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The Law and Single Mothers

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 3 Dec 2016 | 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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I have recently separated from my adulterous husband and have started divorce proceedings. He has never initiated contact with our 3 young children however I have arranged he has them one evening a week. I just feel very resentful and powerless that I still have to let him see the children when I do everything and he never shows any interest in them. I just want him out of my life and I don't see why I have to let him have the children when he just isn't bothered. Now I have started the once a week visit I feel that I want to stop it and see if he actually makes the effort to see them. Can I stop the visitations as they are currently do I have the right to do that? I just want him to make some effort off his own back.
Sophie - 3-Dec-16 @ 5:25 AM
I have a 15year old son who has lived with me from birth and I have brought him up can help just decide to go and live with myhis dad or can I get him to come home?
Susan - 23-Nov-16 @ 1:19 AM
My childs father works away and is back every 3 weeks. I am unhappy about him working away and not seeing his daughter regulaly and supporting me with having her sometimes. Is there anythin i can do legally to have him back to see and help out with her more.
jj - 22-Nov-16 @ 9:14 PM
My ex husband has unsupervised contact with my daughter at the moment. In the future he wants to take her to his house for sleepovers. My question is, can my daughter go to sleep at his house when there are four other people living there? As he only rents a room in that house but shares the house with other people. My ex husband wants to rent a room for my daughter in the house from his landlord where from Monday - Friday, a woman lives in that room. He wants to rent that room over the weekend for my daughter to sleep in. Should someone check who lives in that house and should my daughter have her own room rather than sleep in someone else room? Who can check this or should I tell someone? Because I'm worried about my daughters safety.
Aga - 18-Nov-16 @ 12:22 PM
SuperMom - Your Question:
I have 2 amazing daughters 9 and 7, in a almost 11 years relationship unmarried, living together. We bought a house 8 years ago and I'm not on the mortgage or any of the utilities bills although I have put in thousands depositing into his bank account to help out. I do have a great job for almost 8 years my kids are under my insurances and care at this moment but I'm not sure what to do from here.Almost 3 weeks ago he left without any notification to his mom house. I try to reach out by text never reply to me until the past week and he finally stated that the reason that left is because he was unhappy, he also said for me to stay in the house with the girls, but he has drinking problems and a mom that support him, he is been very verbally abused with and so is physical in the past. I'm not sure what to do! or what kind of lawyer to contact.He also has medical conditions (epilepsy) so this is such issue for me for him to take the girls. Thank you for listening!

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. You would need to seek legal advice from a 'family law' solicitor in order to ascertain your position. As we are a UK-based site, we only have knowledge of UK-based family law and it sounds as though you may not be from the UK. You may have some rights if you have children, and can prove you have put money into the house - but you would have to check your country's laws on cohabiting and separation. Doing some research on the internet should help you out.
ChildSupportLaws - 11-Nov-16 @ 1:43 PM
I have 2 amazing daughters 9 and 7, in a almost 11 years relationship unmarried, living together. We bought a house 8 years ago and I'm not on the mortgage or any of the utilities bills although I have put in thousands depositing into his bank account to help out... I do have a great job for almost 8 years my kids are under my insurances and care at this moment but i'm not sure what to do from here....Almost 3 weeks ago he left without any notification to his mom house. I try to reach out by text never reply to me until the past week and he finally stated that the reason that left is because he was unhappy, he also said for me to stay in the house with the girls, but he has drinking problems and a mom that support him, he is been very verbally abused with and so is physical in the past. I'm not sure what to do! or what kind of lawyer to contact. He also has medical conditions (epilepsy) so this is such issue for me for him to take the girls. Thank you for listening!
SuperMom - 10-Nov-16 @ 6:05 PM
Hdm - Your Question:
My kids Dad is refusing to have them more than once a week, I work full time and is causing a lot of problems financially. He works part time lives 10doors down and pays me £100 a month. Is there any law that forces him to take more of an active role in their lives like he is capable of doing? And supporting me by having them during the holidays? I realise this is quite unusual.

