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The Law and Single Mothers

Author: Anna Martin - Updated: 5 July 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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[Add a Comment]
Perhaps not written by a male but sounds like a new partner of such Father.
Geograph - 5-Jul-15 @ 2:31 AM
It really bothers me that "fathers" always get the raw end of the deal. What about the deceptive women who get pregnant on purpose? Why should they be entitled to claim money from that man for the rest of his life, force him to father a child he was not ready for, knew he didn't want to have, knew that woman was not who he wanted to share a child with and not have to deal with. How is that fair? Yes, there are women like that, who try to trap men or use them for their wallets? There should be laws introduced to protect men under such circumstances. Just because he said yes to sex and he trusted that woman when she said she had taken precautions, does not mean he should forfeit his life, his own dreams and his earnings because he was deceived in to fatherhood. All these women preaching about my body, me decision - what about his choices?! It's a woman's decision to have a child knowing that man was not going to be with her, yet that man is then attacked by her and society for not being the "father" they perceive he should be. And before its's commented upon, this was not written by a male.
Fotennis - 3-Jul-15 @ 7:36 PM
@ella2015 - Child maintenance payments should not affect any social security benefits, housing benefit or tax credit awards. Although you should let Social Security Agency know about your child maintenance payments. You don't say how you are going to supplement your own income?
Amy - 1-Jul-15 @ 11:07 AM
@Luna - it depends on whether he is earning and if so how much. It also depends on whether your mother has made a claim through the CSA or CMS. If she hasn't made a claim, or agreed it between themselves, then he will not have to pay.
ChildSupportLaws - 29-Jun-15 @ 2:42 PM
I got on welfare when I was 6 months pregnant because I needed things to provide for the baby and the father of her wasnt around. Im due soon and now hes around more and agreed to help out, how do i cut off welfare? he and i both agreed to help out equally.
ella2015 - 28-Jun-15 @ 2:34 PM
I'm 15 years old and I thought that by law, my father should be paying £100 a month to my single mother. He has not been doing this since he left us in 2006 and he has not spent any money on my brother and I what so ever this year. Is it true hat he has to pay us £100 every month by law?
Luna - 26-Jun-15 @ 8:36 PM
I have a friend that's father of his grandson has no legal right to his son but refuses to let said child have any contact with said grandfather when he is visiting him. The said father told grandfather he has no rights to his grandson. What are the legal rights does the grandfather have in this manner?
Forrest - 25-Jun-15 @ 8:50 PM
Can the father not let the grandfather she said child even though he has no legal rights to said child?
Forrest - 25-Jun-15 @ 8:43 PM
@charles - you would have to either stop access and risk your ex taking you to court. Or you could go for a Prohibited Steps order yourself, see link here. You could also try mediation if you can't iron out your problems between you. See article: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-Jun-15 @ 12:24 PM
good day,me and my ex have a three year old boy together but he left us for a sugar mommy,we have shre custody and my son goes to him every second weekend,but now sugar mommy bought him a pub so when its his weekend he take my son with,what is my right to stop this and what can i do ,as i dont want my son brought up in that invoriment.
charles - 23-Jun-15 @ 11:31 AM
My son's father wants to take my son away from me complaining about crash condition only to find out that he dodges the maintanancythat must be paid by him
buli - 22-Jun-15 @ 7:48 PM
Hi need some advice. Me and my boyfriend have split and he thinks he's going to take my baby from me. I do not want him to have access to her at the moment. He's not a very nice person and smokes a lot of weed. His name is on the birth certificate but what rights do I have as her mother.
Janeb - 20-Jun-15 @ 8:31 PM
I don't want my child's father to be put on the birth certificate I don't think e deserves to he has been verbally abusive and horrible the whole way through my pregnancy if I don't put him on there and he takes me to court will they put him on there or not? He has also been to prison in the past and thinks he has the right to take my baby overnight just after he's born is this allowed? Please help
Maggie - 15-Jun-15 @ 7:04 PM
My ex only seems to see our children when it suits him. Is there anyway I can make him see them more as we then have a routine and also I get time to myself
Sandy - 15-Jun-15 @ 4:16 PM
I'm a single mother, is my allow to sent his son money as I'm on income support please?
kat - 10-Jun-15 @ 12:20 PM
@Gabrielle - yes you can, if you choose. Also, regardless of whether he has left you, he will still be partly responsible for your child's financial welfare if you name him. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Jun-15 @ 12:31 PM
Hi. My bf left me when I was 13th weeks pregnant and i wondered if i can still put his name in the birth certificate for my child's future reference?
Gabrielle - 7-Jun-15 @ 1:33 PM
@NannaRoo - no she doesn't have to put his name on the birth certificate, however, he could take it to court to claim parental responsibility.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Jun-15 @ 3:04 PM
Hello, I wondered if I could get some advice for my daughter. can she be forced to put the fathers name on the birth certificate? Now the reason I am asking is because he has been violent towards her and left her at 8 weeks pregnant and then he materialised confessing his undying love etc. So she allowed him to be at the birth, but all the way through he has kept on at her about being on the birth certificate. Now after only 8 days old he has gone again and keeps threatening her, we have since found out that he only came back to be at the birth and he has broken my daughters heart again.....all she ever wanted was to be a family. We have concerns he may run off with baby. I appreciate any advice. My daughter has never stopped him from seeing her but now she wants it to be in a contact centre supervised as he cannot be trusted to not be nasty and violent.
