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The Law and Single Mothers

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 6 Jan 2018 | 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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What if you apply for supervised contact, after speaking with caff cass could you ask them to stop access.
Kk - 6-Jan-18 @ 7:34 AM
My ex- partner and father to my 4 year old daughter has frequent ( what I believe to be) undiagnosed mental health episodes when he bombards me with texts and emails which are abusive and threatening (though not of violence.) Usually he threatens to leave and not see our child anymore, or to take me to court for custody and leave with my daughter, and just general abuse. He has also started telling my daughter 'secrets' which ' daddy told me not to tell you' which I find alarming and think is damaging to her emotional well- being. I have called the police before when I received 54 abusive texts by 10am one morning! it's reached the stage when it's become unbearable, especially as it's interspersed with 'friendly' episodes, even a few hours later where he denies all knowledge of the abuse. Is there anything I can do to stop it? It is seriously diminishing my quality of life and I believe affecting my daughters too. My older daughter is still traumatised by the emotional abuse she witnessed when we were still together.
Fiona - 5-Jan-18 @ 11:27 AM
The dad is on the birth certificate. He's being unreasonable and we can't come to an amicable solution for access. He's threatened court and sole custody due to my mental health. He will suggest I cannot look after our daughter. What are my rights. I live with my mum and dad who are being extremely supportive.
Woo - 1-Jan-18 @ 5:29 PM
What if you make an application for supervised contact, at the court could you change it to no contact at all.Can you change a process of a court application at the hearing.
Kk - 31-Dec-17 @ 4:25 AM
Tony- Your Question:
Hi what if you put a application in that you don't want to have contact with the other person, but he can still see is child, can you tell me what could be done with this case, what are the procedures?

Our Response:
If the other person does not not agree to not having contact, then you can request this via a solicitor's letter and if the person ignores this, you could either suggest mediation and if this is not accepted, you would have to apply to court.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Dec-17 @ 1:01 PM
Hi what if you put a application in that you don't want to have contact with the other person, but he can still see is child, can you tell me what could be done with this case, what are the procedures?
Tony - 19-Dec-17 @ 6:13 PM
@Sarah - you would have to get permission from the court if the child's father won't give it.
Ol - 15-Dec-17 @ 3:56 PM
I would like to get some advice about taking my son to America for a holiday. I have sole responsibility for him and have done from day one. His fathers name is on his birth certificate but he was born before 2003 and so his father has no parental responsibility. America want a letter from the absent parent but in my eyes he has never been a parent and never paid for his son. I have contacted him to ask for a letter to take but he has refused. Where do I stand with taking him to America? Is there a way around getting some sort of letter stating he has no responsibility?
Sarah - 13-Dec-17 @ 11:00 PM
@Steph - you don't have to put his name on the birth certificate, that means he has no rights. But, he can apply to court then for access and parental responsibility. So, it's always best to come to some sort of agreement.
JackV - 12-Dec-17 @ 12:49 PM
So I'm currently pregnant I'm moving back home which is two hours away from my ex, as without him there full time I wouldn't have the support I would have back home. So I have decided being back home with my family would be best for both me and the baby.He seperated from me when I was 12 week gone, since then he doesn't think he needs to be there apart from antenatal appointments and I hear off of him maybe twice a month. I don't want my baby to have his second name and I'm wondering if I can do that? Also I'm worried he will want to bring the baby to his house (2 hours away) when he starts having her rather than staying up with me, I really don't feel comfortable her being that far away from me when she will be so young. From his current actions and as far as I'm aware he's currently homeless and jobless. Im not sure he would make the effort to come that far but I don't want him dictating where he has her. Is there anything I could do about this?
Steph - 11-Dec-17 @ 8:15 PM
Kk - Your Question:
If the other person hit me, would he been given a supervised visit with the child, what is the procedure in this case.

