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The Law and Single Mothers

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 22 Jun 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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sam - Your Question:
My baby daughter was born by emergency c section 2 weeks ago I am supposed to be in a relationship with her mother although she lives in her parents home. I have been made to feel very unwelcome and have not been allowed to do anything for or with my daughter without permission. I don't feel like a father at all. my baby and her mother have not left the house since she was born and my girlfriends mother has been absolutely horrible towards me. They are constantly demanding money from me I am willing to pay for my daughter of course I am but we are supposed to be in a relationship where we bring her up together. My baby has not been registered yet I am really worried that they are going to register her without me so that I have no rights I don't have any as far as they are concerned. My family is not welcome to see him. I don't know where to turn I think I have been used all along

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this at what should be a special time for you. I can only suggest if this continues then you seek legal advice. However, sometimes when a child is first born emotions are running high, therefore I urge you not to make any demands about your 'rights' etc and try to let the situation settle naturally, which means sometimes having to stand back a little. If you are still in a relationship with the mother of your child, try to be supportive where and when you can. Remember, if your girlfriend has been through a tough time at the birth she will be feeling very fragile (including emotionally) and perhaps not want to let her precious newborn out of her sight just yet. Unfortunately, you may have to bite your tongue when it comes to dealing with her parents - but remember your objective is to be able to spend time with your child and if the atmosphere is decidedly icy then this can erupt and backfire on you if tempers are frayed. Therefore, I suggest you take a deep breath, and make the choice to be the mature one, setting an example for your child and your ex - this way you will be able to remain closer to your child.With regards to money, regardless of whether you are on the birth certificate or not, or have access to your child, you will still be expected to support your daughter financially whether it is agreed mutually between you, or whether through the CMS.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Jun-16 @ 12:27 PM
my baby daughter was born by emergency c section 2 weeks ago i am supposed to be in a relationship with her mother although she lives in her parents home.I have been made to feel very unwelcome and have not been allowed to do anything for or with my daughter without permission.i don't feel like a father at all.my baby and her mother have not left the house since she was born and my girlfriends mother has been absolutely horribletowards me.They are constantly demanding money from me i am willing to pay formy daughter of course i am but we are supposed to be in a relationship where we bring her up together.My baby has not been registered yet i am really worried that they are going to register her without me so that i have no rights i don't have any as far as they are concerned.My family is not welcome to see him.I don't know where to turn i think i have been used all along
sam - 20-Jun-16 @ 5:56 PM
momj33 - Your Question:
My baby's father left before he was born with no contact with me or my son since he left and my son is now a year and 3 months my fiance wants to adopt him but we are worried about the biological father trying to stop us what do we do to make sure he has no rights to my child? Help please

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here and/or the Family Lives link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Jun-16 @ 12:29 PM
My baby's father left before he was born with no contact with me or my son since he left and my son is now a year and 3 months my fiance wants to adopt him but we are worried about the biological father trying to stop us what do we do to make sure he has no rights to my child? Help please
momj33 - 16-Jun-16 @ 2:19 PM
Mykidsmyworld - Your Question:
Can someone please help meMy ex husband has a resident order on my 12 year old daughter which was put in pace in 2007 through lies and using me at my worse Now my daughter is 12 she has seen through his lies and wants to come home to me I have put forms into the court but my daughter is due home this weekend and is begging me not to send her home to her fatherPlease can someone advise me what to do

Our Response:
If your ex has a residence/child arrangement order which determines where your child should live, then if you exercise your parental responsibility by keeping your child against her father's wishes (even though it is your daughters) the police can get involved and return her to her father. If this is the case, then keeping your daughter would be a breach of the court order and put you in contempt of court. Therefore, I suggest you continue to apply through the official channels. The fact your daughter is now 12, will have a bearing on what the courts decide, as she is at the age where her opinion can now be considered. But, it is essential that you make sure you keep within the rules of the court order until the court orders otherwise. If you have safeguarding issues then you would need to speak to a solicitor regarding these.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Jun-16 @ 1:47 PM
Can someone please help me My ex husband has a resident order on my 12 year old daughter which was put in pace in 2007 through lies and using me at my worse Now my daughter is 12 she has seen through his lies and wants to come home to me I have put forms into the court but my daughter is due home this weekend and is begging me not to send her home to her father Please can someone advise me what to do
Mykidsmyworld - 15-Jun-16 @ 4:45 PM
My son dad has never been involved he not on the birth cerficate. He wants to sign over the rest of his rights to me so he can't go for parental responsibility or anything in the future so he will not have any rights at all. as he doesn't want to be apart of my son life or have anything to do with him.
Nicolexx66 - 10-Jun-16 @ 10:09 AM
My partner of 8 years n mother to my beautiful girls and son from a previouspartner whom I love as my own . Asked me to leave the family home as she didnot love me anymore.I did staying at mums going to work . She hasnt stopped me seeing the children and we have verbally n written agreement on how much I have to give a each week . Which we are happy about . My question is one can she tell me as an unmarried father where to stay ? And secondly if she cheated behind my bk and is seeing this chap do i have a say when he can be introduced to our children due to the girls being young ?
Worrying dad - 4-Jun-16 @ 6:00 AM
Cloughy - Your Question:
Hi, I've got a contact agreement in order with my children's dad & he's now saying it isn't legal etc as it isn't signed. I'm fed up of him picking & choosing when he picks them up or when he drops them off. He's now told me he's leaving my children in the care of his sister & ex partner tomorrow as has work. How do I go about getting a legal contact agreement? I currently am not working. Thanks. Hollie

