Many couples choose to have children before they marry and live together as a family. The growing rates of divorce and costs of a wedding put people off the institution and starting a family is seen as a more important commitment.
However, when this happens, however happy the family is, there are less legal rights if something goes wrong in the relationship. Parental rights need to be explored and clarified. Any provision for the loss of one party needs to be put into a contract with a lawyer.
Sadly, many single moms are not in the position by choice. Perhaps they have had to leave a turbulent relationship while pregnant and are then faced with the uphill struggle of making ends meet while bringing up a child. This is no easy challenge and women need to seek as much support as they can. They may face difficulty finding work that fits around motherhood and judgment from people who disapprove of solo parenting.
There is a small minority of women who find themselves facing the loss of a partner while pregnant or with a small child. This can be difficult on several levels. As well as grieving the loss of the partner, moms may face legal challenges as they try to salvage a home, some income and rights to the estate of the partner. It is recommended that cohabiting couples put together a legal contract in the case of such an event, for peace of mind.
20 They Face More Acceptance than they would've had 20 Years Ago
The number of mothers having children outside marriage has increased dramatically in the United States in the last thirty years. Around 40 percent of children are born to unmarried mothers, a huge leap from the 1980s.
As the figures increase, so does acceptability. The unmarried mother is no longer the social leper she was in the past. School gates are populated by equal numbers of those who are married and their unmarried peers. While there will always be some who regard this as a mistake, social trends have shifted to more tolerance and acceptance of the individual’s right to choose their lifestyle.
19 She Will Embrace Marriage Rather Than Feel Trapped by It
A mom who has lived with her partner without marrying, has a chance to really think about the pros and cons of marriage, especially if a child is involved.
Surveys show that when these women do go on to get married, they have really thought about the reasons they want to be legally joined to their partner.
There is less need to marry for the ‘wrong’ reasons, for example, to have a baby or because it is the natural next step. Because the commitment of having a child is unbreakable with a partner, and the institution of marriage is breakable, the reasons for marriage are believed to be more authentic for single moms, according to Consumer.Health Day.
18 She Has Full Parental Responsibility for the Child
The mother automatically has full parental responsibility for any child that is born to her, unless she is married, and that partner is named on the birth certificate. Parental responsibility is a legal status and gives the mom certain rights.
The only reason apart from marriage that the mother will not be afforded full parental responsibility is if the father can prove she is unfit to bring up the child.
Parental responsibility gives you the right to choose the child’s name, place of residence, education, and religion. If the father does not have parental responsibility they cannot see the child’s medical records, prevent them from being taken abroad or block a change of name.
17 The Child Automatically Has Her Surname, If She Chooses
When a child is born outside of marriage, it automatically takes the surname of the mother, unless the father’s name is specifically registered at birth. If the mother has chosen to give the baby its father’s surname and the couple split up, the child can be given the mother’s surname as long as the mother has parental responsibility. This should be the case if the couple is not married.
If the mom marries someone who is not the child’s father, she has the option to give the child the new husband’s name, but the actual father can contest this.
Legal advice should be sought when considering a name change, to ensure there is no confusion later.
16 There Is A Higher Chance of Divorce If She Gets Married
Statistically, in the United States and in the UK, cohabiting couples are more likely to get divorced if they go on to get married.
Compare that to Germany, where couples are less likely to get divorced if they cohabit, and couples who cohabit and then marry the person they cohabited with and there is no difference in separation than those who did not live together. Interestingly, American cohabiting couples who took premarital counselling before marrying fared better with a much lower divorce rate.
15 She Will Face Some Challenges If She Goes it Alone
Single moms face financial insecurity, whether it be waiting for welfare payments that take an age to arrive or waiting for child support from an absent father who is contesting financial contributions. They could face isolation, as finding time for a social life is hard.
If she is working and taking care of the child, it leaves little time to do things for herself.
If she decides to bite the bullet and go out with her friends, the guilt that some single moms feel negates the enjoyment of the evening. Add into that the fact that the mom is making all the parenting decisions alone and it adds up to a potentially stressful life.
14 She Needs to Ask for Help
The struggle of single parenthood is one that a mom does not have to bear alone. There are plenty of support groups that have sprung up in response to the increasing numbers of single moms. If she has a supportive family, it is important to let them know of any struggles and not soldier on as if all is well.
There are free advice centers that can offer tips on financial grants that might be available. In terms of personal decisions, it is a good idea to find a mentor to bounce ideas off.
Making all the important parenting decisions is hard, and it will ease the burden to choose a friend, family member or pastor to share the load suggests I Mom.
13 They Tend To Earn Less Than Their Co-Workers
Sadly, four times as many children who live in a single parent household live in poverty, compared to those born into a two-parent household, according to Healthland. More than half of single moms who are struggling financially, work full time. However, these jobs are likely to be low paid jobs with minimal benefits.
This can be difficult for single moms if their child is sick and they need to take time off. Paid leave is a rarity in low paid jobs that single moms often have, and they can face losing their job for staying home to care for their sick children.
12 She Is Likely Eligible For Child Support
There are numerous grants available to single moms from the government, to try and lift single parent families out of poverty, reports Hi Glamour. She is not guaranteed paid leave if she is single and working.
As far as the father of the child is concerned, he is obliged to pay child support to the mother of his child as long as he acknowledges paternity. If a child support order is in place and he refuses to pay, you can go to court to arrange for his wages to be garnished or to force him to pay outstanding money owed.