Our Response:
Much depends upon the circumstances, whether the 'other person' has been charged etc. You may wish to seek some legal advice regarding this. Citizens Advice Bureau may also be able to help here with some free advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 11-Dec-17 @ 9:31 AM
If the other person hit me, would he been given a supervised visit with the child, what is the procedure in this case.
Kk - 9-Dec-17 @ 5:26 PM
Kk - Your Question:
What if the other party doesn't want to attend mediation.

Our Response:
Then you would have the opportunity to apply to court. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child/children in question. The court will always put the children's best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
ChildSupportLaws - 30-Nov-17 @ 2:57 PM
I’m pregnant with my ex husbands baby. what are his rights regarding antenatal appointments as I dont want him there but he wants to be there? Also do I have to name him on the birth cert? He’s obviously my husband but we have been separated for 18 months, I got pregnant by accident (condom split and morning after pill failed) when we tried to reconcile but it failed within weeks.
Worried - 28-Nov-17 @ 7:50 PM
What if the other party doesn't want to attend mediation.
Kk - 28-Nov-17 @ 5:02 PM
have a 5 year old boy and have always been a single parent to him. His father has never paid child maintenance and is currently being persued by child maintenance services. He has organised many days to see his child and at the last minute he lets him down so he has not seen him in approximately a year. His family are also very abusive towards me and threaten me. What are my rights? And what are his rights?
ims - 21-Nov-17 @ 11:07 AM
Aba - Your Question:
My sons father left six months ago. The issues that I have is he wants more and more access. He currently has him for tea one night a week and then he stays over one school night a week. And has our son half the weekend. He wants him now 3 nights a week one week and 2 the other. It means I would only have our son half a saturday every two weeks. He starts nursery in january as well. We have a house together and he now pays the bare minium in child support. He wants me to buy him out. Ive heard that I dont have to until our son leaves the family home at 18 is this true?

Our Response:
You have two questions here. If you cannot agree on an access arrangement, you should both consider mediation to try to resolve your issues. You can also attempt to resolve your housing issue this way also. If you cannot agree between you regarding this matter and your ex wants you to buy him out and you refuse to move, then he would have to take the matter to court. In this case the court will always decide upon what it thinks is in the best interests of the children when reaching a decision. Often it can decide that the children should be allowed to reside in the house until they are 18. However, both of your financial situations will be taken into consideration also when deciding this. Therefore, if you can come to an agreement pre-court, then this is always for the best.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Nov-17 @ 10:24 AM
I have a 5 year old boy and have always been a single parent to him. His father has never paid child maintenance and is currently being persued by child maintenance services. He has organised many days to see his child and at the last minute he lets him down so he has not seen him in approximately a year. His family are also very abusive towards me and threaten me. What are my rights?
ims - 20-Nov-17 @ 4:44 PM
My sons father left six months ago. The issues that i have is he wants more and more access. He currently has him for tea one night a week and then he stays over one school night a week. And has our son half the weekend. He wants him now 3 nights a weekone week and 2 the other.It means i would only have our son half a saturday every two weeks. He starts nursery in january as well.We have a house together and he now pays the bare minium in child support. He wants me to buy him out. Ive heard that i dont have to until our son leaves the family home at 18 is this true?
Aba - 20-Nov-17 @ 8:32 AM
Steph - Your Question:
So me and my sons dad split up 3 months ago and since then we can't agree on contact as we constantly argue and he's constantly lieing to me and now he keeps telling me he will see my son when he's 18 then he wants to see him then he tells me he will see him when 18! Is there anything the courts can do to help me?

