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The Law and Single Mothers

Author: Anna Martin - Updated: 13 July 2014 | commentsComment
 
Mother Father Parent Child Shared

A mother has parental responsibility for her child and is generally expected to become the parent with care, in the event of a separation or divorce. Whilst providing care for her child allows her to receive maintenance support from the child’s father, to cover the cost of the child’s expenses, a mother’s rights are very much conditioned by her marital status. A married woman will be more financially secure, than a woman who remains unmarried, if she has children and her relationship breaks down.

Mother’s Pride

If the mother’s name is the only name listed on the child’s birth certificate she has sole Parental Responsibility for the child’s welfare. Adding a father’s name to the certificate can only happen if he attends registration. Once the father’s name is registered he will automatically share parental responsibility for the child, assuming that the child is born after 2003. A Parental Responsibility Agreement can be drawn up at a later date if a mother is prepared to share responsibilities with the child’s father, if he was not named on the birth registration form. Our page on What rights does my ex have discusses Parental Responsibility and how to determine it in some detail.

Paternity Confirmation

Most fathers confirm paternity, when asked, which enables the mother – regardless of the brevity of the couple’s relationship - to apply for child support with relative ease. Establishing fatherhood acknowledges shared responsibility and liability for the child, or children. Those non resident fathers who are less willing to provide maintenance assistance for their child however, can be traced by the Child Support Agency (CSA) and have payment enforced.

Mothers’ Rights

A single mother is entitled to claim maintenance from her child’s father, on behalf of the child. She does not have to have shared parental responsibilities with him in order to ask for Child Support payments to be calculated and collected from him. Maintenance agreements can be made privately or can be arranged through the Child Support Agency.

Without shared Parental Responsibility a father cannot have access to his child without the mother agreeing. He may apply for a Contact Order, if communication between the parents has broken down, and should the father want the child to live with him he will have to apply for a Residence Order. However, the court is unlikely to grant a Residence Order to a father for a baby, as this would give him shared Parental Responsibility.

Maintenance Rights

Simply because a father pays maintenance support to the child’s mother periodically it does not mean that he is entitled to see the child. This form of support provides funds to be used towards the cost of raising the child, and should be used to pay for educational and extracurricular activities, shelter, clothing and food.

If the mother and the father have been able to agree a figure for maintenance, it is worth getting the agreement agreed by the court, in case payment enforcement is required at a later date.

Special Circumstances

In cases where the mother became pregnant through artificial insemination, or by third party donor, the partner at the time of birth is accountable for the child’s welfare and is expected to contribute financially.

To find out how child support is assessed take a look at our page How child support is calculated.

