Tag: Single dad

Becoming a single dad can be life-changing in so many ways. You’ll no doubt have different family arrangements to think about – and may have lots of questions. This website has detailed pages on some of the most common issues for single parents of all types. Here we look at some of the key ones for new single dads.

Even though single dad families are becoming more and more common, you might feel like you don’t know many others like you. We run single parent groups, both locally and online.

Becoming a single dad

Your relationship with your child

Help in tough times

Managing money

Balancing work and family life

Useful links for single dads

Join our Single Dads Digital Group

Chat and meet up with other dads in the Gingerbread Digital Community

Becoming a single dad

Dealing with the end of a relationship, however it happened, can be incredibly tough. 

If you’ve recently split up with your partner, or are in the process, you might want to look at our pages on managing a separation. We also have practical advice on things you’ll need to do when separating

If your partner has died, you might find our page on dealing with a death useful. This covers supporting your children, taking time off work and getting financial support as you find your way through this difficult time.

It might also be helpful to hear the experiences of other single dads. On our blog, Steve talks about being a single dad in a small village and Vikas talks about going through the court to get shared custody of his daughter.

Hear David’s story

Your relationship with your child

If you’ve separated from your partner, you may be worried about not seeing your children. It’s important to know your rights when it comes to seeing your child and what to do if you and your child’s other parent can’t agree – our page on child contact arrangements has more.

Families Need Fathers has support for maintaining a good relationship after a separation. They can help if you need to go to court to sort out child contact arrangements.

Parental responsibility

This is the legal responsibility a parent has care for their child. As a single father, you automatically have parental responsibility if you and your child’s mother were married when they were born, or if you’re named on the birth certificate. 

Without parental responsibility, you don’t have any legal rights over your child. This means you don’t have a say over things like where they live, their name, their religion, where they’re educated or their medical treatment.

So it’s a good idea to get parental responsibility so you can be involved in big decisions about your child’s life. If you’re on good terms with the other parent, you can just fill in a parental responsibility agreement and take it to your local family court. If you can’t agree with them that you should have parental responsibility, you can apply to court for an order to get this. Unmarried fathers are usually given parental responsibility unless there’s a good reason not to.

Our page on parental responsibility has more information, and you can talk to us for advice.

Help in tough times

It isn’t always easy to ask for help when you’re struggling. But if you can get help, you’ll be more able to think clearly, deal with problems and be there for your children when they really need you. 

Our page on your wellbeing has suggestions for looking after yourself and getting help if you need it. If you’ve been through domestic abuse, you can get practical advice and emotional support through the Men’s Advice Line. And Mind has some useful information and advice on parenting and mental health.

Managing money

It’s important to make sure you’re getting all the financial support you can for you and your family. If you’re a new single parent, you may be able to get more or different benefits. Try our benefits checker to see what you might be eligible for – or talk to us for more tailored advice.

Child maintenance

If you and your child’s other parent are separated, you’ll need to make an arrangement for child maintenance. If your child lives with you most of the time, you should be able to get child maintenance from your child’s other parent. But if your child lives with the other parent most of the time, you’ll have to pay them child maintenance. Our page on arranging child maintenance can help you work out who has to pay maintenance and different ways to arrange it. 

If you’re paying maintenance directly to the other parent and you can’t keep up with your payments, let them know as soon as possible. You may be able to renegotiate what you pay or arrange a plan for making up missed payments. 

If you pay through the Child Maintenance Service, they can chase you for what you owe. If you don’t pay what you owe, they can take steps to make you pay. This includes taking money from your wages or bank account, asking bailiffs to take things from you, or getting a court order to make you sell your home. Citizens Advice has more information on what to do if you owe child maintenance.

Balancing work and family life

As a single dad, you may need to spend less time at work to be with your children. You do have a right to time off work for certain family responsibilities. You could also think about working more flexibly to fit your family’s needs.

Time off for a new baby

As a new baby’s father or the partner of the baby’s mother, you may be able to take Statutory Paternity Leave. You can take either 1 or 2 weeks’ paid time off. To get this, you need to have been working for your employer for at least 26 weeks.

Shared Parental Leave

You may also be able to share up to 50 weeks of paid parental leave with a new baby’s other parent, even if you don’t live together. This helps you be more flexible in looking after your child during their first year. 

You may decide to take it in turns to take time off to look after your child. Or you might want to be off work at the same time.

You can take this type of time off if one parent is entitled to maternity leave and the other parent is an employee earning over a certain amount. You can take it any time after paternity leave and up to 52 weeks after the birth. If you take Shared Parental Leave first, you’ll lose the right to Statutory Paternity Leave.

Working this out can be complicated. Use the Shared Parental Leave calculator on gov.uk or talk to us for advice.

Unpaid time off

You can take unpaid time off to look after a child who depends on you. This is called parental leave. You can use it to do things like:

  • Take more time off straight after paternity or adoption leave 
  • Spend more time with your baby or very young child
  • Look after your child during if they’re in hospital
  • Look at new schools
  • Help your child settle into new childcare arrangements
  • Spend more time with family – for example, visiting grandparents

You can take parental leave if:

  • You’ve been working for your employer for more than a year
  • Your child is under 18  
  • You’re named on the child’s birth or adoption certificate or have parental responsibility for them 

This kind of time off applies to your child, not your job. So if you change jobs and have unused parental leave, you can take it with you to your new job. 

Time off in an emergency

You also have the right to a reasonable amount of time off to deal with a family emergency. This would be something like your child being ill or injured, a problem with childcare or an incident at school. 

Your employer doesn’t have to pay you while you’re off with an emergency. But they shouldn’t penalise you, either.

If your baby’s mother has died

There are special rules for paternity leave if your baby’s mother has died. If you’re looking after your child by yourself, you may be able to take extra parental leave and pay. The rules for this are complicated, so please call our helpline and we can talk you through your options.