Our Response:
When couples separate emotions can run high. There is often a lot of hurt, anger and misunderstandings that take place. The cycle of anger, denial, hurt and grief are the common stages that non-resident parents go through when they separate and have to leave their family/children. My advice is to always put yourself in your ex's shoes for moment. Your ex may be missing his son and the emotional turbulence of that can quite often lead to knee-jerk responses (which it sounds as though your ex is experiencing). The fact he wants to see him and then doesn't, points to your ex being emotionally confused. It may be that he wants to see him, but emotionally it is too raw or painful. Therefore, he may think that if he cuts off from seeing him, then this will lessen his pain.The backlash is that his actions inflame your own anger, hurt and frustration. In situation such as this, it often takes one parent to try to take some sort of control. Separation doesn't have to be fraught with anger and retaliation, many people can separate and remain amicable after a time. The fact you have a child together means it is important that you find a way to communicate. The situation is not only about the two of you but also about the wellbeing of your son and that is what you need to focus on. By rising to the bait you will only make the situation worse. Mediation is the first step towards trying to negotiate an amicable relationship. Try to come to arrangements that suit you both and then stick to them to build trust and mutual respect. When emotions are running high it is difficult to be amicable with your ex. However, as the father of your child he is always going to be in your life and it's always best to find a way to try to get on, if not for you both at least for the sake of your son. Neither of you can apply to court unless mediation has been attempted first, so unless you can resolve these issues between you, then mediation has to be your next port of call.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Nov-17 @ 9:59 AM
So me and my sons dad split up 3 months ago and since then we can't agree on contact as we constantly argue and he's constantly lieing to me and now he keeps telling me he will see my son when he's 18 then he wants to see him then he tells me he will see him when 18! Is there anything the courts can do to help me?
Steph - 13-Nov-17 @ 6:58 PM
Alice D. - Your Question:
Hi. I'm pregnant with a person who decide to left me knowing I'm pregnant. He just told me I'm so old for being a father and wished me all the best. I decided to keep the child. I'm worried. because what heappen with certificate of birth if the father do not be agree to attend? He will be doing everything for disappear even he live in the same town.Means like I can't give his details? What next. I'm not quite sure what to do. then. Do I have any rights for child mantienance in the future? I'm not English. Please tell me what I should to do. Thank you so much.

Our Response:
You do not have to name the father on the birth certificate (that's up to you). If you do not register the father's name, you will still be allowed to apply for child maintenance. You would have to give his name to Child Maintenance Service, CMS who will attempt to locate him and claim on your behalf.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Nov-17 @ 12:23 PM
Hi ...I'm pregnant with a person who decide to left me knowing I'm pregnant.He just told me I'm so old for being a father and wished me all the best.I decided to keep the child.I'm worried. .. because what heappen with certificate of birth if the father do not be agree to attend? He will bedoing everything for disappear even he live in the same town .Means like I can't give his details?What next ... I'm not quite sure what to do. .. then. . Do I have any rights for child mantienance in the future?I'm not English.Please tell me what I should to do. Thank you so much.
Alice D. - 13-Nov-17 @ 2:09 AM
jj - Your Question:
Hi just a quick question if a father pays csa does that give him rights to have access to the child does it go in his favour to help him in court

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access have no bearing on each other. 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. Money does not figure in the court making a decision.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Nov-17 @ 3:58 PM
Sophia - Your Question:
Hi, I came to the UK as a student a year ago to finish my last two years of bachelor. Earlier this year I got pregnant with my first child with a man I had met a couple of months prior. We have been living together but after several incidents I've decided to move out. As an expact I'm unsure weather or not I should have the child in my home country because I'm scared of the fathers actions or possible control over my every move with the child. Initially I agreed on having the baby in the UK as I want the father to see the baby and vice versa, however I'm scared this may risk my legal rights in case of a custodial battle which I can very much imagine given his personality. I want a safe environment for me and the baby but also not take the rights away for the dad to see the baby. An option was to have the baby at home and then come back after a few months. The father is flexible and could be there for birth even in a different counrty from the UK. I'm 28 weeks pregnant and need to make a decision quickly as I can soon no longer travel.

