If you have recently divorced or separated from you partner and want to find out about child custody, how child custody arrangements are made and what you can do in the event of a dispute, you are in the right place to find out. We understand how sensitive child custody issues can be.
However, we have tried to be as frank and objective as possible so it has some use for everyone and allows you to know exactly where you stand.
Basic outline of the child custody/residence process
Child custody is a matter which is closely related to divorce law and many issues will inevitably be dealt with at the same time as a divorce. However, in many cases parents will come to their own informal arrangements. In any case, an agreement should be reached on the basis of what the parents mutually believe is best for the welfare of the children and, if possible, what their children want.
If there is a dispute, to reduce the potential stress and legal costs, the next step is mediation, which can be arranged through Child Custody Lawyers.
If mediation cannot resolve the dispute, the final stage is the courts. Again, in general the decision as to who is awarded custody is based on what is best for the welfare of the child/children.
Child custody laws apply to children up to the age of 16 or children aged between 16 and 18 if they are still in school or university. If your son or daughter is over 16 or 18 and has physical or mental disabilities, custody laws will be applicable.
If you have adopted the child/children and have parental responsibility, custody laws will apply.
Do mothers always get custody?
Although there still seems to be a general bias towards the granting of child custody to mothers, it entirely depends on the surrounding facts of the case and what is in the children’s best interests. If you are a father seeking to get custody of your child/children, there is a separate article called ‘fathers and child custody’, which may be helpful, although we encourage you to read this article in its entirety.
In our experience, courts are more likely to award custody to mothers when the children are very young. They do this in the belief a capable mother is best placed to provide care and therefore welfare. Although this may be debatable for some, it is still the general stance of the courts. With older children, the bias is less in favour of mothers and more neutrally based on what is in the best interests of the children and what they want, so long as they are capable of understanding the situation and coming to a fairly reasoned decision as to who they would prefer to live with.
What factors are relevant in deciding what is best for the child’s/children’s welfare?
This is not set in stone.
However, parents wanting custody have to jump through some basic hoops. The parents will need to show that they are actually capable of caring for children. Reasons as to why a parent might not be capable include health and mental health issues, a history of abusive or violent behaviour, habitual use of drugs and other addictions.
The court has asked a family reporter to write up a report on my child/children. What do family reporters do?
Family reporters (formally known as Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service – CAFCASS – officers) are used to help the courts come to a more objective decision as to what is in the best interests of the child/children. Family reporters cannot base their report on whatever they like, and as such have to try and find answers to questions the court has asked the reporter to answer. Their objective is to find out any information which is relevant to helping the court decide who should be awarded custody, and it is the court’s decision which is final.
We want to help
Child custody lawyers strive to provide you with a sensitive yet professional service that delivers value for money and represents your interest in the best way possible. Being customer focussed, we strive to respect your wishes and explore all possible avenues. We are here to guide you every step of the way and want to help.
To find out what we can do to help, please get in touch at your earliest convenience.