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The Law and Single Mothers

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 24 Jul 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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Lou - Your Question:
My daughter is 4 months old. Her father has been coming and going since I was pregnant. He hasn't seen her for more than 2 months. I have tried contacting him, although he does not have a mobile no more, via his work and his home, where he lives with his parents and brother. He is 37 years of age. His family wont allow me to speak with him and his work have told me he will not come to the phone. I do not want a relationship with him but I have tried to make sure he doesnt miss out on our daughters development. His mum has told me I am refusing visitation because I wont bring the baby to their house. They dnt class the fact I am offerring him to be able to come and visit our daughter at any time any day, all he has to do is knock and if we are in he is welcome to see her. I was also inviting his family, but recently I realised his mum is very controlling of this situation and is being antaginistic. I received a letter from his solicitor requesting mediation. I am very confused. All he has to do is make contact and visit his daughter. He is not on the birth certificate because he was absent and also has a history of depression. He was out of work for 7 years on the sick for it and is at times suicidal. I fear he can force me to have to hand my daughter for visitation at his parents home. He is not capable of caring for her as he has social anxiety and at times cant do normal things like going into a shop. His uncle also is a drug dealer and his cousin is in and out of jail who is both very close to. I very accepting of visiation but under my home only. Should I be worried??

Our Response:
As the other parent of your child, the father does not have to accept visitation rights on your terms if he wishes not to. Mediation is when two or more parties meet to resolve problems before the matter reaches court. It is most often used in family proceedings. It is a formal negotiation and courts can accept the agreement of the mediation instead of having to go through the court process, although it is subject to final court approval. Mediation takes place in front of a neutral third party. The mediator has no pre-conceptions and will not force you to make an agreement. They will assist the two parties in taking turns in the conversation, and helping you reach a decision that you are ready to agree with. Mediators do not pass judgment or offer guidance; they are there, in effect, to facilitate conversation between the two sides. However, if you refuse to attend mediation or if the mediation process break down without an agreement, then the father will be able to apply to court for the court to make a decision on what it thinks is in the best interests of your child. Once a court decision is reached, then you both would have to adhere to the arrangement.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-Jul-17 @ 11:22 AM
My daughter is 4 months old. Her father has been coming and going since i was pregnant. He hasn't seen her for more than 2 months. I have tried contacting him, although he does not have a mobile no more, via his work and his home, where he lives with his parents and brother. He is 37 years of age. His family wont allow me to speak with him and his work have told me he will not come to the phone. I do not want a relationship with him but i have tried to make sure he doesnt miss out on our daughters development. His mum has told me i am refusing visitation because i wont bring the baby to their house. They dnt class the fact i am offerring him to be able to come and visit our daughter at any time any day, all he has to do is knock and if we are in he is welcome to see her. I was also inviting his family, but recently i realised his mum is very controlling of this situation and is being antaginistic. I received a letter from his solicitor requesting mediation. I am very confused. All he has to do is make contact and visit his daughter. He is not on the birth certificate because he was absent and also has a history of depression. He was out of work for 7 years on the sick for it and is at times suicidal. I fear he can force me to have to hand my daughter for visitation at his parents home. He is not capable of caring for her as he has social anxiety and at times cant do normal things like going into a shop. His uncle also is a drug dealer and his cousin is in and out of jail who is both very close to. I very accepting of visiation but under my home only. Should i be worried??
Lou - 24-Jul-17 @ 12:33 PM
Dudette - Your Question:
Hi my son has found out his ex girlfriend is pregnant she was on the Pill at the time, and he has a low sperm count. She also slept with someone else, but apparently the timings are wrong. Where does he stand on maintenance etc, he is a full time student at the moment and completed his first year only. She has only just informed him and is currently 18 weeks pregnant? The girlfriend wants to keep it and drop out of uni. My son wants to look after the child but my fear is having slept with his best friend previously, my son will get attached to the baby and then she will go off with someone else and destroy his and the babies life.

