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The Law and Single Mothers

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 28 May 2016 | 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]
I'm just over 4 months pregnant, my now ex partner kicked me out at midnight at 3 months pregnant, he was very drunk and started to get violent with me. I'm on sick from work due to all the stress I've been under and the stress on my unborn baby, I've had to find some where to live with the help of my family, he's refusing to help me get equipped for when baby comes along ie furniture etc. I haven't stopped him coming to scans or anything, but he doesn't seem to care what stress he puts me under or baby as I don't want him back, he doesn't care about the baby as I don't want him back. Is there anything I can do? As I'm scared that I will be left high and dry by him.
Katty - 28-May-16 @ 8:34 PM
Paulad - Your Question:
Hi my daughters 7months old her dad wants to see her which I have no problem with but he won't give me his number for me to contact him on do I have the right to say no as I'm worried he won't bring her back and I won't be able to contact him if he don't

Our Response:
There is no written rule to say that your ex has to give you his number or any of his details if he does not wish to. However, if you feel that you wish to be able to contact him when he has your/his daughter then you have a right to be able to voice this and make decisions on the back of it if you feel it is in the best interests of your child. In cases where you cannot agree with your ex, perhaps you may wish to consider mediation as a way of trying to sort the matter out.
ChildSupportLaws - 27-May-16 @ 12:29 PM
Hi my daughters 7months old her dad wants to see her which I have no problem with but he won't give me his number for me to contact him on do I have the right to say no as I'm worried he won't bring her back and I won't be able to contact him if he don't
Paulad - 26-May-16 @ 2:57 PM
Glosmum - Your Question:
My boy is 15 months his dad wants to see him I have no issue with him seeing him but he has now asked if I could bring him down to his mums once a month so he can see him. I don't mind him coming up here to see him but I'm not prepared to go to him as he is over 50miles away he is not on the birth certificate but wants to be do I have to take my boy to see him ? Do I have to get the dad put on the birth certificate ?

