Who gets custody of a child in divorce? (UK)

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When going through divorce proceedings or the breakdown of a meaningful relationship, the issue of custody of a child is important and must be taken into consideration with great care. The main priority is always the welfare of the children involved.

In some cases, however, it can be difficult to reach a decision regarding living arrangements and who will financially support the children. In these situations, it is essential to have guidance and advice from experienced child custody solicitors.

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

We ensure that the 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.


Who gets custody of a child in divorce UK?


If you are going through or contemplating a divorce, you may be wondering, who gets custody of a child in divorce (UK)?

If you have parental responsibility, you automatically have the right to determine housing for your children and spend time with the children. In practice, however, both parents will have parental responsibility. In these cases, the mother will be granted it automatically as they are always listed on the birth certificate. A Father will be granted it where: 

  • He was married to the mother of the child at the time of the birth
  • He was listed on the birth certificate
  • Either both parents or the father registered parental responsibility with the court through a parental responsibility agreement
  • The court orders the father to have parental responsibility


How can custody be determined?


It is preferable for both parents to agree between themselves when deciding on where the child should live. This approach is flexible and can accommodate each parent’s situation. If an agreement is reached, it is advised that the details are put into a parenting plan and recorded in a written document, such as a solicitor’s letter. However, any such agreement will not be legally binding or enforceable by law.

If an agreement cannot be determined with your ex-partner, the next step is to attempt mediation. Alternative dispute resolution is often recommended by courts before resorting to court proceedings, although there are some instances where mediation will not be possible such as where there is a history of domestic abuse.

Mediation involves an independent mediator considering both parents’ point of view to help them reach an agreement. Their role is to minimise personal feelings and help both parents understand each other.

If an agreement still cannot be reached following mediation, the next step is to apply for a child arrangement order. In this case, it will be left for the court to decide upon the child’s welfare. If your court order is successful, the court will grant you most of the responsibility for your child’s upbringing. You will then have full custody of your child, with your ex-partner being granted specific contact rights.

If you do decide to appeal to court, it is essential to have an experienced child custody solicitor on your side to provide the legal advice you need and represent you in court hearings.


What is a Child Arrangements Order?


The court has wide ranging powers regarding the decision of where a child should live in the case of unresolvable disputes, and the order it makes can vary depending on the case. All custody types, including full custody and joint custody, are now encompassed in what is known as a Child Arrangements Order.


A Child Arrangements Order covers several situations, including:


  • Where the child will live and who with
  • How long the child will spend with each parent, as well as the duration and frequency of visits
  • Any specific issues which are the subject of the dispute, such as whether they can take the child out of the country for a holiday or where the child goes to school
  • Any prohibited steps that a parent cannot take with the child


Applying for Child Arrangements Order should only be done as a last resort if both parents cannot reach an agreement through mediation, collaboration or discussions. To obtain a 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.


Our panel of child custody solicitors


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, 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).

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.

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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