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The Law and Single Mothers

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 9 Feb 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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[Add a Comment]
I've recently been threatened from a text off my ex partner saying he is contacting a solicitor about our child ... I've never stopped him seeing or speaking to my child he's not on the birth certificate and only met my son 4 times and he's nearly 3 ... I don't understand what could happen next surely just cause I don't want personal contact with him he can't go to a solicitor as I had set times and days for him to ring my child but he failed to each time ?? Any extra help would be fab ?? Can he gain rights to prenatal responsibility ... Because he is far from responsible and my child doesn't actually know him x
lottiieee - 9-Feb-16 @ 1:35 PM
Mo - Your Question:
Hi,I'm 4 months pregnant and used to live wiw my partner,he never support me financially or emotionally during this time and one day came home from work and found out he pack his staff and gone with out saying goodbye,can he come bk after the child has born and claim for share custody?as he never been bother till now!and can I claim child support with him to be able to sea the kid?thanks

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. When your child is born, if you do not name him as the father on the birth certificate, then he has no rights. However, he will be able to dispute this through the courts if he wishes and apply for contact or Parental Responsibility, as specified in the article '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.' Regardless of whether he does this, or whether you name him on the birth certificate, you can still apply for child maintenance from him. You can access more information via the CMS link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 2-Feb-16 @ 10:21 AM
Hi,I'm 4 months pregnant and used to live wiw my partner,he never support me financially or emotionally during this time and one day came home from work and found out he pack his staff and gone with out saying goodbye,can he come bk after the child has born and claim for share custody?as he never been bother till now!and can I claim child support with him to be able to sea the kid?thanks
Mo - 1-Feb-16 @ 4:04 PM
Do I legally have to tell father where my sons school is if he's on birth certificate please ? Am I allowed to use a different name for child when he's at school ?
formyson16 - 30-Jan-16 @ 7:36 AM
AnaidT - Your Question:
Hi, I'm Mexican, living in Mexico, I'm pregnant of a British guy, I have being with him for the last 5 years. He wants me to abort. Should I be able to ask for a child support?

Our Response:
The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Order (REMO) Unit helps to register and enforce child maintenance orders internationally. Please see link: here. It would depend upon his financial circumstances as to whether you would be able to claim successfully.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Jan-16 @ 2:27 PM
kk - Your Question:
After attending mediation. Do you still have to go to court?

Our Response:
If you come to an agreement through mediation then the court will authorise the agreement, but you will not have to attend. If you do not reach an agreement with your ex through mediation, then either your ex or yourself will have the opportunity to take it to court.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Jan-16 @ 12:31 PM
Hi, I'm Mexican, living in Mexico, I'm pregnant of a British guy, I have being with him for the last 5 years. He wants me to abort. Should I be able to ask for a child support?
AnaidT - 22-Jan-16 @ 4:35 AM
After attending mediation. Do you still have to go to court?
kk - 21-Jan-16 @ 8:35 PM
kk- Your Question:
What can family mediation help you with?

Our Response:
If you and your partner are separating but cannot agree on how to sort out your debts, assets, property or child custody you may want to explore family mediation. This is a tool which will help you to reach an amicable compromise without the challenges, expense and formality of going to court. Family mediation aims to resolve problems and difficulties between family members by negotiating a compromise that suits everyone. In the case of a separation it can consider a whole host of practical problems and disputes which may arise including everything from who pays the mortgage to child custody rights. A trained mediator will work with you to ensure that both voices are heard. The mediator doesn’t take sides but is there to see that any decisions made are fair and agreed. Mediation in itself is not legally binding. It is dispute resolution and depends on trust and goodwill between both parties for it to succeed. It is about the application of common sense and hopes to defuse tensions between a separating couple without recourse to the courts. Although the courts will oversee and endorse the final agreement. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Jan-16 @ 2:00 PM
kk - Your Question:
The father of my child is taking me to a family mediation so that they can make arrangement towards my child because the communication has broken down between us. Could you give me some details about this place and what can be done.