Our Response:
If the father is not on the birth certificate then he has no legal rights over your son, therefore you do not have to agree to anything you do not wish to. However, your ex could apply for parental responsibility and access through the courts.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-May-16 @ 3:00 PM
My boy is 15 months his dad wants to see him I have no issue with him seeing him but he has now asked if I could bring him down to his mums once a month so he can see him. I don't mind him coming up here to see him but I'm not prepared to go to him as he is over 50miles away he is not on the birth certificate but wants to be do I have to take my boy to see him ? Do I have to get the dad put on the birth certificate ?
Glosmum - 18-May-16 @ 12:19 PM
Hello. I have a 4 year old daughter. I was married to her dad at the time she was born but divorced when she was 2. In the divorce papers there was a section titled 'statement of arrangements for children', it stated contact arrangements for the non - resident parent (her dad) which was one set night a week, this was a weekday. It also stated I would care for her on a day to day basis. this was in agreement with us both and signed by us both, he did not contest this at the time. As our daughter is due to start school this current agreement means they wouldn't get much time together, and therfore he wants to change it to alternate weekends. I have agreed this but made it clear I feel weekly contact would be better, but he will only have alt Saturdays off work, my daughter will spend most of the Sunday with his fiance. I feel I have been really reasonable and accommodated all his requests. I swapped my job to enable me to be home mornings, evenings and weekends and it breaks my heart to give up so much free time with my daughter, but I understand she needs to see her dad. He is accusing me of witholding our daughter from him, even though I have agreed his requests. He is saying I should be grateful he allows me to take her on holiday. He also says if she asks to stay extra nights I should allow this, my worry with this is when things get tough at home, as in being told to do homework and rules there may be times she'll ask to stay, I don't feel she should be able to play one off against the other. He also guilt trips her when she comes back home. Her dad has mostly stuck to his set night and if he couldn't see her then she would go to his mom's,he makes no attempt to call in between or send messages, however he has never left more than 2 weeks without contact. Because I have been so accommodating and I feel he is unreasonable, I am wandering if I should now say let's stick with the current agreement and leave him to formally contest it if he has the effort too. Could this see me loosing out more time with her?
JJ - 7-May-16 @ 10:15 PM
Hi, on behalf of my daughter. She has been divorced for 7 years with a 7 year old Daughter. He has now remarried and making threathing calls saying his new wife is going to have access to my granddaughter. My Daughter, Granddaughter, and we are are beside ourselves, what can we do? what are our rights? Please can you advise? Thanks Dave
Dave - 30-Apr-16 @ 3:13 PM
Hi,i got pregnant w/ a married man. I cut all ties and broke up w/ him. I would want to start a new life. I dont want to involve my family and I in any trouble w/ them especially w/ his wife. However,recently,he planned to visit my baby who was staying at home w/ my parents. I dont want to give my parents anymore stress and i was afraid that if his wife would know, she would misunderstood and think that im still in a relationship w/ his husband,w/c im not. I was able to stop him by threatening that i would cpntact his wife or any of his relative if he would go to our house. But im still afraid that he'll go and see my son in the future and i wont be able to stop him. Can i file any kind of protection order against the father? I dont want any trouble and im afraid that his thoughtless action would lead us in that situation.
Workingmom - 30-Apr-16 @ 2:28 PM
Hi! I am married and have a 6months old baby boy! Me and my husband keep on having these arguments and he keeps on threatinning me to take my son away and no one can stop him from that! I have never been separated from my son since he was born and I can not imagine one night without him! I am so afraid one day something happen between us and he takes my son away from me! Please please give me an advice of what I can do! Please
Lunad - 23-Apr-16 @ 6:42 AM
Hi I have a question.I meet my child's father 20 miles from where I live at a train station so that he can spend time with his daughter on weekends. Am I obliged to do this or should he be travelling to collect her if he wants to spend time with her? Thank you
kat - 22-Apr-16 @ 7:18 PM
Bm mummy - Your Question:
Hi, I have a four month old daughter that my ex partner has never really wanted. We reside in Scotland and have never lived together or been married whilst I was pregnant or since she has been born. I have given him the opportunity to see his daughter but he was violent towards me and I reported the latest incident which meant the social work became involved as well as police ect. He wasn't charged due to my word against his but my daughter has been placed on child protection register for 3 months due to his inability to acknowledge his dangerous behaviour - he assaulted me in a moving vehicle whilst my daughter was in the car too. He has made no attempt to work alongside social work and denies any wrongdoing. I have asked him to agree to remove his name from her birth certificate but he ignores me. In fact he ignores me at any opportunity as part of a control tactic then Decidedes when he feels like being in contact. He threatens me with getting a court order to see my little one all the time - can I block him from having any contact with her due to failure to communicate and lack of engagement with authorities? He lies frequently about where he is and I don't trust that he wouldn't snatch her as he has tried to do this twice preciously. I don't want my daughter going to a centre to see him or be in the company of him and his toxic family - they blame me and provide no support. Thanks for any advice

