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The Law and Single Mothers

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 19 Feb 2017 | 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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[Add a Comment]
Morgan- Your Question:
My ex in Australia has offered me 10 percent of his earnings after tax for child support for our 8 year old, £250 a month. Can I ask him to pay more?Can I ask him to back date the last 8 years?Can I expect him to pay half of all childcare costs for our sons private school? Can I take into account his wife's income as well? They have no children. His wife wants us to write a legally binding contract so I can never ask for more than this 10 per cent. He has no contact with our son since he was 1 years old.

Our Response:
If you want to see whether your ex should pay more, please see link here. You cannot ask him to backdate payment and you cannot ask for his wife's income to be taken into consideration, she is not responsible for the upbringing of your child. You cannot ask for private schooling to be taken into consideration unless your child was in private education when you separated and payment would be seen as a continuation of fees previously paid by your ex.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Feb-17 @ 2:21 PM
Indie - Your Question:
Hello thereI have a question. I have been living with my partner for a while, for at least 8 years. We have a lovelely son of 4 years. Hes has mobility issues, because he has a tumour in his spine and it has affected his walking. Hes has been diagnosed with it since he was two. After diagnosis he has been really poorly it took him for more than one and half a year to recover. I mainly was taking care of him, while his father worked to earn some money to support us. I left my job to take care of him.Now his father doesn't want to live with me anymore. He has a job, but said he will be moving and might take the child with him. I, meanwhile, do not have a job at the moment because I am looking after the child. I do not really want to let him to a nursery because he is very vulnerable to disease after the treatment with chemotheraphy and we are waiting for a futher desition on his treatment as his tumor has grown.My question is, who would he get to live with when we separate? He has got fis father's surname and his father is on his birh certificate. But he has the same nationality as me, Lituanian, while his father is Portuguese? I'm really worried that he will take my child away.

Our Response:
I am very sorry to hear this and at what must be a very traumatic time for you. As you are currently your son's primary carer, then you stand a significantly better chance of being able to maintain your primary carer status of your son should the matter go to court. If you cannot agree with your partner who should care for your child, then I suggest you seek legal advise asap about seeking a Child Arrangement Order, please see link here. On another note, if you are concerned your partner may take your child without consent, then you should look into apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. A PSO is an order granted by the court in family cases which prevents either parent from carrying out certain events or making specific trips with their children without the express permission of the other parent. This is more common in cases where there is suspicion that one parent may leave the area with their children. We have all heard the stories of a parent taking their child for the weekend and not returning them or going abroad with them and it becoming extremely difficult for the other parent to get their child back. Thankfully, this is one of the scenarios that a PSO seeks to prevent. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Feb-17 @ 11:36 AM
My ex in Australia has offered me 10 percent of his earnings after tax for child support for our 8 year old, £250 a month. Can I ask him to pay more? Can I ask him to back date the last 8 years? Can I expect him to pay half of all childcare costs for our sons private school? Can I take into account his wife's income as well? They have no children. His wife wants us to write a legally binding contract so I can never ask for more than this 10 per cent. He has no contact with our son since he was 1 years old.
Morgan - 19-Feb-17 @ 9:48 PM
Hi There, I'm 42 years old Hungarian Lady who live in U.K. Since 2009 and I worked always full time jobs, never claim any benefits. After 13 years relationship with my Son's father we will move separately from 1st of March. My Son 12 years old and diagnosed with autism (Asperger) We are not married just was a simple relationship. My question is I need go somewhere and report I'll be a single mother? Same procedure needed like when someone is married and divorce? I don't know anything about this. Please help me, Many thanks, Diana
Diana75 - 19-Feb-17 @ 3:23 PM
Hello there I have a question... I have been living with my partner for a while, for at least 8 years. We have a lovelely son of 4 years. Hes has mobility issues, because he has a tumour in his spine and it has affected his walking. Hes has been diagnosed with it since he was two. After diagnosis he has been really poorly it took him for more than one and half a year to recover. I mainly was taking care of him, while his father worked to earn some money to support us. I left my job to take care of him. Now his father doesn't want to live with me anymore. He has a job, but said he will be moving and might take the child with him. I, meanwhile, do not have a job at the moment because I am looking after the child. I do not really want to let him to a nursery because he is very vulnerable to disease after the treatment with chemotheraphy and we are waiting for a futher desition on his treatment as his tumor has grown. My question is, who would he get to live with when we separate? He has got fis father's surname and his father is on his birh certificate. But he has the same nationality as me, Lituanian, while his father is Portuguese? I'm really worried that he will take my child away...
Indie - 19-Feb-17 @ 1:13 PM
i am a single mother with a 6 year old child and pregnant with twins have will be 25 in august lived in the uk since i was 4 and now being told im not entitled to income support or job seekers is it right for a mother and child to be living of just child benefit and child tax 85pounds a week? that is to cover all cost travel, food clothes
li - 18-Feb-17 @ 6:41 PM
Hi, I have a newborn baby, my partner is from Cameroon, my family keeps telling me to don't register the baby with the fathers name cause he might run away with my son. So, my question is... if I register my son with his father name, what happens when I want to visit my parents in portugal? Am I gonna be stuck here with my son? We are not married, so how's the responsibility for the baby?
Suifc - 12-Feb-17 @ 10:31 PM
raman - Your Question:
Hi m single illegal mother. my husband left me after my baby born. baby is just 1 month old. can I apply for a single parent case. m alone.