Our Response:
I'm afraid a court will not force a non-resident parent to have contact with their children if the parent does not wish to.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Oct-16 @ 11:44 AM
Hi, I was servery sexaully and emotionally abused by my ex for years at a young age. I had a mental breakdown and passed over my daughter to my family to look after as I was unable to cope, no courts were involved, she's just considered legally passed over. I found out that my family gave my daughter to my ex who I'm divorced from and as they're no proof he's abusive since I was in too much fear and reported him later they're wasn't enough evidence and the social services gave my daughter to my ex without informing me. I'm still mentally unwell suffering from ptsd and don't know how I can handle being connected to this guy for the rest of my life he'll cause problems, I've only just mentally started to get help and my daughter is in the worse place by being with him, he's got alot of money for COurt and i haven'tand is extremly arrogant and feels he can get anything, fools people of who he really is. The fact she's with him and hes the reason Ive had a mental breakdown and I'm still recovering.. What are my rights, can I see her in a peaceful environment without having any contact or problems from this guy and while I'm still recovering what actions can I take to have her with me where I can never have any problems from this guy again and no contact its important for my mental health and for my daughter
Sarah - 23-Oct-16 @ 11:02 PM
My kids Dad is refusing to have them more than once a week, i work full time and is causing a lot of problems financially. He works part time lives 10doors down and pays me £100 a month. Is there any law that forces him to take more of an active role in their lives like he is capable of doing? And supporting me by having them during the holidays? I realise this is quite unusual.
Hdm - 22-Oct-16 @ 6:46 PM
Cat- Your Question:
I've been out of an abusive relationship with my ex partner for 3 years now and we have a 4 year old child together. He has nothing to do with him and doesn't want to which is brilliant for me because I do not want him near my child. I was wondering what I could do to get rid of his parental rights, I need to have a clean slate for me and my child, without worrying he could just 'try' and come into of life again, which would not be safe.

Our Response:
It is rare that a court will revoke parental responsibility. The fact your ex has been out of your child's life for a period of time, means it is unlikley he would be able to apply for unsupervised contact. However, every parent has the right to be able to apply to the courts to see their child, if they choose.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Oct-16 @ 2:36 PM
I've been out of an abusive relationship with my ex partner for 3 years now and we have a 4 year old child together. He has nothing to do with him and doesn't want to which is brilliant for me because I do not want him near my child. I was wondering what I could do to get rid of his parental rights, I need to have a clean slate for me and my child, without worrying he could just 'try' and come into of life again, which would not be safe.
Cat - 19-Oct-16 @ 8:20 AM
@Sophie33 - if you don't want the day to have any say in your baby's welfare then you don't have to register his name on the birth certificate. This means he will not have parental responsibility and wont be able to take the baby. If he wants PR he would have to apply to court. Jill.
JO - 14-Oct-16 @ 2:42 PM
I am 5 months pregnant by my ex. We were kind of living together but nothing set in stone, anyway we had a fight and he left when I was 8 week pregnant. He lives up north, 4 hours away from London and we barely speak. I am really worried that he will want parental responsibility and therefore be able to gain access to my baby any time he likes, and make decisions on the babies life that I don't want him to. If he was living here still it might be different but being so far away I'm worried he interfere with decisions that are nothing to do with him and also be able to take the baby up north without telling me. I have been looking at sensible access to a newborn and have seen it is short regular visits, but he might take the baby away for a weekend and I wouldn't be able to do anything about it. I'm so worried by all this and cannot sleep or eat. Also he has said he should be at the birth -I don't want this at all! What rights do I have in any of this? If he wants to be a good dad that's one thing, but I'm scare with parental responsibility he can legally take baby away and I can do nothing. Please can you give me some advice?
Sophie33 - 14-Oct-16 @ 9:38 AM
Hello my ex is carrying my baby. She has changed her sername to her exs sername by depol does this mean she can put her exs sername on my child's birth certificate
Mark - 7-Oct-16 @ 6:11 PM
Hello my ex is carrying my baby but she has changed her name by depol to her exs name does this mean she can put her exs sername on my child's birth certificate
Mark - 7-Oct-16 @ 6:09 PM
Kirky - Your Question:
Hi my partner got with his ex when she was already pregnant with her son who is now 8. We have an access order from the court to say we can have access to see him. he is not the child biological father and she is now saying he need to start paying maintenance to her for him coz she is unable to get him anything and is living off 10 pounds a week. But she works and so does her partner and we both work and I have two biological children to him can she make a claim for child support from my partner or not.

