?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Our column opens up the life of a single mum – juggling life, love, work and of course kids on her own.
Sal Higgins is an author and journalist and single mum to five children, ranging in age from 19 to two, and is now raising them on her own. Her estranged husband has the usual alternate weekend arrangement, which means most of it’s down to her. She lives just outside London with her kids and their dog, Jamjar.

Here, she tells of her new life as a single mum, the ups ands downs, the laughs and tears with her children and the search for a new love – who, of course, will be her children’s new dad.

I realise I’m not the only single mum not to receive any voluntary payments from the father of their children – but how is this allowed to happen in 2016?

I mean really. We are not living in the dark ages. Or through a war? Or in a developing country?

No this is Britain… a civilised and responsible nation. Why is it not compulsory to have to pay for the children you helped bring into the world is beyond me.

In Austria men have to pay a set amount – not based on what they earn – but on what it takes to keep a child. They have to find it – or be fined. Even if they are unemployed, they must find it.

I once overheard a woman talking about ‘the biological father of her children’ – and I thought it was a terrible way to talk about a man she had probably once loved and made plans with. But now, years on from my own split, I realise now that this is indeed a correct term for some non-resident dads.

If it wasn’t for the struggling CSA – which is weighed down by mounting amounts of bureaucracy and the ever-increasing dads departing from being financial responsible for their kids – I would get nothing.

I know that my husband (who still won’t agree to a divorce) has chosen to impoverish himself to make sure I get the least possible amount in maintenance. He then earns money on the side by marking university papers – which he doesn’t declare. I get around £23 per week per child.

That’s £23 per week per child.

To keep them. What does that pay for? Really.

He’s a professor and a tradesman – and yet he thinks it’s acceptable to pay only £23 per week per child. Plus when it comes to getting the children football boots or trainers, he tells them ‘that’s mum’s job”… really?

He once taped up my second eldest son’s trainers rather than buy him new ones. And then sent our son to a football festival with his friends. My son told his friends it was his ‘magic’ shoe… the tears dropped down his cheeks as he told me this once he was home. The trainers had fallen apart during his weekend with his dad…

My outraged father took his grandson to get new boots the next day…

Disgraceful, isn’t it?

What I can’t understand is why he wouldn’t want that lovely warm feeling you get when you treat your kids by buying them their idol’s football boots or Nike trainers or whatever…

I love being able to provide for my kids. They don’t get spoiled, I can’t afford it, but they get decent trainers – as they are all so sporty. And like many people with large families – we like Primark for the rest.

So now I know what the woman was talking about. Anyone can be a biological father… but it’s raising them daily and putting their best interests first, that makes a real dad.