Our Response:
If your son's girlfriend names your son as the father, then he will automatically be responsible for paying child maintenance for the child. If he thinks the child may not be his because of his low sperm count, he can request his ex has a DNA test here. Your son will be responsible for paying child maintenance until the results are confirmed or denied. However, he would not have to pay while he is a student. If his ex refuses to consent to the tests, then he would have to apply to court.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Jul-17 @ 2:46 PM
Hi my son has found out his ex girlfriend is pregnant she was on the Pill at the time, and he has a low sperm count.. She also slept with someone else, but apparently the timings are wrong. Where does he stand on maintenance etc, he is a full time student at the moment and completed his first year only. She has only just informed him and is currently 18 weeks pregnant? The girlfriend wants to keep it and drop out of uni... My son wants to look after the child but my fear is having slept with his best friend previously, my son will get attached to the baby and then she will go off with someone else and destroy his and the babies life....
Dudette - 20-Jul-17 @ 11:12 AM
I have been married 7 years.I have 2 children in private school doing exceptionally well.My husband and I have been having problems over the last few years. He has told all his family that I am an unfit mother and drink. His family came to stay and I took anti-depressants but he convinced them I am drinking. He has been trying to gather witnesses and had told me he is going to cut household expenses and will tell the schools he can no longer pay for the fees. He hasn't given me any money for past 2 years. Children are safe and happy and this is witnessed by everyone and esp mentioned in children's school reports - ie "very happy and confident".I am now scared to leave as I have no money, the house is not in my name, he has been building a case against me for past couple of years and I have been so naive thinking we are in love and I didn't want to break his heart so did nothing.What can I do as he keeps he will get custody of children - when he does nothing for kids except provide financial support and everything.Where do I stand financially if I leave him as I have nothing in my name and I know he will contest everything and get the best lawyers.
AE - 19-Jul-17 @ 8:28 AM
Kk - Your Question:
If you've been to the court and the dad is given 12 till 6 on weekends is he allowed to take the baby out the country or does he have to go back through the court so he can take her abroad.

Our Response:
The father of your child would have to request your permission to be allowed to take your child out of the country. If you refuse, then your ex would have to take the matter to court in order to request permission.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Jul-17 @ 12:50 PM
If you've been to the court and the dad is given 12 till 6 on weekends is he allowed to take the baby out the country or does he have to go back through the court so he can take her abroad.
Kk - 15-Jul-17 @ 8:00 PM
Is there any Act in India which define "Single Mother"?
Yaya - 29-Jun-17 @ 10:17 AM
nori83 - Your Question:
Hi. I left my ex husband over 2 years ago. He was abussive and controlling. After living in a refuge with our two children and thanks to help provided by the government I have been able to become financially independent from him. The children and I do not rely on him at all.After going to court for child contact, we came to the agreement of 2 weeeknds a month and splitting the holidays equally. We also alternate Christmas and New Years. In return I get to see my family along side my children for a maximum of 20 days a year. Now, he is saying that if I expect him to have the children during holidays I should pay him! He claims that the help I get is for the children, therefore the money should go to him if he is to "have them" for two weeks. Is this fair? Should I be giving himMoney to have the children despite the fact he helps us with nothing at all. Thank you x

Our Response:
If you are claiming via CMS then child maintenance is averaged out across the year. This means you would not have to pay your children's father during the school holidays and he should continue to pay you, unless otherwise agreed.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Jun-17 @ 2:55 PM
Hi. I left my ex husband over 2 years ago. He was abussive and controlling. After living in a refuge with our two children and thanks to help provided by the government I have been able to become financially independent from him. The children and I do not rely on him at all. After going to court for child contact, we came to the agreement of 2 weeeknds a month and splitting the holidays equally. We also alternate Christmas and New Years. In return I get to see my family along side my children for a maximum of 20 days a year. Now, he is saying that if I expect him to have the children during holidays I should pay him! He claims that the help I get is for the children, therefore the money should go to him if he is to "have them" for two weeks. Is this fair? Should I be giving him Money to have the children despite the fact he helps us with nothing at all. Thank you x
nori83 - 14-Jun-17 @ 6:29 PM
Kk - Your Question:
I've been to the court and the court order is sat and Sunday 12 till 6. And things should be arange between the hours of the procedure. The father turn up with the baby late and he didn't call or text to say he's going to be late. He then started making noise out side my porch. He asking if he can have the baby on Monday. I told him the best thing for him his to take and drop off the baby at my uncles house so we don't have any contact anymore. He says he doesn't want to do that. In order for me not to be there when this person collect and drop off what do I need to do? He keep arguing in front of the kids. Is there anything I can get done so we don't see each other anymore.

