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The Law and Single Mothers

Author: Anna Martin - Updated: 18 December 2014 | 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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[Add a Comment]
@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
@Lan, the only time you would need your ex's permission to do anything is if you wanted to change your child's surname.
cat - 9-Sep-14 @ 12:55 PM
Hi, the father of my child has left the country with no notification. He has stopped paying maintenance and we have had no communication for 2 years now. How do I go about doing things without his permission? We were never married , however, he is on the birth certificate but clearly wants nothing to do with us?
Lan - 8-Sep-14 @ 2:59 PM
Hi I'm in a very difficult situation I am getting divorced with my son father and our 7 years old son is staying with me , I am working on night shifts at the moment 10:00-3:00 due to child care over my little one during the day as his father starts work in early morning hours . I have asked at work for my shift to be swap on the morning shift 9:00-14:00/15:00 so I could work during the school time of my son , they have declined my flexible working hours application and my son father is moving at the end of this month so September , and I will be left with no support as he is starting his work at 4:00 in the morning and I have no one that could take care of my son while I am at work , I'm really stuck right now and have no idea what to do please help me is there any law that says that work have to change my shift due to the situation that I am in at the moment . Thanks in advance . Kind regards "Lost"
Lost - 3-Sep-14 @ 6:01 PM
Good morning, I had sexual relations with an English man two times and got pregnant. The man doesn't want kids with me because I'm not an English woman(I'm from an Eurpean Country but I live here and study. Will be two years in October). If I decide to keep the baby (I'm in early stage-7weeks) could I determinate him to pay an alimony for the parental and education of the baby in the future? Best regards, Didi
Didi - 14-Aug-14 @ 11:27 AM
My ex-wife divorced and left 2 children aged 16&21 both lives with father, What is the overall responsibilities for these kids Mum? Ex is living on her own full timely working,no partners, But I am on a JCA since November 2013, very struggling on a regular day to day survival? Any thing I would get from the ex to the children, by officially please...
Derikson - 13-Jul-14 @ 11:38 PM
I need some advised.. My daughters father and I broke up.. I have a 2 years old and 8 months baby girl.. Althought we never live together because he always have a external relation that always lied about.. Anyway his emigration status isn't clear in this country, and my daughters have a surname that he made up one day when he had an issue with the police and his finger prints were taken, but his other daughter daughters have his genuine surname,, we applied as a couple to get his permission to stay in this country, but was refused, anyway, he has been running a suscesfullcompany on someone else name, but hi never hold his properties or his money on his name as he hasn't any proved of ID.. And he always send the money back to his country yo his family or his own personal account in back there.. Nowmy question is. If I sue him have My daughters have the right or the chance to have a good child support by him by law.. Or in fact what is my situation?
Ivenso - 6-Jul-14 @ 8:12 AM
Hi,'Here's hoping!!!? I am a single( involuntarily),my ex had an affair for four years and LEFT me with OUR 16 month old baby,Shah a MAn!!!?) Anyway,that was a long time ago,in the DAY's that I was niave and'Jumped' at everyb300 lawyer letters that I received fromHIS instructed lawyer,now looking back..... well we all learn,and I Hope I /you enlighten me with some light at the end of the 'NEVER ENDING TUNNEL!!!',but I HAD to claim what I COULDas he cut everything off and Stopped paying the mortgage,and in those day's (2001/2) and income support ictsted you signed up with the C.S.A. in those day's and HE alway's thought of this as a revenge 'tactic(can laugh NOW),but he WAS volunteering£200,for the children every week,but Stopped when CSA contacted him,and ever since WE have been under the umbrella of this,'shambles of a GOV dept'. By law he was/is supposed to let them know of ANY increase he received,'BUT NEVER DID,my brother,that sorted'EVERYTHING' out like that used to phone them every two years for them to check,if he had in fact HAD a raise,and he ALWAY'S 'HAD',and WITHOUT 'ANY' repercussion, of this"'fraud',CSA would alway's 'BACK DATE FROM DATE MY BROTHER RANG, regarding that period,taking no action or nit even back dating from when he HAD the increase,then I would receive four to five letters,( all with different smmounts on) before my final weekly %. I received a phone call today to advice me that the CSA 'HAD MADE AN ERROR'( every time my brother rang,he was given different info/am mounts and/or 'out systems are being replace,can you ring back, in four days) this articular, 'statement' was used a LEAST five times,and on numerous occasions te '?account Manager would have to 'go into my account and sort things out,that 'her/his' colleagues had entered/worked out 'WRONG' ,this was a yearly ,quite 'NORMAL ' happening , my brother recalls!!!. We/He had not rang for around two years,when today the call came,Mrs..? 'This is ..A?.. from the CSA here,have you a minute to discuss something?" Of cause',I said yes and she proceeded to inform me that 'Since .errrrm...2006, Mr Rivers,has been OVER PAYING YOU( I pay my own mortgage)/panic started to boil up inside me,not anger,as ALL te way through My nightmare,where,Money is concerned,I AlWAY'S,have lost out,and He has been the one that has gained !!!! And I was te one with the £10,000 lawyer fee( my brother appealed and got it reduced to £8,00)/whilst HE represented himself!!!!.any way,sorry,going into to much HISTORY!!,so CSA rep continued,to explain that the last time they reviewed( my brother is sure he has requested AfTER THIS date,but can north prove it!!!!) But she went on to opplogise,and admit CSA,WAS TO BLAME,but I still had to back pay from THAT YEAR '2006,and around £15/£20 per week,roughly,she explained,'CAN YOU AFFORD £80/100????", ' what I screamed, I am baffled,'i am paying FR 'YOUR' MISTAKE!!?",and said brmused,'yes,that's
