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Single Parents' Rights

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 29 Jun 2017 | 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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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
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 decisionmaking 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.
Bear - 31-Mar-17 @ 1:47 PM
Is this aloud. Someone I know is single and works part time the father of the kids is always at her house but he has his own place. So they get away with claiming single. But when she is at work he stays in her house and looks after the kids. Inside of taking them to his. Is this not fraud.
p1nky - 12-Feb-17 @ 7:31 PM
Jimmy - Your Question:
Hiya.My ex partner is taking my 8 year old daughter on holiday in Feb. I have asked her where she is taking her and how long for but she refuses to tell me. Have I any rights as a father to be told where she is taking my daughter ?

Our Response:
The length of time she can take daughter for will depend on the type of residency/contact order you have in place. She must get your consent if you she wishes to take your daughter abroad, but there's no obligation to tell you where. Most parents share this information out of courtesy and arrange for the children to contact the other parent while they're away.
LawAndParents - 11-Jan-17 @ 12:44 PM
Hiya . My ex partner is taking my 8 year old daughter on holiday in Feb . I have asked her where she is taking her and how long for but she refuses to tell me . Have I any rights as a father to be told where she is taking my daughter ?
Jimmy - 10-Jan-17 @ 6:20 PM
hi my ex on thursday told me that my son was disgusting dirty and smelly when she picked him up from the childminders at 5.45pm i then text the childminder to see if he was left that way and she confirmed that no he was clean and proper.then because that didnt work she then went on a tirade about ho the baby smells of smoke when he leaves my house etc and that i never bath. on this day (the day the accusations were made) my exes mother went to pick my son up from the childminders (who is a very old and dear friend of the ex mother) the childminder then text me another statement to which she added that she does notice that he smells like smoke which she didnt mention in the first statement. now it is my belief that the carer in question need to be unbiased and impartial on occasions such as this and it seems she was influenced by my exes mother who is a friend of hers to change her statement.is there anything i can do about this? as nobody smoke in the house and every effort is made to avoid smoking around the baby even when outside. any help would be greatly appriciated as this is driving me mad that they are working together against me
briansb - 24-Sep-16 @ 1:29 PM
Anon - Your Question:
After 6 1/2 years of marriage my husband and I have decided to end our marriage this is after several attpts to repair as we have 2 children aged 5 and 2. I gave up my full time job after 2nd child and do 4 hours per week admin and look after children now so my income doesn't cover anything. We have a mortgage and I don't want to move out, sometimes he is reasonable and says he is moving out and that he will help me financially other tines he us horrible and says then he'll not give me a penny and refuses to leave. Where to stand on getting him to move out without it being a huge fall out and making sure he supports us. I'm not sure how much I will get yet for child tc and income support.

Our Response:
You might need to seek help from a mediation service. They should be able to help you construct an agreement about both finances and children, which can be made legally enforceable. You can find a mediation service here.
LawAndParents - 8-Aug-16 @ 2:26 PM
After 6 1/2 years of marriage my husband and I have decided to end our marriage this is after several attpts to repair as we have 2 children aged 5 and 2. I gave up my full time job after 2nd child and do 4 hours per week admin and look after children now so my income doesn't cover anything. We have a mortgage and I don't want to move out, sometimes he is reasonable and says he is moving out and that he will help me financially other tines he us horrible and says then he'll not give me a penny and refuses to leave. Where to stand on getting him to move out without it being a huge fall out and making sure he supports us. I'm not sure how much I will get yet for child tc and income support.
Anon - 5-Aug-16 @ 8:49 PM
Hi, I am a mother of 4 and me and my childrens father split 8 years ago, he lives in cumbria and I live in leeds, we decided at that point he would take care of 2 children and I would take care of the other 2, since then he doesnt make any effort to see the 2 children I live with, I make the effort to go see my children who live with him as much as possible around work and school, however it is always me making the effort, surely there should be something that says he should bring my children to see me, he just makes it awkward so I cant see them or makes me travel and pay the costs to see my children, I dont even have a contact number for him I have to contact his girlfriend cos he refuses to talk to me, any advice on what can be done would be much appreciated, it is very frustrating as all I want is to see my children
Sezza1983 - 28-Jul-16 @ 7:25 AM
Hi my partner left me half a year ago after 10 years together however we were never married. Since he's left he now has a new girlfriend which he says he ha been with for 5 months. My son is a year and a half and subsequently my ex has now moved in with his new partner. Subsequently my concerns are my son being around a complete stranger, after 5 months my ex can't even know her that well yet and it makes me feel extremely uncomfortable that my ex won't let me meet her just to put me at ease nor will he give me the address of where she lives which I think is totally wrong however I don't know where I stand legally can you please help.
Kayden mum - 25-Jul-16 @ 8:05 PM
I broke up with my my babydaddy .and I stay with other men and my child was staying with my parents he ddnt support the child.until I ask him to stay with the child coz I was not working..and now he is married he won't allow me to see my son.what can I do
precious - 13-Jul-16 @ 1:33 PM
Anon - Your Question:
Hi I'm wanting some advice on child contact. My ex has applied to the court for child contact (every other weekend) I stopped his contact with out child as he wasn't complying with drs requirements to keep a food diary to establish what's causing Allergic reactions. I've booked a short break in august and have now been informed my ex is marrying on one of the days we are away. Would the judge stop me taking my child away (it's all paid for and she knows she's going) so she can attend her fathers wedding to a woman she's only seen 3 or 4 times for a few hours at a time?

