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Children & Child Custody

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4 minutes reading time (873 words)

Single parents

Single parents

As experts in the field of child law advice Guildford we are here to help with any issues or queries you have in this area of the law.

We are often asked for information pertaining to single parent families and their rights and those of their children, so we have listed some of this information below.

There will be many more areas you may have questions about, if so please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to discuss them with you.

It is becoming more common to find a parent bringing up their children alone, either through a divorce/separation, a death, or the other parent simply not being around for whatever reason. You are classed as a single parent if you live alone with your children and are responsible for their day to day wellbeing and raising. This entitles you to certain benefits and, in most cases, financial help from the other parent.

In the majority of cases, as a mother has automatic parental responsibility for her child from birth, she will usually become the parent providing care, following a divorce or separation. Obviously if there are grounds that the mother is not considered fit to take care of the child’s wellbeing they will not be placed with her. For the purposes of this article we will assume the mother is the carer for the children. If the relationship breaks down a married woman will have more financial rights than an unmarried one. In the eyes of the law providing care for the children entitles you to receive financial maintenance for the children from their father. This will be to cover the costs for things like, lighting, heating, food, clothing, footwear, school trips, school uniforms etc.   The father may wish to also contribute towards additional items, such as living expenses or mortgage/rent etc. and as expert child law advice Guildford lawyers we are best placed to discuss this with you to ensure a fair deal is arranged. A single mother will have the right to ask for maintenance from the child’s father, on behalf of the child and you do not need to have been married to do this. You are perfectly entitled to make arrangements and come to an understanding over the amount of child maintenance to be paid for the upkeep of the children between the pair of you, thus avoiding the need to resort to legal proceedings. Or you can arrange them through the Child Support Agency (CSA). If a verbal agreement is reached between you it is advisable to obtain some sort of written agreement to avoid any possible disputes later on. It will be necessary to go through the CSA if the father is not willing, being difficult, or refusing to contribute. We offer a unique legal and psychological approach to your discussions and can facilitate mediation to ensure a mutually agreed and satisfactory conclusion to this issue.

The mother automatically assumes parental responsibility on the birth of the child. A father will obtain this if he is either named on the birth certificate, or was married to the mother at the time of the birth. If you are unmarried the father’s name can only be added if he physically attends the registration with the mother. Once the father is registered he will share parental responsibility with the mother. If the father does not have parental responsibility then he has no legal rights to see the child without the mother’s consent. He will be required to obtain a Contact Order if communication is not possible or has broken down between the mother and father. If he wishes for the child to live with him permanently he will be required to apply for a Residence Order. If the father is questioning paternity it will be necessary to establish fatherhood through a paternity test prior to any arrangements being enforced, however it may be possible to have these back-dated.

As a single parent you may be entitled to additional benefits, especially if you are on a low income. We can help you with this as you can apply for Child Benefit, Working Tax Credit and even a reduction in your Council Tax bill too, although not everyone is entitled to every benefit.

As parents you should both wish for the child to have access to both parents, where possible. Obviously if there is a safeguarding issue then different rules apply. If there are concerns for the child’s safety, or a risk they may be removed by the other parent, then a court will order that contact will be carried out in a safe place where supervision is available.

As experienced child law advice Guildford lawyers we have many years of expertise in this area and can help you with any questions you may have in this field of law. We appreciate that your personal case is as individual as you are and will always take the time to understand your situation fully. We will keep you up to date with all decisions within your case and make sure you understand them prior to making anything legally binding.


Contact us here at Gregorian Emerson Family Law Solicitors on

01483 826470 and let us help you today.

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