Home > Related Laws > The Law and Single Mothers

The Law and Single Mothers

Author: Anna Martin - Updated: 30 January 2015 | commentsComment
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.

You might also like...
Leave a Comment, Ask for Advice or Share Your Story...
[Add a Comment]
@cat - he can request a court order if he wants to take it any further, if you can't work it out between yourselves. But as he is not on the birth certificate he would have to apply to go on the birth certificate and for parental responsibility, along with asking the courts for a more established contact routine.
Beth - 30-Jan-15 @ 11:48 AM
Hey I'm a single full time mother I have a 3 year old son I'm having problems with my ex panther for the last 4 years since I was pregnant long but cut short he is not on the birth certificate and we are not married yet I let him see my son once a week with a over night stay I have just made a change with not having night stay over but he can still see my son on Wednesday 10.30 till 8 as he is starting pre school in September so that he can get in to a sableroute. Once he starts pre school my ex will twice a week pick my son up from school he is still not happy cause he can't get his way what do I do....
cat - 28-Jan-15 @ 11:33 PM
@LK22 - yes you do have a right to make a decision. However, similarly your ex has the right to contest that decision and should he want to he can apply through the courts to have more contact. Perhaps mediation may be the way forward. If you can't make the decision between yourselves and a mediator, then it would be up to the courts to decide, should your ex wish to take it that far. I have included a link about the mediation process here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Jan-15 @ 3:10 PM
I have a 3 year old daughter and have split with her father around a year and a half ago, originally I agreed that it would be best to have her sat evening to Wednesday and the father has her from wed evening to sat.(as I don't want her to feel like I am taking her daddy time away)Yet everytime I make a decision, he over rules or disagrees, do I have any rights as a mother to make an decision without the need to consult him, I feel when my LO goes to school in September she will need a more stable routine eg, being with myself from Monday to Friday and her seeing her father every other weekend, but this is something he disagrees on. Do I have any rights to make a decision on what would be best for my daughter without a need to go to solicitors. I don't want to seem like the bad parent as I'm only trying to do what's best for her and her future.
LK22 - 27-Jan-15 @ 12:49 PM
@Am I being unfair - no you're not, you're entitled to spend quality weekend time with your daughter and your ex, if he was reasonable should understand that the access should be split fairly. Anyhow, you'll have to go through mediation first before it goes to court, so you might be able to sort it out there if you stand your ground and explain the valid reasons why you want to change the schedule.
Heather - 20-Jan-15 @ 2:27 PM
Split from daughters dad in 2012, he's had our now 5 year old every weekend, on a Friday -Sunday / Friday-sat basis ( i was at home with her during week seemed fair) with a weekend off a month I've recently started back at full time work, 4's at nursery till 4:30/5 every night. I've now asked we change the schedule to, every other weekend and Wednesday for tea in the eve as I'm not getting quality time with her, I've also allowed extra time I.e allowing him to have every Boxing Day +2 extra days ( routine my LO likes ), a week non term time, her birthday day time, unless weekday, bank holidays, and allowing the routine we have now to go back into play during 6week holidays. And Father's Day He's now trying to take Legal action to keep the Friday-sat/friday-sun thing and get more time.... I'm a full time teacher at a youth prison, I get no evening time with her, that's not doing her home work, reading, cooking tea with her. Am I being unfair ...? I think Im being fair as at the moment I don't see her nor do my family ( daughters dads sister and parents have Ava all day Wednesday while I work so they get quality 1-2-1 time with her)
Am I being unfair - 19-Jan-15 @ 5:56 PM
@Am I being unfair - it doesn't seem that you are being unfair at all. Being able to spend quality time with her was fine as you were at home all day, but because you have now taken a job then it means your time with your daughter is now restricted, so therefore your ex should accommodate the changes in your pattern so that you both have an equal share of the quality time with her. If you can't work it out between you then perhaps you should ask him to attend mediation, which you will have to do anyway, if he wishes to contest this in court. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Jan-15 @ 2:30 PM
Split from daughters dad in 2012, he's had our now 5 year old every weekend, on a Friday -Sunday / Friday-sat basis ( i was at home with her during week seemed fair) with a weekend off a month I've recently started back at full time work, 4's at nursery till 4:30/5 every night. I've now asked we change the schedule to, every other weekend and Wednesday for tea in the eve as I'm not getting quality time with her, I've also allowed extra time I.e allowing him to have every Boxing Day +2 extra days ( routine my LO likes ), a week non term time, her birthday day time, unless weekday, bank holidays, and allowing the routine we have now to go back into play during 6week holidays. And Father's Day He's now trying to take Legal action to keep the Friday-sat/friday-sun thing and get more time.... I'm a full time teacher at a youth prison, I get no evening time with her, that's not doing her home work, reading, cooking tea with her. Am I being unfair ...? I think Im being fair as at the moment I don't see her nor do my family ( daughters dads sister and parents have Ava all day Wednesday while I work so they get quality 1-2-1 time with her)
Am I being unfair - 13-Jan-15 @ 10:03 PM
@KC - you have the passport, so you really hold all the cards and can say no, if you want. However, as he has PR, he can apply to the courts.
