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Single Parents' Rights

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 28 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Single Parents' Rights Single Parents

It is not uncommon these days to find parents bringing up children alone as a result of divorce or simply because the parent has no partner to speak of. But it is important to understand what rights you as a single parent have and how you should exercise them.

What Constitutes a Single Parent?

A single parent is a parent who lives alone with their children and is responsible for their day-to-day upbringing and wellbeing. As such, they are entitled to help and assistance from the local authority, if required, as well as financial assistance from the other parent.

Helping with Expenses

If a mother lives alone with her children, then the father of these children is responsible, in the eyes of the law, for contributing to their clothing, footwear and educational expenses. He may choose to come to an understanding with his partner to pay a regular amount for the upkeep of the children without having to resort to legal proceedings.

A father may deem it appropriate to ensure that his children are also living in a home that is – in his own estimation – fit for them and may contribute to the paying of a mortgage and/or rent.

Such agreements are best made without the influence of courts or government agencies, but it is wise to seek some written agreement in addition to a verbal in case a dispute leads to court proceedings being filed.

Visiting the Children

The law states quite clearly that each parent has the right to see his or her children after a split has occurred. The only circumstances that may prevent this is if there is a legitimate concern that the parent may try to remove the children to a location where they can't be found.

If there is a genuine concern that this may take place, the court will order that visiting is carried out at a place where others can be present to supervise.

Applying for Custody

A single parent – especially if he or she does not live with their children – has the right by law to Apply For Custody Of The Children. However, this is normally awarded to the mother unless there are firm grounds that the mother is not considered to be fit to take care of the children.

You should note that custody hearings may take considerable time to arrange and there will be required visits from the Family Proceedings Court to assess how the children are carried for.

Child Care and Benefits

Being a single parent can be an expensive and demanding task and there are provisions made for assistance with childcare. It is normal to find that single parents work during the week and need to call upon a childminder for support, so your local authority will have a list of registered childminders from which you can choose.

Also as a single parent – especially on a low income – you can apply for Child Benefit And Working Tax Credit (previously known as the Working Families Tax Credit). You may also be eligible for a reduction in the amount of Council Tax you have to pay, but not all of these benefits are available to all single parents.

You should contact your local authority for more details. You can find details of Working Tax Credits on Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs' website at www.hmrc.gov.uk.

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SA - Your Question:
I am a single mother to a 5yr old boy who hardly see his father maybe 2-3 times a month. I was planning to leave the country for a few months tho study abroad and would like to know my rights as I have found out from friends that his father is trying to stop us from leaving the country and getting coustdy , im concerned as his father doesn’t help to support our son and I’m afraid he will take my son away

Our Response:
Your husband can apply to the courts for a prohibited steps order to prevent you taking your son abroad for more than two weeks. It will be up to a judge to decide whether or not to grant this order. The amount o maintenance the father pays will not have any bearing on this decision.
LawAndParents - 29-Jun-18 @ 3:35 PM
I am a single mother to a 5yr old boy who hardly see his father maybe 2-3 times a month. I was planning to leave the country for a few months tho study abroad and would like to know my rights as I have found out from friends that his father is trying to stop us from leaving the country and getting coustdy , im concerned as his father doesn’t help to support our son and I’m afraid he will take my son away
SA - 28-Jun-18 @ 9:49 AM
My son is always getting let down by his dad and when his dad does have him my son stays with someone else rather than with his dad. His dad has a history of drug and alcohol abuse. My son used to look forward to seeing his dad however now he would rather stay with me as his dad doesn't do anything with him. I currently sont work but I want to go for full custody. I'm happy for his dad to have a few hours visitation a week but not overnight stays but he won't after to this. How do I go for full custody when on a low income?
Dhug - 24-Jun-18 @ 9:47 PM
Hiya me and my husband have been split since November.. he sees the children 2 hours a week and refuses to help with childcare.. which means i cant work.. can he refuse to help with this. I also have stated to him that i want more time for the girls..which he refuses.. what arw my best options
Vix - 19-Jun-18 @ 2:56 PM
hi I spilt with my ex partner a few week back, he was the one that was earing the money and he was getting housing benefit and child tax credit, but he cancelled that after he left about three weeks ago , I don't work and i am still waiting to hear about the child tax credit and housing benefit ,so basic i am living of my mum giving me money and my ex partner is still help me out intill this comes though, the job centre is trying to make me get a 16 hours job a week but my youngest daughter is not coping with her dad not around as much any more, so I don't want to get a job atm, DO I HAVE TO FIND A JOB? and what im a intitled too?
suzie - 11-Jun-18 @ 6:30 PM
Rosie25 - Your Question:
Hi, I’ve split with my partner a few months ago but he’s now getting difficult over money. We had a deed of trust in place but he now wants more - I gave up my job to look after his children. Can this not be taken in to account when discussing money? I didn’t earn because of that? They are young and I did everything whilst he worked. We shared bills/mortgages.

