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Child Custody Rights

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 4 Dec 2020 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Custody Residency Disputes Courts

In the UK child custody law determines who should be responsible for the care and charge of a child, after divorce or separation. The term custody is now more commonly referred to as residency - indicating where the children's main residence is, following a parental break up.

In the many cases, parents preference is for joint custody (or residency), which enables the child to spend an equal amount of time with each parent. This option also allows both parents to participate in any decision making which may affect the child. However, if parents are unable to decide amicably on what living arrangement is best for their child, the courts will decide on their behalf.

Parent Vs Parent

Most bitter disputes between married couples end up in the family courts. Whilst the separation and ensuing bitterness will undoubtedly affect the children it's important to remember that:
  • Most child residency court cases end amicably with either agreed residency or joint residency as the outcome
  • Access and maintenance payments from the non resident parent are also taken into consideration
  • In disputed cases each parent is individually assessed before a decision on which parent is given custody of the child, or children, is made

The best interests of the child is the general standard at the heart of all residency cases.

Joint Residency

Joint residency is considered to be the preferred solution as being in the best interests of most children.

BUT...there are no laws or 'rights' that state that a child should live specifically with either the mother or father.

Assuming you both have parental responsibility it is up to you to negotiate residency on the basis of what is best for the children. Many couples neglect to consider this fact and err on the side of what they themselves would prefer (or what suits them).

If you cannot come to an agreement, you should try mediation first. If that is unsuccessful, the courts will become involved and will issue a court order based on what it sees as appropriate.

Joint Residency Reflect Modern Society

The choice of joint residency, reflects the changes in society and takes into consideration work that mothers do outside of the home and a more hands-on approach of child care by fathers. By allowing both parents to have an equal share in the physical care of their child, or children, all legal rights connected to responsibilities and obligations to children are divided.

Custody Disputes

Most custody disputes involve the child’s mother and father. However, in some cases a third party – a grandparent, for instance – may seek custody at the time of a parent’s death or incapacity. If a couple has never married - making provisions for the care of their child may also develop into a dispute. Generally though a court will accept that a parent is in the best position to maintain the welfare of their child.

Unusual Circumstances

In some rare circumstances one parent may be permanently excluded from having any access to their child. However, the court has the right to change the decision at any point in time, should the parent’s circumstances change. The parent is able to re-apply for access at any time, and once an application is made the court may reconsider arrangements after examining evidence.

The Court Decides

The courts will generally accept custody arrangements that parents submit as part of their separation agreement. To ensure these arrangements serve the child’s interests the courts will review the plan. The role that grandparents, step-parents and other influential adults play in the child’s life may also be taken into consideration by the courts.

Changing Or Regaining Custody

Changing a child’s residency arrangements is possible. In order to support the change, substantial evidence of the stability the child will need to be submitted. There are many other factors to consider, which may include relocation of a parent, stability of employment, integration of the child into the new environment etc.

