Child Custody

One of the most painful aspects of divorce is separation from one’s children. One of the spouses has to give up custody of the children in the divorce settlement in order for them to continue living with the other spouse. As this can be an extremely distressing time, it is highly recommended for the couple to come to some arrangement before the start of legal proceedings. A child can continue living with either of the parents depending on his or her needs and emotional affiliation. However, there are a number of aspects which are considered while deciding if the matter goes to court:

  • The child’s own wishes and feelings (especially older children)

  • The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs

  • The likely effect on the child of any changes in living conditions

  • The child’s age, gender, circumstances and any other relevant details

  • How capable each parent is of looking after the child’s needs

Usually, a child’s custody is most likely to be with the mother while the father remains responsible for paying child care funds. However, in some circumstances, shared custody is also a viable option but this constant hustle and change might not be in the best interest of the child and their relationship with both of the parents.

Non Resident Parent & Parental Responsilbity

Regardless of the decision made for the custody of the child, both parents reserve their rights of contact and the parents may form an arrangement that suits all parties. However, if the child is old enough and requests non-contact with any of the parents or if one of the parents is a possible threat to the child, the right to contact can be revoked.

Both parents can agree on weekly, monthly, or fortnightly visits with the exception of yearly holidays to be spent with the parent without custody. On such days, the child can have a stay at the parent’s house. This way, one can compensate for the child’s loss of time with their parent. Regardless of custody status, both parents maintain parental responsibilities of their children and are equally involved in making major decisions affecting their child. Both parents also maintain the responsibility of looking after their child financially and providing child care.

Child Arrangement orders

A Child Arrangement Order covers the legal living arrangements of the child until they reach maturity. The order may last until the child is 16 or in some circumstances, 18. Child Arrangement Orders can be requested on various grounds including failure to reach a settlement on your own despite having mediation attempts or the breach of a previously agreed contact agreement by your former spouse. In such instances, the court can issue legal orders in order to safeguard your personal rights.

Anyone who has been involved in fulfilling parental responsibilities can apply for parental rights and child custody. Grandparents may also apply in some circumstances. Courts make such decisions on the merits of your particular case and keeping in view the best interest of the child.

You may also take legal action if you cannot agree on the major life decisions of your child with your former spouse. Such cases may include religious or non-religious upbringing or on education.

Application Procedure

If you and your former spouse are unable to reach a just settlement for your child’s custody arrangement, you can reach out to a court in order to get a legal order. If you opt for legal proceedings, it is necessary to have gone through a Mediation and Information Assessment meeting (MIAM). The court will start the proceedings after five to six weeks of submission of the application by notifying the other parent and Cafcass (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service). Cafcass will evaluate your specific case in order to provide the court with a clear picture of the situation keeping in mind the best interests of the child.

The legal procedure for Child Custody is extremely difficult. It is recommended to have expert legal advice. Our expert solicitors will happily consult you. We also have a team of people who speak fluent Urdu and Punjabi to help communicate about our legal services effectively. Contact us on 01706 711176 for advice.

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