Our Response:
Section 115 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (IAA) states that a person will have ‘no recourse to public funds’ if they are subject to immigration control; public funds include welfare benefits and public housing. However, if a person with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) becomes destitute they might turn to their local social services department for support. In most cases social services departments will conduct an assessment of an individual's needs and if it is determined that the person is eligible for support then the local authority is required to meet those needs, which may include provision of accommodation and subsistence - please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Feb-17 @ 10:13 AM
hi m single illegal mother . my husband left me after my baby born . baby is just 1 month old . can i apply for a single parent case . m alone .
raman - 9-Feb-17 @ 5:29 AM
Kk - Your Question:
None of my question was answered

Our Response:
We have many questions to answer and cannot get to all - but try where we can. Even though your child is living with you, if your ex has parental responsibility you must get the permission before taking your child abroad. You can take a child abroad for 28 days without getting permission, 'only' if you have previously been to court and have been awarded a child arrangement order that specifies you child must live with you. Please see gov.uk link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Feb-17 @ 1:48 PM
None of my question was answered
Kk - 4-Feb-17 @ 10:05 PM
I'm confused over PR. I was with ex two years then got pregnant daughter is almost two now and we've spent the past year and half on and off. We've never lived together and live in separate areas. Does he get to say what school she goes to etc? He sees her every Saturday but only saw her at the weekend when we were together anyway. He's on the birth certificate but I don't see why he gets a say when he's never really been around or supported us properly and not just financially.
Don - 4-Feb-17 @ 9:47 PM
I am a dad separated and i have a question i am told i have to pay maintance for my children this i dont mind i have just been told one of the children i have to pay for is exspecting she is young will i have to continue to pay mantance for her once she as the baby? Please help she is under 16 which is hard i want my children to have what they are intiteled to.
Jamea - 2-Feb-17 @ 4:38 PM
Lou - Your Question:
I'm just after some advice if possible, I have a 2yr old daughter and the farther and I are no longer together. Before I was working part time on a Monday,Tuesday and Wednesday. His mum would have our daughter on a Monday and Tuesday so I didn't have to pay lots for childcare, then on and Wednesday she would be with a childminder. I have now been offered a new permanent part time position at a different company, great money and benefits etc, however the working days have changed. I'll now be working on a Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. My ex is a police officer so works very awkward shifts, not your normal mon-fri 9-5 - and I feel I've been nothing but nice since we split up to work my daughters and my life around him and his shifts. At the moment if he has a day off on a Wednesday he wants to see her instead of her going to the childminder. He can spend up to 5 days with her (if he's off on Friday through to Sunday, then his mum has her on the Monday and Tuesday and then I loose out on so much time with her) With this new job his mum can still have her on a Tuesday, but I have agreed for the childminders to pick my daughter up and drop her home on both a Thursday and Friday. I'm so scared to tell him this incase he kicks off. How do I explain it to him? And that he can't have my daughter on the days she will be at the childminder. He will turn it all round on me saying I'm giving her too much change, but I'm taking this new job for my daughter, so that we can have a car and have money for nice things. I have always had to work my months round him and his shifts, there's no stability and routine for our daughter. At the end of April he's going on holiday for a whole month to Florida, and he doesn't see a problem with that. Any help would be appreciated