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Hello. I currently find myself in a situation as an Aunt. My younger sister fell pregnant from an abusive relationship that sent her into crisis. They were no longer together when she found she was pregnant. The father in question is a known drug user with a criminal record who still lives with his parents with whom his relationship is on and off with as they periodically kick him out of the house in a constant repeating cycle. He is deeply abusive to my sister to the point that contact was cut and his parents mediate on his behalf which then led to our mother having to mediate on my sister's behalf as the father's step-father took to simply harassing and bullying her, which the support worker agreed was happening. She has had many different social workers and are all dead losses as most never make the effort to contact or meet my sister and the most recent one met with the father's family first and formed an opinion against my sister without meeting her, which does not give my sister any comfort at all. The father's family is very strategic and it has been obvious from the start that gaining full custody was their endgame. They are very good at putting forward a facade that will gain them favour, they lie and go behind our backs. We try tirelessly to work with them but the communication is just not there. It was agreed with a social worker the father must be supervised at all time when having the baby and the father's step-father assured us he was until found out this was a lie and the father was out unsupervised with the baby at a local park. This distressed my sister and we tried to talk to them about it they would not take our calls or respond to messaged. We ended up having to gain contact via the father's birth dad and step-mum, with whom we are on good terms but the father's birth mum and step-father are not and at every turn try to exclude them or have them taken out of the picture. In regards to the father's birth mum and step-father it was agreed they would have the child every monday, however one monday recently this was not doable as my niece had a routine Doctor's appointment that could not be rescheduled. This was communicated clearly beforehand and they were fine with that but then immediately when behind my sister's back and told the social worker that they were being denied access which wasn't and has never been true. Despite everything she has suffered, my sister has never entertained the idea of denying the father and his family access. However today we learn that they are planning on filing for joint custody which is just one step towards their end game of taking my niece permanently. What is even worse is that the father doesn't even care about whether he gets to see his daughter or not, it is his parents who want her so desperately. The though of joint custody makes us all sick and I know it would destroy my sister who has done nothing but bend over backwards to please everyone. Financially they are in a better s
Meg - 4-Dec-20 @ 1:22 PM
I was living with my partner and two children and took a job 300 miles away meaning I would only be home for weekends, upon me and my partner agreeing I should take the job because of the financial gains, she then ended the relationship. I now live 300 miles away from my sons. Lockdown was good as whilst on furlough I managed to collect them (600 mile round trip) and bring them back to her never asking her for money towards the travel costs and paying full child maintenance. I have done this every month now barring September where my finances were not good. My ex got very cross and has been hell to deal with since. It is arranged I have my sons over Christmas, and I was scheduled to see them last week November, however given lockdown and no where to go barring the outdoors and that is weather dependant, I suggested she bring the children down and stay with her father that weekend who does not live far from me, she will not do this and threatened to take me to court for access to the boys and that she will not allow me to have them at Christmas. She is completely unreasonable and I have no idea of my rights and I just cannot seem to reason rationally with her, its incredibly distressing.
anyhelpappreciated - 20-Nov-20 @ 1:41 PM
Hi Guys, so me and my wife split up two months ago and i have the two boys who stay with each of us for half the month each with us splitting it straight down the middle. Which is fair tho the mother does claim all the benefits for the children and housing allowance as i don't receive child tax credits im not seen as the legal guardian with me receiving word that the ex wife may take my boys out of school and move away come may is there anything i can do?
darren - 11-Nov-20 @ 7:48 PM
My sons mum said she doesn't want my son and doesn't love him or care about him. (Broke my heart) I work full time but currently live with her due to other circumstances. I want to take custody/parental rights but how do when technically I dont have anywhere permanent to live. She's told me she will give him to me but do I need paperwork to prove it or do I have to go court even though she's willing to let me have him. I'm on birth papers as his father. Please help I just want the best for him
Nate - 4-Nov-20 @ 7:14 PM
I was in a relationship with this guy everything was great in the first few months, I have 3 children of my own from previous23, 17 ,7, still married but separated. now my baby is 6 months old, i suspect he want to take him away from me, he ask for his birth certificate, he said he doesn't neet it for anything, but now he want it . I think something is up, any advice please?
Shawna - 28-Oct-20 @ 7:42 PM
My brother has had my child from feb til now October I’ve taken this to court but because of the pandemic it’s took til now to have a hearing my brother has stoped contact with my son and the final hearing is in March next year he’s taking my son out of school he goes to a special education school and is taken advantage thst he’s vunrable by taking him a work with him does my brother have rights to take my child I’m at my wits end he’s using my past and mentle health agent me to try and keep my son he was 14 now 15 surly he has no rights over my sons education this is a intrim order only til March next year he’s also broke my visit rights the last month