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My ex-wife divorced and left 2 children aged 16&21 both lives with father, What is the overall responsibilities for these kids Mum? Ex is living on her own full timely working,no partners, But I am on a JCA since November 2013, very struggling on a regular day to day survival? Any thing I would get from the ex to the children, by officially please...
Derikson - 13-Jul-14 @ 11:38 PM
I need some advised.. My daughters father and I broke up.. I have a 2 years old and 8 months baby girl.. Althought we never live together because he always have a external relation that always lied about.. Anyway his emigration status isn't clear in this country, and my daughters have a surname that he made up one day when he had an issue with the police and his finger prints were taken, but his other daughter daughters have his genuine surname,, we applied as a couple to get his permission to stay in this country, but was refused, anyway, he has been running a suscesfullcompany on someone else name, but hi never hold his properties or his money on his name as he hasn't any proved of ID.. And he always send the money back to his country yo his family or his own personal account in back there.. Nowmy question is. If I sue him have My daughters have the right or the chance to have a good child support by him by law.. Or in fact what is my situation?
Ivenso - 6-Jul-14 @ 8:12 AM
Hi,'Here's hoping!!!? I am a single( involuntarily),my ex had an affair for four years and LEFT me with OUR 16 month old baby,Shah a MAn!!!?) Anyway,that was a long time ago,in the DAY's that I was niave and'Jumped' at everyb300 lawyer letters that I received fromHIS instructed lawyer,now looking back..... well we all learn,and I Hope I /you enlighten me with some light at the end of the 'NEVER ENDING TUNNEL!!!',but I HAD to claim what I COULDas he cut everything off and Stopped paying the mortgage,and in those day's (2001/2) and income support ictsted you signed up with the C.S.A. in those day's and HE alway's thought of this as a revenge 'tactic(can laugh NOW),but he WAS volunteering£200,for the children every week,but Stopped when CSA contacted him,and ever since WE have been under the umbrella of this,'shambles of a GOV dept'. By law he was/is supposed to let them know of ANY increase he received,'BUT NEVER DID,my brother,that sorted'EVERYTHING' out like that used to phone them every two years for them to check,if he had in fact HAD a raise,and he ALWAY'S 'HAD',and WITHOUT 'ANY' repercussion, of this"'fraud',CSA would alway's 'BACK DATE FROM DATE MY BROTHER RANG, regarding that period,taking no action or nit even back dating from when he HAD the increase,then I would receive four to five letters,( all with different smmounts on) before my final weekly %. I received a phone call today to advice me that the CSA 'HAD MADE AN ERROR'( every time my brother rang,he was given different info/am mounts and/or 'out systems are being replace,can you ring back, in four days) this articular, 'statement' was used a LEAST five times,and on numerous occasions te '?account Manager would have to 'go into my account and sort things out,that 'her/his' colleagues had entered/worked out 'WRONG' ,this was a yearly ,quite 'NORMAL ' happening , my brother recalls!!!. We/He had not rang for around two years,when today the call came,Mrs..? 'This is ..A?.. from the CSA here,have you a minute to discuss something?" Of cause',I said yes and she proceeded to inform me that 'Since .errrrm...2006, Mr Rivers,has been OVER PAYING YOU( I pay my own mortgage)/panic started to boil up inside me,not anger,as ALL te way through My nightmare,where,Money is concerned,I AlWAY'S,have lost out,and He has been the one that has gained !!!! And I was te one with the £10,000 lawyer fee( my brother appealed and got it reduced to £8,00)/whilst HE represented himself!!!!.any way,sorry,going into to much HISTORY!!,so CSA rep continued,to explain that the last time they reviewed( my brother is sure he has requested AfTER THIS date,but can north prove it!!!!) But she went on to opplogise,and admit CSA,WAS TO BLAME,but I still had to back pay from THAT YEAR '2006,and around £15/£20 per week,roughly,she explained,'CAN YOU AFFORD £80/100????", ' what I screamed, I am baffled,'i am paying FR 'YOUR' MISTAKE!!?",and said brmused,'yes,that's
Topher85 - 16-Jun-14 @ 7:24 PM