Our Response:
We can't really say what the courts will decide. They will consider all the circumstances and make a decision based on what they think to be the best interests of your daughter.
LawAndParents - 11-Jul-16 @ 12:18 PM
Hi I'm wanting some advice on child contact. My ex has applied to the court for child contact (every other weekend) I stopped his contact with out child as he wasn't complyingwith drs requirements to keep a food diary to establish what's causing Allergic reactions. I've booked a short break in august and have now been informed my ex is marrying on one of the days we are away. Would the judge stop me taking my child away (it's all paid for and she knows she's going) so she can attend her fathers wedding to a woman she's only seen 3 or 4 times for a few hours at a time?
Anon - 8-Jul-16 @ 7:47 PM
I am separated andthe primary carer for my son of almost 3 years old. his father chose not to have a relationship with him for 1 and a halfyears, and then made re contact to re establish his relationship. i have facilitated contact but this is not enough for him and he is taking me to court.i have a solicitor who is advising me but would like your help in understanding the difference a residence order and a recital? what are my rights under these orders. kind regards
ka700 - 17-Apr-16 @ 11:54 PM
Kate - Your Question:
I am a single parent of an 11 month old and moved away from his dad whilst pregnant. This was because he did not want me to proceed with the pregnancy and I also had no support, permanent job or big enough accommodation. I now live 100 miles away. My ex is only willing to have our son one weekend in 4 and feels I should meet him half way for drop off and pick ups. I work full time and do all the childcare myself so feel that he should do the drop off and pick up in these circumstances. If he was proposing more regular contact I would happily meet him half way but under h proposals I really wouldn't get a break which I desperately need. Where do I stand?

Our Response:
This is for you to decide between you. If you decide to stop contact completely and your ex decides to pursue it via the courts, they will say what the collection and drop off arrangements should be.
LawAndParents - 14-Mar-16 @ 2:22 PM
I am a single parent of an 11 month old and moved away from his dad whilst pregnant. This was because he did not want me to proceed with the pregnancy and I also had no support, permanent job or big enough accommodation. I now live 100 miles away. My ex is only willing to have our son one weekend in 4 and feels I should meet him half way for drop off and pick ups. I work full time and do all the childcare myself so feel that he should do the drop off and pick up in these circumstances. If he was proposing more regular contact I would happily meet him half way but under h proposals I really wouldn't get a break which I desperately need. Where do I stand?
Kate - 11-Mar-16 @ 11:58 AM
Lillysdad - Your Question:
Hi I'm meant to be a single father I claim child benefit and housing benefit and income support for my daughter and have been the permanent figure in her life. This is because my ex partner was arrested for being violent to me(she's been violent and controlling for a number of years) and when she was on police bail she wrote a letter to our council and said she was moving out and was happy for our daughter to carry on staying with me. After the police bail had ended then she just came back to the flat (she's still on the tenancy) and keeps saying I can't do anything about it. When she was on police bail she still saw her daughter regularly and since then but we are arguing daily and I need to know where I stand with my daughter. Even tho I'm on CB does this still mean she has more rights? If she won't leave the property can I leave with my daughter because my daughters at serious risk of hearing our arguments? If I do this can she get me arrested for child abduction like she says she will? She's saying she wants me to leave without my daughter so she can have the flat back. Do I have to do this?

Our Response:
If no formal arrangements or court orders were in place then you may have to get an agreement drawn up. If you the claims are all in your name, can you make your partner leave?
LawAndParents - 18-Feb-16 @ 1:01 PM
Hi I'm meant to be a single father I claim child benefit and housing benefit and income support for my daughter and have been the permanent figure in her life. This is because my ex partner was arrested for being violent to me(she's been violent and controlling for a number of years) and when she was on police bail she wrote a letter to our council and said she was moving out and was happy for our daughter to carry on staying with me. After the police bail had ended then she just came back to the flat (she's still on the tenancy) and keeps saying I can't do anything about it. When she was on police bail she still saw her daughter regularly and since then but we are arguing daily and I need to know where I stand with my daughter. Even tho I'm on CB does this still mean she has more rights? If she won't leave the property can I leave with my daughter because my daughters at serious risk of hearing our arguments? If I do this can she get me arrested for child abduction like she says she will? She's saying she wants me to leave without my daughter so she can have the flat back. Do I have to do this?
Lillysdad - 17-Feb-16 @ 9:47 AM
ethans dad- Your Question:
Hi I am a single parent but do not have my son living with me, his mum says I'm childisha and do not contact him, she has blocked me on facebook, and her phone is always off please can you help me as I'm not sure what to do now