Flynny - 20-Oct-20 @ 6:59 PM
I am a father of nine children and I can't cope with them anymore. I feel I can't give them what they need. I think their mother is a good mum and cares for them but might neglect their education. Non attendence at school. I work in the education field myself and don't want to be taken to court for them not going to school as I would lose my job and income. What can I do?
John D - 15-Oct-20 @ 11:09 PM
Hi, I have been my toddlers main carer since she was born, even when living with my husband he did not participate in feeding clothing changing bath time or bed time, on occasion he has left my toddler unsupervised without informing me, now he is asking for joint custody, he has been emotionally abusive throughout our relationship and not shown any affection for his daughter, he wanted a son I am concerned about my daughter's safety and the negative impact moving to a unfamiliar place with somebody who hasn't been involved In her life for 7 months, would I be able to gain sole custody?
Tan - 2-Oct-20 @ 3:22 PM
Hi, my brother has been taking care of my nephew ever since he was born. He is 5 yrs of age now. The mother of the child is now deceased and her sister keep threatening to take the child from my brother saying that he’s not the father. Can she do that? What rights does my brother has been that my nephew has our last name and we want to keep him ?
Bee - 30-Sep-20 @ 2:09 AM
Been with my ex partner 10y r I threw him out after he h. had his hands round my throte he came home after seven months but walked out last week he said it's his right to see my son everyday is this correct? I want him home he said yes soon but I seen on government site about parent logbook for custody if he had a lawyer or started processing would I be made aware of this?i don't want to sit on fence if he is just playing until he gets legal papers Please help me as he has threatened to take my son to London and I won't see him again there's a lot more to this fraud on universal I've reported it but seems he knew what to do in my details ect am so scared of his true intentions I worry for my health as had stroke and fear another due to this Urgent advice needed
Terrified - 21-Sep-20 @ 8:12 PM
My mother and his boyfriend have a child(my little brother) and he always threatens my mom with throwing her out without my little brother. And he always drinks and smokes very much and we wanna go away with my mom and my little brother but we don’t know what to do. Can anyone give us some advice how we can leave and how my mother can get custody for my little brother?
Asd - 14-Sep-20 @ 7:03 PM
I am 24 and my sister is 21. We each have 1 child. Over the last 2 years our mother has become increasingly unfit to look after our 2 younger siblings aged 8 and 11 due to alcohol and drug use so between the two of us we have been looking after them. However she is showing no signs of trying to get herself out of this rut and we think it is in the best interests of the children to come and live either with one of us or for us to share custody of them permanently. The only reason we havent persued this yet is because we would first like some advice incase things went wrong and the children went into foster care (which none of us want) does anyone know what are the best steps we can take so that the children are legally in our care or what would happen if we applied for full custody of them?
Ndw - 8-Sep-20 @ 10:04 PM
Ex partner (female) has custody of 11yo daughter. She has made it difficult to see my daughter since I remarried (haven’t seen her in 4 years). Even though the courts maintain she must co-parent with me, she has alienated me from my child. It has come to my attention that my ex has had a life threatening health issue occur. Since things have been contentious since the beginning of our split, it’s has been impossible to approach things such as wills and after death plans surrounding our daughter and property. From the stories I’ve heard from family members, I am the devil incarnate. I’m concerned about her extended family fighting for custody, not out of concern for my daughter, but out of spite. If something where to happen to her, would I still get custody of our daughter?
LRMcG - 1-Sep-20 @ 10:59 AM
My wife has a daughter (my step daughter) and her father is causing all sorts of problems for us. My wife has full custody of her and he has visitation rights. Now, before my wife met me he paid no attention to his daughter had no contact until my wife met me. I am a US citizen currently living in the US. When my wife first came to the US she asked the father if he could watch her while my wife came to US but he wanted money to do so. Then after my wife and I were together for 2 years doing long distance relations, his daughter stayed at his house and when she came back she said he touched her woowoo (privates) but when my wife told the courts and officers they said it was just a touch not enough to do any charges. She is 7 years old and he didnt need to be touching her because she can use the restroom on her own. I dont know what to do right now because my wife is here in the US with me and our new son who is 8 months and he is lying to the courts in UK and accused my wife of child abduction. I dont know what to do, it seems we are fighting a losing battle and might have to move back to the UK. We need to get full custody and take away visitation rights. Her father also threatened to kill my wife with a knife in front of his daughter and thats one of the first things she told me when she came to the US and told my parents the same thing. Can I get help please.
Joel - 30-Jul-20 @ 1:02 AM