Hi,'Here's hoping!!!? I am a single( involuntarily),my ex had an affair for four years and LEFT me with OUR 16 month old baby,Shah a MAn!!!?) Anyway,that was a long time ago,in the DAY's that I was niave and'Jumped' at everyb300 lawyer letters that I received fromHIS instructed lawyer,now looking back..... well we all learn,and I Hope I /you enlighten me with some light at the end of the 'NEVER ENDING TUNNEL!!!',but I HAD to claim what I COULDas he cut everything off and Stopped paying the mortgage,and in those day's (2001/2) and income support ictsted you signed up with the C.S.A. in those day's and HE alway's thought of this as a revenge 'tactic(can laugh NOW),but he WAS volunteering£200,for the children every week,but Stopped when CSA contacted him,and ever since WE have been under the umbrella of this,'shambles of a GOV dept'. By law he was/is supposed to let them know of ANY increase he received,'BUT NEVER DID,my brother,that sorted'EVERYTHING' out like that used to phone them every two years for them to check,if he had in fact HAD a raise,and he ALWAY'S 'HAD',and WITHOUT 'ANY' repercussion, of this"'fraud',CSA would alway's 'BACK DATE FROM DATE MY BROTHER RANG, regarding that period,taking no action or nit even back dating from when he HAD the increase,then I would receive four to five letters,( all with different smmounts on) before my final weekly %. I received a phone call today to advice me that the CSA 'HAD MADE AN ERROR'( every time my brother rang,he was given different info/am mounts and/or 'out systems are being replace,can you ring back, in four days) this articular, 'statement' was used a LEAST five times,and on numerous occasions te '?account Manager would have to 'go into my account and sort things out,that 'her/his' colleagues had entered/worked out 'WRONG' ,this was a yearly ,quite 'NORMAL ' happening , my brother recalls!!!. We/He had not rang for around two years,when today the call came,Mrs..? 'This is ..A?.. from the CSA here,have you a minute to discuss something?" Of cause',I said yes and she proceeded to inform me that 'Since .errrrm...2006, Mr Rivers,has been OVER PAYING YOU( I pay my own mortgage)/panic started to boil up inside me,not anger,as ALL te way through My nightmare,where,Money is concerned,I AlWAY'S,have lost out,and He has been the one that has gained !!!! And I was te one with the £10,000 lawyer fee( my brother appealed and got it reduced to £8,00)/whilst HE represented himself!!!!.any way,sorry,going into to much HISTORY!!,so CSA rep continued,to explain that the last time they reviewed( my brother is sure he has requested AfTER THIS date,but can north prove it!!!!) But she went on to opplogise,and admit CSA,WAS TO BLAME,but I still had to back pay from THAT YEAR '2006,and around £15/£20 per week,roughly,she explained,'CAN YOU AFFORD £80/100????", ' what I screamed, I am baffled,'i am paying FR 'YOUR' MISTAKE!!?",and said brmused,'yes,that's
Topher85 - 16-Jun-14 @ 7:20 PM
hi, single Mom. daughter is 11. father is a real idiot. never been here for her. to all those single Mom's who receive maintenance and help from Dads who are responsible, be appreciative and don't abuse the effort because there are those of us who really struggle. I do it all, all alone. count your blessings even if you don't get along with the Dad of your child.
Sam - 6-Jun-14 @ 9:53 AM
Hi! I'm very upset the" Work programme " that I have to go even I do work! Anyway it was Easter School Holiday I did email them 2 times and 1 call to say I cant go on the 23rd of April but I can go even with my kid on the 25th of April no reply! Then I got a letter saying that " You missed you appointment " and " .. who will decide if a benefit sanction....." I think its horrible! I don't drink I don't smoke I'm not on drugs! I work! The money I get goes on food! And you cant click your fingers to go when your single with 2 kids! I'm sure they target for single parents! Its just no right!
Lottie - 28-Apr-14 @ 10:05 PM
I pick my little girl up on a Saturday & her mother refuses to supply clothing or anything els , I pay child maintenance on a weekly basis . I dress my girl with my own clothes as a result of her actions and return her dressed every week , when I collect our daughter the following week I get her clothes given to me in a plastic bag still dirty & stained so I'm buying new clothes every week and this is very expensive , her mother refuses to wash her clothes which I provide and this is causing dissagreements , is there anything I can do about this ?
eelnotwen - 10-Mar-14 @ 10:13 AM
my daughters father is evading payment and has even gone as far as giving up his job because the child support agency put in place a deduction from earnings order and was due to retrieve payments. I know my ex has property and is more than likely employed illegally as he has 2 other kids to support from another mother. (he recognises those children as his whereas he doesnt recognise mine). the child support has tried to retrieve info via the inland revinue etc but they keep coming up with nothing. Can any one advise on best way to proceed? surely as this man is breaking the law there should be a way of enforcing it no? any advice appreciated. many thanks..
fedupmum - 10-Mar-14 @ 9:44 AM
Hi! I am single mum with two children. 6 and 4. Dad is unhappy with CSA desigion and threatening me by money I get for my children. He wants by law get reduced it and use for that our children. Firstly he wasn't interested in them at all. But lives very close to our home. After time he started to visit them at the weekends and now he want they stay with him at nights. Do I have right to protest and not allow that?
Camomile - 27-Feb-14 @ 7:00 AM
