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What rights does the father have?

(13 Posts)
BellaBells Mon 22-Aug-11 17:11:29

I have recently just had a baby with my ex bf. At first he didn't want any involvement and wanted me to terminate. Later he said he wanted involvement but didn't want to be with me... Fine. Now that the baby is here he wants to be with me, I do not for various reasons, and he is demanding that he see the little man everyday when he damands. This is not suitable for me but I'm feeling like I'm being bullied into doing it, and if I disagree a full blown argument arrises. I don't feel in control and am thinking to get legal action so things are more defined and I feel comfortable. So what rights does he have? Were not married and I haven't yet registered the birth so his name isn't on the birth certificate yet. TIA x

SenoritaViva Mon 22-Aug-11 17:43:05

Bumping for you.
As the father of the child he should have rights as a parent to access. Don't know however, what the implications are if you don't put him on the birth certificate - presumably he could still claim parenthood plus you might get some financial support from him. However, it sounds very much like you need to get legal proceedings in place quickly because he is NOT behaving in an appropriate manner towards you. He sounds selfish and using your baby for his own gain and reward. Please seek advice immediately, you could start with the CAB.

I am sure someone will give you better advice shortly who has direct experience of this.

MrGin Mon 22-Aug-11 18:37:51

firstly it's worth thinking ( and expressing yourself ) in terms of what the childs rights are. The child has a right to two parents, has a right to a dad in thier life, has a right to be supported financially and emotionally by both parents. But that doesn't mean he can demand whatever he wants.

as a father your XP has 'parental rights' . This means he has a say in the childs education, religeous upbringing and medical issues. It also means that unless you have a residency order in place you will need to inform him and get his permission to travel abroad with your child.

To gain his 'parental rights' he does need to be on the birth cirt ( i think ) , and if it comes to applying to the CSA for child mainenance ( if he doesn't pay ) he'd need to be prooved to be the father. I have heard of cases on MN where the mum has had to pay for the DNA testings. I'd think carefully about not putting his name on the BC as it may be counter productive.

In theory, if he wants contact everyday, that is actually admirable, assuming he expects to do the nappy changing, feeding, putting to sleep, clearing up the sick, feeding, waking up at 2am, 3am, 5am etc etc.

That said, from your post, it does sound like he's using the contact as an excuse to be with you, rather than be with the child. Is he expecting to take the child to his house ?

I can give a little advice from the other ( male ) side. My XP told me I'd 'bullied' her into accepting my 'demands'. All I wanted was my dd every other w/e a visit once in the week and half of holidays ( fairly standard ) . What she saw as bulling I saw as sticking up for what I felt was fair. I can tell you one thing though, when my XP started saying that she would allow me to see dd, or that she'd let me have the time it infuriated me that she felt it was upto her to let me see my own daughter, so I'd advise you to choose your words carefully. You need somehow to get on an amicable footing with your XP, remember he may well be in your life for the next 18 years in some form or other.

Generally, and I'm only an armchair expert, if you disagree about access then solicitors will get involved, you'll be obliged to go to mediation, and then if it goes to court you'll probably resent each other for the rest of your lives. But it's unlikely that a newborn will be separated from mum for any length of time, but the courts will want to make sure the childs interests are foremost in any decission, and a child having a dad around is very much in the childs interests.

balia Mon 22-Aug-11 19:14:38

When a pregnancy isn't expected it can be a huge shock and it is hard for anyone to handle. Most people at least think about their options, including termination, so I think you need to move on from that one, as hurtful as the memory may be when you look at your Little One. It doesn't mean he will automatically be a bad father.

Have you thought about mediation? It can be really helpful and is much better than court for many reasons. You need to think about what you think is suitable for the baby, (bearing in mind that the Cafcass guidance is little and often, which is what your ex seems to be saying) so that you can reach some common ground.

BellaBells Mon 22-Aug-11 19:43:24

I do admire the fact that he wants to be so involved and I am happy about that but I feel he is 'abusing' his rights to almost prove to me that he is the father and to aggravate me. I don't want stop him from seeing his son and I also believe the baby had every right to have a father but I don't believe I should feel pressures or forced to allow the father to come around everyday whenever it suits him. If I dare to say no he becomes verbally abusive. My only intention is to sort out a reasonable schedule for us both.

It is hard to word things without it sounding like I am the only one in control, so I am going to try harder to make him feel more involved. He also doesn't seem to understand that he can't take the baby far away from me because he is 4 weeks premature and has only been home for a few days, so we argue about that as well.

Anyway I don't want to go down the route of getting lawyers involved because it would completely ruin our friendship so what is a reasonable schedule? 3 times a week in the evening?

BellaBells Mon 22-Aug-11 19:45:46

Oh and a huge thank you for the advise. MrGin, it is hugely helpful to get another point of view.

SenoritaViva Mon 22-Aug-11 21:28:13

You sound balanced and reasonable so this is a good start! But perhaps your ex doesn't know this?! Can you say what you have just said in the first paragraph to him to make him feel more secure?

You may need to get some form of mediation involved (can someone recommend something that isn't lawyers but works in the interests of both parties??) so that you are both happy. It sounds like you are arguing too much to come up with a satisfactory schedule?

I wouldn't restrict him to an evening in particular, these can be a nightmare when they get a bit older (end of day, tired etc.) I think rather than specifying a time how about 3 visits per week. Explain that you haven't specified a time because babies schedules change almost weekly as they grow and you'd rather he see the baby when awake than in a nap time obviously. Also, have you asked him what he wants? I know what it is like to have a baby when you are with the father; they feel left out and don't necessarily 'get it' so I can imagine that with a communication breakdown this is hugely magnified for you both. Can you do anything like express some breast milk so that he gets the chance to feed the baby?

