Family structures can be seriously complex.
There aren’t always biological parents in the picture. In fact, some children may be closer to their non-biological parents than their biological, and may never have even met their biological fathers.
Family law gets a little complicated when it comes to defining the different rights of biological fathers and legal fathers. It is important for each party to know exactly where they stand.
The basic role of a father – legal or biological
A legal father is someone that has parental responsibility of a child, either by adoption or if they are on the birth certificate.
A biological father, however, is the blood-related father of a child, the person who impregnated the mother. He is the person whose genes the child inherited.
However, the basic roles don’t confer parental responsibility on them.
How does a biological father get parental responsibility?
A child’s biological father is not automatically considered to be their legal father, and they may not automatically gain parental responsibility.
Biological fathers will gain responsibility only if –
- They are married to the mother either at the time of the birth of the child or after.
- If the registration took place post-December 2003 and they are on the child’s birth certificate.
- Both the mother and father have signed an agreement that gives the father parental responsibility.
- The court gives both the father and mother, parental responsibility for their child.
However, more than two people may be able to get parental responsibility of a child at one time. But, such situations create complications in the long run.
What rights do fathers have?
Unless any of the above reasons apply, the biological father has no legal right towards the child.
However, whether they have parental responsibility or not, they still have a duty to support the child financially, even if they have no access to their child. Everyone, with parental responsibility of a child, will need to agree on things before they go ahead.
The mother can make a decision of little importance, but for bigger changes, everyone that has parental responsibility will need to be consulted.
If they cannot agree on a decision or outcome, then a ‘specific issue order’ can be applied for in court.
Child custody is a father’s right
Just because someone has parental responsibility of a child does not mean that they can contact the child whenever they want.
Child access rights are a whole other issue altogether.
If both parents can not agree, then they will need to apply for a ‘child arrangement order,’ and it will go to court.
Gaining parental responsibility
If a biological father doesn’t have parental responsibility, then they will need to sign a responsible agreement with the mother or take one step more and apply for a court order to discuss it further.