Our Response:
If you are scared your ex will snatch your daughter, then you can apply for a child arrangement order which will effictively give you official custody of your daughter. I suggest therefore in this instance you seek some legal advice regarding your best options.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Apr-16 @ 1:55 PM
Hi, I have a four month old daughter that my ex partner has never really wanted. We reside in Scotland and have never lived together or been married whilst I was pregnant or since she has been born. I have given him the opportunity to see his daughter but he was violent towards me and I reported the latest incident which meant the social work became involved as well as police ect. He wasn't charged due to my word against his but my daughter has been placed on child protection register for 3 months due to his inability to acknowledge his dangerous behaviour - he assaulted me in a moving vehicle whilst my daughter was in the car too. He has made no attempt to work alongside social work and denies any wrongdoing. I have asked him to agree to remove his name from her birth certificate but he ignores me. In fact he ignores me at any opportunity as part of a control tactic then Decidedes when he feels like being in contact. He threatens me with getting a court order to see my little one all the time - can I block him from having any contact with her due to failure to communicate and lack of engagement with authorities? He lies frequently about where he is and I don't trust that he wouldn't snatch her as he has tried to do this twice preciously. I don't want my daughter going to a centre to see him or be in the company of him and his toxic family - they blame me and provide no support. Thanks for any advice
Bm mummy - 21-Apr-16 @ 7:21 PM
Please can I have a private post! Me and my husband have broken up. We have a 2 year old boy together who i would never stop him seeing. Me and my son are moving back to my home town to be closer to my family, as where I am at the moment I have no family here or any real friends. My husband works away all he leaves the house on a mon and don't get back till Friday. I am been the soul carer of my son since he was 2 weeks old when my husband went back to work. I don't get on with my mother law we have not seen each other for months or spoken. I am just wondering were i stand with regards to my son, would my mother in law be able to get full custody of my son through my husband??
mason2013 - 15-Apr-16 @ 6:28 PM
Mirash - Your Question:
Hi. Am a divorcee living with my 7 years old son. My ex husband is seeing my son every fort night. Recently he has applied for more contact with my son. My ex husband is not having any visa. He was caught by the immigration for residing illegally in this country as I withdrawn the spouse visa due to domestic violence. Now am planning to get married. My boyfriend lives in australia.I wish to move there with my son.my question is will there be a problem if I move to Australia? Can my ex husband try to stop me by doing that?

Our Response:
This is a tricky question and I'm not sure how general parental responsibility laws would affect your husband if he is not a British citizen and is overstaying illegally in the UK. Due to the complexity of your situation, you would have to seek legal advice regarding this matter.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Apr-16 @ 10:21 AM
Hi. Am a divorcee living with my 7 years oldson. My ex husband is seeing my son every fort night. Recently he has applied for more contact with my son. My ex husband is not having any visa. He was caught by the immigration for residing illegally in this country as I withdrawn the spouse visa due to domestic violence. Now am planning to get married. My boyfriend lives in australia.I wish to move there with my son.my question is will there be a problem if I move to Australia? Can my ex husband try to stop me by doing that?
Mirash - 11-Apr-16 @ 9:34 AM
Pixie - Your Question:
My fiancée broke off our engagement and is refusing to pay child support to me for our 3year old daughter. I am in my 3rd year at uni and I work part time, he is named on the birth certificate and I just wanted to know my rights and if I can apply for parental responsibility?

Our Response:
You already have parental responsibility. it comes automatically as a parent. If you mean you wish to have a residence (child arrangement) order which will determine who your child lives with, you can see more via the gov.uk link here . If your ex is refusing to pay child maintenance, you can apply via the CMS link here. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Apr-16 @ 11:51 AM
My fiancée broke off our engagement and is refusing to pay child support to me for our 3year old daughter. I am in my 3rd year at uni and I work part time, he is named on the birth certificate and I just wanted to know my rights and if I can apply for parental responsibility?
Pixie - 31-Mar-16 @ 4:59 PM
Hi I am a naturalized British citizen. I have a baby boy with my partner, a British guy. The thing is that he promised to marry me but now has changed his mind. He won't marry to me but he still has his name at the child birth certificate. What are the risks for me and the child for not being married.thank you
Debi - 25-Mar-16 @ 10:34 PM
My ex left whilst I was pregnant doesn't provide he comes and see the child now and then.He has children from a previous relationship it has come to light the oldest who is 15 has been kicked out he expects me to take her.What legal rights do I have the mother wants nothing to do with the child my fear is it will be me supporting the two children
oona72 - 25-Mar-16 @ 2:25 PM
If you are allowing your child's dad to see the child why would he be complaining to his solicitor whenever we have a argument.Should the mum buys everything for the baby if the dad is in university?Does this mean he cannot provide for his child because he's not working?
kk - 23-Mar-16 @ 5:50 PM
Do you pay child maintenance if you are studying in university? My child father says I'm getting this and I'm getting that from the government. Does this mean he's jalous.
kk - 23-Mar-16 @ 5:45 PM
kk- Your Question:
My child father says that he's going to hit my child in his head do I need a solicitor for this case?

