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What Rights Do Fathers Have if They’re Not on the Birth Certificate in the UK?

Posted: 23rd April 2021
Written by: Rebecca Rizos

A father holding his baby in his arms.

Many people are unaware of what rights fathers in the UK have if they are not on the birth certificate of their child and what legal rights a father has if he is not married. In a Coronation Street plotline in 2013, Tyrone Dobbs and his abusive partner, Kirsty, brought up this issue, which prompted a lot of interest in the rights of UK fathers who are not on the birth certificate of their child.


What are parental rights?

Parental Responsibility covers a range of roles in a child’s life. The most important of these are providing a home for the child and protecting and maintaining them. Parental rights include control over the child’s name. Additionally, a person with parental rights is responsible for the child’s discipline, education, medical welfare or treatment and holding any property for the child until they are of age.

In most cases, the biological mother is automatically given parental rights, but there are two ways to ensure parental responsibility for the father without involving the court. The father must either be married to the child’s mother or named on the birth certificate. For fathers who cannot meet either of these criteria, it’s important to know what legal rights a father has if he is not married and the rights of UK fathers who are not on the birth certificate.


What legal rights does a father have if he is not married?

When the father is not named on the child’s birth certificate, then no legal rights or responsibilities are automatically conferred onto him. To be granted parental responsibility, the father can either enter into a Parental Responsibility Agreement or apply for a Parental Responsibility Order.

Let’s look back at Coronation Street. As the biological mother of Ruby, the couple’s young daughter, Kirsty is automatically given parental rights and responsibilities. Tyrone could acquire full parental responsibility without being married to Kirsty (even if they were not married in the first place or had been divorced or separated) by being named on Ruby’s birth certificate alongside her.

If paternity is called into question as a means of defeating his application for parental rights, a DNA test can be ordered by the court and a declaration of parentage made. However, the law is more complicated when it comes to Tyrone – as he is neither married nor on the birth certificate, fathers’ rights are slightly more difficult to come by.


What rights do fathers have if they are not on the birth certificate in the UK?

As he was not on the birth certificate, UK fathers’ rights for Tyrone were more difficult to acquire than if he had been. Kirsty did not name him, and in the programme, Tyrone was then told by his friend that the only way to get parental rights, in that case, was to marry her. This is untrue – Tyrone would have had two other options open to him.

  1. Making a Parental Responsibility Agreement with Kirsty
  2. Getting a Parental Responsibility Order from a court

The former is only open to him if the mother – Kirsty – agrees to give him parental rights. In that case, they would fill in a Parental Responsibility Agreement and take it to a courthouse to have it signed and witnessed. If not, and the mother doesn’t agree to give the father parental rights, he can apply for a court order. These cost £215 (although those on benefits or low-income may be entitled to assistance).

We hope this has helped you to understand what rights UK fathers have when they aren’t on the birth certificate. If you are attempting to secure parental rights for your child, it’s important to make sure that you have trained legal assistance to get the best outcome. At Newtons, our family law team is experienced in child law and ready to show you your options and how we can best help you. Call us today or contact us online for more information.

The information contained in this article is intended for guidance only and is not intended to provide specific legal advice to you. Expert advice on any issue should always be obtained. Newtons Solicitors Limited does not accept liability for any loss that may arise from relying on or using the information contained in this article.