention of taking the baby away from her, but I do want to recognised legally as the father, in case of emergency. And for the future too, I want this child to know who their father is, legally.

I have broached this with my ex's mother who brushed me off with 'don't worry it won't come to that and we'll fill in all the forms listing you as the dad' but it doesn't feel like it's enough.

Help! What do I do??

Anonymai Wed 05-Mar-14 12:53:31

I think the kindest thing you could do at the moment is not push the birth certificate thing until she is in a better place. She's obviously delicate at the moment if she has PND and is going to a mother and baby unit. The last thing she needs is more pressure from you or to be making a big decision's about birth certificates. In the long run, would waiting a few months be such a big deal to you if it means your relationship with the mother stays positive and she feels supported rather than kicked when she's down.

FruitbatAuntie Wed 05-Mar-14 13:14:09

When I registered DS2, his father was present but we were unmarried. The registrar explained very thoroughly that even though he was present, if I didn't want to add him to the birth cert then she was legally not allowed to add him. She asked me twice whether I was absolutely certain that I wanted to add him, as it would obviously give him parental responsibility therefore a joint say in any decisions regarding DS.

If a father isn't on the birth cert, he will need to go to court for a parental responsibility order. That should be simple enough if the mother concedes that he is the father and has no objection. Even if she objects, it would have to be pretty compelling evidence not to grant the order. If the mother disputes paternity a DNA test can be done to prove it (doesn't sound like any of this is an issue here though).

Hope you can get it resolved easily, OP, and I hope that your ex recovers quickly.

cestlavielife Wed 05-Mar-14 13:49:52

if the mother is seriously unwell then all the more important dad is recognized formally as the dad now. otherwise he wont get updated on the child etc. might not be allowed to visit or have access. until much further down the line.... you need legal advice as to what you need to do. ask the services involved what they need. mother might deny paternity if she very unwell.

3xcookedchips Wed 05-Mar-14 15:47:17

Anoni,

Its not a big decision the mother has any power of veto over - yes, she may be unwell but in the interests of the child the OP should go ahead and have the conversation with the GP maybe as an intermediary.

If you get the fob off again then this may give you a sign how you may be treated in the future concerning more important decisions PR or not.

Months in this world do make a difference. Delay is the enemy.

Get PR, without it you wont be able to see your child.

Anonymai Wed 05-Mar-14 16:11:46

It is a big decision to speed up the process by being amicable and making it easier for the father to add his name to the birth certificate. She has the power to make him have to do it via the courts and DNA testing. Having PR won't make it easier to see the child immediately especially if in the process of getting the PR, he alienates the mother further. He could then have the fun of having to take that through courts too. Whereas if he backs off a little now and continues to see the child as he has been doing and allows the mum time to feel better, he could come out of it with PR and a better relationship with the mother having supported her through PND and not using her time of vulnerability to hound her.

BetterDaze Wed 05-Mar-14 20:52:58

Good replies from Anonymai.

3xcookedchips Wed 05-Mar-14 23:09:55

And how long do you give in to the PND and back off? A week, a month, 3, 6, a piece of string.

Asking for PR is not a provocative request. Refusing it, is.

Anonymai Thu 06-Mar-14 02:36:41

As long as it takes. Perhaps at least until her time at the mother and baby unit has finished.

Asking for PR might not be provocative but it might be seen in that light by the mum given the other issues she has to deal with at the moment. She should be given the time to get herself better rather than have more stress thrown on top by worrying about sorting out someone else's parental rights. She might even worry (irrationally or not) that the OP would try to use those parental rights to have her child removed from her. All the extra worry caused by this won't do anyone any good at this point in time.

I don't think OP should use any of the mums actions right now as a sign of what things will be like in the future either. PND can affect a lot of things, including the way you treat other people or how you make decisions. Behaviour now is not indicative of behaviour in the future. Fobbing OP off again now is not a sign that he will always be fobbed off. It's more likely a sign that she needs him to back off a bit right now and give her time to think.

I think OP needs to consider who benefits from pushing for PR right now. The mother wouldn't benefit. The child wouldn't benefit (and may lose out on seeing the father depending on how the mother reacts). Only the father would. If OP waits, the mother benefits from having time to get better. The child benefits as a result of the mums well being. The father benefits as he keeps a good relationship with the mother and the child and also gets PR.

lostdad Thu 06-Mar-14 10:34:40

If she won't agree to you being on the birth certificate you should document your attempts to do so. Ask her to sign a C(PRA)1 form - an agreement for PR. Ask her to put her on the birth certificate.

