Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Young Dad

Becoming a dad can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Whether your partner is pregnant, you have children already or your new partner has children, here’s some useful information on fatherhood.

During pregnancy

You might be worried about the baby arriving or other things like money or your housing situation. It's very normal to be nervous about the arrival of a new baby and it can help to chat to your partner, friends or a healthcare professional such as a midwife or family nurse. 

You can check if you are entitled to any benefits, such as paternity pay or tax credits, and Money Advice Service can provide more information on managing your finances. You can also check out our articles on Housing and Managing Money as a Parent.

Lots of things can change in your relationship during pregnancy; your baby's mum will be feeling tired and she may be feeling sick and irritable because of the pregnancy. You can help by being supportive, helping with practical chores and talking openly about your feelings.

You are entitled to take unpaid leave from work to attend ante-natal appointments. Schools, universities and colleges should also be flexible to allow you to attend. It’s important that you feel involved in the pregnancy and should be welcomed by hospital staff. Going along to antenatal classes, provided free by NHS, can also help you and the baby’s mum adjust to becoming parents.

NHS provide more information around pregnancy and birth for dads.

Rights and responsibilities

You have parental rights and responsibilities if you’re the biological father and you:

  • were married to the child's birth mother when your child was conceived
  • married the child's birth mother after the child was conceived (even if you later got divorced)
  • jointly registered your child's birth with your child's birth mother
  • have signed and registered an agreement with the child's birth mother, unless a court has taken away her parental responsibilities and rights
  • are given them by a court

If you don't have parental responsibilities and rights, it's up to the child's mother to decide what's best. You have no legal right to make these choices.

If you’re a step parent, you don’t have any legal rights to make any decisions about your step-child.

Becoming a step-dad or father figure

As a step-parent you don’t have any legal rights to your partner’s children. However, it’s important for children to have good role models and you can help to provide a safe and caring environment for your partner’s children.

Sometimes it can be complicated to combine families, and being calm and open with your partner, your partners children and their biological dad can be best way forward. Contact Parentline Scotland for information and support for step-parents. 

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