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The Law and Single Mothers

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 18 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Mother Father Parent Child Shared

A mother has parental responsibility for her child and is generally expected to become the parent with care, in the event of a separation or divorce. Whilst providing care for her child allows her to receive maintenance support from the child’s father, to cover the cost of the child’s expenses, a mother’s rights are very much conditioned by her marital status. A married woman will be more financially secure, than a woman who remains unmarried, if she has children and her relationship breaks down.

Mother’s Pride

If the mother’s name is the only name listed on the child’s birth certificate she has sole Parental Responsibility for the child’s welfare. Adding a father’s name to the certificate can only happen if he attends registration. Once the father’s name is registered he will automatically share parental responsibility for the child, assuming that the child is born after 2003. A Parental Responsibility Agreement can be drawn up at a later date if a mother is prepared to share responsibilities with the child’s father, if he was not named on the birth registration form. Our page on What rights does my ex have discusses Parental Responsibility and how to determine it in some detail.

Paternity Confirmation

Most fathers confirm paternity, when asked, which enables the mother – regardless of the brevity of the couple’s relationship - to apply for child support with relative ease. Establishing fatherhood acknowledges shared responsibility and liability for the child, or children. Those non resident fathers who are less willing to provide maintenance assistance for their child however, can be traced by the Child Support Agency (CSA) and have payment enforced.

Mothers’ Rights

A single mother is entitled to claim maintenance from her child’s father, on behalf of the child. She does not have to have shared parental responsibilities with him in order to ask for Child Support payments to be calculated and collected from him. Maintenance agreements can be made privately or can be arranged through the Child Support Agency.

Without shared Parental Responsibility a father cannot have access to his child without the mother agreeing. He may apply for a Contact Order, if communication between the parents has broken down, and should the father want the child to live with him he will have to apply for a Residence Order. However, the court is unlikely to grant a Residence Order to a father for a baby, as this would give him shared Parental Responsibility.

Maintenance Rights

Simply because a father pays maintenance support to the child’s mother periodically it does not mean that he is entitled to see the child. This form of support provides funds to be used towards the cost of raising the child, and should be used to pay for educational and extracurricular activities, shelter, clothing and food.

If the mother and the father have been able to agree a figure for maintenance, it is worth getting the agreement agreed by the court, in case payment enforcement is required at a later date.

Special Circumstances

In cases where the mother became pregnant through artificial insemination, or by third party donor, the partner at the time of birth is accountable for the child’s welfare and is expected to contribute financially.

To find out how child support is assessed take a look at our page How child support is calculated.

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Bettyboop - Your Question:
My granddaughter is nearly 4 months old and my son and the mother have split up.She has already been to Amsterdam for a weekend away and yesterday left to go on holiday to St lucia for 10 days. She refused to leave my granddaughter with my son or us and has left her yet again with her elderly nan and her own father.Does my son have the right to go and collect his daughter from them he has parental responsibility he is named on the birth certificate. My granddaughter had a traumatic birth and has health problems we are very worried about her welfare