Our Response:
If you cannot find a third person who will be the intermediate at pick-up and drop off times at your home, you would have to suggest mediation to your ex in order to try to resolve the issue via a third party. Alternatively, you could request your solicitor sends your ex a letter specifying you wish to organise future pick-up and drop off via your uncle and include the reasons why you are taking this approach. Also, include in the letter; that by dropping your child off late he is in breach of the court order and your solicitor should emphasise that future breaches will not be tolerated.
ChildSupportLaws - 30-May-17 @ 10:27 AM
I've been to the court and the court order is sat and Sunday 12 till 6.And things should be arange between the hours of the procedure. The father turn up with the baby late and he didn't call or text to say he's going to be late. He then started making noise out side my porch. He asking if he can have the baby on Monday.I told him the best thing for him his to take and drop off the baby at my uncles house so we don't have any contact anymore. He says he doesn't want to do that. In order for me not to be there when this person collect and drop off what do i need to do? He keep arguing in front of the kids. Is there anything i can get done so we don't see each other anymore.
Kk - 29-May-17 @ 7:09 AM
Sam - Your Question:
Hi,I have been separated from a 10 year relationship for about a year, I have a 3 year old to my ex, I only started receiving £80 a month towards my daughter in the last 3 months, he currently has her 3 nights through the week, and the following week he will have her 1 night through the week and that weekend he brings her back Monday mornings. He has done this because if I was to claim child maintenance he wouldn't have to pay as they only class staying over night (not spending time with them) he has no responsibilitys with his daughter, and refuses to change his hours at work so he can help with nursery run etc I am struggling to provide as I have had to leave my job. I make sure my daughter has everything she needs always but it leaves me struggling each week.I have asked me ex to only see her through the week and not have her sleep at his. This is because he will pick her up on a night around half 6 -7 o'clock and sometimes he is late (she goes to bed between half 7 -8) he has told me that he will put films on for her when she gets to his as she shares a room with him, so I have no idea what time she actually gets to sleep. Then he will wake her up around 6 in the morning to drop her back off with me so I can take her to nursery. I will have given her tea before he picks her up and then breakfast in the morning. This is not fair on my daughter she is always tired and she does not have a routine.I want my daughter to have stability and also to spend proper time with her father rather then just being put to bed. so I asked for him to have her over weekends and just visit / take her out through the week. He has refused this saying it is not fair on him as he wants time to himself and now we cannot come to an agreement. He is putting himself first rather than his daughter. I am looking into mediation but I would rather get some advice on what to do first. Thank you

Our Response:
I'm afraid mediation is the initial point of call when parents cannot agree between themselves. We cannot comment on whether your point of view is the correct one as there are two points of view in any relationship. As a rule, 'standard' access can run along the line of one or two nights in the week and every other weekend (whether overnight or not). But, agreeing between you both regarding what is in the best interest of your child is the preferred way. If you still can't agree, court is the last resort.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-May-17 @ 12:02 PM
Hi, I have been separated from a 10 year relationship for about a year, I have a 3 year old to my ex, i only started receiving £80 a month towards my daughter in the last 3 months, he currently has her 3 nights through the week, and the following week he will have her 1 night through the week and that weekend he brings her back Monday mornings. He has done this because if I was to claim child maintenance he wouldn't have to pay as they only class staying over night (not spending time with them) he has no responsibilitys with his daughter, and refuses to change his hours at work so he can help with nursery run etc I am struggling to provide as I have had to leave my job. I make sure my daughter has everything she needs always but it leaves me struggling each week. I have asked me ex to only see her through the week and not have her sleep at his. This is because he will pick her up on a night around half 6 -7 o'clock and sometimes he is late (she goes to bed between half 7 -8) he has told me that he will put films on for her when she gets to his as she shares a room with him, so i have no idea what time she actually gets to sleep. Then he will wake her up around 6 in the morning to drop her back off with me so I can take her to nursery. I will have given her tea before he picks her up and then breakfast in the morning. This is not fair on my daughter she is always tired and she does not have a routine. I want my daughter to have stability and also to spend proper time with her father rather then just being put to bed. so I asked for him to have her over weekends and just visit / take her out through the week. He has refused this saying it is not fair on him as he wants time to himself and now we cannot come to an agreement. He is putting himself first rather than his daughter. I am looking into mediation but i would rather get some advice on what to do first. Thank you
Sam - 24-May-17 @ 9:06 PM
DV - Your Question:
HiDo I have rights as single mother to ask my exhusband additional money for my daughter? (I.e. Fees for naturalisation ,study if exceeding child maintenance figure)He paying regularly child maintenance but I.e. naturalisation is paid once o while and 4x more then I am getting from himThanx for all comments