Our Response:
You should report such actions to the police if your ex is threatening his/your child. The NSPCC link here should also be able to help.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Mar-16 @ 2:02 PM
Do you pay child maintenance if you are studying in university? My child father says I'm getting this and I'm getting that from the government. Does this mean he's jalousie?
kk - 22-Mar-16 @ 8:21 PM
My child father says that he's going to hit my child in his head do i need a solicitor for this case?
kk - 22-Mar-16 @ 8:18 PM
If you are allowing your child's dad to see the child why would he be complaining to his solicitor whenever we have a argument.Should the mum buys everything for the baby if the dad is in university?Does this mean he cannot provide for his child because he's not working?
kk - 22-Mar-16 @ 8:06 PM
DD - Your Question:
I came home last night to find my partner had changed the locks on my house and taken my name off the tenancy agreement. He has taken my son to his mothers and won't let me see him. I'm scared. All I want is my son I don't even care about the house or belongings if he doesn't want me there. But I'm unsure on my rights? I thought toddlers stayed with their mums not dads? Can he take him from me?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. The thought of your ex partner taking your children is the worst nightmare of many parents, and so if it happens, understandably it is a very emotional and stressful time. Many people turn to the police for help to return their children, but how much the police can help is dependent upon your personal situation. If both parents have Parental Responsibility and one parent is keeping the children against the other's wishes, the police CANNOT help. However, if your ex does not have Parental Responsibility, the police will be able to intervene. You will have to apply for an emergency contact/child arrangement order. You will need to fill in form C1 found at Gov.UK - Forms and Guidance. A court fee of £215 is also payable though you may be able to get assistance with this if you receive benefits or have a low income. This court order determines where your child lives, which relatives they have contact with, and what type of contact. I suggest you seek legal advice asap as a court order can take time to be heard at court. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Mar-16 @ 2:24 PM
Hi there I'm 8 months pregnant and the father has made it very clear from the word go that he wants nothing to do with the baby. I have tried to make contact with him several times but to no avail. I would like him to be on the birth certificate for moral reasons but I am also unsure as to where this leaves me in terms of child maintenance. If he isn't listed on the birth certificate do I have any way of pursuing some form of financial support from him?
Fi - 20-Mar-16 @ 9:56 PM
I came home last night to find my partner had changed the locks on my house and taken my name off the tenancy agreement. He has taken my son to his mothers and won't let me see him. I'm scared. All I want is my son I don't even care about the house or belongings if he doesn't want me there. But I'm unsure on my rights? I thought toddlers stayed with their mums not dads? Can he take him from me?
DD - 19-Mar-16 @ 8:47 AM
1987nl - Your Question:
My and my ex were together on and off for 2 years but only actually had 8 months together. He is on our sons birth certificate and does pay £120 a month. He dictates to me what I can and can't do with our child is not willing to swop the days he does see him if I/we (me & my son) have plans. He threatens to take me to court all the time when he disagrees to swop leaving me unable to attend planned events. I need to know if I arranged childcare else where (didn't ask him to swop) would this give him ammunition to take me to court? If my ex asks me to swop I jump no problems asked. He doesn't. It's causing me much upset now and I have no idea what my rights are as a mother! Someone please help!

Our Response:
One of the best ways to try and resolve such an issue, if you can't agree yourselves, is through Mediation. Mediation is when two or more parties meet to resolve problems before the matter reaches court. It is most often used in family proceedings, Contact Orders, residence agreements and divorce. 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. In addition, if your ex threatens court, the court will have expected him to have suggested and/or explored Mediation before it will accept any application.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Mar-16 @ 1:57 PM
city - Your Question:
Hi I have two kids with my ex he does not want to help me on rising my kids he always makes an empty promosis I decided to take him to maintenance so that he can be able to provide for the kids.is it the right step to do?

Our Response:
Regardless of whether your ex sees your children or not, you are still entitled to financial support from him for your children.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Mar-16 @ 10:06 AM
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