Hi, my baby is turning one year now and the father and i am splitting up. we are currently in Johannesburg and i want to relocate to a game ranch close to the border or maybe across in kruger national park. Am i allowed to move, we never married.
Danica - 26-Feb-14 @ 9:38 AM
I am a father of two children one has left home now and the other is in full time education at college I separated from my ex partner 15 years ago when I contacted the CSA they said she didn't have to pay,now I have just learned that she lied about working and didn't disclose the relevant information.is there any way of getting the money owed to me I feel very let down by the CSA as I have tried time an time again to claim but always get the same answer,please could you tell me what I can do
mj - 25-Jan-14 @ 8:58 PM
I am a 32 year old day who have split up with an ex partner for over three years now & I always said I would never walk away from my children, which I haven't although it did take me 14 long months going through court before my ex was told I was entitled to contact with my son. It has been very hard as my son has now turned three & my ex is doing everything to try & stop me from being the father I want & feel I'm entitled to be! My poor family have never met my son & its taking its role on me so much now as I feel I'm being dealt a dud hand as my ex partners mother is a qualified Para legal so knows all the loop holes in the law & is using them very well to my loss, it feels like she is always winning Evan though I fought for al those 14 months to see my son & have been seeing him as much as I can, I feel that the law is all for the mothers Evan if the father is trying so hard to be in his sons life & has no plans to walk away! I have now had to ask the court to take the case to a proof so that I can & all my family can really have the say we so deserve & for her to be found out for the lies she has told & the help she is being given from knowing all this stuff from her mother & her mothers friends in law to my disadvantage. Why should us men who are trying to be there to watch our children grow up be left fighting & all the time it seems the mother always seem to be winning Evan though I am the pursuer? Please can someone give me more advice as this is tearing me to pieces, All I want is to be a father to my son as he deserves to have both parents in his life as its not his fault me & his mother have split up!!
desperatelytrying!! - 9-Jan-14 @ 6:44 PM
Hello , I have just spilt up with my partner (unmarried). we have two children aged 7 months and 3 years. he is named on birth certificate. what visitation do I have to give him ? he asking two night and one day but I feel two nights is too much and will disturb their routine ? if we went to court what rights would he have thanks
kt - 3-Nov-13 @ 8:44 PM
I am not sure if i quilify for child support , i have been dating this man for 15 years and he promisied to marry me and he even send his family to my house and they said they will come back to discuss about the marrige and i will be the second wife i ddin't have the problem with that and he keeps on making empty promises even now we are still not married and he bought a houser for use which im greatfull for that and i am working and he is a tenderner but he abuses me emotionally and finacially he calls me names and he makes me feel worthless he even sometimes dont buy food . hepromised me to buy me a car years back even now im still waiting buti decided to buy myself one adn he got angry he demanded my bank statement and he said he wantsto know who bought me the car and where did i getthe money for the deposit, he is refusing to pay the helper he said , i dont deserve to have the car. i even take loans to buy food for the kids we dont stay together but he come sometimes . im 30 he is 50. please help what do i do?
ndibbs - 30-Oct-13 @ 6:09 AM
I am very frustrated of the way that child maintanance is treated in this country. I have a 17 month old son and it happened that me and his father aint togheter since I was 8 month old pregnant- I happen to walk in on him cheating so I broke up with him. As soon as my son was born I contacted the agency to get some help from his father as I am a single parent and I dont need to explain how hard the situation was and still is. I dont have a family here so I am alone with it all. After a while I received a letter from csa to say I will only receive £5 a week !!!!!! For my son as his father is currently unemployed. I felt so cheated again! There is no justice in this country! Guys can do what they like have kids everywhere and dont bother about nothing! This has to change! If I wouldnt work I would still have to find a way to provide for my child as that is my responsibility, so why for the fthers this is made so easy. Can I add that my sons dad was laughing at me as well - he founded this funny that he pays only that much money. After a year he is now in prison and I teceived a letter that the massive £5 a week will stop now ! As he is not earning nothing. Seriously? Where is the justice in this world! I heard in some tv chanel some ppl were debating on why there is so many single woman with kids and why guys have kids everywhere. Well anser to that is simple - they dont feel they need to do anything provide for their children, noone is helping single parents. In my opinion they should pay reasonable ammount of money for children - money enough to pay for half of their needs. £5 a week isa joke. Now my ex will be in prison thats mean he is free from supporting his child!!!!!???