Our Response:
It really is not an issue whether you have your child in the UK or abroad. If you are the primary carer of your child, then you are generally awarded the care, regardless of which country you choose to live in. With regards to having a 'custody battle', a court would not take a child from the primary carer and hand the child over to the other parent unless there was a justifiable reason ie neglect etc. Also, a person is not allowed to apply to court unless they apply to resolve the issues through mediation first. If you want to restrict the father's rights as a parent, then you can opt out from registering him on the birth certificate. You can see regarding what PR entails, please see the link here . However, your ex would be allowed to apply to this via court. In all relationships trying to find a balance and resolving issues through joint negotiation and what you both feel is in the best interests of your child is the best approach. Hopefully, you will be able to work together to create an amicable relationship so your child can grow to be nurtured by both parents.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Nov-17 @ 10:49 AM
hi just a quick question if a father pays csa does that give him rights to have access to the child does it go in his favour to help him in court
jj - 6-Nov-17 @ 10:38 AM
Hi, I came to the UK as a student a year ago to finish my last two years of bachelor. Earlier this year I got pregnant with my first child with a man I had met a couple of months prior. We have been living together but after several incidents I've decided to move out. As an expact I'm unsure weather or not I should have the child in my home country because I'm scared of the fathers actions or possible control over my every move with the child. Initially I agreed on having the baby in the UK as I want the father to see the baby and vice versa, however I'm scared this may risk my legal rights in case of a custodial battle which I can very much imagine given his personality. I want a safe environment for me and the baby but also not take the rights away for the dad to see the baby. An option was to have the baby at home and then come back after a few months. The father is flexible and could be there for birth even in a different counrty from the UK. I'm 28 weeks pregnant and need to make a decision quickly as I can soon no longer travel.
Sophia - 5-Nov-17 @ 5:17 AM
Chidem - Your Question:
I broke up with my husband 3 months ago and we have a 3 years old kid.My husband is realised that l don’t want to get back together and he started to be difficult by not paying me any penny.He paid my 2 months and he realised l’m doing ok by working hard and he started to say that he can’t support me financially anymore.I tried to talk to him and sort out between us but l can see l need a legal paper to make him me pay as he moods keep changing.As far as l know we must be separated 2 years to get divorce as long as there no cheating or violence.We just don’t get on well but l don’t want to wait 2 years either. As l’m a single mum l don’t have any one or any family to help me. I really don’t know how to process all this things.

Our Response:
You can see how you can go about claiming child maintenance via the link here . If your husband is earning and paying tax, then he is responsible for financially paying towards the day-to-day care of your child. You can see more about getting a divorce via the link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 30-Oct-17 @ 2:10 PM
I broke up with my husband 3 months ago and we have a 3 years old kid. My husband is realised that l don’t want to get back together and he started to be difficult by not paying me any penny. He paid my 2 months and he realised l’m doing ok by working hard and he started to say that he can’t support me financially anymore. I tried to talk to him and sort out between us but l can see l need a legal paper to make him me pay as he moods keep changing. As far as l know we must be separated 2 years to get divorce as long as there no cheating or violence. We just don’t get on well but l don’t want to wait 2 years either. As l’m a single mum l don’t have any one or any family to help me. I really don’t know how to process all this things.
Chidem - 28-Oct-17 @ 3:19 AM
Treasure - Your Question:
Hi I am a sole care taker of my son. Father is on birth certificate I have applied for child maintenance as my son turn two April 2017 , my question is I have got no family got two daugter age 17 age 13. In case something happens to me will dad get custody of my son or do I have right to stop that , He said he can contest my will if I put that I don't want my son growing up with him he has never been a part of his life Thank you

Our Response:
The father can contest the will. However, should something happen to you, which I hope doesn't and this is purely academic, then your daughters will also be taken into consideration. Much will come down to who your son has had the most contact with and who is the most consistent person in his life. The court is unlikely to allow your son to live with his father if his father has had little to do with him on a day-to-day basis. Making a will is the best way to ensure your opinion is seriously considered if such circumstances were to occur.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Oct-17 @ 9:53 AM
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