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The Law and Single Mothers

Author: Anna Martin - Updated: 31 March 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.

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My friend has advised me that she is thinking of leaving her husband. She has a 2 year old son and 2 10 month old twin girls. Her husband is verbally abusive to her and she is constantly upset. He acts as though he doesn't care about the children and has made horrible comments about them including wishing they had been aborted. Last week he accidentally hurt one of the girls when he pulled her from her bath seat in anger because she was crying. She's told me she doesn't trust him to be around them. She has tried to confront him several times about different issues but he never admits to being in the wrong for anything. He's previously told her that if they were to separate, she would need to go as he wasn't leaving. He said she could afford to run the house without him and he would quit his job so that she would get no maintenance money from him. I don't see why she should be the one to leave as he is the one in the wrong and she has his 3 children. Basically she's worried that her and her kids are going to end up homeless. Does she have any rights here? Is there any support she can get to help her pay for the mortgage etc?
LollyB - 31-Mar-15 @ 9:26 AM
@Mar - Reading between the lines here, are you saying that she has applied for child maintenance, but you are refusing to pay until a DNA test is carried out? If that is the case, this will put you in arrears and if the baby is found to be yours you might be liable for a hefty sum of backdated money to pay, so it really is better that you pay the maintenance until the test proves otherwise. Has she consented to the test or is she refusing it? If she is refusing to have the test done then you would have to apply through the courts if you want to continue to dispute paternity. I can't see there being a problem entering the UK, unless there is something you have omitted here. I have included a link regarding paternity tests here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Mar-15 @ 2:34 PM
@RagingR - I am sorry to hear this. However, there is quite obviously two sides to the story here. Your partner's time is obviously stretched very thinly and so you have no choice really to compromise here as he is trying his best to accommodate his other children without neglecting them, as well as be a father and partner to your own children and you. Have you not planned to live together as a family? That way you could see him all the time. However you would also have to spend time with his children and integrate them into your family and that can be a big ask. But it does seem a shame to split up when you have a child on the way. I suggest you have a talk to him about making your family a proper unit. If he is not responsive and you don't feel you are getting the love and respect you need, then you may have to go down the separation route and apply for help through the CSA. You may want to speak to someone as being pregnant can be quite a lonely time if you are not getting the support you need. I suggest giving Family Lives a call via the link here, they have trained advisors that may be able to help.I wish you the best of luck.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Mar-15 @ 11:49 AM
Hello. I posed a question on your site but I was not very detailed and therefore I made it difficult for you to answer me properly.I am American who had an extra-marital affair with a Brit which resulted in a pregnancy that was kept secret from me until the 2nd trimester (the baby was in fact conceived in the Caribbean).The Baby is less than 2 months old. I have every intention of financially supporting the child, but nothing more as there was a grand plan in place to break up my marriage and "run off into the sunset" which I was clear I had no interest in long before the pregnancy. I was having recreational sex an was honest with the Brit all along.I had intercourse with this person the night I met her - it was not a serious thing at all, but she seems to think that the fact that it was ongoing made it a serious "monogamous" relationship. Right now I plan to rebuild my marriage and undo the hurt I caused my wife and kids. Based on the fact that I only had recreational sex a few times a year with this person, I wish to have paternity proven before I commit to payments, and will pay what a judge sees fit without question. I have been postponing my next work trip over to the UK for some time but really need to get there soon. I was wondering if I might have an issues upon entering the country? Might I be detained, or prevented from entering despite my desire to be cooperative and accountable? What might my worst case scenario be with Immigration? Thank you for the work you put into the site Regardless if you have bad news for me or not, your site is an incredible and necessary resource . Regards,Mar
Mar - 26-Mar-15 @ 11:42 AM
@tezza - if he is the father of your child, yes you can apply for CMS (as it is now known) via the link here . I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-Mar-15 @ 3:01 PM
Iam 6th m of pregnant. Father the"baby" said to the coucil that we are together,so he receive discounts and other benefits like working tax credit. but in reality we are not together,he doesnt care to take any financial responsability of me during the time, the shopping i have to deal myself, doesnt come to me, we simply dont live together and do not lead common household. I tried to tell him than he have to stop take any benefits but i got as response only threats to leave his place (we dont live tohether, he made me stay temporary with one of his studio flat). Is there some oportunity to push the "father" by law to pay on me some maitenance 3 monhts before give birth?
TurnTheTimeBack - 25-Mar-15 @ 10:39 AM
Hi. My ex and father of my child has been a complete nightmare... He has improved somewhat this year but until very recently ... Let his daughter down, got me into debt and hasn't ever paid towards her. Recently he had been better with reliability and I don't doubt he loves her. Dealing with him I have realised is down to me and the way I react etc. Though the money thing I'm finding infuriating. I allow him to see her. I buy her everything she needs. And I barely see her as I work so hard to provide on my own. But he gives me sporadic money when he's feeling 'nice' ... My issue is... Although he's not short of cash it's not official (or on the books) ... No idea what or how. Dread to think... So I cant even get csa as as far as the calculations online are concerned im entitled to nothing. Feel like screaming ... And have done for four years ... Note to ladies ..... DO NOT HAVE BABIES WITH COMPLETE MORONS!!!