My husbands crazy Ex has said she will be contacting social service as she feels I am an unfit mother and I and holding my husband against his will. Both statements are very untrue. Firstly, my child is perfect and I have no doubt that I am perfectly capable of meeting all his needs. Secondly, my husband is a grown man and can come as go as he pleases. She is jealous and finding anyway possible to make our life hell due to custody disputes between their child. I need advice on what to do next with the situation and what steps the social services will take due to the allegation. Thanks
K - 21-Jul-20 @ 10:26 PM
Hi, my dad was in a relationship with his ex partner and has 3 small kids with her, She only lets him see the kids on her terms, he has a new partner and she will not let the kids to my dads house due to this new partner, she is very abusive emotionally towards my dad making him feel worthless and not good enough. My dad has a voice recording of his youngest daughter aged 4 telling him that her mum hates him and wants him dead. He has screenshots of text messages sent from her telling him she wants him dead and will never be a good enough father. I really want to help him but don’t know what to do, was hoping to get some advice?
Anonymous - 26-May-20 @ 9:18 AM
Hi My son hasn’t had any contact with his fatherin 8 years but he is on the birth certificate. I’m struggling to get a passport and things like that without his consent, but we have no idea where he is to contact him what can I do?
Anonymous - 9-May-20 @ 1:01 PM
My partner is currently going through a divorce with his ex wife they have 3 children together. Since the lockdown has begun she has let him have access then pulled it away at the drop of a hat. Now she has removed herself and the children from the family home with no reason and is refusing my partner to speak to them. This is all because she has just found out he and I are in a relationship. She has even threatened the safety of my child. She has told him she wants full custody of the children for the onlyreason that I am in his life. Can she get away with this?
Emma - 25-Apr-20 @ 8:29 PM
My boyfriend is UK citizen, his nationality and his ex-wife nationality is yemeni. Currently his ex-wife living in Saudi. 1. Can he ask to government to let his ex-wife to stay in uk, so that their son can stay closed with both of them? 2. Is it true, if the father want to met his son he must ask for ex-wife permition first? His son now is 8 yo.. 3. In what age the son free from his mom custody?? 4. If the divorce man (UK Citizen) wanna get marry with a new girl (non UK Citizen) is it the procedure is different with if he is get married again with his ex-wife (non UK Citizen)??
muti - 25-Apr-20 @ 4:32 AM
Hello there My name ken I have a 2 year old son I'm currently going through a separation due to my wife mates bullying and assaulting me in fornt of my son the police have told them to stay away from me and my son. I'm contacting you so I can get a form or something for my wife to sign saying she won't let them contact him so he safe there not family just her friends. And the other thing is I have my son full time as my wife can't cope with him and she wants me to have him full time is there away she can sign a form to say that I'm the main parent? Just want to protect my son if you can help would be grateful. Kind regards k.Round
Kenneth Round - 11-Apr-20 @ 10:27 AM
Parents often forget that a child has two parents. A child is entitled to all the love they can possibly get.No one parent has rights over another unless one of the parents is unfit.Grandparents also enrich a child's life.It is healthier to put aside squabbling and think of the life they created.Of course, it is wrong for a child be be mistreated by anyone.Anyone. It took two people to make a child.Whether you get along anymore, it is better to put aside your differences and try to give the child what it needs. This also means not to go out of your way to provoke the other parent.And it means that you have to treat the child well, not just stick it in front of the telly and never share anything with it. A child is not a trophy.
Kat - 26-Mar-20 @ 4:56 PM
Hi, I am a single mum of 2 children aged 7 and 9. They have been going to see their dad regularly every weekend although I had to stop them sleeping over when every time my son aged 7 kept kicking off that he didn’t want to go and would run and hide. It got so stressful that I asked the dad if he could just take them the Sunday so they wouldn’t have to sleep over. This was fine until recently when my son got invited to tennis lessons which were in a Sunday. I asked the dad if he could take him and he said he would only take him if they started sleeping over again. I felt that I didn’t have a choice as my son really wanted the tennis lessons so I agreed but on alternate weeks only. My son is starting to kick off again that he doesn’t want to go. He says the reason is because all t y do is sit and watch tv and if they talk they are told to be quiet the whole time. His dad freely swears and shouts at them both which is another reason I feel my son doesn’t like going round there. If I ask the dad to stop swearing and to do more things with the kids he just does exact opposite as of to spite me. I am now thinking about stopping the kids from going around there at all as both of them have voiced concerns to me which doesn’t sound right but I don’t want the kids to go through an ordeal of a court order where they may be forced to go see their dad. Can anyone please advise how I should handle this? Many thanks
Question - 13-Jan-20 @ 11:00 AM