Our Response:
Mediation is when two or more parties meet to resolve problems before the matter reaches court. It is most often used in family proceedings, regarding Contact Orders etc.It is a formal negotiation and courts can accept the agreement of the mediation instead of having to go through the court process, although it is subject to final court approval. Mediation takes place in front of a neutral third party. The mediator has no pre-conceptions and will not force you to make an agreement. They will assist the two parties in taking turns in the conversation, and helping you reach a decision that you are ready to agree with. Mediators do not pass judgment or offer guidance; they are there, in effect, to facilitate conversation between the two sides. Even though the two sides may not be interviewed at the same time. Mediation should, where possible, be used before the matter reaches court.The primary reason is that mediation is an opportunity to come to a mutually agreed decision, one that you can take ownership of and want to ensure works. A decision from the court can be perceived as ‘forced’ on you and is not one that the parties will necessarily want to make work, or at least, have less incentive to make work. Court is stressful for all concerned for you and your children, but you can help to avoid stressful situations by taking charge of the circumstances and try to reach a compromise. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Jan-16 @ 12:58 PM
What can family mediation help you with?
kk - 21-Jan-16 @ 7:06 AM
The father of my child is taking me to a family mediation so that they can make arrangement towards my child because the communication has broken down between us. Could you give me some details about this place and what can be done.
kk - 21-Jan-16 @ 6:38 AM
My daughters father refused to attend her registration so does not appear on her birth certificate. He does pay through the child maintenance service which is one thing. I would like him named on the certificate, does anyone know if there is any legal route I could take to force him to be registered on the birth certificate?
Annie6815 - 12-Jan-16 @ 10:12 PM
Proud mummy - Your Question:
Hi I have a 10 month old daughter. Since my daughter was born I had issues with my now ex partner and his mother. My ex thought it was appropriate to come to my house 8pm at night to see his daughter when I have sent a bedtime routine for her and then agree to see her and not turn up. We have had times were are relationship is okay, but every time his mum gets involved he becomes mean and aggressive towards me and they both try to belittle me. I had a conversation with his mum were she demanded to take my child from me as she believes she had rights as she is the grandma and can do what she likes with no regards for me. We came to an arrangement that he sees his daughter every Wednesday and Sunday and I would go to his house and stay. Recently I was told by him and his mum that I must drop the baby off and come back for her later which I was reluctant to do as he doesn't want to give her formula milk and wanted to give her hemp or almond milk when she is under 1 years old. But I agreed as he promised he would give her formula milk but he lied. Which lead to the baby being constipated.A few weeks later we had an argument were he accused me of trying to be violent towards him which was not the case and threaten to spit in my face and get someone else to do it and threatening to take me mediation as I'm apparently not letting him bond with his child which is a lie. He has recently not seen his daughter for 6 weeks and keeps leaving bags of veg on my doorstep but not seeing his child, he told me he was coming to see his daughter but never turn up and then threaten me by text and demanded that he's taking his daughter on the Wednesday which I refused and said we should meet at softplay so the baby can get use to him. Which he declined and threatened me again.What can I do to protect myself and my daughter from him, I have no issue with him seeing the little one but I just want consistency from him and for his mum to leave us to it and for him to come to my house to bond with the baby again in a comfortable environment.