Frustratedmummy - 24-Mar-15 @ 4:17 PM
@ally - your ex would have to take you to court for access. If you don't agree with your ex having unsupervised access then you would have your chance to voice your concerns to Cafcass pre-court. The courts will consider the Cafcass report and what you have said, and base its decision upon it. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Mar-15 @ 12:02 PM
Hi, I currently have a one year old and I am pregnant with me and my partners 2nd child he already has two other children outside of our relationship one of which is the same age as our one year old son. Currently I am finding it a struggle for him to show us any priority he has the other two children every weekend at his mums as he still lives there and gives me and my son a few hours here and there a couple days a week, I try to make plans to incorporate us all but it seems to constantly fall on deaths ears what am I to do I am now at a point of seeking csa and cutting ties as it's just a constant depressing cycle
RagingR - 23-Mar-15 @ 3:19 PM
My other half legged me when I was 12 week he said he won't come to the register office can I still take him for csa
tezza - 23-Mar-15 @ 12:32 AM
I split with my childs dad when 12 weeks pregnant. My ex didn't neet hus child untill he was 10 months as he wasnt interested. He us a heavy cannabis user and I know he used to grow it in his old flat.I alliw him access at my house si I am there and it is supervised.He is now pushing to take my child outI dont care what my ex does in his own time but I do not want my child any where near any kind of drug. Which isn't unreasonable I don't think.My ex and his girlfriend think I am being petty! What are my rights please help
ally - 20-Mar-15 @ 9:27 PM
@LVC - it may be that your son's father is just being lazy and relying on you to do all the work. I'm sure if he had his son overnight, once alone then his responsibilities I'm sure will kick into gear. However, if you are concerned then while he is living with you, you should make it a firm agreement that he gets up and sees to your son responsibly, otherwise your son will remain with you overnight until he is older. If he doesn't agree with this he would then have to take it to court and it would be up to the court to decide.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Mar-15 @ 11:49 AM
@Good dad - you need to apply for a contact order through the courts, see our Separated Dads partner site and article: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, link here and go through the procedure listed. If by any chance you want to avoid the hefty solicitor's fees you can always self-litigate, see link How to Represent Yourself, link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Mar-15 @ 2:42 PM
@bee - they are only really useful if those pages are sent by email or text so that they are officially recorded and are known to come from him. If you have any official evidence that can prove his instability then this would help too.
Jacq - 17-Mar-15 @ 1:57 PM
@GORDO - I am afraid I can't advise as this is a UK-based site and you are US-based and we don't have the knowledge of USA law.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Mar-15 @ 2:26 PM
@Lissa - if your ex has parental responsibility then officially you cannot move away or move your child's school (if applicable) without his consent. However, you don't have to give him your address.
Ed - 16-Mar-15 @ 1:01 PM
Hi, I have unexpectedly had a baby boy and his father (we are not together) has moved over so he can be with his son which is brilliant. As we are friends still then he has come to live with us at my mums house. During this time it has come to my attention that he wasn't helping with feeds so we spoken about it and he asked for me to wake him up (we are all in the same room). I have tried numerous times to follow this and when our son wakes for a feed i nudge and shout for him to wake up and he just rolls over and sleeps again. I have addressed this issue and he never remembers it and doesn't see it as an issue. My concern is that when he gets his place I've said he can't have our son over night seeing as he doesn't wake up as not fair on the baby to lie there crying because he wont wake. Where do I stand on doing this? The father said I can't do this but I am concerned he wont awake for baby and I would never rest no knowing? Advice please.
LVC - 15-Mar-15 @ 7:23 PM
Since arguing with the mother of my two children she has stopped me seeing them when I have them every weekend she will not contact me or answer calls and my children have been missing school what can I do
Good dad - 14-Mar-15 @ 10:17 PM
I split from my son's father (boys aged 3 and 5 months) he wants full custody yet he made allegations to me he was unstable, suicidal and had to have his eldest son removed from his care and then later on told me he lied. I have always been their main carer and have no problem with him seeing them but once I'm satisfied his mental state is that of a normal stable person. I have pages and pages of what he has done and said to me over last 3 months of our relationship I had to phone police for different incidents one of which he attacked me but I said everything was fine to police because I was scared and shocked from what happened. Any advice for what could happen or any advice at all? Thanks
bee - 14-Mar-15 @ 3:53 PM
HELLO IM SIMON I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET ALONG WITH THE MOTHER OF MY TWO BABY GIRLS (8 AND 4) THE MOTHER HAS AT THIS TIME FULL CUSTODY AND I ONLY HAVE THEM ONES A WEEKWITH NO OVERNIGHTS. BUT WE HAVE AN AGREEMENT TO BE ABLE TO HAVE THE GIRLS EVERY WEEKEND WITCH I HAVE HAD THEM AND WELL WHEN SHE GETS MAD OR UPSET SHE GETS HER WAY BY NOT LETTING ME TALK TO THEM NOR SEE THEN AT ALL SOMETIMES FOR 2-4 WEEKS SHE CALLS ME NAMES AND TALKS BAD TO ME IN-FRONT OF THE GIRLS.CAN SHE GET IN TROUBLKE FOR NOT DOING WHAT THE COURT HAS IMPLIED FOR US. CA SHE JUST MOVED TO THEN SHE GET IN TROUBLE FOR ALLOWING THE OVERNIGHTS AND THE NOT LETTING ME TALK TO THE GIRLS. FYI:WE SHE JUST MOVED TO THE OC GARDEN GROVE DIFFERENT COUNTY SHE WAS LIVING IN LOS ANGELES CAN SHE GET IN PROBLEMS FOR DOING THAT... THANK YOU IN ADVICE
GORDO - 13-Mar-15 @ 1:21 PM
Hi. Since splitting up from my sons dad I had a lot of problems with him and had to get out a non-molestation order which is like a restraining order and this stopped him from being near my home and harassing me. The non-molestation order has ran out now and I'm moving home. I don't want him to be near my home or for him to cause trouble again. Does my sons dad have to know where we live so that he knows where his son is?
