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The Law and Single Mothers

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 20 Mar 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]
Kk - Your Question:
My question is still not answered

Our Response:
Your question has been answerd - (see below).
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Mar-17 @ 12:59 PM
Mama - Your Question:
Hi,I'm single mother of 2kids 12,4years old from different father never married, both father name in the birth certificate one was with me at the register and one wasn't, both child lives with me all there life I've never received any maintenance,and don't have contact with the fathers.my question do I have the right to move abroad to Germany and what is the rules in Germany?

Our Response:
By law, you would have to seek authorisation from both fathers if you wish to move from the country. If the fathers have never been in their children's lives then you could take a chance, but you may risk being asked to return to the UK.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Mar-17 @ 12:35 PM
Kk - Your Question:
I have recently been through the court with my ex partner. He's been given 12 til 6 on the weekend. Is it suitable to send a sick baby out when the doctor says to keep the baby inside and lots of rest. The father of the child came and was bullying me to take the baby out. The police came and they said they can't do anything because of the court order. What do you think I could get done. Should I go back to my solicitor and try to sort the situation out and take it further. He's also bough her back with a cut on her fore head. He's also slap her when she was sick. What could I get done please

Our Response:
If your child was sick and you think it is in the best interests of your child to keep her at home, then no court is going to punish this breach (especially if you can back it up by a doctor's note etc). It is important to consider the needs of your child first and so some flexibility may be needed on occasion. However, if the breach is regular or intentional then your ex can take the matter back to court and if the court thinks you are trying to find reasons to avoid sending your child, then it can take punishable action on you for the breach (your court order should have come with a contempt of court warning). However, if you think your ex has been violent to your child, then you will be advised to keep your child at home and refer this back to the solicitors. If your ex denies the accusations, then it is likely the matter will have to go back to court.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Mar-17 @ 10:20 AM
My question is still not answered
Kk - 20-Mar-17 @ 7:05 AM
Hi,I'm single mother of 2kids 12,4years old from different father never married, both father name in the birth certificate one was with me at the register and one wasn't, both child lives with me all there life I've never received any maintenance,and don't have contact with the fathers.my question do I have the right to move abroad to Germany and what is therules in Germany?
Mama - 19-Mar-17 @ 1:59 PM
I have recently been through the court with my ex partner. He's been given 12 til 6 on the weekend. Is it suitable to send a sick baby out when the doctor says to keep the baby inside and lots of rest. The father of the child came and was bullying me to take the baby out. The police came and they said they can't do anything because of the court order. What do you think i could get done. Should i go back to my solicitor and try to sort the situation out and take it further. He's also bough her back with a cut on her fore head. He's also slap her when she was sick. What could i get done please
Kk - 19-Mar-17 @ 12:09 AM
Mouse - Your Question:
I am a mum of 2 (6&7) I have residency of my children and the father has agreed times to see the children. On a number of occasions when the Dad is to return the children he has only returned one. I have been back to court and had to get emergency removal agreed by a judge to have my child returned. I still have to comply with the court order that he still gets to see the children. I'm currently waiting to have a meeting with cafcass. And are back in court next month. Would do I do if the court agrees that the visits continue and he still keeps one child. (He never keeps the other child as they are autistic and cannot deal with them)

Our Response:
If you are going back to court to enforce this order, you need to ask the court to draw up a more stringent warning regarding the repercussions he will face if he attempts once again to keep your child without consent.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Mar-17 @ 1:54 PM
Sah - Your Question:
Hi, I got married to my partner few months ago and I am on a visa here. It's mentioned on my visa letter that I don't have access on any public funds. We received a letter from hmrc saying that her tax credits are gonna stop because she is living with a partner. She is registered as disabled and already had 5 kids as well. I have just started working but I don't know how I am gonna cover all of these expenses which she was getting the money for from tax credits. Is there anything I can do about it?