Our Response:
I think in situations such as this, where you cannot speak to your ex for fear of the repercussions, then mediation should be suggested. Mediation is when two or more parties meet to resolve problems before the matter reaches court. It is most often used in family proceedings. It is a formal negotiation and courts can accept the agreement of the mediation instead of having to go through the court process, although it is subject to final court approval. Mediation takes place in front of a neutral third party. The mediator has no pre-conceptions and will not force you to make an agreement. They will assist the two parties in taking turns in the conversation, and helping you reach a decision that you are ready to agree with. Mediators do not pass judgment or offer guidance; they are there, in effect, to facilitate conversation between the two sides. ou have to come to mediation with an open mind and be willing to discuss things maturely and without wanting to provoke confrontation. However, this can be very difficult to remember if you are facing your ex across a table and are attempting to sort the tiny details of arrangements and divisions of time. The biggest benefit from mediation is that there is nothing to lose by attending. Everything is confidential. If there is an agreement you get charge of the arrangements, and, if you do not end up agreeing, the contents of the mediation cannot be brought up in the present court proceedings or any after the event. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Jan-17 @ 2:18 PM
I'm just after some advice if possible, I have a 2yr old daughter and the farther and I are no longer together. Before I was working part time on a Monday,Tuesday and Wednesday. His mum would have our daughter on a Monday and Tuesday so I didn't have to pay lots for childcare, then on and Wednesday she would be with a childminder. I have now been offered a new permanent part time position at a different company, great money and benefits etc, however the working days have changed. I'll now be working on a Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. My ex is a police officer so works very awkward shifts, not your normal mon-fri 9-5 - and I feel I've been nothing but nice since we split up to work my daughters and my life around him and his shifts. At the moment if he has a day off on a Wednesday he wants to see her instead of her going to the childminder. He can spend up to 5 days with her (if he's off on Friday through to Sunday, then his mum has her on the Monday and Tuesday and then I loose out on so much time with her) With this new job his mum can still have her on a Tuesday, but I have agreed for the childminders to pick my daughter up and drop her home on both a Thursday and Friday. I'm so scared to tell him this incase he kicks off. How do I explain it to him? And that he can't have my daughter on the days she will be at the childminder. He will turn it all round on me saying I'm giving her too much change, but I'm taking this new job for my daughter, so that we can have a car and have money for nice things. I have always had to work my months round him and his shifts, there's no stability and routine for our daughter. At the end of April he's going on holiday for a whole month to Florida, and he doesn't see a problem with that. Any help would be appreciated
Lou - 31-Jan-17 @ 8:53 AM
I recently broke up with my partner of 11years he was a terrible cruel step dad to my kids from a previous relationship ,in the end my son at the age of 16 left to live with his dad , I was heart broken id lost my son due to his years of bulling ,I moved out ,we have two beautiful children and he says because im the one that has walked out of the relationsip he wants shared custody which I don.t want to give him 7nights ,but due to his domaneering personality and being scared if him ,ive let him have the children 7nights a fortnight ,its hell . Does anybody have any advice do you think if I took him to court I could get some nights back . Scared right now to fight but im going to have to soon if im ever going to be truely happy . Thanks for reading I look forward to some replys . .
smiler - 30-Jan-17 @ 11:23 PM
So many questions mines are not even being answered
Kk - 27-Jan-17 @ 8:16 PM
Hi, I've been in an awful relationship for nearly 4 years. Finally separated. Physical abuse (convicted) mental abuse. The convicted domestic violence happened just before I found out I was pregnant. My daughter is now 19mths old. He moved out when she was 8weeks old. He should've still been on bail when she was born. I've offered for him to have contact at my home (while I was upstairs so they had alone time) he's refusing my proposal, I don't trust him after threats and failed attempts to have her taken from me. What are my rights. Thank you
Claire - 27-Jan-17 @ 7:02 PM
Joanna - Your Question:
Hello.I would like to ask for some advise.I'm single mum of wonderful 6 years old boy(separated with husband for nearly 1,5 year). Four months ago I started dating someone and now I realised that I'm 4 weeks pregnat.I was shocked and I'm still really worried about it. I had many questions in my had.but I decided to keep the baby, as I couldn't go through the termination.That men is lovely, but had two kids already.As we didn't plan it and I wasn't and I feel that I am still not ready I want to stay single mum.I don't want to start to live with him.I feel stuck in my previous relationship for years, as I had my son when I was only 22.J. has really good job and earnings. He want to start live together, as he assure me that he love me, but I don't want it, because it is too early. Now with benefit help I can survive by my own financially, to pay rent, bills, still do some extra fir my boy and the child maintenance from his dad I desire for driving lessons, because I don't habe even driving licence. What makes my life very difficult, but I copy and try to always stay positive.My question is: how to stay separate finicialy and don't start life together to be able to get the benefits?Do his dad can be sign in as a dad in maternity notes and birth certificate? Maybe we will find that we can live togheter some day, but it's only 4 month since we've known each other.I know how hard it is to make the decision of the separation again later and how financially scary and difficult it is.Please help me with some advise.Joanna

