Can I Get Full Custody of My Child?

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When going through the breakdown of a relationship or divorce proceedings, the issue of child custody is a necessary but difficult decision that must be made. If you are struggling to reach an agreement regarding living arrangements for your children, our expert legal panel of child custody solicitors can provide the advice and assistance you need.

Having good child custody solicitors in place can make all the difference and will ensure your children feel secure, safe and wanted whilst helping parents come to the right decision, keeping your children’s needs at the heart of all decisions.

If you are seeking full custody of your child or children and need expert legal help and advice, then please get in touch with Expert Family Law today. We have access to a specialist panel of family law solicitors who can assist you with a custody battle.

What is child custody?

“Child custody” is a legal term referring to the legal relationship and custodial arrangement between a parent and a child. It involves the rights and responsibilities that parents have concerning their children after a divorce or separation. The concept has evolved, and the term “custody” is often replaced with the term “child arrangements” in UK law.

When going through a divorce or the breakdown of a relationship, your top priority should be agreeing to care arrangements for your children. Every family is different, and there will be no right or wrong answers when coming to an agreement as to child arrangements. Legal rights and responsibilities will be afforded to anyone with parental responsibility towards the children, regardless of whether the children live with the parent (resident parent) or not.

Having a set agreement as to when parents will spend time with children and ensuring parents stick to the agreement is key to ensuring the happiness and emotional stability of the children.

When deciding upon childcare arrangements and if you can get full custody of your child, parents should always put their differences aside to come up with the best possible decision for the children. 

What are the grounds for full custody?

When it comes to child arrangements after separation or divorce, the legal system emphasises the best interests of the child. The focus is on determining what is in the child’s best interests regarding where they live and how much time they spend with each parent. The key principle is to promote the child’s welfare. It is worth noting that ‘full custody’ is generally understood to mean that the child lives with one parent only, though they may still see and visit the other parent. 

When considering child arrangements, the court may take into account various factors, including:

  • The child’s wishes and feelings: Depending on the child’s age and maturity, their wishes and feelings may be considered, though this is not the sole determining factor.
  • The child’s needs: This includes physical, emotional, and educational needs. The court will assess which parent is better able to meet these needs.
  • The capability of each parent: The court considers the ability of each parent to provide a stable and supportive environment. This includes factors such as physical and mental illness, work schedules, and living arrangements.
  • The child’s relationship with each parent: The court looks at the existing relationship between the child and each parent and how this might be affected by the proposed arrangements.
  • Any risk of harm: If there are concerns about the child’s safety or well-being with one parent, the court will take this into account.
  • The ability of parents to cooperate: Family Courts prefer parents who can work together in the child’s best interests. A parent’s willingness to facilitate contact between the child and the other parent is often considered.

It’s important to note that there is no automatic assumption of full custody for either parent, and the court aims to ensure that the child has a meaningful relationship with both parents, provided it is safe and in the child’s best interests. Where there are concerns regarding a child’s safety, this may be grounds for a court granting sole custody to one parent.

What is a child arrangement order (CAO)?

A Child Arrangement Order (CAO) is a legal order issued by a court in the United Kingdom that determines the arrangements for a child’s upbringing after the separation or divorce of their parents. It replaces the older concepts of residence and contact orders, emphasising a child-focused approach. The primary goal of a CAO is to safeguard the child’s best interests and ensure they have a stable and supportive environment.

A CAO typically outlines:

  • Residence: This specifies with whom the child will live. It may grant sole residence to one parent or joint residence (‘joint custody’), where the child lives with both parents at different times and the parents share custody.
  • Contact: This details the time the child spends with the non-residential parent. The court aims to facilitate a meaningful relationship with both parents, considering the child’s age and needs.
  • Other Specific Issues: The order may address different aspects such as education, medical treatment, and religious upbringing. It can provide guidance on decision-making responsibilities, either jointly or by one parent.

Courts issue CAOs after careful consideration of various factors, including the child’s welfare, the capability of each parent, and any potential risks. The court may encourage parents to reach an agreement through mediation, but if an agreement is not possible, a judge will make a court order based on the evidence presented.

A CAO is legally binding, and both parents are expected to comply with its terms. Breaching the order may lead to legal consequences. However, CAOs can be modified if there are substantial changes in circumstances.

In some circumstances, someone who is not a named parent on the birth certificate of the child may obtain a Residency Order in exceptional circumstances, such as the death of a parent or if the parents are unable to care for the children.

How can Expert Family Law help?

If you are wondering if you can get full custody of your child, then Expert Family Law can help. Family law solicitors can assist in negotiations between parents, arranging mediation and advising on when an application to the Family Court should be made. Our team of family solicitors will also guide you through the process of applying to the court and will provide representation for your case.

They can also offer advice to parents for meeting the terms of the order and assistance when these terms have not been met.

We understand that disputes involving children and their care can be incredibly complex and sensitive. The solicitors on our panel can provide you with the best advice and assistance on resolving child arrangement disputes and obtaining Orders from the Court if the dispute cannot be resolved between the parents or through the process of mediation.

As well as assisting with child arrangements orders, our panel of fixed-fee family solicitors offer a range of family services relating to the process of divorce and financial settlements following the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership (ancillary relief).

We ensure that the experienced family lawyers from law firms on our panel have the skills required to assist with your legal case. We can assure you that your case will be dealt with in a compassionate and understanding manner.

Get in touch today using the form at the top of the page to find out if a child custody solicitor could help with your case.

 

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