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The Law and Single Mothers

Author: Anna Martin - Updated: 17 August 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]
My sister is being held on remand in the uk she has a daughter her daughters father has a criminal back ground and has never paid any money for his daughter he is now saying he wants sole custody of her and wants to keep her but my sister want her to stay with me and my husband he does have Pr but has an awful background social services are saying he can take her and he has out the papers to court to have her he does not work and my sister can not defend herself as she is in prison where do I stand??
Beca - 17-Aug-15 @ 11:54 PM
I have had sole parental responsibility for my son since his birth 18 years ago and was never married to his father. I have since married but my husband never adopted my son. He is now about to go to university. Do I count as a single parent for the purposes of grants, as my partner is only my son's stepfather and my son's real father has never paid any money towards his care?
Gdeoraj - 15-Aug-15 @ 7:06 PM
chocolate drops - Your Question:
Hi,I'm in desperate need right now for any help or advice.My child's dad and I broke up when I was 4mnths pregnant due to him being jailed for 3yrs.From that time I supported our daughter alone.I hit rock bottom and moved back to family.His family asked to meet my child and I allowed it.Then to my knowledge one day while I was away they came and ask for her by my mum and didn't mention taking her to meet her dad for the first time in jail.I told them it was wrong and to never do it again.My ex use to phone me and tell me how happy he is to have her in his life and will support her fully.I was working at the time and told him I'd appreciate it as I was single then.I met a guy and he moved in and supports me,my child and his child from his ex.Everytime I ask my ex for a set amount of r2000 a month for her expenses,he says he's not working but pays her school fees,bought her stationary and uniforms,no lunch things included.he lives a lavish life with his adopted son,wife and biological son.I don't sEe why he can't do the same for our child and would like to take him for maintenance asap,btw he's name was never put on bc because he was in prison at the time of birth and when I offered he wanted her to take his surname but I refused as we are not married and she already knows her surname is same as mine.Also,his wife seems to dictate a lot about his relationship with our child.I have to go through her for everything and he isn't allowed to take her for visits as of his wife's request.please give me some advice as on what to do as I'm desperately in need of his help supporting her more than he has.

Our Response:
I'm afraid as you are resident in South Africa we can't answer your question as we are a UK-based site, with knowledge only of UK family law.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Aug-15 @ 2:02 PM
Cassidy- Your Question:
Our relationship broke down a year ago after a rough 8 years. He currently pays me maintance but he is demanding to see our son all the time and if I refuse he becomes uncooperative when he does have him like what time he will bring him home. I want to know what exactly he is entitled to in regards to our son how much time he is allowed to have him without it becoming a controlling situation as it is currently

Our Response:
You can either have a family-based arrangement where you organise the care of your child between you. However, if his demands become intrusive then you can either apply to go through mediation if you can't agree between yourselves, see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? link here . Any agreement made by you both is not enforceable and can be subject to change. If you would prefer a more official route then you can apply via the courts, whereby he would have to stick to access laid down by the judge. However, if you are concerned that your ex may decide not to return your child at any point, then you could take it to court for a Specific Issue Order in line with the Contact Order. It is important to note that a magistrate or judge may make a Specific Issue Order of their own volition. This is generally in situations in which the judge is satisfied that there is a risk that the parent in question may go ahead with a particular course of action without seeking the other’s consent. In other circumstances, and only if there are grounds to do so, the judge or magistrate may make a Specific Issue Order if the responsible parent is acting in an inappropriate way. This could relate to, for example, taking the child to places that are not deemed suitable for children, or leaving them in the care of a person who is unsuitable for childcare, or without your permission, keeping your child over and beyond the specific time allocated. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Aug-15 @ 10:45 AM
Sue - Your Question:
Does my children's father have to give his permission for our children to stay overnight at their grandparents (his parents). The children reside with me and he sees through a contact centre. He has told the grandparents that he has to give his permission although he has been fine with this for 18 months

Our Response:
Either you or he can give permission for your children to stay at his parents.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Aug-15 @ 10:33 AM
Hi,I'm in desperate need right now for any help or advice.My child's dad and I broke up when I was 4mnths pregnant due to him being jailed for 3yrs.From that time I supported our daughter alone.I hit rock bottom and moved back to family.His family asked to meet my child and I allowed it.Then to my knowledge one day while I was away they came and ask for her by my mum and didn't mention taking her to meet her dad for the first time in jail.I told them it was wrong and to never do it again.My ex use to phone me and tell me how happy he is to have her in his life and will support her fully.I was working at the time and told him I'd appreciate it as I was single then.I met a guy and he moved in and supports me,my child and his child from his ex.Everytime I ask my ex for a set amount of r2000 a month for her expenses,he says he's not working but pays her school fees,bought her stationary and uniforms,no lunch things included.he lives a lavish life with his adopted son,wife and biological son.I don't sEe why he can't do the same for our child and would like to take him for maintenance asap,btw he's name was never put on bc because he was in prison at the time of birth and when I offered he wanted her to take his surname but I refused as we are not married and she already knows her surname is same as mine.Also,his wife seems to dictate a lot about his relationship with our child.I have to go through her for everything and he isn't allowed to take her for visits as of his wife's request.please give me some advice as on what to do as I'm desperately in need of his help supporting her more than he has.
chocolate drops - 11-Aug-15 @ 3:07 PM
Our relationship broke down a year ago after a rough 8 years. He currently pays me maintance but he is demanding to see our son all the time and if I refuse he becomes uncooperative when he does have him like what time he will bring him home. I want to know what exactly he is entitled to in regards to our son how much time he is allowed to have him without it becoming a controlling situation as it is currently
Cassidy - 10-Aug-15 @ 9:14 PM
Does my children's father have to give his permission for our children to stay overnight at their grandparents (his parents). The children reside with me and he sees through a contact centre. He has told the grandparents that he has to give his permission although he has been fine with this for 18 months
Sue - 10-Aug-15 @ 8:39 PM
nc - Your Question:
Hi I've been with my partner since the beginning of November he got another girl pregnant 2 weeks before this from a one night stand. What rights does he have? He wants to see and pay for his child but have his life with me. He does not want contact with her apart from passing the baby on and discussing the baby