Our Response:
You have two options either mediation or court. While any contact order via mediation isn't officially legal, it is authorised by the court and therefore if your ex breaches the arrangements you would be able to take the matter to court, please see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here. It means if you are both willing to agree to arrangements, but have issues that need resolving then this may be the best option for you. Plus, in certain cases such as yours the court will not let you apply until you have tried to resolve the matter via mediation. If you cannot come to an agreement via mediation, then court is the next option and any order made will be official, but please be aware any final arrangements will be decided by the court and not the parents.
ChildSupportLaws - 2-Jun-16 @ 11:48 AM
Hi, I've got a contact agreement in order with my children's dad & he's now saying it isn't legal etc as it isn't signed... I'm fed up of him picking & choosing when he picks them up or when he drops them off... He's now told me he's leaving my children in the care of his sister & ex partner tomorrow as has work... How do I go about getting a legal contact agreement? I currently am not working... Thanks. Hollie
Cloughy - 1-Jun-16 @ 3:35 PM
I'm just over 4 months pregnant, my now ex partner kicked me out at midnight at 3 months pregnant, he was very drunk and started to get violent with me. I'm on sick from work due to all the stress I've been under and the stress on my unborn baby, I've had to find some where to live with the help of my family, he's refusing to help me get equipped for when baby comes along ie furniture etc. I haven't stopped him coming to scans or anything, but he doesn't seem to care what stress he puts me under or baby as I don't want him back, he doesn't care about the baby as I don't want him back. Is there anything I can do? As I'm scared that I will be left high and dry by him.
Katty - 28-May-16 @ 8:34 PM
Paulad - Your Question:
Hi my daughters 7months old her dad wants to see her which I have no problem with but he won't give me his number for me to contact him on do I have the right to say no as I'm worried he won't bring her back and I won't be able to contact him if he don't

Our Response:
There is no written rule to say that your ex has to give you his number or any of his details if he does not wish to. However, if you feel that you wish to be able to contact him when he has your/his daughter then you have a right to be able to voice this and make decisions on the back of it if you feel it is in the best interests of your child. In cases where you cannot agree with your ex, perhaps you may wish to consider mediation as a way of trying to sort the matter out.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-May-16 @ 12:29 PM
Hi my daughters 7months old her dad wants to see her which I have no problem with but he won't give me his number for me to contact him on do I have the right to say no as I'm worried he won't bring her back and I won't be able to contact him if he don't
Paulad - 26-May-16 @ 2:57 PM
Glosmum - Your Question:
My boy is 15 months his dad wants to see him I have no issue with him seeing him but he has now asked if I could bring him down to his mums once a month so he can see him. I don't mind him coming up here to see him but I'm not prepared to go to him as he is over 50miles away he is not on the birth certificate but wants to be do I have to take my boy to see him ? Do I have to get the dad put on the birth certificate ?