Sammy - 13-Jan-15 @ 12:03 PM
Hi, I have a son with my ex. We were together for seven years, bought a house and has a son. We split two years ago and he sees our son every other weekend fri-sun. And one night in the week over night every week. We are amicable and always resolve any issues. My sons father is on the birth certificate but we were never married. I was hoping to find out laws regarding the father taking my son abroad. I know if you were married the father doesnt require permission to take the child out of the country. With my situation.... Can he take my son if i say no? I have his birth certificate and passport but legally where do i stand as i have majority custody and day to day reaponsibility of care. Thanks in advance. KC ??
KC - 12-Jan-15 @ 7:35 PM
@mothertobe - it depends on how far he wants to take it and whether he wants to apply through the courts for parental responsibility or not. Every father or parent for that matter has a right to see their child and quite rightly so, and the courts will recognise this whether it is given through supervised access or not. If you have implied that you are going to keep your child form him, it may be why he is feeling so frustrated, especially if he can't reason with you which can drive people to act in ways they wouldn't ordinarily. Yes, you can try to keep your child away from him, but it will be his right to apply for access through the courts.
Misty - 7-Jan-15 @ 10:19 AM
I had a brief relationship with a man much older than myself and am now 18 weeks pregnant. Things weren't working out but we both agreed we would make an effort to communicate for the sake of our unborn child. As time has gone on things have not worked out, we have had so many disagreements and he gets so angry because I always try and walk away or brush over anything that will cause an argument not wanting to put myself into anything stressful. We very recently had an argument whereby things started getting heated at his place and when I tried to leave he refused to let me go and threatened to physically hurt me. I got so distressed that after a time he finally let me go but kept calling me trying to talk and even had the nerve to say he was "calling my bluff" by threatening me. I have made it very clear to him that he is not to contact me again and will definitely not be putting his name on b/c. I don't want to file a report to the police as I feel it will just cause me further stress but feel vulnerable and would like to know what steps I can take in preventing him trying to have access once the baby is born as I feel he is a danger to me and do not want to take that chance
mothertobe - 6-Jan-15 @ 4:54 PM
@Her mommy - you don't give much detail about what you want to change. It may be that if you try to change the arrangements your ex will want to take it back to court in order to keep the arrangements intact.
Jess - 6-Jan-15 @ 10:41 AM
I have a 2 year old and when she was born we got joint custody, it was never signed. He is always taking my days according to the papers. Is there anyways I can't get this changed. Since it was never signed do I even have to follow it?
Her mommy - 5-Jan-15 @ 6:49 PM
@tryingsohard - it's a tricky one because how would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot and you met someone and your ex began to dictate that you weren't allowed to see him when your daughter was there, I'm sure you'd be defensive and try to fight your corner. We can't choose our ex-partner's new partners and who they see and spend time with, we just have to hope they are nice to our children. It's a shame it has got to this situation and that it has had to go to court, but if you feel strongly about it and that she is not a nice influence on your child, then you will have to unfortunately let the courts decide. Have you thought of mediation? That might work if you can't agree it between yourselves.
