Single Father Anxiety?

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  • #52667 Report


    Hello, this is my first time posting and im sorry if this has been addressed in another post.

    I’ve been a single father to my 3 year old son for over a year now.

    He stays at his mothers house 1 night a week ( her choice ).

    We agreed that he would stay with me and that she could visit and look after him as much as she wanted, although she rarely dose.

    We have not been to court or anything like that.

    My question is, if she suddenly decided to take my son full time with out my consent. Would there be anything i could do to stop her?

    #52671 Report


    Hi SandE,

    Sorry you are feeling anxious. Our children mean the world to us don’t they, so it’s understandable to feel this way.

    I’m no expert, so someone else might be able to give you a firmer answer, but I can talk from my experience. I did have a situation when my daughters father didn’t bring her home when agreed. I contacted the 101 police line who said because we had no court order in place and he had parental responsibility they could go and check her welfare with him but could not remove her (not that I’d have wanted her to go through the trauma of police involvement, but I didn’t know what his plans were).

    Has your sons mother suggested that she might take him full time without your consent?

    I imagine after a year your son is settled with your current arrangements, so I would hope that his mother wouldn’t make such a huge change for him so lightly, especially given his young age. I always found any increased contact for my daughter with her father needed to be planned and worked toward in baby steps. She now has an overnight visit with him each week, sometimes an extra night if her Dad asks, and he has taken her on holiday (that’s always been in the UK, so my new worry is that he’s mentioned taking her abroad. I don’t like the thought of being in a different country to her, but I understand that’s for me to deal with and I would be considered unreasonable to say no). It took a lot of work for us to get were we are, we didn’t get on well at first and went to mediation, but we stuck with the mediation plan and now get along very well and our daughter is happy. What is your relationship like with his mother, are you able to work together?

    It’s horrible when things are uncertain, I remember feeling powerless with no court order in place, but obviously that comes with a huge price tag, a new potential heartache along the line, so I 100% understand your anxieties. Please feel free to contact me if ever you need a sounding board to let it all out!

    Thinking of you 🙂

    #52698 Report


    Hi SandE,

    As the last poster stated, I too am sorry for your anxiety and with very good reason, I can only imagine how hard it is for you.

    Firstly, its so wonderful that you have taken on your son full time and such a shame that she shows little interest.  I’m also not a legal expert, but I have looked a little into this because even though I am a mother I have been threatened by my child’s father taking custody many times so I have gained legal advice and will share what I know.

    Since 2017 if both mother and father are named on the birth certificate, even if they are not married BOTH have parental responsibility.  It is equal.  This is not the same as prior to then, when the mother was automatically given parental responsibility, the father only gaining it through marriage.

    Usually the mother has custody of the child, but you have come to an agreement where you will have day-to-day responsibility and custody of the child, she could very well “change her mind” one day and simply not return him.  Sadly, unless you have a written agreement with her stating the parenting arrangements and without a court order, unfortunately you would have a hard time getting him back quickly, unless you can prove that he is at risk of physical or emotional harm, in which case you would need to inform the police.

    In the UK currently, only the police have the authority to *immediately* remove a child from either parent, and again only if there is a good reason.  i.e neglect, etc. and it is evident and apparent at the time.  They will not take sides on this, both parents are equal.

    If this were to happen I sense you would indeed challenge her through the courts for suddenly taking custody of your son, and sadly you could only get him back through the court.  I know it would be very difficult in the meantime and would take time but do not forget that once that day comes the court will look at the best interests of the child only, not yours – nor her needs, and as you have been there consistently for the last year that would go in your favour, especially as your son is at such a young age.

    In a nutshell, nobody can predict what will happen but I can say that the court is not interested in your preference, nor hers.  They are simply ONLY interested in the best interests of your child.  It seems to me that you take very good care of your son and that can only go in your favour.  If she shows little interest, well that can only go against her, you have stated you allow her more access if she wants it and she chooses to not take that, that’s on her – and surely any court will see that.

    I do hope it never comes to that, but I can totally understand your fear, I wish you all the very best going forward x

    #52775 Report

    Hi SandE

    I’m Michelle one of the Moderators here in the forum.  It’s good to see you here posting, and I can see that you’re getting some support.  The question that you’ve asked would be best put to a professional with up to date knowledge of processes and legislation.

    You can get in touch with the Single Parents Helpline.  They should be able to guide you in answering your query or alternatively, they can signpost you to services that will be able to give you the correct information.   Here are the details:

    Gingerbread Single Parent Helpline – Freephone 0808 802 0925

    Opening hours:  Mon 10 – 6, Tues 10- 4, Wed 10 – 1 & 5 – 7, Thurs 10 – 4, Fri 10 – 4  They can be busy so callers can expect to wait up to 20 minutes before the call is answered

    I hope that helps a bit

    Kind regards




    #52803 Report


    This happened to me in the beginning please document every day you have your son in my experience the court will not remove a child from a parent who has majority of care it’s not in the child’s best interest and that’s all the courts care about the child’s emotional well-being so just keep your side of the street clean and you will have no worries police advised me after 1 year on my own with my kids to go to court as a situation like yours the mum can just decide to have her son as and when and with a court order in place there’s nothing you can do my thoughts are with you and I hope you get through this keep your head up by the way I have 4 on my own it’s been like tornado at times but as with all tornadoes the die down then disappear be strong 💪🏾👍🏾

    #52847 Report



    unfortunately if your ex decides to keep child with her, then only option would be to apply to court to sort it out. I have heard of cases where this has happened and court ruled that child is to live with mother. but have also heard cases where they wanted the arrangement to stay the same, child living with father. you may want to seek some legal advice about this situation. are you receiving child benefit?

    #53611 Report


    Hi. I would make sure you are claiming all relevant benefits for your child (child benefit, child element on UC etc) to prove you are the resident parent. Ensure your child is registered at your address at the drs etc.
    technically any parent with responsibility can decide that their child should live with them but the courts will look at the best interests of your child.
    be sure to take a note of any days that are of a concern ( last minute cancellation etc) so you have evidence if need be.

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