Nikita - 26-Oct-13 @ 2:09 PM
I would like some advice. My son has recently turned two and his dad was living with us until 3 months ago when I discovered he was cheating. The day after we split up he moved into his girlfriends house. Six days after I then took our son to stay at his parents for the weekend. At this point my son had not even got his round the fact his dad was not coming home and his dad then proceeded to introduce him to his new girlfriend and her children. I have no problem with his dad having access but I do have a problem with him introducing our son to his new girlfriend. I think it is too soon and I do not want our son getting confused at such a young age. I also want to make sure that my ex's new relationship is going to be more permanent as I do not want our son getting confused with different women coming in and out of his life. Where do I stand legally to protect my son against this kind of behaviour from his father?
j - 26-Oct-13 @ 2:36 AM
I split from my ex 5 years ago we have twin boys age 6 were born at 29 weeks i have never had a penny for them he never turns up to see them and has gone and had other kids wiv diffrent people so i thought i would try csa does anybody know how long it takes???:-/
cj - 9-Oct-13 @ 8:46 PM
I have been on the phone every week to the CSA for under 3 years with no luck, my boys father is a self employed lorry driver and although he has been declared bankrupt in 2007 he has his own business through his new girlfriend and he brings the money into the company and she draws out wages, so on paper he isn't even working, his partner has just had a little boy and all of a sudden the tax man is chasing his new company for £3000 tax, he is due over £10,000 in maintenance so his only way out is to sign on the dole, but he is still working, his maintenance arrears are shelved until he starts work again and I get a letter to say I am going to receive a HUGE £5 per week for family so the boys get £2.50 each towards their clothes food and heating for the week - so depressing - the sad thing is I know he is still working and he would not stop signing dole as he would have to pay maintenance arrears or face prison - so its a lose lose situation for the children and win win for absentee parent!!!! Well done CSA and well done to my MP who has achieved nothing although he has written to the CSA! Total waste of time and my money on phone calls!!!!!
weeksy - 7-Oct-13 @ 3:51 PM
Looking for advice for my daughter her ex boyfriend took theit son an hes refused her access for two years. he moved away but now we have his address but hes still refusing. she never gave up custody to him she just asked him to have him fow a few days why she was giving birth to her daughter. please help as shes desparate to she her sin.x
bull - 19-Sep-13 @ 9:43 PM
Hi i am wanting some advice about my 4 year old daughter , myself and her dad split when she was 10 months and she has had contact with him consistently thurs n friday nights for the past year now she is starting school i have offered him every other weekend but he claims he wants thurs eve to monday morning 1 week and thurs to sat the next week will he get this amount of contact?
Tazzy bear - 9-Aug-13 @ 6:23 AM
In May 2011 i arranged to have my two children live their father. He now claims for the child tax and child benefits. I now want my children back living with me because he is too controlling over when i can see them and will not tell me when i can next see them. I have been in a refuge with my children in the past because he was violent and too controlling. My children will be 9 and 8 years old in September. Where do i stand, and what is the best course of action. Would it go against me to take them back and stop him from seeing his children like he is doing to me?
Emma - 20-Jul-13 @ 1:19 PM
I would like to know who I can get in contact with to make public my recent CSA case and subsequent tribunal (which went in my favour) to expose the non resident parent who lives a luxury lifestyle and still refuses to pay back dated maintenance! How can self employed people be allowed to fall through a 'loophole' whereby self employed people are not subject to the same investigations that employed people are and are therefore allowed to get away with it. I cannot afford to pay for a solicitor to represent me yet the other parent can afford a barrister to represent them and keeps mentioning, in court, that he is receiving help from a very publicly well known lawyer who specialises in getting people out of paying child maintenance! Any advice is welcome