Our Response:
For the likes of tax credits, couples need to make joint claims based on household income. However, if you have no recourse to public funds, then you personally would not be able to claim. Your wife would have to speak to someone at the DWP to see if there is any way around this.
ChildSupportLaws - 13-Mar-17 @ 12:00 PM
I am a mum of 2 (6&7) I have residency of my children and the father has agreed times to see the children. On a number of occasions when the Dad is to return the children he has only returned one. I have been back to court and had to get emergency removal agreed by a judge to have my child returned. I still have to comply with the court order that he still gets to see the children. I'm currently waiting to have a meeting with cafcass. And are back in court next month. Would do I do if the court agrees that the visits continue and he still keeps one child. (He never keeps the other child as they are autistic and cannot deal with them)
Mouse - 12-Mar-17 @ 5:13 PM
Hi, I got married to my partner few months ago and I am on a visa here. It's mentioned on my visa letter that I don't have access on any public funds. We received a letter from hmrc saying that her tax credits are gonna stop because she is living with a partner. She is registered as disabled and already had 5 kids as well. I have just started working but I don't know how I am gonna cover all of these expenses which she was getting the money for from tax credits. Is there anything I can do about it?
Sah - 12-Mar-17 @ 12:02 PM
My partner has 2 children aged 13 and 11. The mother is constantly texting nasty things, trying to cause trouble. We were wondering if my partner can communicate with his daughter who is nearly 14 with regards to pick up times and drop offs and not the mother as we would like to block her number all together?
Dd29 - 9-Mar-17 @ 9:10 AM
@Gg21 - if you always think you are making a decision which you think is based in the best interests of your child, then you'll know when it's right to let your ex have access, or take her out on his own. It's all about negotiation and it might be your ex is scared. You obviously have your child full-time, but your ex doesn't have any experience and he might need to be encouraged to help out and see her a bit more. It's all about communication and working together for the best of your lovely new daughter. It's nice if you can work together - rather than battle against each other :) Liz.
EJ - 7-Mar-17 @ 11:58 AM
My daughters 3 months and not with father, I let him see her as and when he wants to with me there as she's breastfeeding. He's not said he wants her by himself but don't feel comfortable with that as he only sees her for half an hour a week, hasn't even changed a nappy and as soon as she cries he passes her back. Also she has no routine to when she wants feeding. Just need advice on what to do
Gg21 - 6-Mar-17 @ 3:51 PM
Zak - Your Question:
Hi, my girlfriend's Dad left the family when she was 2 years old. He's never paid a penny since and had just got up and gone. Where does she stand in regards to getting money from him. Legally that is

Our Response:
Your girlfriend cannot claim child maintenance from her father. Only the mother is responsible for doing this, and if the mother has never previously lodged a claim then she would not be able to claim child maintenance retrospectively
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Mar-17 @ 2:32 PM
Hi, my girlfriend's Dad left the family when she was 2 years old. He's never paid a penny since and had just got up and gone. Where does she stand in regards to getting money from him.. Legally that is
Zak - 5-Mar-17 @ 11:08 PM
@Kk - you can simply stop the dad seeing your child. If the dad wanted to see your child he would have to take it to court. No person should slap a baby!
Billie - 1-Mar-17 @ 12:43 PM
If a dad hit a sick baby could he be stopped from seeing the baby. Slapping a sick baby is very wrong.
Kk - 28-Feb-17 @ 10:48 PM
Lovingparent - Your Question:
I am immigrant married with an English man 10 years ago. Our marriage broke down after 2 years for his alcohol and other substances problem, we have two kids. He never helped me out with money or a place to live. I am a stroke survivor and am struggling with economic expenses for my kids. He has 2 more kids with different mothers and never help out. What can I do?

Our Response:
If your ex is earning and income and paying tax to the HMRC, then you can claim child maintenance, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Feb-17 @ 12:35 PM
Kk - Your Question:
My question is still not answered why is this

Our Response:
Firstly, you do not have to allow your ex into your house, that is up to you to refuse his entry. If you are concerned about the way your ex is treating your child, I suggest you speak to the NSPCC and/or read the link here which will give you further information.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Feb-17 @ 11:25 AM
I am immigrant married with an English man 10 years ago. Our marriage broke down after 2 years for his alcohol and other substances problem,we have two kids. He never helped me out with money or a place to live. I am a stroke survivor and am struggling with economic expenses for my kids. He has 2 more kids with different mothers and never help out. What can I do?
Lovingparent - 27-Feb-17 @ 10:14 PM
My question is still not answered why is this
Kk - 27-Feb-17 @ 2:56 PM
Jialu - Your Question:
My ex husband claims to earn £103 per week and so pays the minimum of £7 per week for our two children. I have just found out from his sister that he earns £150,000 per year, but all of this is under the radar and he has offshore accounts etc. I have been struggling to earn £17,500 per year and my parents help me out. Child support say I have to provide counter evidence which is impossible, despite the fact that my ex husband's two sisters wrote letters of support, that I found a reference to his private offshore bank account in his blog and you have to have a minimum of £25,000 in it. He is very abusive and I find it hateful that he engineers his finances so on paper it looks like he earns £103 per week. I have been struggling financially