PaulV - 18-Dec-14 @ 12:13 PM
Hello me and my daughters dad split 9months ago. She is 2. He got a new girlfriend and wanted to introduce them. I let him as i trusted his judgement and said as long as it doesn't effect daddy and daughter time. It started ok then she was always there and my little girl use to come home spiteful, and cried loads. I asked him that she isn't there all the time and he needs to concentrate on spending time with our daughter as he only sees her for 2 and a half days (counting all the hours) a month as when I asked if he could have more time his response was...'when do I get me and my new gf time'....his girlfriend then began to send me vile messages and disgusting language. I rung him JP, to which she answered and began calling me more names. So I then put a stop to her being there. I recently found out she still goes there from time to time.I said he can see our daughter at mine or out until I can trust him. He's threatening to take me to court. This has got me so sad. I have tried to get him to meet me so we can discus it properly but he 'isn't allowed' (his girlfriend) so I've said if my arrangements aren't good enough then you can see her when you get the arrangements that are good enough. Am I doing wrong here????.
tryingsohard - 17-Dec-14 @ 10:32 PM
@sarah12 - it really is something that should be agreed between yourselves, so there are no hard and fast rules. The fact that he has your child every weekend doesn't leave you much time to spend the quality time with your little one, so you are not being unreasonable here. If you are sharing care, you could perhaps suggest you have the child one weekend and he can swap for a week night or two. You can put your foot down though, if it becoming unequal and you are losing out. You are the main carer, so you have the final say.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Dec-14 @ 1:02 PM
Hi I need some advice me and my ex split 11 months ago we have 16 month old lo I've never denied him access or ever stopped him he is on his birth certificate Exsactly how much access is aloud as I'm being told so many things now he has our lo every weekend fri to sun at times it does become upsetting with my eldest and I had asked that it he cut down to 3 weekends n lo with me one weekend and he can come and see him on so that me and my children can have one day to spend together fully instead of school holidays be great full fir reply thanks
sara12 - 4-Dec-14 @ 11:03 PM
@natasha - do you really want someone to take your children who doesn't want to spend time with them? It's really difficult to force someone to step up and take responsibility when they don't want to, and it sounds to me like he doesn't deserve beautiful children. At the same time, he can't just roll up when he pleases and you need to continue to put your foot down there.
Mags - 3-Dec-14 @ 11:20 AM
Hi me and my ex split nearly two years ago he used to have our two children for 7 hours a week over two days I have offered him the children for two hours on a Friday and overnight Saturday to Sunday his reply was I will come and see them if I please but I am enjoying myself I have currently stoped contact after he had them for over five hours and fed them a bag of crisps and the fact he thinks it is acceptable to c them as and when he pleases not at set times I have told him to contact a solicitor as he says he is taking me to court because he wants less time with his children can I have some advice please
natasha - 1-Dec-14 @ 9:13 PM
I need help with my child maintenance. I am having a trouble to make my child's daddy to sign the letter bcs he is in Ladysmith I am in Alberton so pls help me.
Dollar - 22-Nov-14 @ 7:31 PM
@mo - remember your daughter is your child. It sounds as though you need to put your foot down with your partner or you are going to be living with his mother for ever. Do you have the money to get your own place? You could always tell him that you are going to move out and he can come if he wants to, or stay with his mother and while his mother can still see your daughter if you move, you want your independence as a couple away from her control.
Emma - 13-Nov-14 @ 3:07 PM
Hi, I am a 24 years old lady. I had a child in 2010 while I was still studying. In 2011 my boyfriend's parents asked to stay with my child since I was going back to school. I also moved in with them. Now my baby is 4 yrs old. I am now working permanent and my bf is working as well. I always talk to my bf's mom that I am now ready to stay with my baby but she always refuse and tell me that if I want a baby I must make one because that is her baby and she won't give her to me. I tried to talk to my man about it but he is on his mother's side always giving me an excuse that we do not have a house. aia convinced him that we must buy a house but he is not into it. I told him that I will pay rent, hire a helper and pay cretch but still he don't want us to stay with our baby. I do not know what to do any more especially that my bf is not supporting me. I believe he do not wana hurt his mom by taking the baby to come stay with us yet he is hurting me. Please help.
