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what rights will the father of my baby have

(40 Posts)
YummyMummyBella Tue 19-Apr-11 08:53:30

My partner (unmarried) and I are expecting out first baby and have been having a horrific time at the moment. I won't go into it but he's hardly been there for me during the pregnancy, acts like he doesn't care and isn't treating me with the love and respect I feel I deserve. We were arguing once again yesterday and I told him I don't want him around anymore. His reply was that if I take his son away he'll take me to court. I continued to say he has no rights as we are unmarried. He became very nasty and was saying things like he has a stable family (my parents are divorced, his aren't), my mother is unfit (she has a treatable slipped disk) and so on. Well its got me thinking, what rights would he have if I was to walk away from him? I obviously don't want to do this and I do believe we can work things out but its always good to know what could happen.
Thanks ladies! X

BooBooGlass Tue 19-Apr-11 08:58:31

Well he certainly has the right to contact, he's right about that. But really, why are you with this man when you clearly aren't going to last? I wouldn't put up with being spoken to like that. Do you want to work things out with someone who can be so nasty? EVen if your relationship deosn't last, what's important now is not to use this baby as a weapon against each other. If he wants contact and is not a danger to the baby, then I don't see why you wouldn't allow it.

BooBooGlass Tue 19-Apr-11 09:00:22

Woah, having just read your profile, you're not together anyway as you don't trust him confused. What a mess. And you know 'Indian' isn't a faith don't you?

BikeRunSki Tue 19-Apr-11 09:00:48

I think it depends on whether you name him on the birth certificate and whether you expect any financial support from him. I think, if you do either of these, then he has all sorts of rights for access and possibly residence.

I am not a single parent, so I can't be sure, this is just what I have gleaned from my couple of friends who are single mums.

YummyMummyBella Tue 19-Apr-11 09:04:37

BooBoo, your right about not using the baby as a weapon. I don't want him not to have any contact with the baby, even if him and I can't get along. But the way I'm feeling right now I don't think he deserves any of the 'good bits' like coming to scans etc when he's not around for the struggles. I'm going away for 2 weeks and plan to turn my phone off to let us both cool off and think about things. I'm not happy being with someone who can be so cold and nasty I just feel I have to try and make it work for the baby.

BooBooGlass Tue 19-Apr-11 09:05:49

You see, I do think that refusing access to scans is wrong too, and exactly what I mean by using it as a weapon. What good will disappearign for 2 weeks do? And whyever did you decide to have a baby in the first place?

iskra Tue 19-Apr-11 09:06:36

Post on the lone parents board.

YummyMummyBella Tue 19-Apr-11 09:10:36

I haven't refused him access to anything, he's told of all dates and times and its up to him if he decides to come or not. And why would I decide not to have a baby just because the father can be a useless bag of sugar at times?

anonandlikeit Tue 19-Apr-11 09:13:03

forget your feelings, forget his feelings.
put the babies needs first.

Firstly the baby needs to be safe & loved. If you are sure the baby will be safe with his father then you need to decide an contact plan.

Scans, why can't you meet him at the hospital, allow him in to the scan room & then part the minute you come out.

The baby deserves to know both parents.
You concentrate on doing the right thing by your baby and allowing his dad the opportunity to do the right thing, if he screws it up you will be able to honestly say to your baby when he is older that you did all you could.

RudeEnglishLady Tue 19-Apr-11 09:34:40

Bella - I say this with caring, but, you sound like you have very strange ideas about the whole pregnancy, baby, relationship situation. I don't think you have a very firm grip on the realities.

Now, I could be wrong about all this, however, I would strongly advise you talk to your midwife and try and get introduced to a mothers, single mothers or pregnant ladies peer group and meet some real people in a similar boat. Honestly, you are making the whole thing sound like a crazy soap opera when it isn't. You just need to be dealing in facts, realities and taking proper care of yourself and your baby.You sound nice Get rid of this drama and silliness and you'll be a great mum. Good luck, having a baby is lovely x x

Snorbs Tue 19-Apr-11 10:04:40

The legalities are that if the father is named on the birth certificate then he will have Parental Responsibility (PR) for the child. As the mother you will have PR anyway.

Shared PR means that major issues such as non-emergency medical treatment and schooling will need to be discussed between you. PR, by itself, says nothing about where the child will live (residency) or who the child will visit (contact). That can either be arranged between you - and family mediation can help - or by court order.

Unless you are regularly caught on camera injecting heroin into your eyeballs, a court will almost certainly order that your baby should stay with its mother. But the court would (again, unless there are serious safety concerns) order that there should be regular contact between the child and its father.

Bear in mind that courts look at residency and contact as an issue of the rights of the child to have a relationship with both parents. It's not about the rights of the parents.

If you don't name him on the birth certificate then he can ask you to sign Parental Responsibility Agreement paperwork to give him PR, or he can apply to court for a Parental Responsibility Order to force the issue. It's very rare for a court to not grant an application for PR.