Our Response:
If your son has parental responsibility, (named on the birth certificate) he has equal rights to take care of his daughter. This means if he is concerned for his daughter's safety and welfare, he can refuse to hand her back to the carers or mother and the police cannot intervene. However, taking this approach is never a good idea as it can backfire. The mother would have the option to take the matter to court and the court would then decide where the child should live. But, the court does not condone taking a child without authorisation (unless necessary). A court will always decide what it thinks is in the child's best interests and stability and consistency rank highest. His ex also has PR and is excersing her PR rights which is to choose who she thinks is most apable of caring for the daughter when she is away. While your son's ex's lifestyle might not be agreeable to him, mediation is the first option if they cannot agree on access terms. If an agreement cannot be reached, then your son would have the option to take the matter to court and his opinions will be taken into consideration. In this instance, I can only suggest your son seeks legal advice in order to explore his options and his rights.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Apr-17 @ 11:24 AM
My granddaughter is nearly 4 months old and my son and the mother have split up. She has already been to Amsterdam for a weekend away and yesterday left to go on holiday to St lucia for 10 days. She refused to leave my granddaughter with my son or us and has left her yet again with her elderly nan and her own father. Does my son have the right to go and collect his daughter from them he has parental responsibility he is named on the birth certificate. My granddaughter had a traumatic birth and has health problems we are very worried about her welfare
Bettyboop - 18-Apr-17 @ 5:31 PM
Hi there After 8years together myself and my ex split Recently had a solicitor letter stating he wants overnight access every other weekend and phone contact every night I recently changed my number due to harassment He never spoke to the children on a nightly basis when we were together My youngest son doesn't have a strong bond with him and will kick off over the slightest thing do I have to let him have them over night
Bookworm - 17-Apr-17 @ 7:52 PM
Hi if I had a child unmarried no fathers name on birth certificate. Can I be forced by a man who says he's the farther to have the baby DNA tested Thank you T
T - 14-Apr-17 @ 1:47 PM
Is it better to agree child maintenance between both parent. Or is it better to go through child maintenance where they take the money and give to me. How much should a father pay for maintenance if your a single mother. For just one child. I only receive 15 pounds a week. Is that reasonable?
Kk - 13-Apr-17 @ 2:46 PM
When the father of my two children left the family home after causing severe debt to the point we were almost homeless, he stopped working so he couldn't be made to pay maintenance.That was five years ago and I have struggled financially because I there is no provision for me to claim extra benefit to make up for the fact that I receive no maintenance.This because maintenance Payments are disregarded for benefit claim purposes, but also the lack of receipt of maintenance is also disregarded so single parents in this situationseem to be expected to struggle financially.Is there any way I can get extra help that you know of?Parents such as I are trapped by the rule of disregarding maintenance.
JS - 8-Apr-17 @ 5:51 PM
Bianca ralu - Your Question:
Hello,I just want to say me and my ex we haven't been married,we got one baby together but from one year he doesn't help me with nothing no money support and he doesn't want to see the baby!how I can't get help to pay for help my self and the baby?and what I need to do?coz officially his absent dad.

Our Response:
Please see CMS link here, which should answer your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Apr-17 @ 12:28 PM
Hello,I just want to say me and my ex we haven't been married,we got one baby together but from one year he doesn't help me with nothing no money support and he doesn't want to see the baby!how I can't get help to pay for help my self and the baby?and what I need to do?coz officially his absent dad.
Bianca ralu - 3-Apr-17 @ 11:51 PM
Kk - Your Question:
I have recently been through the court procedure now I've been ask for my child benefit letter from my ex. Would he be able to make a claim for money because he's keeping the baby. She lives with me and she been seen buy him 10 til 4 on Saturday and Sunday. Would the child benefit claim split between both of us

Our Response:
The primary carer i.e the person who looks after your child the most, is the person who by law receives child benefit.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Apr-17 @ 2:34 PM
James Letts - Your Question:
My girlfriend have 3 children with her ex husband, they have been separated for 3 years in this time he has made very little effort to see them but has now started to push for contact though the courts and has been given suprised contact at a contact center as my partner what's him to have no contact she is planning to move to the other side of the country to stop him seeing them my question is as it is court ordered contact can the court make her return or bring the kids to him anyway as her is obstructing the court order in place my second question is she is pregnant with my child an I can see her trying to leave my off the birth certificate to give me less rights in case this happens to her again what rights do I have to have my name on it as I fear if our relationship did collapse I would receive the same treatment and never see my child ?

Our Response:
Each case is very different and dependent upon many varying circumstances. Firstly, if your girlfriend's ex has parental responsibility she is required by law to request his consent if she wishes to move from the area. If your girlfriend is also subject to the terms of a court order and she attempts to move out of the area without authorisation from the courts to vary the order, she will be in breach of the court order. However, much depends upon what happens if her ex takes the matter back to court and whether she can justify the move. While she can be brought back to the area by the courts, the court will always decide what it thinks is in the children's best interests regardless of the intended breach. With regards to your own situation, if your girlfriend chooses to leave your name off the birth certificate, then you will have no legal rights to your child and in order to have legal rights you would have to apply to court for parental responsibility (if your girlfriend will not agree). Please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Apr-17 @ 11:18 AM
I have recently been through the court procedure now I've been ask for my child benefit letter from my ex... Would he be able to make a claim for money because he's keeping the baby. She lives with me and she been seen buy him 10 til 4 on Saturday and Sunday. Would the child benefit claim split between both of us
Kk - 2-Apr-17 @ 9:25 PM
My girlfriend have 3 children with her ex husband, they have been separated for 3 years in this time he has made very little effort to see them but has now started to push for contact though the courts and has been given suprised contact at a contact center as my partner what's him to have no contact she is planning to move to the other side of the country to stop him seeing them my question is as it is court ordered contact can the court make her return or bring the kids to him anyway as her is obstructing the court order in place my second questionis she is pregnant with my child an I can see her trying to leave my off the birth certificate to give me less rights in case this happens to her again what rights do I have to have my name on it as I fear if our relationship did collapse I would receive the same treatment and never see my child ?
James Letts - 2-Apr-17 @ 7:13 AM
Kk - Your Question:
My question is still not answered