Our Response:
This is often taken into account if you take it to court. Try mediation first to try and arrive at sensible agreement for finance and for child arrangements.
LawAndParents - 18-May-18 @ 3:07 PM
Hi, I’ve split with my partner a few months ago but he’s now getting difficult over money. We had a deed of trust in place but he now wants more - I gave up my job to look after his children. Can this not be taken in to account when discussing money? I didn’t earn because of that? They are young and I did everything whilst he worked. We shared bills/mortgages.
Rosie25 - 17-May-18 @ 11:30 PM
GQ- Your Question:
If you don’t live with the child’s father and you are claiming benefits and receive benefits as a single parent, does him putting money into your acc and you transferring to him , affect your benefit claim in anyway?

Our Response:
Why would you do this? Sorry it's really not clear what you're considering or what your question is.
LawAndParents - 13-Apr-18 @ 2:30 PM
If you don’t live with the child’s father and you are claiming benefits and receive benefits as a single parent, does him putting money into your acc and you transferring to him , affect your benefit claim in anyway?
GQ - 12-Apr-18 @ 2:20 AM
Jtl - Your Question:
I have a 10 month old with my ex, he currently has supervised visits with our son with a family member present. He is verbally abussive to me so I recently left him with my son and family member without me. He is now complaining he doesn’t like it. Am I doing the right thing? He name calls and be little me regularly, so I am trying to let him see his son without having to face him.

Our Response:
You don't have to be present, in fact contact without you around might help him develop a better bond with his son. You shouldn't have to be subjected to any abuse because of this.
LawAndParents - 6-Mar-18 @ 11:40 AM
I have a 10 month old with my ex, he currently has supervised visits with our son with a family member present. He is verbally abussive to me so I recently left him with my son and family member without me. He is now complaining he doesn’t like it. Am I doing the right thing? He name calls and be little me regularly, so I am trying to let him see his son without having to face him.
Jtl - 3-Mar-18 @ 4:30 PM
DK - Your Question:
If the child's father has been in the Childs life for all his life in and out, but never been stopped visiting rights. But had never paid more than £600 in maintenance in 18 years. Do I have as a single mum for this 18 years struggling and about to lose our family home, Do I have rights to backdate a claim for maintainance To Help save his sounds home. He has Two business , he's married now also.any advicw would be appreciated.thanks

Our Response:
Unless you have already made a child maintenance claim (officially) in the past, you can make one retrospectively unfortunately.
LawAndParents - 2-Feb-18 @ 2:48 PM
If the child's father has been in the Childs life for all his life in and out,but never been stopped visiting rights.But had never paid more than £600 in maintenance in 18 years. Do I have as a single mum for this 18 years struggling and about to lose our family home,Do I have rights to backdate a claim for maintainance To Help save his sounds home. He has Two business , he's married now also.any advicw would be appreciated.thanks
DK - 1-Feb-18 @ 12:41 AM
Single father - Your Question:
I'm separated from my wife for over a year now. She's living together with another guy and they have a son already. We have a 5 year old daughter which I'm taking care about most of the time. My little girl is always with me I'm the one bringing her to school every day and the one that is also picking her up. When she is sick I will be the one to bring her to the doctor. I have the advantage I can work from home when necessary so I can take care about my daughter. The mother of my daughter is not contributing anything. She never will bring my daughter to school or will go pick her up.Even when my daughter is sick she will not even come by to see how she is doing. Then she will just send message asking how my daughter is and that's about it. My daughter is with her mom every other weekend.Was reading here before that court is mostly deciding in favour of the mother when it comes to custody. Would that still be the case with everything what is going on now. Will court take into account with what is happening now.Would it be possible being a single father who is already doing everything what is possible for his child the court will still decide that custody would go to the mother of my daughter. Was told because I'm a single father I would not stand a chance.