Our Response:
Your ex does not have to pay anything above and beyond child maintenance. If you require extra money and cannot negotiate directly you would have to try the mediation route, or take the matter to court.
ChildSupportLaws - 11-May-17 @ 10:32 AM
@Redman - as long as you tell Cafcass you are 'willing' to offer access that should satisfy the court. I'd say you don't want to offer unsupervised acess currently because you fear she would keep your son without consent - but she can see your boy as long as it's supervised. The court will then base it's decision upon the facts and Cafcass report.
Dan78 - 10-May-17 @ 10:46 AM
Hi Do I have rights as single mother to ask my exhusband additional money for my daughter? (I.e. Fees for naturalisation ,study if exceeding child maintenance figure) He paying regularly child maintenance but I.e. naturalisation is paid once o while and 4x more then I am getting from him Thanx for all comments
DV - 10-May-17 @ 10:43 AM
My partner recently(last 5 days) walked away from our relationship after a long period of crime, jail time, drug use & infidelity. My son was born with cannabinoids & opiates in his system because of her hidden drug use. She took him out, on "stealing days" so she could hide stolen property in his pram. He is autistic & is registered in a specialist nursery & school, where I live. He is 3 yrs old. I have raised him everyday since birth, while his mother was in & out of jail & other people's beds. I am named on the birth certificate so share PR. I have refused to let her come & take him for access, as I believe she will not return him & her lifestyle would, I believe, place him at risk. She has physically chastised him several times in the past, leading to explosive arguments of course. I have told her that she can visit him here, or meet me in a public place, pending court proceedings. She has refused & states that she is entitled to unsupervised access, for 50% of the time. Not a chance lol!!!! How much time do I have to offer her with him, pre court proceedings, to show willingness to not deny a mother access to her child?
Redman - 9-May-17 @ 6:19 PM
nats - Your Question:
I was never married but lived with father in temp accommodation for over 10 years. Whilst he was living he placed me in debt to cause me to get evicted, he took my two children with permission from social services in order to get place. Whilst I was pregnant with the third, since then I went back to education and paid my debt and now tried to get housed again with my three children with no help from my council. I finally found one somewhere else in England. And now my kids with their father wants to live with me and their other siblings the father refuses it. What should I do.

Our Response:
You don't say how old yoru children are (if they are over 11 years of age they can put forward their own preferences). However, a court will always decide upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your children and consitency and stability are considered most important. Therefore, I suggest you seek legal advice regarding this matter to see whether you have a case to answer.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-May-17 @ 11:24 AM
I was never married but lived with father in temp accommodation for over 10 years. Whilst he was living he placed me in debt to cause me to get evicted, he took my two children with permission from social services in order to get place. Whilst I was pregnant with the third, since then I went back to education and paid my debt and now tried to get housed again with my three children with no help from my council. I finally found one somewhere else in England. And now my kids with their father wants to live with me and their other siblings the father refuses it. What should I do.
nats - 7-May-17 @ 8:54 AM
@Raz. I agree on a certain level. The courts should act quickly in such cases. But what happens if a parent wants to take a child away from a mother who is neglecting the child, or the father feels the child is in danger?
Paddy89 - 3-May-17 @ 1:58 PM
Kk - Your Question:
Can a dad stop the mother from taking her baby on a day out even when a court order is in place. Even when she's told him she's going and when she will be back.