Our Response:
Most people who choose to live alone find it more financially difficult than living with a partner who can contribute. However, this is not an answer if you feel that living alone is more emotionally beneficial to you. The main thing here is trying to negotiate with your current partner in a family-based arrangement regarding how you are going to work the relationship between you and how he is going to financially support his child and whether you are going to remain a couple but live apart. The point of welfare benefits is not to encourage people to become reliant upon them, but to see them as a temporary measure to get you through the first few years of bringing up your children until you can return to work. Much also depends upon your current partner and his willingness and ability to help support your child. I'm afraid we cannot offer more advice on what benefits you are entitled to and how to get the 'best' from them. You will have to research this yourself via the likes of EntitledTo here.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Jan-17 @ 10:50 AM
If the child is living with me permanently does that mean I'm the residency of the child.What does residency means?Does this mean I can take the baby on holiday without asking the dad.
Kk - 25-Jan-17 @ 7:25 PM
Hello. I would like to ask for some advise. I'm single mum of wonderful 6 years old boy(separated with husband for nearly 1,5 year). Four months ago I started dating someone and now I realised that I'm 4 weeks pregnat. I was shocked and I'm still really worried about it. I had many questions in my had..but I decided to keep the baby, as I couldn't go through the termination. That men is lovely, but had two kids already. As we didn't plan it and I wasn't and I feel that I am still not ready I want to stay single mum. I don't want to start to live with him. I feel stuck in my previous relationship for years, as I had my son when I was only 22. J. has really good job and earnings. He want to start live together, as he assure me that he love me, but I don't want it, because it is too early. Now with benefit help I can survive by my own financially, to pay rent, bills, still do some extra fir my boy and the child maintenance from his dad I desire for driving lessons,because I don't habeevendriving licence. What makes my life very difficult, but I copy and try to always stay positive. My question is: how to stay separate finicialy and don't start life together to be able to get the benefits? Do his dad can be sign in as a dad in maternity notes and birth certificate? Maybe we will find that we can live togheter some day, but it's only 4 month since we've known each other... I know how hard it is to make the decision of the separation again later and how financially scary and difficult it is. Please help me with some advise. Joanna
Joanna - 25-Jan-17 @ 11:07 AM
Civilpar6 - Your Question:
I'm in a civil partnership and have raised my wife's son in my home since he was 5, he is now 15. I have no legal rights to this child, I love him as my own but can't even take him to the doctors for a general check up. His dad is still part of his life but is not in a position to financially support him in the same way I do. My question is why can't my wife claim as a single parent for a child I have no legal rights to?