Our Response:
If the mother registers him on the birth certificate then he would automatically be given Parental Responsibility. Please see link here . If she refuses to register his name or grant him access/contact, then he would have to apply for a contact order through the courts. The decision would be then up to the courts to decide what is in the child's best interests. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Aug-15 @ 12:45 PM
Hi I've been with my partner since the beginning of November he got another girl pregnant 2 weeks before this from a one night stand. What rights does he have? He wants to see and pay for his child but have his life with me. He does not want contact with her apart from passing the baby on and discussing the baby
nc - 5-Aug-15 @ 5:56 PM
@matha- it is up to you to decide between the both of you who should bring up your child. You would need to speak with your ex directly regarding this in order to make arrangements after the birth. However, on a different note, I am sorry to hear you are feeling this way and do not wish to keep your child. If you are legally homeless, given your current situation, your council should be able to help offer accommodation.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Aug-15 @ 12:11 PM
Hello I need advice. I stayed with my boyfriend over two yrs. After I got pregnant we had fight and he chase me out of the house. Dnt have place to stay. I'm 8 mnth pregnant .if I give birth to this child I want to give it to him what does the law say about this
matha - 1-Aug-15 @ 3:56 PM
What if she contacts csa and says the non residential parent is on the birth certificate and he purchases it and can see he in fact was not on but because csa have a name to go on he gets hu g drawn and quartered by then...there are also 2 other children involved also whom are by this woman and have him named on their certificates but have doubts he is their dad as its come out to the eldest (18) she cheated on him..untill after the second child was born also around the third but looks the most like him...very confusing and long winded but because she has a name and the csa also he then has to pay for parternity tests even though they wouldn't be needed if she kept her legs closed!! Crude but very frustrated as a baby has been born since and does without to make up these maintenance payments because she named him in csa and they are like Rottweiler s once they bite they never let go.. Families suffer because of them...they are a slags way of getting men to stand up to their responsibilities whether they are accurate or not!!
Merindy - 26-Jul-15 @ 11:55 AM
@limbert -it is rather a grey area and one that leaves a lot of parents out in the cold when it comes to receiving payments. Unfortunately, there is little you can do as you would have to try and prove otherwise and then take it through the courts.
Jem - 13-Jul-15 @ 1:57 PM
What can i do if my ex is a so called self employed construction worker and only declairs a minimal amount of income to avoid tax. The rest is paid as i.e. buisness profit which maintenance ha ent taken into calculation. We have 2 children he has them one night a week. His working fulltime plus half day saturday. He is allowed to drive all big machinery on site and i know hes not a minimum wage. Morover calculation summery of maintenance is stated as this ex weekley income: £167 = reduced rate = £11 per child/per week =£22 - shared care nights =£19 total he pays.But cant be correct. Do the maths 40 hr week ÷ £167 isnt even minimum wage. Best of this is maintenance try to keep tra k and get confirmagion of all income this takes a out 12 weeks , he puts buisness into liquidation and registers as a new buisness under a different name. Hes got away with this game of chase tactics for over 12 months and ther nobody can help change the situation. Iv been intouch with CAB even asked my local M.P. for any advice and as for the maintenance service well there as good as useless in my situation. Anyone got any suggestions
limbert - 10-Jul-15 @ 4:47 PM
i have sole custody of my daughter who is a ward of court until she is 18, which will be in a years time, she is currently in a relationship where he has total conrol over her, and she has just had a baby by him and things have become worse, my daughter is very vulnerable and its being taken advantage off and wanted to know if there is anything i can do as her mother or what advice should i give her
susie q - 9-Jul-15 @ 10:46 PM
My ex was offered a dna test 3 times and he never answered to letter or phones calls. The CSa they took that he was the father. Since this new child maintance set up, his once again denied the child his and paid for a dna test, I worried as he will do anything in his power to get out being my child father as he had a wife and family of his own. Is there any way I can be prestant while this dna takes place so I can see its him taking the test. I don't trust him.
Goodie - 9-Jul-15 @ 1:02 PM
@Mango151 - he has no rights if he is not on the birth certificate. However, if he is registered on the certificate then he will naturally have 'parental responsibility'.If a mother is unmarried, she has sole parental responsibility for that child, and all decisions relating to her child’s upbringing are hers.Unmarried fathers can gain legal responsibility for a child by jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother, making a parental responsibility agreement with the mother, or having a parental responsibility order, made by a court. Please see link: Child Support Law and Parental Responsibility, here which should explain further.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Jul-15 @ 2:45 PM
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HELENA - 5-Jul-15 @ 5:19 PM
Hello, was wondering if I could get some advise please. I'm pregnant and me and the baby's father who are not married have split up, he is very aggressive / rude towards me, he has a stinking attitude and I don't trust him when the baby will be born. I don't want him on the birth certificate as I do not trust him with the baby. He smokes in his flat and has said he will not give up smoking even when the baby is here and I do not want my baby in the place smelling of smoke. I have said to him the baby will have my last name as we are not married. My main concern is his attitude and behaviour towards me. What rights does he have? Please help! Thank you!
Mango151 - 5-Jul-15 @ 1:02 PM
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
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