Our Response:
The first step in the event of a breach of an order should be to try to discuss this with the other party involved. Whilst this can often be awkward when the relationship has broken down, this is the quickest and cheapest way to resolve the problem. If person to whom the breach is occuring has a solicitor, they may wish to ask them to write to the other party reminding them of their obligations under the order. [a copy of any letters / emails sent should be kept in case they are needed as evidence of the breach in court.]Mediation is the next step and if the offending parent still refuses to keep to the terms of the order, then applying to court to have the order enforced is the last resort.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-May-17 @ 12:31 PM
Can we please make it Ilegal for Fathers to randomly take their kids away from the mothers theres a case where a father wanted to take their child out and then never brought his daughter back to the mother, he said if she wants to see her daughter again she has to take him to court where he is on the birth certificate and the courts had taken so long, the child had settled in to nursery and living with the father, the court had to award custody to the father due to the fact the child had settled down I'm aware the system is mainly for the childrens benefits and whats for the best of them, but taking a child away from any parent without going through a court first should be against the law the same should apply for the father, a mother should not be allowed to take the child away from their father without a court hearing however i believe there can never be equal rights between a mother and a father as its the mother who goes through labour and therefore mothers should be more protected from domestic and emotional abuse along with automatically winning custody of their own children they gave birth to unless the child is at risk of being abused by the mother someone please put Morals in to this unfair justice system!
Raz - 29-Apr-17 @ 1:29 PM
Can a dad stop the mother from taking her baby on a day out even when a court order is in place. Even when she's told him she's going and when she will be back.
Kk - 29-Apr-17 @ 3:37 AM
If you get a court order if your going on holiday do you have to tell the other parent where you are going or can you just keep your plane ticket as evidence
Kk - 23-Apr-17 @ 11:28 PM
Bettyboop - Your Question:
My granddaughter is nearly 4 months old and my son and the mother have split up.She has already been to Amsterdam for a weekend away and yesterday left to go on holiday to St lucia for 10 days. She refused to leave my granddaughter with my son or us and has left her yet again with her elderly nan and her own father.Does my son have the right to go and collect his daughter from them he has parental responsibility he is named on the birth certificate. My granddaughter had a traumatic birth and has health problems we are very worried about her welfare

Our Response:
If your son has parental responsibility, (named on the birth certificate) he has equal rights to take care of his daughter. This means if he is concerned for his daughter's safety and welfare, he can refuse to hand her back to the carers or mother and the police cannot intervene. However, taking this approach is never a good idea as it can backfire. The mother would have the option to take the matter to court and the court would then decide where the child should live. But, the court does not condone taking a child without authorisation (unless necessary). A court will always decide what it thinks is in the child's best interests and stability and consistency rank highest. His ex also has PR and is excersing her PR rights which is to choose who she thinks is most apable of caring for the daughter when she is away. While your son's ex's lifestyle might not be agreeable to him, mediation is the first option if they cannot agree on access terms. If an agreement cannot be reached, then your son would have the option to take the matter to court and his opinions will be taken into consideration. In this instance, I can only suggest your son seeks legal advice in order to explore his options and his rights.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Apr-17 @ 11:24 AM
My granddaughter is nearly 4 months old and my son and the mother have split up. She has already been to Amsterdam for a weekend away and yesterday left to go on holiday to St lucia for 10 days. She refused to leave my granddaughter with my son or us and has left her yet again with her elderly nan and her own father. Does my son have the right to go and collect his daughter from them he has parental responsibility he is named on the birth certificate. My granddaughter had a traumatic birth and has health problems we are very worried about her welfare
Bettyboop - 18-Apr-17 @ 5:31 PM
Hi there After 8years together myself and my ex split Recently had a solicitor letter stating he wants overnight access every other weekend and phone contact every night I recently changed my number due to harassment He never spoke to the children on a nightly basis when we were together My youngest son doesn't have a strong bond with him and will kick off over the slightest thing do I have to let him have them over night
Bookworm - 17-Apr-17 @ 7:52 PM
Hi if I had a child unmarried no fathers name on birth certificate. Can I be forced by a man who says he's the farther to have the baby DNA tested Thank you T
T - 14-Apr-17 @ 1:47 PM
Is it better to agree child maintenance between both parent. Or is it better to go through child maintenance where they take the money and give to me. How much should a father pay for maintenance if your a single mother. For just one child. I only receive 15 pounds a week. Is that reasonable?
Kk - 13-Apr-17 @ 2:46 PM
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