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Child Custody Rights

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 3 Dec 2016 | 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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My child father has three kids inc my child for three different women. I have seeked advice from CSA, this only works in favour if your child father is working. As he is illegally claiming benefits, they can only take £7 weekly from him as payment. CSA advised me to speak to benefit fraud, this is only way I could claim my FULL amont of money I am actually intilted to as he does work. I want to make a claim for sole custody as he has a very poor lifestyle and does not provide either finical or physical support. What would the success rate be in terms of me getting financial support along with child care as I myself work 45 hours per week.
Emma123 - 3-Dec-16 @ 9:17 PM
Hi, I will be in court Monday 5th December to try and have full custody of my child to come and live with just me. It has come to this because me and my partner don't get on so this is the best way however my partners grandparents are trying there hardest to stop this happening and want to put whatever they can in place for them to have a special guardianship and for my son to live with them permanently. Would anything go against me in court stopping my son from living with me. I have a place on my own and I have support from my family and friends. Please answer as this is very important to me. I'm scared of what might happen. Thanks emma.
Emma - 2-Dec-16 @ 1:22 PM
Nomaki - Your Question:
Hi, my partner has a child with an ex who he hasnt seen flr almost 2 years as the ex got a mew partner and he has drummed so much into her head. theyve accused my partner of raping his own daughter and then of raping the mother he was arrested and there was no evidence and the case was dropped her partner harrases my partner on numerous fake social media accounts they threaten him they slread rumours in our small community that he is a rapist and hiv positive they keep him from seeing his daughter which he worries about so much because the man she is with is mentally unstable and violent she is also mentally unstable they have now turnt into pasteurs who preach and have apparently been appointed to judge others they make videos online swearing shouting and saying all sorts lf things with the poor little girl in the vehicle the old man forces her to call him daddy and she is not even aloud to see her biological paternal or even maternal family he has isolated her from her family and she calla it love they have a limited amount of friends and have been disallowed to many cultural events because they have tarnishes the names of so many people online my partner wants to get full.custody of his.daughter as he fears she is in awesome danger is there any chance after all the mothers allegations that he could get full custody so she can live with us and her 2 younger siblings? Do we have to go through court or social services

Our Response:
I'm afraid it would have to go through court if he legally wanted to fight for custody of his child. However, it is very rare the courts will hand a child over from one parent to another without very good reason. Therefore, taking legal advice would be needed here.
ChildSupportLaws - 2-Dec-16 @ 10:43 AM
Jemma- Your Question:
Hi I am a Filipino and just arrived here in UK 4 mos ago. I want to separate my husband and go back to Philippines but he won't buy me ticket.and he wants me to go without our son. I' don't want to go without my son. what's the best thing to do.?