Our Response:
You can have certain rights to your stepson, if your wife and his biological father agrees to you having parental responsibility, please see gov.uk link here. If your wife agrees and the child's father doesn't then you and your wife can take the matter to court for the court to decide. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-Jan-17 @ 10:05 AM
Hello The I inequaility of the child support laws the discrimination of being a man The financial abuse the deduction of earnings order The lack of dignity But the gross income charge Lacks the fundamental idea that both parents need a home The excessive chargers at. 24% Are not for children's needs it's not for the provision of children out of poverty it's profit To a monopoly that is using the pretext children's needs .. If that is the case then why is it sex based The guidekines know 95% pwc are female That it's being used to exploit income on a yearly increase when wages don't go up But Cm does £84 was affordable at first contract Paid by standing order obligation of paying Be struck off then doe £378 before tax insurance housing collection food and statutory bills Then it's not means tested It's not being part of debt management laws Affordability to pay It's not sustainable to be abused for wanting to be employed a home owner and a active father That the system needs to make profit out of children's basic needs being denied Which is a contrast to children's acts Both parents have an obligation to provide financially emointionally and educational needs So out of a 15,500 income before tax the Cms can take £4000 and a charge of £900 be taken When contacting the Cms it's abusive verbally punishment and lack of dignity over gross income The system does not have an open fair or equal aspectto both parents needs or the children If a chikd is in school for over. 20 days a month Then how does it need so much out of a low income ? When the direct payment option is dishonest or being used dishonestly It's just punishment Children need both parents no just the bone headed mothers idea Children are being denied basic needs by the Cms action Yes fathers have to pay But a punishment for the natural act of having children then it's just Unlawful children being informed sorry kids ask your mum why Men leaving jobs over this child tax That is beyond their living wage Because it's been stolen to pay for Mothers having five kids to four different dads £378 times 14 years is £150,000 I earn ?£12,000 after tax Times that by breeders who cannot sustain meaning and fulfilling relationships Either because their dirty lazy abusive or just idiots But children have a right to both parents The Cms system does not exept that fact The government reform laws are just a draconian practices How losing a licence a income from an employed person wage And the asset of having a home for safe contact not be taken into account But mandatory reconsideration can take car insurance and petrol and tunnel tolls But not a home with statuary bills Because it's abuse to be put into extreme hardship To be denied contact due to lack of a living wage it's just a scam if it feels wrong then it is The contract from Cms system are in contradiction to each letter of inten
Dave - 24-Jan-17 @ 12:20 PM
I'm in a civil partnership and have raised my wife's son in my home since he was 5, he is now 15. I have no legal rights to this child, I love him as my own but can't even take him to the doctors for a general check up. His dad is still part of his life but is not in a position to financially support him in the same way I do. My question is why can't my wife claim as a single parent for a child I have no legal rights to?
Civilpar6 - 24-Jan-17 @ 10:06 AM
Loo loo - Your Question:
My son s ex girlfriend had a baby 2 1/2 years ago and says its my sons ,my son has allways maintained he is not. My husband and I have supported this child and have been a part of lives.the mother now wants my son to sign a letter/form to give her full parental right.surely he want have any as not on the birth certificate please help

Our Response:
Your son does not need to sign anything he does sign is not enforceable unless ordered through the courts. If your son wants more rights to the child, or if he continues to question whether he is the father, then his options are to apply to the courts for a paternity test and if it shows he is the father apply for parental responsibility, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Jan-17 @ 2:18 PM
Omi - Your Question:
My son's dad has been abusive in the past and my son is 2 and has been physically and verbally abusive due in this time and I have evidence of this he also brings my son around his volatile gf who has harrsed me prentended I contacted her alot of unhinged things I've asked if he doesn't bring my son around her and he has ignored me and I'm My sons main carer Do have to put up with the abuse and disrespect etc or do I have rights as his mother

Our Response:
As you have parental responsibility, unless there is a court order in place to say your son's father has to have access, then you can make any decision you wish with regards to what you think is in the best interests of your child. If your son's father disputes this, you will both either have to resolve the issue mutually, through mediation, or via court.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Jan-17 @ 10:54 AM
My son s ex girlfriend had a baby 2 1/2 years ago and says its my sons ,my son has allways maintained he is not . My husband and i have supported this child and have been a part of lives .the mother now wants my son to sign a letter/form to give her full parental right .surely he want have any as not on the birth certificate please help
Loo loo - 22-Jan-17 @ 6:00 PM
My son's dad has been abusive in the past and my son is 2 and has been physically and verbally abusive due in this time and I have evidence of this he also brings my son around his volatile gf who has harrsed me prentended I contacted her alot of unhinged things I've asked if he doesn't bring my son around her and he has ignored me and I'm My sons main carer Do have to put up with the abuse and disrespect etc or do I have rights as his mother
Omi - 22-Jan-17 @ 8:33 AM
Is it suitable for a father to be bringing back a child late at night to the mother.And if the mother says anything he calls her names and uses abusive words to the mother and the family. The child is 6 months.
Kk - 21-Jan-17 @ 6:21 PM
Kk - Your Question:
My question has not been answered why is that.

Our Response:
As we have many questions to answer across many different sites, we cannot answer all. With regards to your question, we cannot predict what a court will decide. As there are two sides to every story; before the matter goes to court it will be referred to Cafcass where a family report will be compiled by a Cafcass family reporter. It’s their job to interview both parents in the case, as well as the children (if they are old enough), and any others who might be needed, which could mean social workers, medical professionals, or even relatives. From the interviews they conduct, the reporter will determine two things: whether there should be contact allowed, and, if so, how much. Once the court order is in place both parents are obligated by law to keep to it.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Jan-17 @ 2:29 PM
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