Topher85 - 16-Jun-14 @ 7:24 PM
Hi,'Here's hoping!!!? I am a single( involuntarily),my ex had an affair for four years and LEFT me with OUR 16 month old baby,Shah a MAn!!!?) Anyway,that was a long time ago,in the DAY's that I was niave and'Jumped' at everyb300 lawyer letters that I received fromHIS instructed lawyer,now looking back..... well we all learn,and I Hope I /you enlighten me with some light at the end of the 'NEVER ENDING TUNNEL!!!',but I HAD to claim what I COULDas he cut everything off and Stopped paying the mortgage,and in those day's (2001/2) and income support ictsted you signed up with the C.S.A. in those day's and HE alway's thought of this as a revenge 'tactic(can laugh NOW),but he WAS volunteering£200,for the children every week,but Stopped when CSA contacted him,and ever since WE have been under the umbrella of this,'shambles of a GOV dept'. By law he was/is supposed to let them know of ANY increase he received,'BUT NEVER DID,my brother,that sorted'EVERYTHING' out like that used to phone them every two years for them to check,if he had in fact HAD a raise,and he ALWAY'S 'HAD',and WITHOUT 'ANY' repercussion, of this"'fraud',CSA would alway's 'BACK DATE FROM DATE MY BROTHER RANG, regarding that period,taking no action or nit even back dating from when he HAD the increase,then I would receive four to five letters,( all with different smmounts on) before my final weekly %. I received a phone call today to advice me that the CSA 'HAD MADE AN ERROR'( every time my brother rang,he was given different info/am mounts and/or 'out systems are being replace,can you ring back, in four days) this articular, 'statement' was used a LEAST five times,and on numerous occasions te '?account Manager would have to 'go into my account and sort things out,that 'her/his' colleagues had entered/worked out 'WRONG' ,this was a yearly ,quite 'NORMAL ' happening , my brother recalls!!!. We/He had not rang for around two years,when today the call came,Mrs..? 'This is ..A?.. from the CSA here,have you a minute to discuss something?" Of cause',I said yes and she proceeded to inform me that 'Since .errrrm...2006, Mr Rivers,has been OVER PAYING YOU( I pay my own mortgage)/panic started to boil up inside me,not anger,as ALL te way through My nightmare,where,Money is concerned,I AlWAY'S,have lost out,and He has been the one that has gained !!!! And I was te one with the £10,000 lawyer fee( my brother appealed and got it reduced to £8,00)/whilst HE represented himself!!!!.any way,sorry,going into to much HISTORY!!,so CSA rep continued,to explain that the last time they reviewed( my brother is sure he has requested AfTER THIS date,but can north prove it!!!!) But she went on to opplogise,and admit CSA,WAS TO BLAME,but I still had to back pay from THAT YEAR '2006,and around £15/£20 per week,roughly,she explained,'CAN YOU AFFORD £80/100????", ' what I screamed, I am baffled,'i am paying FR 'YOUR' MISTAKE!!?",and said brmused,'yes,that's
Topher85 - 16-Jun-14 @ 7:20 PM
hi, single Mom. daughter is 11. father is a real idiot. never been here for her. to all those single Mom's who receive maintenance and help from Dads who are responsible, be appreciative and don't abuse the effort because there are those of us who really struggle. I do it all, all alone. count your blessings even if you don't get along with the Dad of your child.
Sam - 6-Jun-14 @ 9:53 AM
Hi! I'm very upset the" Work programme " that I have to go even I do work! Anyway it was Easter School Holiday I did email them 2 times and 1 call to say I cant go on the 23rd of April but I can go even with my kid on the 25th of April no reply! Then I got a letter saying that " You missed you appointment " and " .. who will decide if a benefit sanction....." I think its horrible! I don't drink I don't smoke I'm not on drugs! I work! The money I get goes on food! And you cant click your fingers to go when your single with 2 kids! I'm sure they target for single parents! Its just no right!
Lottie - 28-Apr-14 @ 10:05 PM
I pick my little girl up on a Saturday & her mother refuses to supply clothing or anything els , I pay child maintenance on a weekly basis . I dress my girl with my own clothes as a result of her actions and return her dressed every week , when I collect our daughter the following week I get her clothes given to me in a plastic bag still dirty & stained so I'm buying new clothes every week and this is very expensive , her mother refuses to wash her clothes which I provide and this is causing dissagreements , is there anything I can do about this ?
eelnotwen - 10-Mar-14 @ 10:13 AM
my daughters father is evading payment and has even gone as far as giving up his job because the child support agency put in place a deduction from earnings order and was due to retrieve payments. I know my ex has property and is more than likely employed illegally as he has 2 other kids to support from another mother. (he recognises those children as his whereas he doesnt recognise mine). the child support has tried to retrieve info via the inland revinue etc but they keep coming up with nothing. Can any one advise on best way to proceed? surely as this man is breaking the law there should be a way of enforcing it no? any advice appreciated. many thanks..
fedupmum - 10-Mar-14 @ 9:44 AM
Hi! I am single mum with two children. 6 and 4. Dad is unhappy with CSA desigion and threatening me by money I get for my children. He wants by law get reduced it and use for that our children. Firstly he wasn't interested in them at all. But lives very close to our home. After time he started to visit them at the weekends and now he want they stay with him at nights. Do I have right to protest and not allow that?
Camomile - 27-Feb-14 @ 7:00 AM
Hi, my baby is turning one year now and the father and i am splitting up. we are currently in Johannesburg and i want to relocate to a game ranch close to the border or maybe across in kruger national park. Am i allowed to move, we never married.
Danica - 26-Feb-14 @ 9:38 AM
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    18 December 2014
  • tryingsohard
    Re: The Law and Single Mothers
    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…
    17 December 2014
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