Xales Tue 19-Apr-11 10:06:05

As far I as I have noticed on this website (and Jeremy Kyle) the men who bang on about how crap their children's mothers and their family are and how many rights they have over the children are the ones not doing it because they love their children and want the best for them but because they are abusive twats and it is power over the poor woman unfortunate enough not to see what they were like before it was too late.

He has no rights to come to your scans. Even if you are married he has no rights to come to your scans. The fact that you tell him where and when out of the goodness of your heart does you credit.

The same with the birth. He has no right to be there. If he is going to be a vile abusive twat and stress you and subsequently baby out then he shouldn't be there. That is your choice though not his!

He has no rights over this child. The child has rights to know and have a relationship with its father but he has no rights.

If he does not come with you to register the birth he will not have PR until he gets it through courts. You cannot put him on the birth certificate without him there as you are not married.

I think going away for a fortnight and turning off your phone is a bloody good idea. It will give you a chance to destress and relax away from a nasty atmosphere and decide what you want. Don't run away, tell him what you are doing then do it.

One final thing. If you do stay in a relationship when you have the baby with this man you will be at your most vulnerable and reliant on him and I doubt it will get any better apart from him threatening to go for full custody as they do to scare you into submission. Is that what you want with this cold, abusive uncaring man??

prettywhiteguitar Tue 19-Apr-11 11:06:37

what xales said, having been through something simillar myself whilst pregnant I can tell you it gets worse when the baby's actually here, theres more stress, sleepless nights, tense nerves. I wish I'd taken time out whilst pregnant to assess whether i really wanted him around rather than just trying to make it work when he obviously wasn't trying...

bristolcities Tue 19-Apr-11 11:17:42

He has a right to access when you baby is born but he has no right to come to the scans, non at all. I did this with my ex and the midwife was horrified I had assumed he should be there. You have to take in to account just how damaging stress is or you AND you unborn baby whilst you are pregnant.

messylittlemonkey Tue 19-Apr-11 11:24:57

Until he is registered as the baby's father on the birth certificate, he has very few rights, if any.

DP and I are unmarried and wehn DD1 was born by emergnecy CS, she had to be taken to Great Ormond St at few hours old - I was in no state to go with her and had to sign a consent form allowing DP to take her.

aimee0211 Tue 19-Apr-11 11:58:00

Hi, really wanted to post to say last year I was in the exact same situation. I broke up with my ex last year when I was about 4/5 months pregnant, there were some nasty words said and to cut a long story short I wanted nothing to do with him at the time.

However, family members convinced me that its in the babies best interests to see their father (whether you like him or not). It took a lot of effort on my part (still does sometimes) to allow him to come to EVERY doctors appointment and the scan. He was not at the birth however I promised I would let him know as soon as it was over and I had to allow himself and his mother in to see the baby just after I gave birth.

He then came round to my house for the first 2 months to see DD until I thought she was old enough to go to his house and now she is 4 months and goes to his 11-5 every Saturday. I do my best to keep them sweet by having gradually increased his time without him having to ask (making him feel like I am doing him a favour) and I only see him and speak to him on pick up and drop off. It's hard work on my part to have him involved but it's ultimately best for DD. This works for us and I understand that as hard as it is for me I have to make an effort because I don't want to have to do the whole court thing.

I don't understand why you would want to be with someone when it's this hard at the moment, I promise you there will be even more strain on the relationship when the baby is born, but that's up to you. Just thought I would tell you what we decided and what currently works for us, it's hard but the best option.

EricNorthmansMistress Tue 19-Apr-11 12:02:31

It wouldn't be right to leave him off the birth certificate - your baby should have both parents named for his sake. It's also easy enough for fathers to gain PR by going to court if they aren't on the BC so it will not achieve much to leave him off, except potentially upset and confuse your child.

You and he should agree on access/contact that suits you both. At first that will be with you present as the baby will be too small to take away. When you feel comfortable with him taking the baby away for short periods than you can, likewise with overnights. If he gets heavy handed trying to demand this or that then he needs to be told that's not acceptable. Threatening court is childish and vindictive and he would not be awarded custody of a newborn baby unless you were proven to be abusive.

I think it sounds like you should go to counselling to work on splitting and arranging access in a mutually respectful and positive way.

TheOriginalFAB Tue 19-Apr-11 12:06:25

He should have as many rights as you but I don't expect he will get them. I am sure you will be advised of all the ways you can avoid him having any say in your baby's life but this is not about what is best for you but the RIGHT of the baby to know who its father is.

The thing is, a man who is horrible to his partner starts forfeiting rights straight away.
You can legally cut him right out of your life until the baby is born, for one thing. He does not have any say or control in how you behave during your pregnancy, nor does he have any right whatsoever to be with you during the birth if you don't want him there.

Once the baby is born then the courts would take a dim view of you refusing to let the father see the baby at all unless you could prove risk to the baby ie that the father is violent, mentally ill or a habitual alcoholic/drug user (if he is any of these things, start amassing evidence now) However, it is perfectly reasonable for such contact to be arranged via a third party in a neutral place, and if you do not want any contact between the father and yourself and you are BF, it will be regarded as reasonable for contact appointments to be kept short.