11 She Will Need To Get A Legal Custody Agreement
As unmarried couples don’t have the same legal rights as married couples, it is worth consulting a lawyer to draw up some contractual agreement. If the couple separate or one of them passes away, it is important to lay down some ground rules as to what should happen to joint finances, living arrangements and care of the children.
If this is not done, the single mom may find herself stranded. If her partner passes away she will have no legal rights to his property and if they separate, she may find herself struggling to support herself and the child if legal arrangements have not been made.
10 Solo Moms Are Becoming A Majority
According to Pew Social Trends, four in ten American children are now born into families where the parents are on their own or living as a couple without being married. Among parents who live without a partner, 80 percent are women and there are more black single mothers than any other ethnic group.
While there are many demographic differences between single parents, there are some trends that are higher than in cohabiting families. Nearly a quarter of single moms live with a family member for support, compared to only 4 percent of cohabiting parents. As marriage declines in popularity, the single parent trend increases, and soon single parents may outnumber cohabiting or married parents.
9 They'll Get Questions From Family And Friends
If a partner is on the scene and a baby arrives before the wedding, it may be a natural assumption, or hope, for some family members to assume a wedding is in the cards. There is still a minority of people who see single parenthood as a scourge on society, even if they have no real evidence.
Bear in mind that when surveyed, nearly 40 percent of Americans also said that women with young children who worked outside the home were also bad for society. Attitudes are changing, but they change slowly. Accept that everyone has the right to their views, and you have a right to your choices. Don’t feel pressured into marrying if you don’t want to, an unhappy marriage can be just as damaging for a child.
8 They Have No Claim On A Partner's Estate
Living with a partner when you are not married, does not afford the same rights to a woman as if they were married. There isn’t always a legal status of ‘common-law wife,’ and the mother will not even be regarded as the man’s next of kin unless they have drawn up a legal agreement.
If the man passes while in the relationship, the woman has no automatic right to his estate, and may even be forced to leave the home they shared. If there is any confusion about rights, legal advice should be sought, and a contract was drawn up to make the situation clear.
7 Sociologists Say It's A Less Stable Upbringing
Statistically, a child that is born to a single mom is more likely to have behavioral problems and suffer from an unstable and complex family situation. These children are also less like to graduate from high school or end up in a well-paid job, according to Wealthy Single Mommy.
As frightening as these findings sound, it is important to remember that it is not the case that being a single parent family was necessarily the cause of these issues. The children may have been born into situations where the outcome would have been the same if the father had been present in their lives.
6 She Can Make The Wedding Fund A University Fund
If a couple has planned a wedding and a baby appeared before the wedding could take place, the couple may decide that parenthood is more of a current priority than marriage and put the wedding off for a while.
As the financial demands of having a child appear, that carefully saved money might go towards child expenses, school fees or a college fund. Somehow the paraphernalia that surrounds a wedding could pale into insignificance in comparison to the needs of their beloved infant. The trend for prioritizing parenthood over marriage is growing in the United States, no doubt helped by burgeoning divorce statistics.
5 She May Face Negative Comments
There will always be people who feel they have the right to judge others. They may not acknowledge that they have made mistakes in life yet will feel justified in commenting on others’ life situations. The reasons that you are a single mom are your own business, but even if you have made the choice rather than been forced into the situation, you have a right to that decision.
It is hardly an easy option, so if you feel that you need to defend your decision, it is worth reminding anyone who criticizes that you are doing the best you can for yourself and your child.
4 The Father May Still Be In The Kid's Life For Decades
He may be a man who pays no child support and ran off with her best friend. However, you made a baby with him, and there may be a time when he wants to be involved in the child’s life on a more regular basis.
As parents have responsibility for their children until they come of age, your ex-partner could have rights to be in your child’s life, and potentially maintain that contact for a couple of decades. However acrimonious relations are, it is important to put the needs of the child first. Try not to argue or criticize in front of the child, or they will be upset and confused.
3 She Might Be Breaking The Law
Amazing as it may seem, four states in the United States have laws banning cohabitation. Moms that live with their partners and children in Mississippi, North Carolina, and Michigan could be going against the law. This could result in fines. Florida has only recently repealed its law banning cohabitation.
Fortunately, these things are rarely enforced, and it seems unclear as to why they are still on the statute books. Some believe it is to give an impression of the state as upholding marriage as a tradition that should be aspired to.
2 She Needs To Make a Will
It is really important for single moms to make a will, however little money or property she has. Not only does a will allocate material possessions, but it can also be used to appoint guardians for any children and suggest how contact with an absent father may be managed, going forward. A backup guardian is always a good idea as well.
You should appoint trustees of the will to manage your affairs if anything happens, and give them copies of the will. Each state has different rules as to how a will should be executed, so make sure you adhere to the rules of your relevant state.
1 She Is Not Guaranteed Paid Leave
Many single moms end up in low paid jobs that offer some flexibility around school hours, but these jobs don’t offer the same rights as higher paid, long-term jobs. Statistically, a single mom is more likely to be less qualified and therefore have fewer opportunities to find high paid work.
If a child is sick or has a doctor’s appointment, the mom will need to take time off to care for them. If the child gets a long-term illness, the working mom could find her job in jeopardy if she is absent for a long period of time. Laws are hazy around this and only certain firms are required to offer unpaid leave and guarantee jobs will be secure at the end of that time.