Mo - 13-Nov-14 @ 1:47 PM
Hello, I was in a relationship with my daughters father for 9 years before we broke up. when I was living I our home from 2002-2010 I was self employed so as to work around my daughters nursery/school times. My partner (daughters father) purchased a house in North London for us to live whilst I maintained and built my career around my daughters nursery and primary school years. My family live in Australia and i received no financial support. I helped to renovate a house that was held under the fathers name. We broke up in 2010 after 10 years living together. Her father lived in Dubai for 3 years and I walked away with nothing. After spending a lot of money through solicitors I was told I wasn't entitled to any proceedings of the sale of our house. Since our separation from 2010-2014 my daughters father has sold our existing home for over £1.25 million to which I wasn't entitled to. My (my daughters father) worked in Dubai for 3 years earning quite a substantial sum and the only way I could request fair maintenance was through private mitigation. My ex has now been back in London for 4 months and has reduced our maintenance due to being taxed and now earning less money (so I'm told). I would like to understand what my entitlements are having being in a defacto relationship for 10 years with our child and being responsible for the upkeep/renovations which I personally financed has by law in support of my case. After selling our home he is now financing his own family profits and personal business expenditure. I'm appalled by the lack of support the law offers here in London. I would much rather gain from his expenditure rather than benefits. What support does the law offer in these circumstances?
Sandy - 29-Oct-14 @ 10:38 PM
@Emmabbb30 - It seems like your mother is making life very difficult for you. It's not nice if she goes to your ex and tells him untruths, it must make the relationship between you and him much more difficult, especially when you are trying to juggle life around your daughter. I can almost understand him reacting that way and not wanting your mother to see his child as she is meddling in something that should be between you and him. And what do you mean, she takes your daughter from you? She can only take your daughterif you consent to it. I'd have a word with her and ask her to stay away from your ex and it sounds to me like you need to stand up to her a bit more yourself.
JillB - 28-Oct-14 @ 1:34 PM
My ex is threatening to take legal action to stop my mother from seeing our daughter and so that she has to ask him if she wants to see our daughter, she is a loving nanny and has never caused any harm to our daughter, she isnt the best mother and resorts to dirty tactics like going to my ex to see if he want to take sole custody of our daughter knowing full well that he wouldnt be granted it as he lives in a 1 bedroomed apartment, or she will take her off me, i am a full time working mother who worships the ground my daughter walks on but as any full time single mother knows it can be hard work.All my friends think they both need to grow up and stop trying to destroy my daughters life.I have no idea what to do and need some advice.Thanks
Emmabbb30 - 27-Oct-14 @ 3:34 PM
@J regardless of what he threatens, it is unlikely that he will be allowed unsupervised visits if he is on the sex offenders' register, especially if you voice your concern. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Oct-14 @ 2:01 PM
Hi. My soon to be ex husband is registered on the sex offenders register for life and currently sees our 6 year old daughter once a fortnight supervised by me. He wants to see her unsupervised and is threatening to go to court to get this changed. I am so scared for my daughter. How can I stop this happening? Please help. J
J - 20-Oct-14 @ 4:08 AM
hi im lost and dont know wat to do me and my ex have been apart for nearly 5 years i have tried and tired to get him to see our 2 boys who r 8 and 5. he has a girlfriend who thinks my boys r not important and he sides with her so im done with being nice. he hasnt given me anything to help rase our kids but makes out to everyone he talks to that he does his best the last time he saw them was at his mothers for an hour 3 months ago and dont even know how long it was before that. Its a very hard situation i am in a new relationship and he has a son that he loves so much he has his nearly everyday it brakes my heart my kids see their relationship so close and they dont have one with their dad at all.
tried so hard - 14-Oct-14 @ 1:32 PM
Hi, My husband and I are considering a divorce as our marriage is becoming extremely difficult to be in. He has threatened me on various occasions that he will be taking my 4 month old son off me to Ireland to live with his parents! I'm mortified as he sincerely believes he has more rights over my son than me and that his parents as my son's grandparents also have rights over my son! I feel sick at the thought of him taking my son from me as he is much older than I and I'm terrified that this will happen! Can someone please tell me what I can do about this. My husband has been violent towards me in the past and I do not want him alone with my son although I doubt he would ever hurt my son I still wouldn't want to risk it. Please help someone!
soon to be single mu - 28-Sep-14 @ 12:13 PM
Leave a Comment, Ask for Advice or Share Your Story...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ChildSupportLaws website. Please read our Disclaimer.