Bradders - 17-Jul-13 @ 5:14 PM
Can an absent father be made to disclose his income? I am perfectly willing to show him my P60s and have asked him to do the same so that we can agree a fair contribution from him. He flatly refuses to do likewise. Can I enforce this request?Thanking you for your help.
Jemima - 15-Jul-13 @ 1:29 PM
I split from my partner about 7 years ago and have a 9 year old son with him. For the first time he is taking my son away for a week abroad. I thought we had a good relationship, but he will not give me the address in Majorca that he is going to, nor the flight details. I trust him implicitly to look after our child, but he does not understand that as his mother and main carer, I should have this information in case of emergency (on their side not mine). He leaves his details with no-one, whereas when I leave the country, I ensure that someone has all information (he never asks for it and I think that he should). It seems to be a very dangerous world that we now live in. I know they're going to a villa out in a remote part of Spain, and while I don't want to spoil things for him or my son, I feel like saying, no details, no passport. What is my position here? Thanks.
kys690 - 30-Jun-13 @ 3:28 PM
Hi, I am a single Mum. My children are 9,7 & 5. I am currently looking for work & am on JSA. I tried getting Child Maintenance even though it's a measly £20 a month but no one could 'find him on any system', therefore nothing could be done about it. I cant do without a car as everything is far. School, Doctors, Dentists, etc. I live in a Council Property & moving to a private rented property to be near the facilities scares me, especially with the way the climate is right now! I am finding it impossible to make ends meet. I am furious at the system! I find it highly unfair. I have always let the kids dad see them. He takes them every weekend and in the holidays he takes them on a Friday and brings them Sunday evening. I pay for everything including the children's tuition fees and after school activity clubs. Finding work to suit around my children is next to impossible & financially I feel crippled.
SingleMomOf3 - 28-Mar-13 @ 9:10 PM
HI, I am a single mother of 2 who are under the age of 5. They have been through too much emotional and physical damage during the past 2 years due to the seperation of myself and their father. He has been physically violent towards me and verbally avbusive towards me infront of the kids. They're very traumatised, also their behaviour has regressed since this situation has started. The paternal family dispute all of this infront of a social worker who has now placed the children on the CPS register and are holding a conference this week wednesday. Could I recieve some legal advice regarding this situation??
High achiever - 25-Mar-13 @ 1:33 PM
Am pregnant of a guy who doesn't want anything to do with my baby or I anymore that's after realizing I was pregnant, I want to know if I have a right to make this legal so that he never demands for the kid after some years
princess - 19-Mar-13 @ 8:48 AM
My son is 2 his dad was in and out of his life for the first year, but he has been having contact with his dad 1 full day a week for about 6months now the problem I have is my son hates going with his dad he doesnt show that he knows hes his dad either but hes had a lot of contact that any child would be used to by now and if he enjoyed going he would go with no trouble at all, the older hes getting the more he kicks off when his dad comes for him and he screams and clings to my legs hes now at the point where he hates his dad even touching him and throws himself on the floor, what are my rights to stop him from taking his son but still have contact in his own environment/house until hes old enough to make up his mind if he wants to go with his dad or not surely you cant force a child to do something they dont want to no matter what age?
kcottam - 17-Feb-13 @ 7:44 PM
My ex and I sperated 8 years ago we have a son who has now started at university, the ex was paying the mortgage I paid all other house hold bills, and as he was paying mortgage I agreed not to claim csa. now he says he wont pay as son is at uni and is being nasty telling me to rent out the house to someone else or sell. can you please tell me, I thought he still had to pay mortgage while son is at university getting his degree. thank you
plum - 8-Feb-13 @ 11:42 AM
My ex partner and I seperated 8 years ago, we have a son who has now started university. my ex and I agreed that he would pay mortgage and I wouldnt claim csa. now our son has started university he is now forcing me to either rent out the house or sell it, and being nasty with it,, I thought while our son was at uni getting his degree he still had to pay mortgage. is this correct can you please help thank you
plum - 8-Feb-13 @ 11:37 AM
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