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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??

cestlavielife Tue 04-Mar-14 22:59:54

I think you have to go to court
Should be fairly simple to claim paternity tho you might have to pay DNA test ?
Make sure social services and mh services are aware you want to be involved father

If mother doesn't want you around her for whatever reason then you might have to jump thru hoops whether contact centre or whatever. As small baby will need to be short and often if possible

This could be a problem if it is a six hour journey to get there . Practically speaking how often could you go ? Every week ?

cestlavielife Tue 04-Mar-14 23:00:13

Would you be able to move to be nearer your child ?

Samreed Tue 04-Mar-14 23:06:50

Thanks, but moving closer isn't possible. I'd go every weekend but I can't afford the petrol and hotel bills.

I want to keep this as amicable as possible. I know she doesn't hate me, she keeps asking if we could get back together if she was feeling better, and I don't want going to court to be something else she then has to hold against me, in her current state of mind.

fideline Tue 04-Mar-14 23:17:19

Talk to her Mum first, see how the land lies.

Make contact with any SW assigned to protect your DDS interests and also with the manager, senior nurse/what have you of the mother and baby unit. I would invest in solicitor's letters for this. Just amicable letters asserting your paternity of the baby, stating your intention to get your name added to the Birth Cert when practical and asking to be kept informed about all matters relating to baby.

Info on adding your name to BC here

fideline Tue 04-Mar-14 23:20:23

It will be best if you and ex can amicably agree to add your name to the BC. In that scenario the procedure is straightforward.

Emphasise that you want to be able to support your ex and also to play full role as a father.

The timing of this will be tricky, but there's no reason not to get the lie of the land/ ask nicely/ generally feel your way.

thegreatdivide Wed 05-Mar-14 00:12:12

In what circumstances is a registrar allowed to omit the fathers name on a birth certificate?
is it only if the mother states she does not know who the father is or if she is unsure who the father maybe?
or is it up to the mother's discretion whether to allow the fathers name on the bc?

fideline Wed 05-Mar-14 00:16:56

I'm not sure if the proposed Conservative law insisting mothers name the fathers has made it on to the statute book.

I suspect it has been dropped as unworkable. How do they compel her if she says she doesn't know, that she's too traumatised/frightened to say or if she insists he has refused to attend the registration or that his whereabouts are unknown?

They can't name unmarried men on BCs without their signatures so there are a dozen things a mother could plausibly say as to why she is registering.

PatriciaHolm Wed 05-Mar-14 00:18:00

The registrar cannot put a father on a BC if the parents aren't married and he doesn't attend the registration, which it would appear happened here. If they aren't married, he has to go along to the registration. If parents are married, the husband is assumed to be the father and so can be put on the certificate even in his absence.

fideline Wed 05-Mar-14 00:22:47

*as to why she is registering alone.

It's easy to get himself added if she agrees and still possible if she doesn't.

Sinkingfeeling Wed 05-Mar-14 00:26:49

The registrar doesn't decide whether or not the father is named on the birth certificate. If the child's parents are unmarried, the mother can decide to register on her own and the father may even be unaware that the registration has taken place. If both parents are in agreement, however, it's a straightforward process for the natural father's details to be added to the birth register at a later date, and there's no time restrictions on when this can be done. Obviously, amicable agreement is a much better solution than going down the route of a court order.

thegreatdivide Wed 05-Mar-14 00:30:26

when my 1st was born, and we went along to register the birth, the registrar asked if the mother wanted my name on the BC in front of me
I was appalled how the mother could decide if the father was to go on the BC or not just out of spite for example
agree if there is trauma or doubt it would not be completely unreasonable

in the op case, if he is the father (not wishing to cast doubt) then it is his right to be on the BC, it should not be the mother's discretion or wish
he should not have to ask nicely (I don't suggest asking not nicely)
he should not have to go through the expense of DNA test and court expenses etc...
where is the equality in this process?

cafecito Wed 05-Mar-14 00:34:38

you can get a PR order from court, or you can reach a PR agreement with her and then be added to the certificate I believe.