Our Response:
It may be that legal action is your only resort in a case where all communication channels have been closed down. Is there a friend or family member who could help liaise?
LawAndParents - 16-Feb-16 @ 2:39 PM
Hi I am a single parent but do not have my son living with me, his mum says I'm childisha and do not contact him, she has blocked me on facebook, and her phone is always off please can you help me as I'm not sure what to do now
ethans dad - 14-Feb-16 @ 11:13 PM
I had to take my children to the contact centre to see their father today. My daughter did not want to go and my son didn't want to either. When my daughter was 6 he got into her bed and squashed her n she told me sticky stuff was on her it was slimey and discusting.. That happened 6 years ago and not one agency helped me back then. The father told my daughter today that he has letter from police saying that there was no evidence. Yet my daughter remembers the moment when that happened and I as a mother have been fobbed off and not listened too. My daughter is suffering and this has been effecting her all this time. I am at a complete loss as what to do and the fact that I am suffering myself with ptsd as a result from all this. I am crying out for help and social services won't help as they are at no risk at present and will not help me as I am a single mother. I feel that all this was not investigated properly had I have been a victim of poor treatment from services who are meant to protect and ensure safety to people like myself and others in these situations. I am willing to do whatever it takes to get justice and I hope that this message reaches someone because this is my breaking point and I will not give up and I will not be pushed to the side and he will not get away with what he did to my daughter and I do not want my son influenced by him as he has not done anything I'm the last few years until last year in June to pursue contact and can cass have lied and twisted everything to make him look good and me look bad. Please help I am desperate for some advice.
SoSad - 23-Jan-16 @ 8:05 PM
Gav- Your Question:
Hi. My children have moved to.Peterborough. I am now only seeing them.once a month, and stay in a hotel over night, and get return train, I wish to.speak to.them.on Skype, I have phone contact but I.want to.chat on this to.see them. Have I got rights for this.

Our Response:
There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to negotiate this with the children's mother. If you are prevented from doing so, seek advice from CAB, you may be able to create an agreement via a mediation service. Alternatively you can apply to the courts for a specific issue order.
LawAndParents - 21-Jan-16 @ 12:27 PM
Hi.. My children have moved to.Peterborough... I am now only seeing them.once a month, and stay in a hotel over night, and get return train, I wish to.speak to.them.on Skype, I have phone contact but I.want to.chat on this to.see them... Have I got rights for this..
Gav - 20-Jan-16 @ 5:59 PM
My partner has recently left me and our 8 month old and our unborn child. He doesn't have a place of his own yet and he is staying with his mother. I have asked him if he can come and See our child at the family home until he finds somewhere of his own to live. Although now after two visits he is now insisting that he takes our son to his mothers house and has not bothered to see our child at all now. And is refusing to make time for him but still see's his other children. There are reasons that I would prefer my child not to go with his dad to his mothers house, and only to go with his dad when he had got his own place to live. What are my rights on this?
Need advice - 18-Dec-15 @ 6:03 PM
Ace1999 - Your Question:
Hello, Me and my wife now ex split in December last year and I started dating my partner in the middle of August this year and on the weekend I introduced her and her kids to my 2 kids at a soft play ie neutral location. She was introduced as a friend and both sets of kids got on brilliantly better than we thought. Me and my partner during this time (2.5hrs) showed and did no kissing, flirting and cuddling of any kind. I told my ex and that the kids got on well with my girlfriend and her kids and now she is saying I need to leave it another 6 months until she decides if they can see her again as it is causing unnecessary upset to my kids! She has basically said if I go behind her back like this again we have big problems!!! I have said that this relationship is not a short term thing but it's falling on deaf ears as she is their mother and knows what's best for them! Can my ex legally dictate what I do with my children and who they are around during this time? I am a father who sees them during the week and have them every other weekend and have always paid child maintence on a weekly basis, pay towards clothes days out birthdays etc and want to be involved as much as possible but the same time I should be allowed to have a life.Please can you shed some light legally on this subject please

Our Response:
You've taken the right approach in introducing your children on neutral territory and just as a friend. It's clear your children's interests are at the heart of your actions. Your ex wift does seem to be a little unreasonable about this from what you've said. She cannot stop you seeing the children on this basis without a court order (prohibitive steps).
LawAndParents - 15-Dec-15 @ 11:28 AM
Hello, Me and my wife now ex split in December last year and I started dating my partner in the middle of August this year and on the weekend I introduced her and her kids to my 2 kids at a soft play ie neutral location. She was introduced as a friend and both sets of kids got on brilliantly better than we thought. Me and my partner during this time (2.5hrs) showed and did no kissing, flirting and cuddling of any kind. I told my ex and that the kids got on well with my girlfriend and her kids and now she is saying I need to leave it another 6 months until she decides if they can see her again as it is causing unnecessary upset to my kids! She has basically said if I go behind her back like this again we have big problems!!! I have said that this relationship is not a short term thing but it's falling on deaf ears as she is their mother and knows what's best for them! Can my ex legally dictate what I do with my children and who they are around during this time? I am a father who sees them during the week and have them every other weekend and have always paid child maintence on a weekly basis, pay towards clothes days out birthdays etc and want to be involved as much as possible but the same time I should be allowed to have a life. Please can you shed some light legally on this subject please
Ace1999 - 14-Dec-15 @ 7:37 PM
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