Lissa - 13-Mar-15 @ 10:58 AM
@Mar -You don't say what 'problems' you think you may encounter, therefore it is difficult to give advice. You may either have a yes, or no decision on paternity. However, if named by the mother of your child as the father you are usually asked to pay child support until the paternity is verified and if it is deemed that you are not the father, then your payments will stop, if deemed that you are the payments will continue. Therefore, you may arrive to your child support count letter to say you are in arrears.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Mar-15 @ 10:52 AM
Hello. I am a foreigner who has not yet received confirmation of paternity of a 2 month old from a British fling. I am married and in the middle of repairing the damage I have done to my family. Might I encounter any potential problems upon returning to the UK next week? I plan to support financially only, an amount as deemed fair by an adjudicator once paternity is proven.
Mar - 11-Mar-15 @ 2:17 PM
I have a 2 year old daughter whois living with paternal grandparentsand has no longer got a social worker involved could I get her back
Melissa - 10-Mar-15 @ 3:42 PM
@endofdays - I am sorry to hear all of this.If you cannot come to an agreement with your ex, you should try mediation first. If that is unsuccessful, the courts will become involved and will issue a court order based on what it sees as appropriate and in the best intests of your children. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Mar-15 @ 11:51 AM
My girlfriend of 13 years has been cheating on me for at least 4 years with the same person I've now finally found out and says we can still live together for the sake of the 2 children age 2 and 7 but she wants to continue the relationship with him obviously I find that unacceptable so I'm moving back to my mother's home so she can have the flat when I'm gone but i want my eldest son who has learning difficulties to live at my mother's 4 bedroom house as the flat is a disgusting mess with dog urineand stools everywhere and she's already known to social services due to the care and wellbeing of our 7 year old and I really don't want him to live in these kind of conditions as for my 2 year old I'm now having to question if he's actually mine or not and I haven't seen either of them for the last few days because she's hiding them from me with her boyfriend so does she have the right to keep them away from me could I have a chance in gaining custody for my 7 year old and is it acceptable for children to be living in filth In a flat when they can live in a 4 bedroom house and have security and clean living
endofdays - 7-Mar-15 @ 8:25 PM
@pete - I have redirected you to one of our partner sites, Separated Dads which can give you plenty of advice. You could apply for a specific issue order through the courts, if you can't agree between you and your ex and you feel strongly about retaining the stability they have in their current schools. See link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Feb-15 @ 12:14 PM
@Mel - you can contact the Child Benefit Office here to see if he is claiming money on your behalf, link here. I have also added another link herewhere you can see if you can also get help if the paying parent lives in the UK and you live abroad. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Feb-15 @ 11:13 AM
@Malexi Yes, you can nominate a guardian in the event of anything happening to you. If you don't want your ex to have custody, you should explain why in your will or in a letter included with your will (it is better that this is lodged with a solicitor) . You can also give a coy to the person(s) you have nominated as guardians. A court of law would take this nomination and your wishes seriously should it be contested. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-Feb-15 @ 11:25 AM
Ok,a lot of the comments on here are mum's asking questions to do with the law, but how do dad stand in all this.I have two boys, 5 and 7 and me and their mum split up over two years ago.It was a mutual split and I left the family home to move back into my mothers where we all lived before we found a house together.From this point on we have agreed that there would be 50/50 responsibility of the boys, yet i seem to have them in my care more at the moment.Over the christmas period for example I had the boys nearly 80% of the holidays.both me and my partner work full time in stable jobs, have our own transport and provide everything for the boys they need in realtion to uniform, clothing, etc on an equal basis to their mum.This past week their mum has been given notice on the house she is living in and can only afford a council house but this may involve her moving out of the area she currently lives in to a neighbouring town.The boys are both at the same school and an application for a junior school place has gone in for the school right across from the infants for September.The idea has been passed that she may change the boys schools to the new area as she cannot afford to get them to school every day because of the cost.How do I stand on this being their father, wanting them to stay at a stable school where they both enjoy attending?
pete - 24-Feb-15 @ 1:55 PM
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