Our Response:
If you think your ex has extra income and can possibly prove this, it may be advisable to look into taking the matter to court, especially if your ex's lifestyle is markedly different to his earnings i.e flash cars, houses etc. If your ex does have offshore accounts the court would make sure these are located. Therefore, you may wish to seek some legal advice to see whether you may have a case.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Feb-17 @ 2:40 PM
ALLIE - Your Question:
Can I take my ex partner to court for lies of promises creating damages to the child and myself for telling us lies of returning to us, his child when 5 years old. I would like to open a case, bedide Child Maintenance to pay retroactive payments or a missed lump sum for damages created in us?

Our Response:
I'm afraid your comment is a little confusing, but I will try to answer it as best as I can. Unless you have previously put in a claim for chil maintenance, you would not be able to claim retrospectively, please see link here . You cannot put a claim in for damages regarding your ex telling lies to you and your child.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-Feb-17 @ 2:10 PM
Can I take my ex partner to court for lies of promises creating damages to the child and myself for telling us lies of returning to us, his child when 5 years old.I would like to open a case, bedide Child Maintenance to pay retroactive payments or a missed lump sum for damages created in us?
ALLIE - 27-Feb-17 @ 12:58 AM
Hi my name is kk I've recently been to the court because of my daughter. The father has been given Saturday and Sunday, 12 till 6 and once a month sleep over. He's done something which was very wrong today he slap the baby and she's not well. We both not well. He doesn't want to play by the court rules he wants to sit in my house and doesn't want to take the baby out.
Kk - 26-Feb-17 @ 9:42 PM
Hello.. basically my ex (father of my son) has custody of my child in the form of a residency order. He tried to claim csa over a year and a half ago.. I didn't know. He was point blank not letting me see or speak to my child. Things have changed and he is saying that I can see my child. I owe him £600 through the csa, also will have to keep paying. I don't know where I stand as I will now be seeing my son regularly, also traveling over the see him witch will cost me £20. Even though the father of my child claims benefits for my son, the father works full time, doesn't care full my child full time as my son is always with other people. Also the father has just gone away for 4 days and left my son with friends. As I will now be seeing my son and the fact the father doesn't always care for my son, do I still have to pay csa?? The father has my son like 2 days a week.. but on them two days he only gets him back at 6pm after work, feeds him, puts him to bed, then my son gets taken to school by his nan... Please help???
inkedchick - 25-Feb-17 @ 10:39 PM
My ex husband claims to earn £103 per week and so pays the minimum of £7 per week for our two children.I have just found out from his sister that he earns £150,000 per year, but all of this is under the radar and he has offshore accounts etc.I have been struggling to earn £17,500 per year and my parents help me out.Child support say I have to provide counter evidence which is impossible, despite the fact that my ex husband's two sisters wrote letters of support, that I found a reference to his private offshore bank account in his blog and you have to have a minimum of £25,000 in it.He is very abusive and I find it hateful that he engineers his finances so on paper it looks like he earns £103 per week.I have been struggling financially
Jialu - 25-Feb-17 @ 9:16 PM
JM - Your Question:
I have a residence order in place ( so I can remove the child from the country for up to 28 days without dad's Consent ) , Dad have contact with child on alternate Weekend ( court order). I want to visit Family abroad for 3 weeks during summer term but it will clash with contact order. I've ask father if he is willing to swap dates and to make up for lost contact but he has refused. can I still go ?

Our Response:
If the court order specifies you can do this, to avoid your ex taking you back to court for a breach of the order, you may wish to cover your back and ask a solicitor to write a letter to your ex. The letter would specify the terms of the order regarding being allowed to take your child out of the country and your willingness to negotiate a change in contact to make allowances for the clash of dates. At least you will then have proof you have tried to re-negotiate the terms of the order under your permitted leave of absence, should your ex attempt to try to take the matter back to court.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Feb-17 @ 12:48 PM
I have a residence order in place ( so I can remove the child from the country for up to 28 days without dad's Consent ) , Dad have contact with child on alternate Weekend ( court order) . I want to visit Family abroad for 3 weeks during summer term but it will clash with contact order . I've ask father if he is willing to swap dates and to make up for lost contact but he has refused. can I still go ?
JM - 23-Feb-17 @ 4:04 PM
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
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