Our Response:
Your question has been answerd - (see below).
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Mar-17 @ 12:59 PM
Mama - Your Question:
Hi,I'm single mother of 2kids 12,4years old from different father never married, both father name in the birth certificate one was with me at the register and one wasn't, both child lives with me all there life I've never received any maintenance,and don't have contact with the fathers.my question do I have the right to move abroad to Germany and what is the rules in Germany?

Our Response:
By law, you would have to seek authorisation from both fathers if you wish to move from the country. If the fathers have never been in their children's lives then you could take a chance, but you may risk being asked to return to the UK.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Mar-17 @ 12:35 PM
Kk - Your Question:
I have recently been through the court with my ex partner. He's been given 12 til 6 on the weekend. Is it suitable to send a sick baby out when the doctor says to keep the baby inside and lots of rest. The father of the child came and was bullying me to take the baby out. The police came and they said they can't do anything because of the court order. What do you think I could get done. Should I go back to my solicitor and try to sort the situation out and take it further. He's also bough her back with a cut on her fore head. He's also slap her when she was sick. What could I get done please

Our Response:
If your child was sick and you think it is in the best interests of your child to keep her at home, then no court is going to punish this breach (especially if you can back it up by a doctor's note etc). It is important to consider the needs of your child first and so some flexibility may be needed on occasion. However, if the breach is regular or intentional then your ex can take the matter back to court and if the court thinks you are trying to find reasons to avoid sending your child, then it can take punishable action on you for the breach (your court order should have come with a contempt of court warning). However, if you think your ex has been violent to your child, then you will be advised to keep your child at home and refer this back to the solicitors. If your ex denies the accusations, then it is likely the matter will have to go back to court.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Mar-17 @ 10:20 AM
My question is still not answered
Kk - 20-Mar-17 @ 7:05 AM
Hi,I'm single mother of 2kids 12,4years old from different father never married, both father name in the birth certificate one was with me at the register and one wasn't, both child lives with me all there life I've never received any maintenance,and don't have contact with the fathers.my question do I have the right to move abroad to Germany and what is therules in Germany?
Mama - 19-Mar-17 @ 1:59 PM
I have recently been through the court with my ex partner. He's been given 12 til 6 on the weekend. Is it suitable to send a sick baby out when the doctor says to keep the baby inside and lots of rest. The father of the child came and was bullying me to take the baby out. The police came and they said they can't do anything because of the court order. What do you think i could get done. Should i go back to my solicitor and try to sort the situation out and take it further. He's also bough her back with a cut on her fore head. He's also slap her when she was sick. What could i get done please
Kk - 19-Mar-17 @ 12:09 AM
Mouse - Your Question:
I am a mum of 2 (6&7) I have residency of my children and the father has agreed times to see the children. On a number of occasions when the Dad is to return the children he has only returned one. I have been back to court and had to get emergency removal agreed by a judge to have my child returned. I still have to comply with the court order that he still gets to see the children. I'm currently waiting to have a meeting with cafcass. And are back in court next month. Would do I do if the court agrees that the visits continue and he still keeps one child. (He never keeps the other child as they are autistic and cannot deal with them)

Our Response:
If you are going back to court to enforce this order, you need to ask the court to draw up a more stringent warning regarding the repercussions he will face if he attempts once again to keep your child without consent.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Mar-17 @ 1:54 PM
Sah - Your Question:
Hi, I got married to my partner few months ago and I am on a visa here. It's mentioned on my visa letter that I don't have access on any public funds. We received a letter from hmrc saying that her tax credits are gonna stop because she is living with a partner. She is registered as disabled and already had 5 kids as well. I have just started working but I don't know how I am gonna cover all of these expenses which she was getting the money for from tax credits. Is there anything I can do about it?

