Single Parenthood is something there is very little knowledge about unless it affects you. At least that seems to be the case in Malta. A lot of people are under the impression that by not listing the child's father on the birth certificate, this will automatically entitle you to shitloads of benefits. The reality of it all is far from this being the case.
First of all, I find it pretty demeaning that the only way to not list the father on the birth certificate is "Father Unknown". It very rarely is the case that the father is truly not known. Most of the time, it is purely a case of the Sperm Donor not shouldering his responsibilities. To me, the whole "Father Unknown" thing is offensive not only to the mother, but to the child as well. It automatically sheds a bad light on them both. In truth, this should be amended to say something along the lines of "Deadbeat Dad" which would reflect the reality of the situation more accurately.
I have been doing some research out of necessity and so I'll be sharing the information I have obtained so far with you lot in an attempt to clarify some common misconceptions.
The only benefit you get is Children's Allowance, if you're employed.
Children's Allowance is a Government Aid given to all parents - be they married, cohabiting or single. For more in depth information, you can either clicky here if your annual income is less than €23,983.00, or here if it exceeds the aforementioned amount. Should you receive Child Support from the Sperm Donor, this must be declared as it will affect the amount you receive.
If your child happens to be affected by a mental or physical disability, you may be eligible for the Disabled Child Allowance, which is over and above the Children's Allowance.
If you happen to be a Foster Parent, there is an allowance for you too that you can apply for.
Here you will find listed the Maximum amounts that are possible to be obtained weekly and annually, as well as some additional information regarding the different benefits mentioned so far..
If you have clicked the above link, you will notice something called Maternity Allowance. I will clarify this as it might be a bit confusing. Maternity Allowance is paid to you only if you're either a) unemployed or b) will not be availing herself from Maternity Leave which would usually be paid for by the employer. The application must be submitted either once yo reach your eighth month of pregnancy or within six months from the birth date.
Maternity Leave in Malta is in the process of changing. Up until last year, we were entitled to 14 weeks of paid Maternity Leave - 4 weeks of which must be taken before Baby is due. As of this year, an extra 2 weeks were added on which would be paid for by the Government at the rate of €160 weekly. To apply for these extra 2 weeks, one must collect a form from their local Social Security Office. Next year , there should be another extra 2 weeks added on to bring the total amount of weeks up to 18.
So, what happens if you decide to quit your job and become a full time single parent? Well, for starters, you'll be looking at Energy Benefits whereby you can apply to receive a subsidy to help you cover the costs of Water & Electricity bills.
If you happen to be unable to breastfeed for medical reasons, you can also apply for a Milk Grant which will require an official document to be issued by your doctor, and once it is approved, it would be issued to be from Baby's birth up until s/he is 40 weeks of age.
There is also another benefit, which is the equivalent of the dole, called the Single Unmarried Parents' Allowance which is applicable only if you're unemployed or work up to a maximum of 8 hours per week and earn no more than €50 as a gross amount.
If you live in a rental property, you can also look at claiming Housing Benefits whereby you'd be given a subsidy by the government that will help you cover your monthly rent. Further information can be obtained by clicking here.
Last but not least, you can also apply for the EU Food Vouchers however I was not able to find much information about them. They normally are applied for when you've got a case of a low-income family, and are limited to items such as Pasta, Rice and some other basic foods.
You do not start receiving all these benefits immediately. The first thing that is processed is the Children's Allowance, followed by the Single Unmarried Parents' Allowance, and then followed by everything else.
To place any claims, you will need your National ID Card as well as a Copy of your Bank Statements, since any savings you have sitting in your bank account will be taken into consideration. Any other paperwork required will be asked for depending on your particular case.
If you need further information for yourself or someone you know, feel free to call on 159 Monday - Saturday from 8a.m. til 2p.m. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the lines stay open til 6p.m. Alternatively, visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov.mt. Please rest assured that any information discussed is covered by the Data Protection Act, therefore you're safe to discuss things in detail as they will remain confidential.
it is better financially to be employed. It is a matter of weighing your options - you can either provide your child a more comfortable life financially, but miss out on a heck of a lot, or be around for all the important events in your child's life but live on an extremely restricted budget. Should you have to face that decision, good luck- it'll be tough either way.