Our Response:
Much depends on whether he has Parental Responsibility and/or is registered on the birth certificate. However, if he is proven not to be the biological father by a DNA test or the courts and does not have parental responsibility, then his ex would not be entitled to claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Oct-16 @ 2:51 PM
Hi my partner got with his ex when she was already pregnant with her son who is now 8 . We have an access order from the court to say we can have access to see him .he is not the child biological father and she is now saying he need to start paying maintenance to her for him coz she is unable to get him anything and is living off 10 pounds a week . But she works and so does her partner and we both work and I have two biological children to him can she make a claim for child support from my partner or not .
Kirky - 6-Oct-16 @ 9:36 AM
My husband has taken my children to his mothers then left them there . my 4 year old is disabled and im his named carer he gets dla and i get carers allowance. My older son is 6 and iv always been their main carer as he works. His mum refuses to open the door for me to see my children . i have no access to them. I really don't know what to do I just want to see my babies
Poplol - 1-Oct-16 @ 7:52 AM
charlie - Your Question:
Hi there, I recently found out I was 5 months pregnant with someone that I haven't been in a relationship with for even a year yet, I'm currently living with him most of the time and I'm home maybe 2 days a week if even. I was in a bad way with this pregnancy because I didn't want to keep it in fear I would turn out angry and bitter like my parents, they are living a lie to each other and everyone else, they sleep in separate rooms, fight all the time and it has effected me more than my brothers. I'm scared of turning out like them emotionally abusing my child, then there is the financial stress of raising a child. My boyfriend has his own place,its a lovely home but I want to get back out and work and there is nothing for me in that place and its really far from home if I need help with the child. He works three days I don't think he realises how serious it is to bring up a baby and financially support it without the strain. Then there is being so far away from home with a baby, no family around I think I will get depressed because despite what my parents have emotionally put me through I am very very close with my brother, auntie and uncle and I want them to be part of my childs life and I want to raise my baby differently showing that family is important and show the positive impact on that to my child. My heads a mess right now, moving back home to raise my baby in that stressed, negative, bitter environment is not an option for me. Me and my father haven't talked in years without an angry word and my mother is disappointed that I'm pregnant and not in college like my "golden child" cousin (no joke she does compare me to her). I have also been declined my college placement which given the circumstances is probably best this year but I feel like such a failure and my life is going nowhere but down right now. I have no permanent income to support my baby bar whatever my boyfriend makes which isn't a lot considering everything a child needs and I just don't think he'll want to keep paying out while I'm in the house, I need to know what I'm entitled to if I want to move out on my own and be an independent mother to my baby. Thanks for taking time to read this and hopefully answering my questions.

Our Response:
I am very sorry to hear you are in a predicament. Abortion is legal in Great Britain at any time up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. The majority of abortions are carried out before 13 weeks, and most of the rest before 20 weeks. If you have decided to keep your child, then this does not mean you will turn out like your parents; we often wish to bring our children up different to our parents, and choose not to make the mistakes we think our parents have made. You can obtain some advice on housing via the Gingerbread link here which will help if you need to house yourself (you don't say how the father feels about your pregnancy). Dependent upon your financial situation, if you are not working you will receive some benefits, please see link hereand you may be able to still get this and attend college in the future if this is what you wish. The Family Lives link here may also help, and it gives you the option to talk to someone if you need. Wishing you the best of luck.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Sep-16 @ 12:57 PM
Hi there, I recently found out I was 5 months pregnant with someone that I haven't been in a relationship with for even a year yet, I'm currently living with him most of the time and i'm home maybe 2 days a week if even. I was in a bad way with this pregnancy because I didn't want to keep it in fear I would turn out angry and bitter like my parents, they are living a lie to each other and everyone else, they sleep in separate rooms, fight all the time and it has effected me more than my brothers. I'm scared of turning out like them emotionally abusing my child, then there is the financial stress of raising a child. My boyfriend has his own place,its a lovely home but I want to get back out and work and there is nothing for me in that place and its really far from home if I need help with the child. He works three days I don't think he realises how serious it is to bring up a baby and financially support it without the strain. Then there is being so far away from home with a baby, no family around I think I will get depressed because despite what my parents have emotionally put me through I am very very close with my brother, auntie and uncle and I want them to be part of my childs life and I want to raise my baby differently showing that family is important and show the positive impact on that to my child. My heads a mess right now, moving back home to raise my baby in that stressed, negative, bitter environment is not an option for me. Me and my father haven't talked in years without an angry word and my mother is disappointed that I'm pregnant and not in college like my "golden child" cousin (no joke she does compare me to her). I have also been declined my college placement which given the circumstances is probably best this year but I feel like such a failure and my life is going nowhere but down right now. I have no permanent income to support my baby bar whatever my boyfriend makes which isn't a lot considering everything a child needs and I just don't think he'll want to keep paying out while I'm in the house, I need to know what I'm entitled to if I want to move out on my own and be an independent mother to my baby. Thanks for taking time to read this and hopefully answering my questions.
charlie - 21-Sep-16 @ 1:22 PM
Alian - Your Question:
After a short but extremely violant marriege I finaly found the courage to leave my husband taking our 2 children with me.a few mths after leaving I became ill with a severe gastric disease (barrats) and went from 12st down to 6 st 7lb very rapidly and in and out of hospital.but it never stopped me looking after my children.but my husband started to accuse me of being a drug addict and started this rumour saying this was the reason for my weight loss.i had no idea what he was trying to do but 2 yrs ago he picked our children up from skl as agreed and I have not seen them since he has denied me all contact with my babies.i am alone and have no family to turn to as he turned what family I had against me with his false accusations.im so lost without them but dont know what to do

