Legal Issues That Are Faced By Single Moms

by robinfitzpatrick on July 12, 2013

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Single motherhood has been around since antiquity, but the challenges faced by single mothers today are not much different from their predecessors.  Whether it’s due to widowhood, divorce or separation, single mothers must find a stable balance between child rearing, work and personal life in order to raise their children properly. Moreover, single mothers also need to face a wide variety of legal issues, most of which are related to their children and lifestyle.

To put this into perspective, we have to remember that the number of single mothers in America are rising. This is particularly true among young mothers who are still in their early twenties. According to the Census Bureau, around 60% of young mothers, who are between the ages of 20 and 24, are unmarried. Moreover, between a quarter to one third of all mothers in the previous decade were also unmarried. And it’s worth mentioning that unmarried mothers tend to be particularly common among minorities and urban regions.

What this essentially means is that single motherhood as well as the laws which affect it are very important issues for society. So if you’re a single mother, it’s important to remember exactly what sort of legal issues you’ll be facing, not just with your ex-husband, but also with the government and society in general. So to help you cope with the challenges of single motherhood, here are some of the most common legal issues that are faced by single moms today.

1) Physical Custody

Physical Custody refers to the issue of where the child will live. This decision will be based on the best interests of the child, and will include such factors as proximity to schools, health facilities and a good environment. The court has the mandate to grant sole or joint physical custody based on such needs of each child.

2) Legal Custody 

Unlike physical custody, legal custody is a little more abstract. It determines who will be making decisions for the child. Legal custody is usually the norm for most courts, especially in regards to education, medical care and various forms of parental instructions. Both parents, however, have the option of contesting joint legal custody in court and opt for full legal privileges.

3) Child Support

Child support can refer to either collecting support, owing it or both. Single mothers are usually entitled to receive child support, but this amount can vary on a case by case basis. So always try to know what your rights are in regards to child support.

4) Coparenting

Coparenting refers to special parenting plans, where both parents agree on a set of parameters in order to develop communication, schedules and trust between both parties. Coparenting is usually carried out to help children cope with divorce and separation.

5) Paternity

Getting the biological father of the child recognized is the first step in getting child support, child custody and various other legal rights. Paternity is also important during legal proceedings and court hearings.

6) Visitation

If a mother has physical custody of her child, it’s also often the case that the father will receive visitation rights to visit his child. In
cases where the mother has safety concerns, she can petition the court to grant supervised visitation, so that the father will not be left
alone with the child. This arrangement can also be given to the mother if the father gets physical custody of the child.

7) Stability

The core of all legal issues concerning single motherhood is stability. Whether the issue is about legal custody or co-parenting, the main goal is to provide the child a stable environment to grow in. Child neglect is one of the greatest threat to single parenthood, and in this sense, divorce courts will always attempt to reach a solution where all parties work together for the benefit of children. This is the goal of family law, and it should also be the goal of any parent.

The items mentioned here are designed to give you a brief background on what you can expect if you were to become a single mother. Legal issues with regards to single motherhood is never easy, but if you know what to expect, you’ll have a much easier time coping with their effects on your and your child.

Robin Fitzpatrick is blogger for domestic partnership lawyer reno nevada. He likes to write on various legal issues related to family, real estate laws.

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