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The Law and Single Mothers

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 24 May 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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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
When the father of my two children left the family home after causing severe debt to the point we were almost homeless, he stopped working so he couldn't be made to pay maintenance.That was five years ago and I have struggled financially because I there is no provision for me to claim extra benefit to make up for the fact that I receive no maintenance.This because maintenance Payments are disregarded for benefit claim purposes, but also the lack of receipt of maintenance is also disregarded so single parents in this situationseem to be expected to struggle financially.Is there any way I can get extra help that you know of?Parents such as I are trapped by the rule of disregarding maintenance.
JS - 8-Apr-17 @ 5:51 PM
Bianca ralu - Your Question:
Hello,I just want to say me and my ex we haven't been married,we got one baby together but from one year he doesn't help me with nothing no money support and he doesn't want to see the baby!how I can't get help to pay for help my self and the baby?and what I need to do?coz officially his absent dad.

Our Response:
Please see CMS link here, which should answer your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Apr-17 @ 12:28 PM
Hello,I just want to say me and my ex we haven't been married,we got one baby together but from one year he doesn't help me with nothing no money support and he doesn't want to see the baby!how I can't get help to pay for help my self and the baby?and what I need to do?coz officially his absent dad.
Bianca ralu - 3-Apr-17 @ 11:51 PM
Kk - Your Question:
I have recently been through the court procedure now I've been ask for my child benefit letter from my ex. Would he be able to make a claim for money because he's keeping the baby. She lives with me and she been seen buy him 10 til 4 on Saturday and Sunday. Would the child benefit claim split between both of us

Our Response:
The primary carer i.e the person who looks after your child the most, is the person who by law receives child benefit.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Apr-17 @ 2:34 PM
James Letts - Your Question:
My girlfriend have 3 children with her ex husband, they have been separated for 3 years in this time he has made very little effort to see them but has now started to push for contact though the courts and has been given suprised contact at a contact center as my partner what's him to have no contact she is planning to move to the other side of the country to stop him seeing them my question is as it is court ordered contact can the court make her return or bring the kids to him anyway as her is obstructing the court order in place my second question is she is pregnant with my child an I can see her trying to leave my off the birth certificate to give me less rights in case this happens to her again what rights do I have to have my name on it as I fear if our relationship did collapse I would receive the same treatment and never see my child ?

Our Response:
Each case is very different and dependent upon many varying circumstances. Firstly, if your girlfriend's ex has parental responsibility she is required by law to request his consent if she wishes to move from the area. If your girlfriend is also subject to the terms of a court order and she attempts to move out of the area without authorisation from the courts to vary the order, she will be in breach of the court order. However, much depends upon what happens if her ex takes the matter back to court and whether she can justify the move. While she can be brought back to the area by the courts, the court will always decide what it thinks is in the children's best interests regardless of the intended breach. With regards to your own situation, if your girlfriend chooses to leave your name off the birth certificate, then you will have no legal rights to your child and in order to have legal rights you would have to apply to court for parental responsibility (if your girlfriend will not agree). Please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Apr-17 @ 11:18 AM
I have recently been through the court procedure now I've been ask for my child benefit letter from my ex... Would he be able to make a claim for money because he's keeping the baby. She lives with me and she been seen buy him 10 til 4 on Saturday and Sunday. Would the child benefit claim split between both of us
Kk - 2-Apr-17 @ 9:25 PM
My girlfriend have 3 children with her ex husband, they have been separated for 3 years in this time he has made very little effort to see them but has now started to push for contact though the courts and has been given suprised contact at a contact center as my partner what's him to have no contact she is planning to move to the other side of the country to stop him seeing them my question is as it is court ordered contact can the court make her return or bring the kids to him anyway as her is obstructing the court order in place my second questionis she is pregnant with my child an I can see her trying to leave my off the birth certificate to give me less rights in case this happens to her again what rights do I have to have my name on it as I fear if our relationship did collapse I would receive the same treatment and never see my child ?
James Letts - 2-Apr-17 @ 7:13 AM
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
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