Our Response:
If the father is not on the birth certificate then he has no legal rights over your son, therefore you do not have to agree to anything you do not wish to. However, your ex could apply for parental responsibility and access through the courts.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-May-16 @ 3:00 PM
My boy is 15 months his dad wants to see him I have no issue with him seeing him but he has now asked if I could bring him down to his mums once a month so he can see him. I don't mind him coming up here to see him but I'm not prepared to go to him as he is over 50miles away he is not on the birth certificate but wants to be do I have to take my boy to see him ? Do I have to get the dad put on the birth certificate ?
Glosmum - 18-May-16 @ 12:19 PM
Hello. I have a 4 year old daughter. I was married to her dad at the time she was born but divorced when she was 2. In the divorce papers there was a section titled 'statement of arrangements for children', it stated contact arrangements for the non - resident parent (her dad) which was one set night a week, this was a weekday. It also stated I would care for her on a day to day basis. this was in agreement with us both and signed by us both, he did not contest this at the time. As our daughter is due to start school this current agreement means they wouldn't get much time together, and therfore he wants to change it to alternate weekends. I have agreed this but made it clear I feel weekly contact would be better, but he will only have alt Saturdays off work, my daughter will spend most of the Sunday with his fiance. I feel I have been really reasonable and accommodated all his requests. I swapped my job to enable me to be home mornings, evenings and weekends and it breaks my heart to give up so much free time with my daughter, but I understand she needs to see her dad. He is accusing me of witholding our daughter from him, even though I have agreed his requests. He is saying I should be grateful he allows me to take her on holiday. He also says if she asks to stay extra nights I should allow this, my worry with this is when things get tough at home, as in being told to do homework and rules there may be times she'll ask to stay, I don't feel she should be able to play one off against the other. He also guilt trips her when she comes back home. Her dad has mostly stuck to his set night and if he couldn't see her then she would go to his mom's,he makes no attempt to call in between or send messages, however he has never left more than 2 weeks without contact. Because I have been so accommodating and I feel he is unreasonable, I am wandering if I should now say let's stick with the current agreement and leave him to formally contest it if he has the effort too. Could this see me loosing out more time with her?
JJ - 7-May-16 @ 10:15 PM
Hi, on behalf of my daughter. She has been divorced for 7 years with a 7 year old Daughter. He has now remarried and making threathing calls saying his new wife is going to have access to my granddaughter. My Daughter, Granddaughter, and we are are beside ourselves, what can we do? what are our rights? Please can you advise? Thanks Dave
Dave - 30-Apr-16 @ 3:13 PM
Hi,i got pregnant w/ a married man. I cut all ties and broke up w/ him. I would want to start a new life. I dont want to involve my family and I in any trouble w/ them especially w/ his wife. However,recently,he planned to visit my baby who was staying at home w/ my parents. I dont want to give my parents anymore stress and i was afraid that if his wife would know, she would misunderstood and think that im still in a relationship w/ his husband,w/c im not. I was able to stop him by threatening that i would cpntact his wife or any of his relative if he would go to our house. But im still afraid that he'll go and see my son in the future and i wont be able to stop him. Can i file any kind of protection order against the father? I dont want any trouble and im afraid that his thoughtless action would lead us in that situation.
Workingmom - 30-Apr-16 @ 2:28 PM
Hi! I am married and have a 6months old baby boy! Me and my husband keep on having these arguments and he keeps on threatinning me to take my son away and no one can stop him from that! I have never been separated from my son since he was born and I can not imagine one night without him! I am so afraid one day something happen between us and he takes my son away from me! Please please give me an advice of what I can do! Please
Lunad - 23-Apr-16 @ 6:42 AM
Hi I have a question.I meet my child's father 20 miles from where I live at a train station so that he can spend time with his daughter on weekends. Am I obliged to do this or should he be travelling to collect her if he wants to spend time with her? Thank you
kat - 22-Apr-16 @ 7:18 PM
Bm mummy - Your Question:
Hi, I have a four month old daughter that my ex partner has never really wanted. We reside in Scotland and have never lived together or been married whilst I was pregnant or since she has been born. I have given him the opportunity to see his daughter but he was violent towards me and I reported the latest incident which meant the social work became involved as well as police ect. He wasn't charged due to my word against his but my daughter has been placed on child protection register for 3 months due to his inability to acknowledge his dangerous behaviour - he assaulted me in a moving vehicle whilst my daughter was in the car too. He has made no attempt to work alongside social work and denies any wrongdoing. I have asked him to agree to remove his name from her birth certificate but he ignores me. In fact he ignores me at any opportunity as part of a control tactic then Decidedes when he feels like being in contact. He threatens me with getting a court order to see my little one all the time - can I block him from having any contact with her due to failure to communicate and lack of engagement with authorities? He lies frequently about where he is and I don't trust that he wouldn't snatch her as he has tried to do this twice preciously. I don't want my daughter going to a centre to see him or be in the company of him and his toxic family - they blame me and provide no support. Thanks for any advice

