How to get sole custody (UK)

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What is sole custody (UK)?


In the UK, sole custody of a child refers to a legal arrangement in which one parent has the primary parental responsibility for making decisions and caring for a child, while the other parent has limited or no involvement. In this arrangement, the parent with full custody is known as the “resident parent” and the other parent is referred to as the “non-resident parent.” The non-resident parent may still have the right to visit and spend time with the child, but they do not have any decision-making power or day-to-day responsibility for the child’s care.

You may be wondering how to get sole custody (UK), but this is only an option in very limited circumstances.

The family courts generally try to promote cooperation between parents and encourage both parents listed on the birth certificate to reach an agreement and have an active role in a child’s life, whenever possible. As a result, sole custody is usually a last resort and the court will only grant it if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the child.

The court will consider a range of factors when making a decision on custody, including the child’s relationship with each parent, the child’s welfare and safety, and any history of domestic abuse or neglect. In most cases, the court will award shared custody, allowing both parents to have an active role in their child’s life, unless there are compelling reasons for sole custody to be awarded to one parent.

When will the court grant sole custody?

In the UK, the court will only grant sole custody if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the child. The court will consider a range of factors when making a decision on custody, including:

  • The child’s relationship with each parent: The court will assess the child’s relationship with each parent and consider which parent is likely to provide a stable and secure environment for the child.
  • The child’s welfare and safety: The court will consider whether there is any evidence of abuse or neglect, and whether either parent has a history of substance abuse or mental health problems that could negatively impact the child’s well-being.
  • Parental agreement: The court will take into account the agreement between the parents, including any existing court orders or agreements made between them, such as a Child Arrangements Order.
  • The child’s views: The court will consider the child’s views and feelings, taking into account their age and maturity.
  • Other factors: The court may also consider other factors such as the distance between the parents’ homes and the availability of support from extended family members.

If the court determines that sole custody is in the best interests of the child, it may grant it to one parent, but this is usually only done in exceptional circumstances, such as if there is evidence of abuse, neglect, or other serious concerns about the child’s safety.

How to get sole custody (UK)

In England and Wales, there is no presumption in favour of either the mother or father, and both have equal rights to seek custody of the child. The question on how to get sole custody (UK) will be dependant upon whether there is good reason to grant custody to one parent only.

Parents should attempt to negotiate and come to an agreement on child custody arrangements. With the aid of a specialist family law solicitor, successful negotiation is often achieved as a more objective approach to the negotiations can be taken, removing some of the tension and emotion from the overall situation.

Before applying to the court, parents may be required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting MIAM where they will be provided with information about mediation and other forms of dispute resolution. They will be assessed to find out if they are suitable for mediation. If the court finds that mediation is not appropriate, parents will be given a certificate to file with their application to the court.

A Child Arrangement Order is often required in child custody cases when parents are unable to come to an agreement through mediation, collaboration, or discussions. When this type of order is required, the Court will determine the arrangements and they will be legally binding.

A Prohibited Steps Order, which is a type of Child Arrangements Order, may also be used for removing parental responsibility from one parent if the court deems it necessary.

To obtain any type of child arrangement Order, a C100 Form should be submitted to the Family Court alongside the appropriate fee. A C1A form should also be completed if you have suffered from domestic violence, or if you and your children are in threat of harm.

Do I need a solicitor to get sole custody (UK)?

Child Arrangement Orders can be obtained without instructing a solicitor; however, we would highly recommend the use of a family law solicitor to ensure you are taking the right steps, especially if you are attempting to obtain sole custody of your child. A child arrangement solicitor can assist in negotiations between parents, arranging mediation and advising on when an application to the court should be made. A child arrangement solicitor will also guide you through the process of applying to the court and will provide representation for your case.

When disputes arise between parents, it can be helpful to have someone outside of the relationship to help you navigate through the conflict and provide you with the best advice on moving forward, keeping the needs of your children at the forefront.

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

How much does it cost to obtain sole custody?

The cost of obtaining a court order to remove parental responsibility can vary depending on a number of factors such as the complexity of the case, the Solicitor’s fees, and whether legal aid is available.

If an individual is eligible for legal aid, they will not have to pay for legal representation. However, if an individual does not qualify for legal aid, they will have to pay for their legal representation themselves. Legal Aid is usually available in cases where the applicant or child is at risk of suffering domestic violence, or is a victim of domestic violence.

The cost of the case will depend on the complexity of the case, the number of hearings that are required, and the amount of time that the solicitor needs to spend working on the case. In general, a simple case that is resolved quickly may cost less than a complex case that goes to trial.

It’s worth noting that court fees also need to be paid, these fees will depend on the stage of the proceedings and they can vary. Court fees can be waived in some cases, such as if the person is on a low income or receiving certain benefits.

How can Expert Family Law assist?

If you are wondering how to get sole custody of a child (UK), Expert Family Law can help. 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 proceeding to court if the dispute cannot be resolved between the parents or through the process of mediation.

As well as assisting with child arrangements, our panel of family law solicitors can also advise and assist on the process of divorce and the division of assets following the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership (ancillary relief).

We ensure that the family law solicitors on our panel have the skills and experience required to assist on 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 arrangement solicitor from our panel could help on your case.


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