NannaRoo - 4-Jun-15 @ 3:45 PM
i was in a bad place made wrong chosess but the spite of it i brought my daughter up nicly she always had a roof over her head and had a warm bed and foodin 2014 my dad took my daugter to visit my granpa when the weekend was gone i came from work and asked my dad where is my child my dad told me she is going to stay there my daughter is in my custody they forced me to sighn papers which i did not know anything about if i didnt sighn them i would not have a house my grand father tried getting me to sighn my kid off as well it did not work i did not allow it and all of this due to my past And a nastybreak up i had to take pills due to depression what do i do so i can get my daugther back or see her weekends i get to see her once a week when it fitts them
michelle - 4-Jun-15 @ 12:31 AM
Could you help me my son's father has sporadic ally supported his son I believe he has committed fraud as hepurchased a house in2002 for 188k he paid. No.support till 2006 my son and myself have lived in poverty can I take any action . Could t you recommend a good solicitors
d - 2-Jun-15 @ 8:53 PM
Hi advice needed, I dont want anything to do with my ex or the newborn she has, she used friends and family to ring my business and email me and contact me on facebook, what options are available, like this gorl is completely coo coo
Bhsil - 19-May-15 @ 9:42 AM
@Mark - if there is no court order in force then there is little you can do. Has the mother given a reason, did your ex instruct her to do this? It might be something you'll have to wait until his mother comes home in order to sort it out. As frustrated as you may be, it is probably best to keep your head. If you are really desperate, you could even try the police, given that you have parental responsibility and the grandmother doesn't, the police may be able to help.
Suze - 15-May-15 @ 2:56 PM
My ex has went on holiday aboad without telling me. She has left our son with her mother. I have a verbal agreement with her, that I have my son two days a week. However her mother refused to let me see my son yesterday and says she's not giving me him this Sunday. I've done nothing wrong, I pay more than the asked amount...desperate to see my boy, any advice??
Mark - 14-May-15 @ 9:20 AM
@Georgia - it is very difficult as you cannot force the father to have your son. Just as he couldn't force you to have him, if you didn't want to. Is there no respite help that you can get? I would have a word with your GP, say that you are finding the strain difficult. But if the father doesn't want him overnight, then you can't really force the issue. There may be a reason that he doesn't want to be in full control, perhaps in case anything happens to your son while he is in his care. I'm sorry to hear that you are under so much stress with this - it must be really hard for you.
Sammy - 13-May-15 @ 10:33 AM
@shaz - if your daughter has got to 17 without her father seeing her, then she is old enough to decide herself whether or not she wants to see him. With regards to child support if your daughter is in full-time education and your ex is working, then you will be eligible to claim child support, regardless whether he sees her or not. If you had made a previous claim via the CSA, and if he was working during this time, you would be eligible for arrears payments. However, if you have never made a claim, and even if he was working, then you would not be eligible for arrears through the CSA. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-May-15 @ 12:50 PM
Hi I have a 3 year old son who has serve haemophilia A (bleeding disorder) his father sees him 8hrs a week split into 4hrs he pays 85 a month child support.. I would like for his father to have him for a full weekend every other weekend but the father doesn't want too. I don't think it's fair that iv had to train hard in medicine in order for my son to have the care he needs his father said if I want a night off to give him full responsibility I don't want to get rid of my child permanently I'm just asking for a weekend every other weekend but this is not acceptable to him even though he has every day and night to himself.. Am I being selfish in asking for a longer break or is he being unreasonable to spite me and to stop me from getting on with life? Please help
Georgia - 11-May-15 @ 10:53 AM
My Daughter asnt see her father for 17 years not payed no money to now he want to see her she near 18 in November I don't want her to see him I want her safe he not nice man I want to CSA to get him to pay up but he land in prison when I as for some money for her can you give advice.I went to court I got all the rights he only got her welbring that all
shaz - 10-May-15 @ 11:11 AM
@jakes - mediation is voluntary, so it is up to you whether you want to try and see your ex's point of view and come to some sort of agreement over what he is asking for. Otherwise, if you don't want to come to an agreement with him over your child, you will have to leave it to the court to decide what is in your child's best interests.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-May-15 @ 11:29 AM
Hi I have a 10 month daughter and the father is not on the birthcertificate but he wants his name on it but I don't trust him and his family are racist and don't want my child around him or his family hes gone to mediation and wants me to go but I don't want to be in the same room as him my question is do I have to go mediation or should I wait to go court could you give me some advice on this please thank you
jakes - 5-May-15 @ 11:49 PM
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Latest Comments
  • Geograph
    Re: The Law and Single Mothers
    Perhaps not written by a male but sounds like a new partner of such Father.
    5 July 2015
  • helpneedes
    Re: Child Custody Rights
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    4 July 2015
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    Hi, My husband and I divorced in 2007/8, the divorce papers state that he should pay £400 per month for each…
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    Re: What Rights Does My Ex Have With Regards to Our Children?
    Hi, my ex husband, my daughters father can be very immature when he wants to be. He works…
    4 July 2015
  • Fotennis
    Re: The Law and Single Mothers
    It really bothers me that "fathers" always get the raw end of the deal. What about the deceptive women who get pregnant on purpose?…
    3 July 2015
  • Dainty57
    Re: Child Custody Rights
    As for representing yourself... well that is a load of croc... My son did that and her solicitor just kept screaming him down!! He wasn't…
    3 July 2015
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    Re: Child Custody Rights
    Child support laws are all a waste of time if you are the father. Despite the evidence you have no-one is interested. A Mother can get away…
    3 July 2015
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    Re: Child Custody Rights
    @Cakey77 - I'm afraid I can't answer this as it becomes complicated once Social Services are involved. I can only suggest you call Family…
    3 July 2015
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    @raylibmilmark - if there has been a change in circumstances he should inform the CSA, who will take the discrepancy in earnings…
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