Our Response:
You should apply for full residence of 50/50 shared residence. You will be able to give your reasons at the hearing (unless you can agree with the mother at mediation beforehand).
LawAndParents - 19-Jan-18 @ 3:12 PM
Hi I am single mum of a 1 year old daughter my ex partner who's is her dad was at the birth of our daughter and he was there when we registered her and she also took his name but I am worried now cause if I was to change her last name would I need his permission and what parental rights has he got as he don't pay her and only see her every now and then? Please help me with my questions
Ky - 18-Jan-18 @ 8:33 PM
What if you don't want to have contact with the other parent anymore, because of threatening behaviour, abusive languages and fights.What could be done in this scenario..
Kk - 17-Jan-18 @ 3:08 AM
I'm separated from my wife for over a year now. She's living together with another guy and they have a son already. We have a 5 year old daughter which I'm taking care about most of the time. My little girl is always with me I'm the one bringing her to school every day and the one that is also picking her up. When she is sick I will be the one to bring her to the doctor. I have the advantage I can work from home when necessary so I can take care about my daughter. The mother of my daughter is not contributing anything. She never will bring my daughter to school or will go pick her up.Even when my daughter is sick she will not even come by to see how she is doing. Then she will just send message asking how my daughter is and that's about it. My daughter is with her mom every other weekend.Was reading here before that court is mostly deciding in favour of the mother when it comes to custody. Would that still be the case with everything what is going on now. Will court take into account with what is happening now.Would it be possible being a single father who is already doing everything what is possible for his child the court will still decide that custody would go to the mother of my daughter. Was told because I'm a single father i would not stand a chance.
Single father - 12-Jan-18 @ 8:14 PM
Worried2 children being kept of school so parent can't pick them up for weekend access the parent that as residency being really nasty even though there is an enforcement orderandhe as just been given community service for not complying with it
Rose - 24-Nov-17 @ 3:43 PM
I have a 5 year old boy and have always been a single parent to him. His father has never paid child maintenance and is currently being persued by child maintenance services. He has organised many days to see his child and at the last minute he lets him down so he has not seen him in approximately a year. His family are also very abusive towards me and threaten me. He has only had my son once on his own and on this on occasion he took him miles away in a strangers car without a car seat etc. without me knowing and returned him to me hours late. So there is no trust for my son to be in his care or the care of any of his family. What are my rights? And what are his rights?
ims - 21-Nov-17 @ 11:24 AM
Mum and Son - Your Question:
I'd like to ask a question on behalf of my son, and as a concerned grandmother. My son has a 6 year old daughter. He and his partner split 4 years ago and he was living in a one bedroomed flat until last week when he moved into a 4 bedroomed house with his 2 best mates in order to provide a better environment for his daughter to visit and to improve his financial position. He has his own living room and 2 of the bedrooms in the house, one for our granddaughter. She is so excited that her daddy has moved from the old flat, which we witnessed when she and our son took us on a phone 'tour' around the house last Sunday, and particularly excited when we got to the room our son has made for her. Our son and his ex agreed 4 years ago that he would have her overnight 2 days a week. However, he went to collect her yesterday as usual after work to find that there was no-one home. He then went to his ex's mother's home to find also that there was no-one there. In this time he opened his phone and tried phoning his ex. No reply. He then noticed a text message whuch he thought may have been from her. It was from a solicitor informing him there would be no access to his daughter and that he would receive a letter. He phoned that solicitor this morning who was on a day off but it seems the gist of the letter was concerning who lives in the house. I must also point out that his ex has a new boyfriend who has stayed over at her house on a few occasions while my granddaughter has been there. How can that situation be any different? My son has never met the new boyfriend. I'd like to know where my son stands legally in this scenario. Any help gratefully received. Thank you.