If she refuses, court is your only avenue unfortunately. But try to avoid that. It is a last resort

A useful link for you: http://www.thecustodyminefield.com/mobile/FamilyLawMenu.html

Consider joining Families Need Fathers too. http://www.fnf.org.uk/home

We assist people on a daily basis with this sort of thing. I assist people with this sort of thing in court on a daily basis too. It isn't nice and for your child, your ex's and your sake it is better if things can be done in an amicable manner.

Without PR you have no legal responsibilities to your child and are a de factor non parent.

Contact me if you want a chat as it's a big topic!

foolonthehill Thu 06-Mar-14 12:53:55

The details of both parents can be included on the birth certificate if they do one of the following:

1)sign the birth register together (so you have toboth be there)
2)one parent completes a statutory declaration of parentage form and the other takes the signed form to register the birth
3)one parent goes to register the birth with a document from the court (for example, a court order) giving the father parental responsibility

your omission from the b'cert may just be a practical one due to circumstances.

to put the father’s name on the birth record, fill in an ‘Application for the re-registration of a child’s birth’ form and take it to the register office.

If one of you can’t be there, that person also needs to fill in a ‘Statutory declaration of acknowledgement of parentage’ form and send it to the General Register Office.

forms are here https://www.gov.uk/adding-fathers-name-birth-certificate

cestlavielife Thu 06-Mar-14 15:16:41

1. if the op is recognized as the father in all but paper eg is being included in deciisions, is listed as father on all paperwork etc; if the mother and baby unit have it on record that he is the father then sure, he can wait...

2. if however he is being totally excluded and to all intents and purposes the baby has no father then he should push to get legal and formal recognition if he wants to be involved.

all depends. if 1. then no worries to wait.
if 2. then he should pursue because no one knows how long her pnd will last .

if she is being supported by mh professionals then they can help her understand why father needs to be legally recognized. for the baby's sake. on the face of it the baby has a father who wants to be involved...

I dont see why he should wait simply because it might upset her/trigger more serious pnd - but he can work with her MH profressionals around this...get their advice. if she is so bad as to be mentally incapacitated the court may make a decision regarding the father's PR without her say so anyway.

Shallishanti Thu 06-Mar-14 15:25:04

can I just point out that places in mother and baby units are scarce, this poor woman would not be going to one unless she really, really needed it- so I think it would be most insensitive and possibly damaging to pursue this legally.

cestlavielife Thu 06-Mar-14 15:44:20

we are talking about the baby here though - who has the right to her father . and for him having chance to get to know baby as a baby is v useful. if he isnt recognized as the baby's father he could be pushed out for months.

Anonymai Thu 06-Mar-14 16:01:52

A baby's well being is closely linked to the well being of the primary carer, in this case the mother. If her PND is worsened by being pressured about PR, that also has an effect for the baby. That's why he should wait.

The MH professionals will have the mother and baby as a priority. Pushing her to recognise the father legally will not be something they would get involved in. Probably because they will also see the potential for that to cause her distress at a vulnerable time. Their focus will be on helping the mum get better and supporting her.

The baby has a right to a father but going by the OP, he sees the baby as regularly as he can and is currently in daily contact with the baby's grandmother. His concern doesn't appear to be contact but his rights to make decisions about the baby.

But anyway, think based on the current situation. What does a baby need more right now at this point in time? A healthy happy mum? Or the knowledge that OP is legally their dad? I'd vote the baby needs a healthy happy mum.

cestlavielife Thu 06-Mar-14 16:33:57

clearly baby needs a healthy happy mum.

does this rule out a dad's involvement in an infant's life ?
surely that is a broader question. if dad was on hand and around then the dad would not be cut off if mother was in m and b unit?

the baby is now three months old or two months at least - getting to a stage where it will be responding etc and showing signs of recognizing its family.

everyone would hope the mother will improve and recover. she does have apparently a history of depression.

recognizing the paternity of the child may be a force for good (she can let father take baby out etc for half hour or whatever) not evil; if we assume the op is as he says, no abuse etc.

if father lived nearer and could visit daily the situation may also be more pressing.

if father is being denied access because he isnt recognized as the father at all - on paper he is nothing - then he may wish to pursue legally - her mh people can help decide if she should be told or not about the process.

if he is getting updates and access then all good; he could wait.

but mother has to at some point recognize baby has a father. maybe better now to deal with that while she has full support of MH services....

3xcookedchips Thu 06-Mar-14 16:38:19

...and in the meantime(months) the father has no right to be consulted or notified of any welfare/medical issues concerning the child.

And if the worst comes to the worst and the baby needed to be removed from the care of the mother, he wouldn't actually be able to take over that care.

The OP has concerns about decisions about the child without his input. Those can and should be addressed without delay, especially as the mother is now considered vulnerable.

Anonymai Thu 06-Mar-14 16:48:44

According to OP, dad is involved, sees the child as much as he can afford/has time to do so, has daily updates from the grandmother. Access isn't blocked, he just can't make decisions about the child legally right now.