Our Response:
I am very sorry to hear this and I hope you are on the road to recovery after your illness. If you can, in the first instance, some legal advice would be helpful in order to explore your options. You don't say whether you have tried in the previous two years to regain contact, or how old your children are. So, having limited information to go on, your first option would be to suggest mediation to your ex and if your ex refuses you would have to apply to take the matter to court. If you cannot afford legal fees you can self-litigate, please see Bar Council link: here. In order to begin proceedings you would have to apply for a contact order (C100), please see link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Sep-16 @ 1:59 PM
After a short but extremely violant marriege I finaly found the courage to leave my husband taking our 2 children with me .a few mths after leaving I became ill with a severe gastric disease (barrats) and went from 12st down to 6 st 7lb very rapidly and in and out of hospital.but it never stopped me looking after my children.but my husband started to accuse me of being a drug addict and started this rumour saying this was the reason for my weight loss .i had no idea what he was trying to do but 2 yrs ago he picked our children up from skl as agreed and I have not seen them since he has denied me all contact with my babies.i am alone and have no family to turn to as he turned what family I had against me with his false accusations.im so lost without them but dont know what to do
Alian - 19-Sep-16 @ 5:58 PM
Father of my child refusing to pay maintenance. He is not on BC and he was violent. He own £500000 house, his son is in private school, travelling abroad 3-4 times at least, taking his gf to 5* hotel where night is £300 per night per person, wearing designer clothes and owning expensive car and watches (4-5, each at least £20000). Last two years he had 4 jobs which on 3 of them he was director and last senior manager in dubai. CSA cant give him pay anything because he had £0 earnings last year. I contacted REMO, i have many evidence about his good lifestyle, but apparently I can not do anything! They told me to contact HMRC, for tax envision, but how this help to my child??? Can not believe that this man going around and making children and no responsibility for him, no rights for my baby??? I can not effort to take a solicitor,is really nothing what can i do? Please help...
Erika - 16-Sep-16 @ 10:09 PM
Kezi16 - Your Question:
Me and my ex have 3 children im starting college 3 days a week but he wants to have them fo 4 nights per week im not sure where I stand he usually has them at weekends or I have them at weekends. If he has my children for 4 ninghts per week is he entiled to half of the benifits I get for my children help please.

Our Response:
Your ex would have to apply through court if he wanted to be considered as the primary carer, if you do not agree. Some parents choose to half the benefits if they are sharing the care of the children, some parents do not. If your ex is having the children the majority of the time, then he may have a case. But if you are sharing the care, then you will still be considered the primary carer and the person awarded child benefit.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Sep-16 @ 2:18 PM
Kerry - Your Question:
Can someone please advise me?My husband left me last year after 15 years of marriage. We have three children. He left me after I found out he was having his fourth affair. When he left he promised to pay their mortgage and maintenance for the children. Our mortgage is very small. Since leaving he has paid a decreasing amount each month. The last two months he hasn't paid enough to cover the mortgage and I have had to pay the extra which is leaving in a very difficult position as I can't afford to pay the mortgage, other bills as well as groceries and clothing for the children. He say a he has no money but frequently goes away for weekends and is out every weekend. He phones the children once a week and hardly sees them, he says he's working but then puts pictures on social media of him out at a pub or club. The children miss him and want to see him, and I think they have the right to see him, but he makes very little effort. He has phoned me several times in the year and demanded that I have the children ready for him to lift in ten minutes, but at those times I have been out with the children and he has accused me of stopping him from seeing them. I have asked him to make an arrangement with me with set times and days to see the children but he refuses to do so as he says he doesn't know what his plans are every week. He has now said he won't pay any money towards the mortgage at all and he doesn't pay any child maintenance either. What are my rights?