RockCrushesLizard Wed 05-Mar-14 00:42:06

Just as clarification, if the parents aren't married, and the father is not present at registration, the registrar legally cannot put his name on the certificate.
Not automatically malicious - the aim is to maintain integrity of the register (or else I could go in and name Elton John as the dad).

unmarried dads have to acknowledge paternity, which they can't do if they aren't there.

Had you discussed going together to the registrar OP? Because if you'd agreed and she ignored it, that's a different kettle of fish to Mum just trying to get things sorted?

thegreatdivide Wed 05-Mar-14 00:44:07

sinkingfeeling didn't see your reply before I posted
but the point remains if there is no doubt who the father is (whether married or not) suggest it should not be up to the mother's discretion whether he is placed on the BC or not
(just ignoring all exceptional circumstances say)
to maintain the equality that we all strive for smile

fideline Wed 05-Mar-14 00:45:09

Cafeito if he has her consent, they just fill in a form and go back to reg office to add him. No need for PRAs. See my link upthread

cafecito Wed 05-Mar-14 01:10:45

yes sorry I meant agreement with consent, which bestows PR

hope it goes okay

Samreed Wed 05-Mar-14 08:33:38

We had agreed that I would be put on the BC and we had agreed on a hyphenated surname for the child. She disregarded both of these agreements, and didn't tell me till after the fact.

Inshock73 Wed 05-Mar-14 09:06:23

Hi Samreed,

If your ex partner is suffering with PND I very much doubt she is seeing anything clearly at the moment. I wonder whether her reason for leaving you off the birth certificate is because she feels alone despite your support but perhaps because you're not together as a couple.

I can see from your post you are concerned about her welfare and don't want to make her any worse but I strongly suggest you seek legal advice asap. A mother has automatic parental responsibility, an unmarried father doesn't. You should seek to gain parental responsibility which will mean you are recognised as the baby's father and entitled to be kept informed of medical situations, where your baby is living, should your baby be removed from her mum for any reason etc. Also, should you have a struggle on your hands in the future to see your child a court will look favourably on you having sought parental responsibility, maintained contact and support.

There is another angle to this, is your ex partner well enough to care for the baby at the moment? I'm not suggesting you try and gain full custody but it could be mutually beneficial for you to 'share' caring for the baby over the coming months. If you have parental responsibility and your ex becomes too unwell to care for the baby you could seek temporary custody.

Finally, if you have a good relationship with your ex's mother ask her to keep you informed but make it clear you will not walk away from your child.

TheGirlFromIpanema Wed 05-Mar-14 09:13:17

thegreatdivide it isn't at the mothers discretion though at all though confused

It is to keep registers correct, or as a PP said, I could walk in and register my new born as being fathered by Robbie Williams.

For an unmarried mother,the father has to be present at registration. There are time limits remember. If OP has been visiting at weekends only it wouldn't have been possible for him to be there at the registration.

Samreed Wed 05-Mar-14 09:52:13

I was the one pushing for the registration, as he 42 day deadline loomed.. She had gone and done it without me, without telling me she was going to do it...

Xalla Wed 05-Mar-14 10:17:43

Samreed - you'd get some good advice from the Families Need Fathers forum too. They have some members who are very legally aware. They helped my DH numerous times.

Samreed Wed 05-Mar-14 10:29:30

Thanks, didn't know that existed. will check it out.

I have contacted a solicitor and got some advice, but am very weary of potentially ruining my relationship with her mother, if I push for this..

cestlavielife Wed 05-Mar-14 11:44:17

if she is unwell and claelry she is then there is no point going down route of blame etc. she is suffering pnd and going into mum and baby unit. she ahs registered so you could seek legal advice about lodging your paternity formally. it hould be fairly simple form.
if you live far away then practically it is going to be diffiuclt to have a lot of contact in these early months. how well do you get on with the grandmother?

shggg245 Wed 05-Mar-14 11:57:44

The gift is correct with advice. It is very easy to re register to include fathers details - but both parties need to attend.

Otherwise it's a court order. I'd have a word and arrange a re register try and keep it friendly, that will also give you automatic parental responsibility.

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