Our Response:
She can't prevent contact on this basis. Tell him to ask for a mediation session to make a formal agreement over child arrangements. If she refuses, he may have to apply for a court order.
LawAndParents - 3-Nov-17 @ 11:19 AM
I'd like to ask a question on behalf of my son, and as a concerned grandmother.My son has a 6 year old daughter.He and his partner split 4 years ago and he was living in a one bedroomed flat until last week when he moved into a 4 bedroomed house with his 2 best mates in order to provide a better environment for his daughter to visit and to improve his financial position.He has his own living room and 2 of the bedrooms in the house, one for our granddaughter.She is so excited that her daddy has moved from the old flat, which we witnessed when she and our son took us on a phone 'tour' around the house last Sunday, and particularly excited when we got to the room our son has made for her.Our son and his ex agreed 4 years ago that he would have her overnight 2 days a week.However, he went to collect her yesterday as usual after work to find that there was no-one home.He then went to his ex's mother's home to find also that there was no-one there.In this time he opened his phone and tried phoning his ex.No reply.He then noticed a text message whuch he thought may have been from her.It was from a solicitor informing him there would be no access to his daughter and that he would receive a letter.He phoned that solicitor this morning who was on a day off but it seems the gist of the letter was concerning who lives in the house.I must also point out that his ex has a new boyfriend who has stayed over at her house on a few occasions while my granddaughter has been there.How can that situation be any different?My son has never met the new boyfriend.I'd like to know where my son stands legally in this scenario.Any help gratefully received.Thank you.
Mum and Son - 2-Nov-17 @ 11:31 AM
Hi I need advice.My ex-husband has been underpaying child maintenance, so I approached the child maintenance group.They have stipulated an amount that he needs to pay from 1.11.17.However, he has now not paid anything at the beginning of October.Just because Child Maintenance Group have worked out how much he is to pay from 1.11.17, it doesn't mean he is entitled to pay nothing in October.The children still exist. What can I do?
Polly - 5-Oct-17 @ 10:21 PM
MT - Your Question:
Hi,My ex girlfriend has 4 children, 1 is mine. She has been neglectful and social services are at the point of taking the kids from her.I work and want to have the two younger girls as my daughter is very close the other girl girl.But I can't afford a 2 bedroom place, logically if (when :( ) the children are taken from her, she would have a house which she alone would be living in, I'm guessing the council would want to put her in a one bedroom place.Can I apply to take over the house? this way I could maybe keep all the children and they know the area and have their school there.Any advice is weclome.Thanks

Our Response:
Please discuss this with your local council's housing department and social services. If they see you having the children as a better alternative to fostering/adoption, they may be able to support you in an application.
LawAndParents - 27-Sep-17 @ 10:09 AM
Hi, My ex girlfriend has 4 children, 1 is mine. She has been neglectful and social services are at the point of taking the kids from her. I work and want to have the two younger girls as my daughter is very close the other girl girl. But I can't afford a 2 bedroom place, logically if (when :( ) the children are taken from her, she would have a house which she alone would be living in, I'm guessing the council would want to put her in a one bedroom place. Can I apply to take over the house? this way I could maybe keep all the children and they know the area and have their school there. Any advice is weclome. Thanks
MT - 25-Sep-17 @ 11:52 AM
Hi, I left my husband with our five year old son in December last year.He was controlling and emotionally abusive to myself and our son.I suffered anxiety and panic attacks and was worried about the impact of it all on our son. The final straw was when he pushed our son and hurt him.He blamed my son for coughing in his face and had absolutely no remorse for his actions.I contacted Splitz Support Services who reported the incident to Social Services who then got involved.It was a difficult decision for me at the time (something which I now regret) as I do want my son to know his dad but I need to build trust so my husband sees our son every other weekend.He has tried several times to change this arrangement but I have stuck fast to this arrangement to ensure stability for our son which my husband never seems to understand.My husband has taken four holidays in the last year so has missed many opportunities to see our son.Over the summer holidays he had our son on four consecutive days three times so I feel that I was more than fair.I am concerned about certain issues as my son has come on several occasions and told me things that are totally inappropriate to tell a child, i.e. "daddy says you won't let him take me to football as it's not his weekend with me." "Daddy said stay away from mummy at school otherwise she'll embarrass you". I have emailed my husband about certain issues and he just turns it around saying I'm being unfair because of the military schedule I'm keeping.He is now taking me to Childrens Court for more access and I'm extremely concerned about the influence he is having on our son now let alone more time to do more damage.I feel that he is using our son to emotionally punish me for leaving but what he doesn't seem to realise is that he's abusing our son in the process. Where do I stand going to Court as I feel he would not only try to manipulate me but manipulate our son too to get what he wants.I only ever want what is best for my son to grow as a normal happy child who feels safe and secure.
ASD - 1-Sep-17 @ 10:00 AM
Smiler - Your Question:
I brought up my daughter for 15 years completely on my own, her dad not around at all or contributed, then he suddenly gets in touch and I arrange for him to start seeing her, then maintence found him and wanted what was due, he then declares if I dont stop them taking money off him, he will ruin my life. After alot of advice I didnt stop them taking money, so he then declared he wasnt the dad and dragged me to court. Then when that was done and got the answer we all already knew then he tries to get full custody, and when he only got joint instead, he then started his campaign of lies to my daughter to get her turn of me and move in with him. Now the court had order whichever parent she lived with, they had to ensure our daughter stayed in touch and was able to visit the other parent as often as she wanted, yet iv not seen her for a very long time, but loads of messages from her saying she wants to come and see myself and her siblings but hes preventing it with various exuses. What can I do about this. From what I have been told shes been in hospital and everything and hes not informed me of any of it. I really dont k ow what my rights are or what to do. Help please.