Our Response:
I think in this instance you need to simply contact the CMS, please see link here as your ex is legally financially responsible for your kids and if he won't pay voluntarily, then this is the alternative option. With regards to access, you may need to put your foot down here too and attempt to arrange set days he sees the kids. It seems to me he is taking quite a few liberties here.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Sep-16 @ 12:23 PM
Can someone please advise me? My husband left me last year after 15 years of marriage. We have three children. He left me after I found out he was having his fourth affair. When he left he promised to pay their mortgage and maintenance for the children. Our mortgage is very small. Since leaving he has paid a decreasing amount each month. The last two months he hasn't paid enough to cover the mortgage and I have had to pay the extra which is leaving in a very difficult position as I can't afford to pay the mortgage, other bills as well as groceries and clothing for the children. He say a he has no money but frequently goes away for weekends and is out every weekend. He phones the children once a week and hardly sees them, he says he's working but then puts pictures on social media of him out at a pub or club. The children miss him and want to see him, and I think they have the right to see him, but he makes very little effort. He has phoned me several times in the year and demanded that I have the children ready for him to lift in ten minutes, but at those times I have been out with the children and he has accused me of stopping him from seeing them. I have asked him to make an arrangement with me with set times and days to see the children but he refuses to do so as he says he doesn't know what his plans are every week. He has now said he won't pay any money towards the mortgage at all and he doesn't pay any child maintenance either. What are my rights?
Kerry - 14-Sep-16 @ 5:33 PM
Me and my ex have 3 children im starting college 3 days a week but he wants to have them fo 4 nights per week im not sure where i stand he usually has them at weekends or i have them at weekends. If he has my children for 4 ninghts per week is he entiled to half of the benifits i get for my children help please .
Kezi16 - 9-Sep-16 @ 10:53 AM
Coops - Your Question:
I have 2 children 5 and 10, in a 16 year relationship unmarried, living together. We bought a house 2 years ago and I'm not on the mortgage although I have put in thousands. I do not work because I have my job up to look after the children. I have another very small house, not big enough for me and the children stood empty. He works away all week and gave just found out he lives a double life and has a house with his ex who isn't his ex. He lies and lies even to his children. What can I do, I am full of anxiety about financial things, where I'm going to live and him cutting my money off when I confront him. I am sure my children will be ok emotionally but its pulling them out if a life they live.

Our Response:
You would have to seek legal advice regarding this as you may be able to declare an interest on the property, especially as a) you have children with your ex and b) if you can prove you contributed 'thousands' to the house. Much also depends on where you are currently living. If you are currently living in the house, then a court 'may' allow you to remain. However, this is merely conjecture and a solicitor will be able to advise further whether you have a case.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Sep-16 @ 2:16 PM
I have 2 children 5 and 10, in a 16 year relationship unmarried, living together. We bought a house 2 years ago and I'm not on the mortgage although I have put in thousands. I do not work because I have my job up to look after the children. I have another very small house, not big enough for me and the children stood empty. He works away all week and gave just found out he lives a double life and has a house with his ex who isn't his ex. He lies and lies even to his children. What can I do, I am full of anxiety about financial things, where I'm going to live and him cutting my money off when I confront him. I am sure my children will be ok emotionally but its pulling them out if a life they live.
Coops - 7-Sep-16 @ 9:51 PM
Siwa - Your Question:
My husband just left me we have son from the day ours son was born he never was involve in his life like a father should be always at work and when was weekend he was always out for a drink with his friends. So never had a time for him.He have a drink problem a botel of wesky every night. Now when he left us he want our son to sleap over in his new place but I dont wont this I dont mind day time but not sleaping over because he dont know what to do what he is eating what to do when he is ill nothing at all. So im just wonder if he will go to the court wich chances he will have to get my son over night? Im just scared because he have drink problem

Our Response:
We cannot predict what a court may decide, should your ex decide to take the matter further. But before it goes to court Cafcass will get involved and write a report which will be presented to the judge. The court will be able to make a decision based upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your child. It means that you will be able to voice your worries and/or concerns regarding any possible overnight stays.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Sep-16 @ 12:58 PM
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