In none of my posts have I ruled out a fathers involvement in his infant's life or condoned someone doing that so I don't know why you are asking if a healthy happy mum means no involvement from the father. If you read my posts, you'll see I have suggested waiting until she had left the mother and baby unit before pursuing PR so that she has the chance to get well without added pressure and to maintain a positive relationship between mother and father.

The mother needs to be focussing on getting better as her first priority. That is more important to her baby at this point in time than sorting the fathers legal rights. MH services will not be concerned with his rights thankfully. They will be focused on making sure the mother has the support and space to get well and will not be helping someone add more stress to her life.

3xcookedchips Thu 06-Mar-14 17:54:29

Of course MH wont be concerned with his rights because he has none. How on earth is he going to be consulted on his childs welfare while the child is in the unit and he has no PR?

Currently, the only person who can make decisions about that child is a mentally vulnerable mother who has a history of depression.

This is in the childs interests, I guess...

Monetbyhimself Thu 06-Mar-14 18:17:25

Christ all fucking mighthy. Do any of you whipping up a frenzy of fathers rights and courts have ANY fucking clue about just how seriously ill this woman is ? When she needs to be ADMITTED to hospital. For fucks sake. Encouraging the OP to go thundering in with solicitors letters, demanding signatures and bring preoccupied with his rights is going to do nothing other than increase anxiety and make her illness much, much worse. ( Regardless of thr fact that a bloody solicitors letter won't get anywhere near her while she's so vulnerable)

OP you sound like a reasonable guy and your intentions are good. I would continue to do what you are doing now, kerp the lines of communication open with your Exs mum, offer your support practically and demonstrate empathy and understanding of just how ill she is. You really do risk mesding the whole situation up spectacularly if you insist on pushing this right now. A few weeks may make an incredible difference in terms of your Exs health status. Your baby will be well looked after and well cared for in the unit. Your existence will not be glossed over. Just slow down.

3xcookedchips Thu 06-Mar-14 18:29:42

Wow, monet I think you have brought your anxieties from your own case to this thread - and quite aggressively,

Again, you are one that fails to recognise who makes decisions with regard to the child.

I did suggest in my original post the OP use the GP(that's the grand parent, not the doctor) as a go-between

Shallishanti Thu 06-Mar-14 18:33:04

quite, Monet.
I wonder what people think is likely to need 'deciding' about this baby?
She is in the best place- with her mum- and surrounded by people whose job it is to look after both of them and get the mum to a point where she can again care for her independently. A 'mentally vulnerable mother with a history of depression'....that is not a nice way to talk about someone who is ill, hinting that they make some mad harmful choices.
Really OP, carry on visiting whenever you can and talking to DGM when you can't and staff will see you as a responsible, caring father. Start banging on about your rights in this situation and they will start to wonder (well I would anyway)

fideline Thu 06-Mar-14 18:35:38

Monet The difficulty is his child is also about to move into a MH institution. I advised that the OP arrange for a solicitor to write to the _clinic or unit_ (not the ex) on his behalf politely asserting his paternity of an infant now in their care. What the hell is wrong with that? Plenty of us have advised restraint in tackling the issue with the mother. Obviously she is in the midst of a MH crisis.

However, it is exactly that crisis that means difficult decisions might have to be made about his DCs care and even residence. If he doesn't at least start a dialogue with the institution, those decisions will be made without him. The clinic might be receptive to his involvement.

It is obviously an extremely delicate situation but that isn't a reason to sit on his hands.

Monetbyhimself Thu 06-Mar-14 18:48:42

Oh stop with all the fucking dramatics about residency. If the baby can't stay with it's mum then what the fuck do you all think is going to happen ? Social services going to swoop in and put it up for adoption ? I suggest you step away ftom the Daily Mail.

Or maybe, just maybe, baby will temporarily go home to it's own familiar home in the care of grandma. Who the OP is already in communication with and who is already aware that at some poknt, the issues around thr BC need to be sorted. But who right now, is probably slightly preoccupied with the needs if her seriously ill daughter.

fideline Thu 06-Mar-14 19:00:13

Monet stop being an arse. No-one said any such thing. In case the mum, at any point, gets too ill to have baby remain with her throughout, it would be bloody helpful to have clarity on who the babies NOK is ahead of time.

Surely the normal course of affairs would be for the dad to be NOK, there's certainly no reason that we know of to consider him unsuitable. Starting a dialogue with the clinic doesn't imperil anyone's health.

I told him to feel his way slowly. Other posters said similar. You are determined to get your knickers in a twist and invent remarks that haven't been made.

fideline Thu 06-Mar-14 19:00:46

*baby's NOK is.....

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