Blank Space: Kelly’s fight for equality

November 2023

It was a few days after her fiancé Jordan’s funeral that former WAY member Kelly found out she was pregnant.

Jordan had gone for a night out in Retford in Nottinghamshire with friends when he was attacked and died of his injuries in January 2020. Overnight, Kelly went from planning their future to planning her fiancé’s funeral.

It was an incredibly challenging year – first having to come to terms with Jordan’s death and then giving birth to their daughter Maisie without her fiancé by her side. 

But she wasn’t prepared for what happened when she went to register their daughter’s birth. Instead of being able to register Jordan as Maisie’s father, she had to leave a blank space where his name should have been – because they weren’t married.

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What she found out then is that parents in the UK who aren’t married or in a civil partnership have to sign the birth register together in order to both be named. So if a father dies before his baby is born, under the current law, he is not automatically named on the child’s birth certificate. 

Kelly was incensed: “Jordan wanted nothing more out of his life than to have kids,” she told the BBC One Show.

“It’s just so unfair. She’s half of me and she’s half of him. It’s only right for it to be legally documented. She has lost enough.”

For months, Kelly battled to prove that Jordan was Maisie’s father and to make sure his name was on her birth certificate. She had to provide a DNA sample from Jordan’s mother to the courts to prove she was Maisie’s grandmother, as well as paying out hundreds of pounds in lawyers’ fees.

“They asked me questions like ‘do you have any other partners, are any other people in the picture?’” she told the BBC.

“Those kind of questions almost put you on the back foot because you think ‘no of course there’s not’.”

Finally, after two years, Kelly received a new birth certificate for Maisie with Jordan’s name on it. But it was a bittersweet victory.

“We shouldn’t have had to fight for this,” said Kelly. “We were entitled to this in the first place.”

Kelly now has 12 copies of Maisie’s birth certificate around the house and carries one around in her purse at all times in case she ever needs to prove she is Maisie’s mum (because they have different surnames, this can sometimes be challenging). 

And Kelly is now campaigning on behalf of other widowed mums in her position too to make the system fairer.

“It’s extremely unfair that your marital status can overrule your child’s rights of parentage,” she said. “You can’t change what’s happened to you but we’re doing this on behalf of our children.”

Kelly, who has also set up a charity in Jordan’s honour called the Jordan Sinnott Foundation Trust, is determined to honour her late fiancé’s legacy and to keep his memory alive for Maisie, who is now three. The charity provides funding and support to children and young adults so their lives can be enriched through the sport they love.

“We talk about Jordan all the time,” she said. “We talk about Daddy’s charity and how important it is to be kind.”

Kelly would like to see a system that is kinder and fairer for mothers who find themselves in the same position as she did, with clearer guidelines in place for parents and for judges when they come across cases like Kelly’s.

“We need to bring the law up to date”

“If we can just start taking small steps in the right direction,” said Kelly, who pointed out that over half of children in England and Wales now born to unmarried parents. Read more. 

“We just need to bring the law up to date,” she said. “It’s not representative of the population any more – and that’s what the law is supposed to be.”

'Made by Screenhouse Productions for BBC The One Show'