All the above might help to continue your relationship and sort things out. HOWEVER, there is absolutely no excuse for verbal abuse, especially when you seem to be keen for him to be involved. He needs to understand that this MUST stop, not as a threat to seeing his baby but simply that it is unacceptable behaviour and will not help anyone, least of all his child.

BertieBotts Mon 22-Aug-11 22:00:17

I may get slated for saying this, but if he is being abusive then I wouldn't put him on the birth certificate. If you want, then leave it as late as possible to give him a chance to prove himself, but the way he is acting at the moment I wouldn't. Even if you don't put his name on it now, BTW, he can always apply for parental responsibility later. Just be really aware that at the moment you are being reasonable and he is not. Once he has PR, or a contact agreement, or a court order, it is very hard to go back if you change your mind for any reason (even if that reason involves DC's safety). If you have any doubts it is better to hedge your bets now. I wish I didn't have to say this because it massively undermines every other thing, but the system as it is does not protect children adequately in my opinion.

Anyway. You need to sit down with him and agree a schedule of contact which works for you both. Write it down if you can, and maybe both sign it? This means sod all in law, but it does feel quite formal to both sign something so it might help you both to stick to it. As baby is so tiny I'd also agree to review this in a few weeks' time to see if it is working, if it is, perhaps agree to fix it until the baby is 4 months old or so, by then, he will have different needs, so it might be that contact needs to change. Then set a review date for another 4 months - when he is a year, increase to 6 month intervals, then yearly, if you want. If you're breastfeeding then at the moment you're within your rights to restrict contact to short intervals - increasing of course as the baby can go longer between feeds. Remember at all times this is about your child, he needs contact which is long and frequent enough to develop a good relationship with his father, but at the same time you don't want to push him to something he isn't ready for. TBH, this isn't so much an issue as you are starting so young, so that puts you at an advantage.

It helps to write into the agreement some kind of agreed protocol for what happens if one of you (or the baby) is ill, how much notice you need to give if one of you needs to change or cancel a date, or is going to be late back, and what you want to do around special days like birthdays and Christmas just so that there can be no arguments later. This would be a good time to bring up any major issues you have as well e.g. if you feel very strongly about a particular discipline issue or something like that. Be aware though that he does basically have a right to do what he wants when his child is in his care and while it's best if you can agree on key issues, it doesn't always happen and there's not a lot you can do about it if this is the case.

If XP ever did try to argue with me I would just say "I'm not arguing in front of DS." in a sort of "case closed" voice and somehow that seemed to stop him in his tracks! If he'd have continued I'd have said "Send me an email. I am not arguing in front of DS." and then if he continued I'd have taken DS and walked away, if possible. As a last resort if I felt threatened I would have phoned the police. If you do ever feel threatened, don't hesitate to call them. Threatening behaviour in front of a child is not something you need to put up with smile You do need to be quite assertive, especially if your ex has a tendency to try to manipulate you or get aggressive. Stay cool, calm and reasonable at all times, but set boundaries and stick by them, and don't bend over backwards to help him out unless you know he would do the same for you.

Good luck smile

BellaBells Tue 23-Aug-11 09:46:30

Thanks BertieBotts, some really useful help! He is coming over today so we can hopefully come to an agreement with as little stress as possible. I think I would be more then happy for him to come over everyday if our relationship wasn't so hostile and he was more understanding towards the fact that the baby isn't a new toy- he loves to wake him up when he feels like it angry and he wants to show him off to his friends, so do I but again he doesn't understand he cannot take a breast fed premmie away from his mother for long periods.
Right now I am not wanting him to be on the birth certificate. I won't rule it out completely but it is definitely something I will be cautious of.
I have told him many times that I am not trying to stop him from seeing or bonding with his son, but he has to understand demanding to see him everyday is not possible!! I feel like im going around in circles. On our last argument (last night) he told me he's worried about my mental state and wants me to see a dr...hmm
Right enough ranting, plan of action is to give him 3 days a week- of his choice as he works so I don't want to make things impossible for him. And timing wise I will tell him when little one feeds so he can be here when he is awake. I am really putting my foot down with him taking the baby away without me, it's just not happening right now. Most importunity we have to be respectful and understanding to each other and if all else fails we will have to go down the route of mediation. I also think it's a goo idea BerieBotts if we email each other with any issues that we do have to try and limit any arguments.

Thank you so much to everyone's help an advice. I feel at times that I am the only person who is having a hard time.

BertieBotts Tue 23-Aug-11 10:26:54

Keeping it to emails means he can't later turn around and say that you agreed something else too.

blackeyedsusan Wed 24-Aug-11 11:52:01

try to give him a longer term plan as well. eg now it is best to see baby little and often... but as baby grows he will be able to take baby out for a couple of hours... then longerr the older baby gets. if he is involved a lot now he will soon be taking his toddler for the day, building up to overnights at say 2. maybe that will help him to see that you are tying to keep him involved and it may tke the stress off you both to know there is a plan.

equinox Wed 24-Aug-11 14:00:58

Hi there

If you have a womens centre in your neighbourhood they invariably have free legal appointments so go for that if I were you they are very good.


cestlavielife Wed 24-Aug-11 14:43:25

get a third party invovled now whether a mediator of a family counsellor - for example, some areas run "parenting together" courses for separated couples. ask health visitor. there may be someone attached to sure start centre etc.

if you set the footing now that you willing to work with him but that a third party view would be helpful, then that might set a good tone for future ie dont wait for it all to go more wrong but get a mediator/family therpaist/counsellor invovled now for a few sessions where you talk with that eprson to agree the way forward . you could take baby with you if you have sessions now

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