Our Response:
Have you thought of trying mediation as your ex has suggested in order to solve your issues, if you can't solve them between you? Mediation takes place in front of a neutral third party. The mediator has no pre-conceptions and will not force you to make an agreement. They will assist the two parties in taking turns in the conversation, and helping you reach a decision that you are ready to agree with. Mediators do not pass judgment or offer guidance; they are there, in effect, to facilitate conversation between the two sides.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Jan-16 @ 1:57 PM
Hi I have a 10 month old daughter. Since my daughter was born I had issues with my now ex partner and his mother. My ex thought it was appropriate to come to my house 8pm at night to see his daughter when I have sent a bedtime routine for her and then agree to see her and not turn up. We have had times were are relationship is okay, but every time his mum gets involved he becomes mean and aggressive towards me and they both try to belittle me. I had a conversation with his mum were she demanded to take my child from me as she believes she had rights as she is the grandma and can do what she likes with no regards for me. We came to an arrangement that he sees his daughter every Wednesday and Sunday and I would go to his house and stay. Recently I was told by him and his mum that I must drop the baby off and come back for her later which I was reluctant to do as he doesn't want to give her formula milk and wanted to give her hemp or almond milk when she is under 1 years old. But I agreed as he promised he would give her formula milk but he lied... Which lead to the baby being constipated. A few weeks later we had an argument were he accused me of trying to be violent towards him which was not the case and threaten to spit in my face and get someone else to do it and threatening to take me mediation as I'm apparently not letting him bond with his child which is a lie. He has recently not seen his daughter for 6 weeks and keeps leaving bags of veg on my doorstep but not seeing his child, he told me he was coming to see his daughter but never turn up and then threaten me by text and demanded that he's taking his daughter on the Wednesday which I refused and said we should meet at softplay so the baby can get use to him. Which he declined and threatened me again. What can I do to protect myself and my daughter from him, I have no issue with him seeing the little one but I just want consistency from him and for his mum to leave us to it and for him to come to my house to bond with the baby again in a comfortable environment.
Proud mummy - 12-Jan-16 @ 1:01 AM
Hi I have a 10 month old daughter. Since my daughter was born I had issues with my now ex partner and his mother. My ex thought it was appropriate to come to my house 8pm at night to see his daughter when I have sent a bedtime routine for her and then agree to see her and not turn up. We have had times were are relationship is okay, but every time his mum gets involved he becomes mean and aggressive towards me and they both try to belittle me. I had a conversation with his mum were she demanded to take my child from me as she believes she had rights as she is the grandma and can do what she likes with no regards for me. We came to an arrangement that he sees his daughter every Wednesday and Sunday and I would go to his house and stay. Recently I was told by him and his mum that I must drop the baby off and come back for her later which I was reluctant to do as he doesn't want to give her formula milk and wanted to give her hemp or almond milk when she is under 1 years old. But I agreed as he promised he would give her formula milk but he lied... Which lead to the baby being constipated. A few weeks later we had an argument were he accused me of trying to be violent towards him which was not the case and threaten to spit in my face and get someone else to do it and threatening to take me mediation as I'm apparently not letting him bond with his child which is a lie. He has recently not seen his daughter for 6 weeks and keeps leaving bags of veg on my doorstep but not seeing his child, he told me he was coming to see his daughter but never turn up and then threaten me by text and demanded that he's taking his daughter on the Wednesday which I refused and said we should meet at softplay so the baby can get use to him. Which he declined and threatened me again. What can I do to protect myself and my daughter from him, I have no issue with him seeing the little one but I just want consistency from him and for his mum to leave us to it and for him to come to my house to bond with the baby again in a comfortable environment.
Proud mummy - 12-Jan-16 @ 12:57 AM
Hi.I am from Belgium and have been living in UK for 5 years now. I met a man when I was pregnant with my daughter(now 10 years old) and he registered my child as his. We separated few months after I had my daughter. My daughter's passport has expired and I want to renew it but I am being told to let the father sign before the passport can be renewed. I don't know where the man is so what can I do? Thank you.
Vins1985 - 8-Jan-16 @ 6:13 PM
dre30 - Your Question:
Hi I have 3 children withy ex partner 2 of the children have his surname the other 1 doesn't has he cheated on me and left me while I was pregnant and he didn't show up to register the baby. We've been split for 14 months now he has only seen the children a handful of times since splitting, he does say I stopped him from seeing them but I haven't in the past just that he would tell the children he was coming to see th and then have excuses for not showing up, in the end I had to put my children's needs first and did eventually say enough is enough. Within this te he has never paid for any of the children I have got a csa claim against him but I've realised I don't want his money to provide for the children if he doesn't want to. He asked if he could have the children overnight both children were asked and they said no, I refused for him to have the baby overnight. He is now saying he will see the children when there older. Is there anything I can do to stop him from trying to access in the long run if he changes his mind.