And if the man continues to behave in ways that are demonstrably abusive, whether that's nasty texts, turning up at your house and refusing to leave, stalking or constatnly phoning, you can get court orders to keep him away.
If drink or drugs are an issue, you can insist on drug tests.
Basically, the more horrible a man is, the easier it is to keep him out of your life as long as you have plenty of evidence as to his horrible behaviour.
Because the remedy is in the man;s hands. He can stop being horrible if he really wants to build a relationship with his child.

perfectstorm Tue 19-Apr-11 17:56:31

I think a lot of assumptions are being made here - and SolidGoldBrass, the baby does not forfeit anything because the parents fall out - or shouldn't. I absolutely agree that no woman should have anyone at a birth she isn't absolutely comfortable with, but I do think unless very stressful scans etc should be open to the father, because it's a part of the bonding process. This guy has been agressive about being pushed out of his child's life, agreed, and not as supportive as his partner has every right to expect, but there's no indication I've seen that he is anything other than a crap boyfriend - not abusive or aggressive - and so many men abandon their kids. One who wants contact and responsibility, unless he is a complete arse, is a blessing for that child.

Aimee0211 you sound a wonderful mum, and a bloody saint. I take my hat off to you. It must be unbelievably hard, putting your daughter's needs so front and central. She's a lucky munchkin. If parents can manage that, even after an acrimonious start, the kids benefit so much. It's a shame so few parents have the maturity and selflessness that you do.

Finallygotaroundtoit Tue 19-Apr-11 19:12:33

Scans are medical procedures - at which the mother may get bad news.

OP needs someone there who will provide emotional support.Not someone who is already causing her stress! An aggresive DP had no reason or right to be present - get him a pic.

BTW scans are usually happy, reassuring events but not sure about 'bonding' (which is surely a two way process - the baby had no awareness of the parents' watching).

OP think very carefully about allowing him on the birth certificate - do you think he will use PR for the good of your child or just to control you?

zikes Tue 19-Apr-11 19:47:15

Scans are private: you lie there with your bump exposed, it's a vulnerable position psychologically if nothing else. I wouldn't have anyone there that I didn't actively want around.

She can get him a pic, or he can pay one himself, but if the OP doesn't want him there she doesn't have to have him. Her body isn't public property.

I am not assuming that the OP's partner is abusive, I am pointing out that if* he is, she can cut him pretty much out of the picture - but even if he is only tiresome, she can keep him away from her at least until the baby is born. A man has no 'rights' *at all over an unborn child, because it is part of the woman until birth and an adult is not the property of another adult.

FWIW I was not on very good terms with my DS' dad for most of my pregnancy (PG was unexpected and unplanned, we were drinking buddies rather than a couple anyway) the dad did not initially want to be involved so I sent him away with no hard feelings, he had a change of heart shortly before DS was born but I wouldn't have him at the birth. That was 6.5 years ago and we are all on great terms now, DS and his dad adore each other, the dad and I get on perfectly well too. So things may well turn out fine for the OP and her baby and indeed her XP.

perfectstorm Wed 20-Apr-11 11:03:23

Oh, I absolutely recognise that some men are utter arses. My own father's one - my mother spent my childhood trying to keep him involved, and when I had my own kids I decided he was not someone I wanted anywhere near them and severed all contact (not too hard, given it mostly involved Facebook). It's just that some women I know IRL aren't that great at separating out "man I don't get on with" with "man my kids don't need" and as a friend is in court this week, because he had no alternative if he ever wanted to see the kids again, I just wanted to stress that that's pretty well the nuclear option, IMO.

My husband found the scans very bonding. I think it's a lot easier for women to bond with the baby in utero because we can feel it. It was an amazing experience for him to see this living little person in there. I know a lot of people (including some women) who say the same. And while I agree that if he is likely to be vile she is under no obligation, her only given reason is that she doesn't see why he should get the nice bits. That implies rather strongly that it would be a pleasant experience for all concerned, and the motive is punitive, not self-protective. To rewrite that in responses is to ignore the OP's own words, which is not an ideal way to advise, surely.

I absolutely support a woman's right to autonomy over her own body. I was quite clear that she shouldn't have anyone who might make her tense at the birth. But the baby is not "hers". It is "theirs" and most importantly, its own person. I don't think trying to deny the father the experiences of parenthood on punitive grounds is going to help him and that child form a more positive relationship, which is, after all, the primary goal.

Finallygotaroundtoit Wed 20-Apr-11 14:14:37

The baby is indeed 'theirs' but while it is in her body any decisions about who should be present at investigations & later on at the birth are 'hers'.

As I said bonding is a 2 way process - 'seeing' the baby helps with positive feelings towards it (& that's great) but until the baby is born & has an awareness of dad the so called 'bonding' is all one way.

Yes, the baby is it's own person and as such it will bond with people who love it, nurture it & above all put it's needs above their own - not just those who got to be present at the scan or insisted on being on the BC despite treating the mother like shite.

Prior to scans, dads still loved & looked forward to their children's birth, true bonding takes place once the baby is a participant in the loving relationship. Dads now don't love their babies more because they 'bonded' with them in the womb (IMO).

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