Our Response:
You can take this back to court for an "enforcement order" as the father is not sticking to the terms of the order that is in place.
LawAndParents - 30-Jun-17 @ 12:57 PM
I brought up my daughter for 15 years completely on my own, her dad not around at all or contributed, then he suddenly gets in touch and i arrange for him to start seeing her, then maintence found him and wanted what was due, he then declares if i dont stop them taking money off him, he will ruin my life. After alot of advice i didnt stop them taking money, so he then declared he wasnt the dad and dragged me to court. Then when that was done and got the answer we all already knew then he tries to get full custody, and when he only got joint instead, he then started his campaign of lies to my daughter to get her turn of me and move in with him. Now the court had order whichever parent she lived with, they had to ensure our daughter stayed in touch and was able to visit the other parent as often as she wanted, yet iv not seen her for a very long time, but loads of messages from her saying she wants to come and see myself and her siblings but hes preventing it with various exuses. What can i do about this. From what i have been told shes been in hospital and everything and hes not informed me of any of it. I really dont k ow what my rights are or what to do. Help please.
Smiler - 29-Jun-17 @ 7:46 PM
Hel - Your Question:
Hi my ex partner has threatened to reduce my maintenance if I don't agree to pick up and drop off our children at his house over 10miles away. We separated 3 years ago and he met a woman and moved to her house over ten miles away and now wants me to do do pick ups and drop offs? He said if I don't do it he will not bring our children back home andcalculate the mileage to deduct from my maintenance. Is there a law that I have to do this? Can he keep the children without my consent? We were never married and his name is in the birth certificate so he said he is allowed to keep the children extra nights without my consent?

Our Response:
There is nothing that deals with travel costs specifically here. If you can't agree on the arrangements for contact between you, then you may have to consider mediation and/or a court order. He cannot withhold maintenance payments for this reason unless you agree to it. If you have no specific contact arrangements documentedand you share care of the children, it's difficult to comment on the legality of his refusing to return the children. Cany ou not come some arrangement whereby you drop them off and he returns them? That splits the cost equally...it is only 10 miles which shouldn't cost a great deal anyway.
LawAndParents - 26-May-17 @ 12:31 PM
Hi my ex partner has threatened to reduce my maintenance if I don't agree to pick up and drop off our children at his house over 10miles away. We separated 3 years ago and he met a woman and moved to her house over ten miles away and now wants me to do do pick ups and drop offs? He said if I don't do it he will not bring our children back home andcalculate the mileage to deduct from my maintenance. Is there a law that I have to do this? Can he keep the children without my consent? We were never married and his name is in the birth certificate so he said he is allowed to keep the children extra nights without my consent?
Hel - 24-May-17 @ 12:02 PM
Bear - Your Question:
Hi, I am seeking advice.I separated from my parter 3 years a go after he assualted me. We have two children aged 13 and 17. He has also recenlty had a 'physical' arguemnt with our daughter. I have never withheld access to the children despute all of this as they have expressed a desire to forgive their father, so they spilt their time between us both and I have not asked for maintenance payments because of this. He earns slightly more than me in salary alone and I receive benefits top ups as I also work full time but on a lower income.My ex is now experiencing financial difficulties due to poor decision making in the past and is expecting me to sign over the top up benefits I receive so that he can manage financially, despite the fact that I also support the children as much as he does. Obvioulsly this will mean that I cannot sustain my current living arrangements, meaning that he may end up with the children living with him full time. I feel that he is being unreasonable and is using this to enusure the children live with him full time, something he has expressed previsouly. Given that he was controlling and abusive during our 16 year relationship, should I seek legal advice or simply refuse to go along with his wishes?My concern is that I am being pushed away form having any say in the lives of our children.

Our Response:
No, there is no reason why your ex should claim the child benefit and child tax credits that you currently claim unless he looks after them for the majority of the time, which you have indicated he doesn't.
LawAndParents - 3-Apr-17 @ 12:38 PM
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