Our Response:
I'm afraid that regardless of his actions, your ex will be allowed to apply for access to his children at any time, as the courts believe that the majority of fathers should be a part of their children's lives unless there is a valid and concrete reason otherwise.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Jan-16 @ 1:48 PM
Hi I have 3 children withy ex partner 2 of the children have his surname the other 1 doesn't has he cheated on me and left me while I was pregnant and he didn't show up to register the baby. We've been split for 14 months now he has only seen the children a handful of times since splitting, he does say I stopped him from seeing them but I haven't in the past just that he would tell the children he was coming to see th and then have excuses for not showing up, in the end I had to put my children's needs first and did eventually say enough is enough. Within this te he has never paid for any of the children I have got a csa claim against him but I've realised I don't want his money to provide for the children if he doesn't want to. He asked if he could have the children overnight both children were asked and they said no, I refused for him to have the baby overnight. He is now saying he will see the children when there older. Is there anything I can do to stop him from trying to access in the long run if he changes his mind.
dre30 - 7-Jan-16 @ 8:51 PM
Taz - Your Question:
Hi, I have recently broken up with my ex as he had been seeing my best friend behind my back, he is now still with her. Is there anyway I can stop her from having contact with my children. She is very manipulative ( managed to talk my ex into leavening me 4 weeks before our wedding) I am worried she will try and turn. Y kids away from me.Thanks

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. You would have to have valid/concrete reasons and not just a personal ones, for restricting your ex's new partner from being around your children. Your only option is to apply for a Specific Issue Order through the courts. Specific Issue Orders, are orders sought from the family court to determine a particular matter in connection with the exercise of Parental Responsibility. These orders can cover a wide range of issues that you and your ex-partner cannot agree on, such as preventing someone from having contact with your child. However, the court will always put the children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. Applications for a Specific Issue Order are heard before a judge and a representative from Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services Officer), who is a qualified social worker. In the first instance, this meeting will endeavour to reach an agreement between the parents as to how to determine the issue. If the issue cannot be resolved then, it will go to the next stage and on to an eventual court hearing. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Jan-16 @ 1:57 PM
Hi, I have recently broken up with my ex as he had been seeing my best friend behind my back, he is now still with her. Is there anyway I can stop her from having contact with my children. She is very manipulative ( managed to talk my ex into leavening me 4 weeks before our wedding) I am worried she will try and turn. Y kids away from me. Thanks
Taz - 5-Jan-16 @ 8:37 PM
jo - Your Question:
Hi I have a 3 year old son, I split with his dad a while ago and so I let him come to my house to see my son, he comes for 1 full day and an afternoon a week while im at work alow I hav sed he can come more but he doesnt want to and now he is askin to take him for weekends and wants to take him on days out with his parents who I do not trust around my son do I have to let him take him over night and if he takes it to court will thay make me let him.

Our Response:
You do not have to let your ex take your son. However, if you refuse, he will have the right to take it to court to apply. The answer to this will rest will the decision of the courts and what it judges is in the best interests of your child which is impossible to predict.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Jan-16 @ 12:09 PM
allyella- Your Question:
Hi I am 27, I have a 8 year old son with my ex. I have a mental health condition bipolar which is treated with medication. I was in hospital sometime ago in 2010 my son went to live with his dad at that time as I was in hospital. There has been no court order put in place. My ex has stopped me seeing my son I have not seen him since 14th September 2015. I contacted the national family meditation service and I was given an appointment 20th November 2015. My ex did not attend the meditation appointment. I received a c100 form to fill in to take to the family courts. I would like to know what are my rights. I want to apply for full custody of my son. I would like to know do I have a strong case and that I won't be discriminated against due to my mental health. I have a two bedroom house in a nice area my son has his own bedroom. My ex lives with his new partner she has two children from a previous relationship, a boy and girl. She lives in a two bedroom house where the children are sharing a room. I am very scared of going to court I want my son to live with me fulltime. Can you give me any advice or information that will help me. Thanks in advance