Our Response:
If you are scared your ex will snatch your daughter, then you can apply for a child arrangement order which will effictively give you official custody of your daughter. I suggest therefore in this instance you seek some legal advice regarding your best options.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Apr-16 @ 1:55 PM
Hi, I have a four month old daughter that my ex partner has never really wanted. We reside in Scotland and have never lived together or been married whilst I was pregnant or since she has been born. I have given him the opportunity to see his daughter but he was violent towards me and I reported the latest incident which meant the social work became involved as well as police ect. He wasn't charged due to my word against his but my daughter has been placed on child protection register for 3 months due to his inability to acknowledge his dangerous behaviour - he assaulted me in a moving vehicle whilst my daughter was in the car too. He has made no attempt to work alongside social work and denies any wrongdoing. I have asked him to agree to remove his name from her birth certificate but he ignores me. In fact he ignores me at any opportunity as part of a control tactic then Decidedes when he feels like being in contact. He threatens me with getting a court order to see my little one all the time - can I block him from having any contact with her due to failure to communicate and lack of engagement with authorities? He lies frequently about where he is and I don't trust that he wouldn't snatch her as he has tried to do this twice preciously. I don't want my daughter going to a centre to see him or be in the company of him and his toxic family - they blame me and provide no support. Thanks for any advice
Bm mummy - 21-Apr-16 @ 7:21 PM
Please can I have a private post! Me and my husband have broken up. We have a 2 year old boy together who i would never stop him seeing. Me and my son are moving back to my home town to be closer to my family, as where I am at the moment I have no family here or any real friends. My husband works away all he leaves the house on a mon and don't get back till Friday. I am been the soul carer of my son since he was 2 weeks old when my husband went back to work. I don't get on with my mother law we have not seen each other for months or spoken. I am just wondering were i stand with regards to my son, would my mother in law be able to get full custody of my son through my husband??
mason2013 - 15-Apr-16 @ 6:28 PM
Mirash - Your Question:
Hi. Am a divorcee living with my 7 years old son. My ex husband is seeing my son every fort night. Recently he has applied for more contact with my son. My ex husband is not having any visa. He was caught by the immigration for residing illegally in this country as I withdrawn the spouse visa due to domestic violence. Now am planning to get married. My boyfriend lives in australia.I wish to move there with my son.my question is will there be a problem if I move to Australia? Can my ex husband try to stop me by doing that?

Our Response:
This is a tricky question and I'm not sure how general parental responsibility laws would affect your husband if he is not a British citizen and is overstaying illegally in the UK. Due to the complexity of your situation, you would have to seek legal advice regarding this matter.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Apr-16 @ 10:21 AM
Hi. Am a divorcee living with my 7 years oldson. My ex husband is seeing my son every fort night. Recently he has applied for more contact with my son. My ex husband is not having any visa. He was caught by the immigration for residing illegally in this country as I withdrawn the spouse visa due to domestic violence. Now am planning to get married. My boyfriend lives in australia.I wish to move there with my son.my question is will there be a problem if I move to Australia? Can my ex husband try to stop me by doing that?
Mirash - 11-Apr-16 @ 9:34 AM
Pixie - Your Question:
My fiancée broke off our engagement and is refusing to pay child support to me for our 3year old daughter. I am in my 3rd year at uni and I work part time, he is named on the birth certificate and I just wanted to know my rights and if I can apply for parental responsibility?

Our Response:
You already have parental responsibility. it comes automatically as a parent. If you mean you wish to have a residence (child arrangement) order which will determine who your child lives with, you can see more via the gov.uk link here . If your ex is refusing to pay child maintenance, you can apply via the CMS link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Apr-16 @ 11:51 AM
My fiancée broke off our engagement and is refusing to pay child support to me for our 3year old daughter. I am in my 3rd year at uni and I work part time, he is named on the birth certificate and I just wanted to know my rights and if I can apply for parental responsibility?
Pixie - 31-Mar-16 @ 4:59 PM
Hi I am a naturalized British citizen. I have a baby boy with my partner, a British guy. The thing is that he promised to marry me but now has changed his mind. He won't marry to me but he still has his name at the child birth certificate. What are the risks for me and the child for not being married.thank you
Debi - 25-Mar-16 @ 10:34 PM
My ex left whilst I was pregnant doesn't provide he comes and see the child now and then.He has children from a previous relationship it has come to light the oldest who is 15 has been kicked out he expects me to take her.What legal rights do I have the mother wants nothing to do with the child my fear is it will be me supporting the two children
oona72 - 25-Mar-16 @ 2:25 PM
If you are allowing your child's dad to see the child why would he be complaining to his solicitor whenever we have a argument.Should the mum buys everything for the baby if the dad is in university?Does this mean he cannot provide for his child because he's not working?
kk - 23-Mar-16 @ 5:50 PM
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