Our Response:
For the likes of tax credits, couples need to make joint claims based on household income. However, if you have no recourse to public funds, then you personally would not be able to claim. Your wife would have to speak to someone at the DWP to see if there is any way around this.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Mar-17 @ 12:00 PM
I am a mum of 2 (6&7) I have residency of my children and the father has agreed times to see the children. On a number of occasions when the Dad is to return the children he has only returned one. I have been back to court and had to get emergency removal agreed by a judge to have my child returned. I still have to comply with the court order that he still gets to see the children. I'm currently waiting to have a meeting with cafcass. And are back in court next month. Would do I do if the court agrees that the visits continue and he still keeps one child. (He never keeps the other child as they are autistic and cannot deal with them)
Mouse - 12-Mar-17 @ 5:13 PM
Hi, I got married to my partner few months ago and I am on a visa here. It's mentioned on my visa letter that I don't have access on any public funds. We received a letter from hmrc saying that her tax credits are gonna stop because she is living with a partner. She is registered as disabled and already had 5 kids as well. I have just started working but I don't know how I am gonna cover all of these expenses which she was getting the money for from tax credits. Is there anything I can do about it?
Sah - 12-Mar-17 @ 12:02 PM
My partner has 2 children aged 13 and 11. The mother is constantly texting nasty things, trying to cause trouble. We were wondering if my partner can communicate with his daughter who is nearly 14 with regards to pick up times and drop offs and not the mother as we would like to block her number all together?
Dd29 - 9-Mar-17 @ 9:10 AM
@Gg21 - if you always think you are making a decision which you think is based in the best interests of your child, then you'll know when it's right to let your ex have access, or take her out on his own. It's all about negotiation and it might be your ex is scared. You obviously have your child full-time, but your ex doesn't have any experience and he might need to be encouraged to help out and see her a bit more. It's all about communication and working together for the best of your lovely new daughter. It's nice if you can work together - rather than battle against each other :) Liz.
EJ - 7-Mar-17 @ 11:58 AM
My daughters 3 months and not with father, I let him see her as and when he wants to with me there as she's breastfeeding. He's not said he wants her by himself but don't feel comfortable with that as he only sees her for half an hour a week, hasn't even changed a nappy and as soon as she cries he passes her back. Also she has no routine to when she wants feeding. Just need advice on what to do
Gg21 - 6-Mar-17 @ 3:51 PM
Zak - Your Question:
Hi, my girlfriend's Dad left the family when she was 2 years old. He's never paid a penny since and had just got up and gone. Where does she stand in regards to getting money from him. Legally that is

Our Response:
Your girlfriend cannot claim child maintenance from her father. Only the mother is responsible for doing this, and if the mother has never previously lodged a claim then she would not be able to claim child maintenance retrospectively
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Mar-17 @ 2:32 PM
Hi, my girlfriend's Dad left the family when she was 2 years old. He's never paid a penny since and had just got up and gone. Where does she stand in regards to getting money from him.. Legally that is
Zak - 5-Mar-17 @ 11:08 PM
@Kk - you can simply stop the dad seeing your child. If the dad wanted to see your child he would have to take it to court. No person should slap a baby!
Billie - 1-Mar-17 @ 12:43 PM
If a dad hit a sick baby could he be stopped from seeing the baby. Slapping a sick baby is very wrong.
Kk - 28-Feb-17 @ 10:48 PM
Lovingparent - Your Question:
I am immigrant married with an English man 10 years ago. Our marriage broke down after 2 years for his alcohol and other substances problem, we have two kids. He never helped me out with money or a place to live. I am a stroke survivor and am struggling with economic expenses for my kids. He has 2 more kids with different mothers and never help out. What can I do?

Our Response:
If your ex is earning and income and paying tax to the HMRC, then you can claim child maintenance, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Feb-17 @ 12:35 PM
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