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. There will be no discrimination in the courts because of your illness, unless your illness is servere enough to prevent you taking proper care of your son. However, if your son has been with your ex for five or six years and he is established in a school and with a friend base etc, then it is unlikely the courts would remove your son from your ex who is now by default the resident parent. The courts will always act in the best interest of your child and stability and consistency is paramount. However, there should be no reason why you cannot gain access to your son and if your ex is preventing access and hasn't turned up at mediation, then I'm afraid you will have no option but to apply through the courts. I suggest you seek some legal advice regarding your rights and to see whether you have a strong case to apply for custody, or at least resume access to your child. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Jan-16 @ 12:04 PM
Hi i have a 3 year old son, i split with his dad a while ago and so i let him come to my house to see my son, he comes for 1 full day and an afternoon a week while im at work alow i hav sed he can come more but he doesnt want to and now he is askin to take him for weekends and wants to take him on days out with his parents who i do not trust around my son do i have to let him take him over night and if he takes it to court will thay make me let him.
jo - 4-Jan-16 @ 8:57 PM
Hi I am 27, I have a 8 year old son with my ex. I have a mental health condition bipolar which is treated with medication. I was in hospital sometime ago in 2010 my son went to live with his dad at that time as I was in hospital. There has been no court order put in place. My ex has stopped me seeing my son I have not seen him since 14th September 2015. I contacted the national family meditation service and I was given an appointment 20th November 2015. My ex did not attend the meditation appointment. I received a c100 form to fill in to take to the family courts. I would like to know what are my rights. I want to apply for full custody of my son. I would like to know do I have a strong case and that I won't be discriminated against due to my mental health. I have a two bedroom house in a nice area my son has his own bedroom. My ex lives with his new partner she has two children from a previous relationship, a boy and girl. She lives in a two bedroom house where the children are sharing a room. I am very scared of going to court I want my son to live with me fulltime. Can you give me any advice or information that will help me. Thanks in advance
allyella - 4-Jan-16 @ 8:39 PM
Pingy - Your Question:
If my children are with their dad and one goes off with their dads partner to let's say Essex which is 3 hours away. Am I entitled to know where one or both of my children are when with their dad. He thinks me asking is dictating and controlling. When in fact I want to know where they are.

Our Response:
There are no rules, and this is something you would really have to agree between yourselves. Your request is not unreasonable, as most parents like to know the whereabouts of their children. However, if your ex can't agree to this, then one option is to try resolving the issue through mediation. If the mediation agreement is unsuccessful, then you might have to look at taking it to court and applying for a Prohibited Steps Order. A PSO is an order granted by the court in family cases which prevents either parent from carrying out certain events or making specific trips with their children without the express permission of the other parent. This is more common in cases where there is suspicion that one parent may leave the area with their children. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Jan-16 @ 1:57 PM
If my children are with their dad and one goes off with their dads partner to let's say Essex which is 3 hours away. Am I entitled to know where one or both of my children are when with their dad. He thinks me asking is dictating and controlling. When in fact I want to know where they are.
Pingy - 4-Jan-16 @ 6:10 AM
I have separated from my ex 15months now he takes my child 2 sleepovers a week but he tells me when hes taken her doesn't let me know until a day before hand and suits himself about times so I don't get a life just want to know how do I go about getting set times and days set up as he's not listening to what in saying.
Babydoll - 2-Jan-16 @ 10:21 AM
My ex had an affair and kicked myself and our son out of the home we were living in and my job (we lived in a pub).... he has a house he rents out. Am I entitled to any part of this house.
Kas1984 - 31-Dec-15 @ 5:23 PM
Hi, I need some advice on removing my sons fathers rights, my son is 3 in January my son last saw his dad 6 months ago he has no interest, He didn't contact him at Christmas or nothing he done the same last year he stopped seeing him for 6 months and I tried everything to get him back to seeing his dad as I believe my son should have his dad in his life he started taking him every Saturday which was great to see because my son was dotted on his dad, it's always been me pushing him to have his son, he let his son down on numerous occasions throughout my sons life he just didn't turn up and made excuses, I am now done trying to get him to see his son only so much i can do, that's been another 6 months that hes no seen him now, I dnt want my son to keep going through the let downs, so how do I go about getting his rights taking away so me and my son can both move on he obviously doesn't want to take responsibility for his children as he has another son who he doesn't see and he's 8 years old, is there forms that I could get him to sign? I just need to know how to go about it, please get in touch thanks.
cher - 28-Dec-15 @ 4:09 PM
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