My relationship with my wife has been strained for a good number of months now perhaps even over a year I'm not apportioning any blame I feel its just a difference of opinions and we rushed into marriage etc we have a child together who is at nursery, I moved in with her in a house that she was already living in. She also has a son from a previous relationship who I have brought up since before he was 1 my worry is if we do split up my family and support network are all over on the opposite side of the city so I don't know how I would get my daughter to and from nursery as well as getting to my own work, how is residincy decided and would I be expected to take her to nursery on the days I have her or could I arrange an alternative child care solution and what would happen when the time comes for her to go to school how would a school be chosen do the parents mutually decide or are living arrangements what dictate it? I love my stepson as well but I take it I wouldn't have any rights to see him? I don't care about how much child support I have to pay or any of the rest of it I just want to spend as much time as possible with my girl as she is my whole world and if possible I would still like to see my stepson as I love him dearly too.
Andy - 21-Oct-19 @ 2:40 PM
My relationship with my wife has been strained for a good number of months now perhaps even over a year I'm not apportioning any blame I feel its just a difference of opinions and we rushed into marriage etc we have a child together who is at nursery, I moved in with her in a house that she was already living in. She also has a son from a previous relationship who I have brought up since before he was 1 my worry is if we do split up my family and support network are all over on the opposite side of the city so I don't know how I would get my daughter to and from nursery as well as getting to my own work, how is residincy decided and would I be expected to take her to nursery on the days I have her or could I arrange an alternative child care solution and what would happen when the time comes for her to go to school how would a school be chosen do the parents mutually decide or are living arrangements what dictate it? I love my stepson as well but I take it I wouldn't have any rights to see him? I don't care about how much child support I have to pay or any of the rest of it I just want to spend as much time as possible with my girl as she is my whole world and if possible I would still like to see my stepson as I love him dearly too.
Andy - 21-Oct-19 @ 2:40 PM
I am married and have 2 boys both under the age of 2. My husband is not legal in the UK (he doesn't have a British passport. He has a Bangladeshi passport) but has been in this country for nearly 10years with all the right paperwork. He's not allowed to work or anything. We are having trouble in our marriage and it's not getting any better. I want to divorce him. I just wanted to know that if I do get a divorce then will I get permanent custody of both my boys or will he get the right aswell, because he's not allowed to work so he won't be abe to support any of them.
EssKay - 25-Aug-19 @ 10:48 PM
I have a 3month old son and my ex has recently threatened to come to the house and take him as he thinks I won't be able to do anything I've contacted the police and made them aware but I'm scared to let him have him alone in fear he will refuse to give him back but he keeps pushing me to let him do it, he hasn't changed a nappy and has fed him 3times I give him two days a week to come down and see him as there his days off but he's starting to become unreasonable and making different threats each time he doesn't get his own way, he's on the birth certificate and I have no clue what to do. Can anyone give me any advice or have been through this as it would be a major help, I'm struggling to eat and sleep everytime I'm alone in the house I have to keep all my doors locked and if I go out I'm constantly looking over my shoulder in fear he's going to be there.
... 13 - 2-Jul-19 @ 12:55 AM
My husband and I are going through really hard times. All drama aside, I am in the UK on a marriage visa. If him and I divorce, and I go back to america, I'm afraid for what will happen to our son. There is no way I could ever leave him behind. Has anyone gone through this or know what can be done so I can take our son to America with me?
Quinny - 29-Jun-19 @ 4:35 PM
My partner and I live in Australia and his ex lives in the UK with both of their children. He left the relationship when his first child was 2 and his ex was pregnant with their 2nd child. He was denied access to see the kids and didn't get to see his 2nd child be born. He ended up having to leave the UK and it has now been over 4 years since he has seen his first child and last contact with the ex was 2 years ago. He is now going to make contact again with the ex to see if she will allow him to be part of their lives but if she doesn't then what issues is he facing? Given he hasn't been able to be part of their lives would the courts be against him? Also if given access would he be allowed to have them visit abroad sometimes?
Happy - 25-Jun-19 @ 4:05 AM
I’m a full time mum of a 19 month old little boy. The relationship between me and his father has been broken for over a year. He is on the birth certificate. We used to have a really good schedule arrangement when it came to him seeing his son on the weekend, sticking to pick up/drop off times. Recently he entered in a new relationship with a younger girl who he met in March may I add, and I’ve tried to negotiate with him about boundaries and the welfare our our son with meeting new people as he’s still rather young. I feel uncomfortable that he’s gone behind my back numerous of times and introduced this girl to my son without consulting me first. And now recently she’s been present when he picks up his son outside my house which I do not feel comfortable nor agree with. This has caused many arguments between us both and I need some advice on how to go about this correctly and maturely for the sake of my son as I suffer with depression & can get seriously ill due to stress. Thanks!
JayJay - 15-Jun-19 @ 3:12 PM
Hey I have a 7 months old baby boy. That I can’t get to have on my own. His mother wouldn’t let me take him for couple hours in the week. It’s very frustrating cause I can’t get to see my son. The only way I can see him is if I go around her house which is always packed with people family and not family. So I feel I can’t bond with him properly. What can I do
Shawn - 3-Jun-19 @ 1:18 PM
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