Our Response:
You would have to apply through the courts to see whether the court would allow you to take your son with you, if you leave with your son and without your husband's permission you could be charged with abduction. If you cannot afford the legal fees of taking the matter to court, you can represent yourself, please see link here. If you can, I suggest you also seek legal advice. I hope this helps.
ChildSupportLaws - 1-Dec-16 @ 2:45 PM
Hi, my partner has a child with an ex who he hasnt seen flr almost 2 years as the ex got a mew partner and he has drummed so much into her head.. theyve accused my partner of raping his own daughter and then of raping the mother he was arrested and there was no evidence and the case was dropped her partner harrases my partner on numerous fake social media accounts they threaten him they slread rumours in our small community that he is a rapist and hiv positive they keep him from seeing his daughter which he worries about so much because the man she is with is mentally unstable and violent she is also mentally unstable they have now turnt into pasteurs who preach and have apparently been appointed to judge others they make videos online swearing shouting and saying all sorts lf things with the poor little girl in the vehicle the old man forces her to call him daddy and she is not even aloud to see her biological paternal or even maternal family he has isolated her from her family and she calla it love they have a limited amount of friends and have been disallowed to many cultural events because they have tarnishes the names of so many people online my partner wants to get full.custody of his.daughter as he fears she is in awesome danger is there any chance after all the mothers allegations that he could get full custody so she can live with us and her 2 younger siblings? Do we have to go through court or social services
Nomaki - 1-Dec-16 @ 2:24 PM
Hi I am a Filipino and just arrived here in UK 4 mos ago.. I want to separate my husband and go back to Philippines but he won't buy me ticket .and he wants me to go without our son.. I'don't want to go without my son.. what's the best thing to do.?.
Jemma - 26-Nov-16 @ 12:55 PM
I have a 15 month old daughter with an ex of mine and she has started seing a new guy 6 weeks after we split she's making it really hard for me to see our daughter now and I'm worried about this new relationship she's in and my daughter to can i getell full custody of our daughter if anyone knows anything would be helpfull
spanner - 24-Nov-16 @ 12:51 AM
Hi I have a 6 year old daughter and I am due to attend a contested custody hearjng next week. I applied for a court order as my ex husband refuses to change the custody arrangement unless it suits him. I currently have our daughter Saturday afternoon to Thursday morning. I'm requesting that custody is changed so We can both have a full weekend each every other week with our daughter but mid week remaining the same. My ex is verbally abusive to me in front of my daughter and I want yo limit the handovers and limit asking permission every time I want a full weekend Roth my daughter which is usually refused by my ex Do you think I have a good chance of the court ruling in my favour?
Jane - 23-Nov-16 @ 3:21 PM
Hi I have a 11monthes daughter from English girl we were not married to get rid of me because we could not live together she accused me that I raped her so she can have the baby for her self I am on bail till next two integers and she does not let me see my baby at all because she is very weak person infront if her monster mam and it is about 5monyhes I did not see my baby went to solicitor they asked to settle the case and do their job will demand about 3000 pounds I so not have that much so I decided to go directly to court what chances I have to win the case and see my daughter as 50/50 with her mam thanks for any help
Gino - 22-Nov-16 @ 1:55 AM
Hiya folks, Without waffling on too much, I have a 7 year old daughter who i see every other weekend. Both myself and my daughter have expressed that we want to spend more time together, but it's always one excuse after another from her mother. Recently my daughter had a session with the school councillor due to minor issues. The councillor said to my ex wife that our daughter doesn't spend enough time with me. Everytime I broach the subject or when we've arranged something in the past, it never lasts. All I want is to spend time with my daughter, which as advised will be beneficial for us. Yet everytime I bring the subject.up, I'm stonewalled or it only lasts a few weeks. My daughter is also getting fobbed off. She keeps getting numerous excuses or told 'when she's older'. I offer to do all the running around, the picking up and dropping off, yet there are always excuses. What are my options here? I don't want to cause any upsets or take my daughter away from her mom. I just want to spend time with my daughter when possible.
Dh73 - 21-Nov-16 @ 8:36 PM
My son went to court in 2012 over custody of his 4 year old son. He was granted residency and he mothers access to child one day a week. In reality, she rarely saw the child. The mother had another child and that child's welfare was called into question. As a result, she was only allowed access to both children via supervised visits. This has contininued to date. She is now got legal aid to get a solicitor to call into question the first child's welfare. My son has received a solicitors letter stating that he cannot move house without checking with them other first and that they want confirmation of the after school arrangements for the child. My son cannot afford solicitors fees. The mother is on benefits so can easily do this. Please advise
Gwalia - 19-Nov-16 @ 2:21 PM
Anna - Your Question:
Me and my ex-partner have twins, 5 months old. He have been cheating on me and lying for a long time. So im trying to move out of the house and back home to norway.I am originally from Norway and want to move back, have all my support there and nothing here.How can I move back with my kids? Do I need sole custody if the dad says no?We are not married and he is on the birth certificate. Kids are registered both countries but born in the UK.Thank you

Our Response:
If your ex is registered on the birth certificate, then you would need to ask for his consent as he has parental responsibility. If you move abroad without his consent, you can be charged with abduction. The correct procedure is to apply to the courts and there is a fair chance you will be given permission. However, you may wish to seek legal advice regarding what you should do if your ex objects.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Nov-16 @ 1:54 PM
Me and my ex-partner have twins, 5 months old. He have been cheating on me and lying for a long time. So im trying to move out of the house and back home to norway. I am originally from Norway and want to move back, have all my support there and nothing here. How can i move back with my kids? Do i need sole custody if the dad says no? We are not married and he is on the birth certificate. Kids are registered both countries but born in the UK. Thank you
Anna - 18-Nov-16 @ 1:13 AM
JTarr - Your Question:
When my partner and I separated we agreed a 50/50 custody arrangement. the relationship has since become very hostile and him and his partner have now become abusive. I have applied through the court to change the arrangement to only allow him every other weekend access. What are the chances of him keeping the 50/50 custody?

Our Response:
We cannot possibly predict what a court may decide. It will always decide what it thinks is in the best interests of your child, and will generally adhere to the recommendations of the Cafcass report (if there is one).
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Nov-16 @ 1:46 PM
when my partner and I separated we agreed a 50/50 custody arrangement. the relationship has since become very hostile and him and his partner have now become abusive. I have applied through the court to change the arrangement to only allow him every other weekend access. What are the chances of him keeping the 50/50 custody?
JTarr - 15-Nov-16 @ 9:45 PM
Luke - Your Question:
I am a single dad living in the UK. I originally moved here from Portugal with my ex-partner (my son's mother) 13 years ago. My son was born in the UK. My son's mother made the decision to move back to Portugal 3 months ago, leaving our son in my care. I am concerned that she may return and demand our son lives with her, even though she consensually left him to live with me while she pursues a new life abroad with her boyfriend. If there anyway, considering mum no longer lives in the country and decided to leave her son behind, or me to have sole-residency of my son. I'm very confused and have no understanding of where things stand legally.

Our Response:
You can apply for a child arrangement order, please see link here. You do not have to give your son back to your ex if she demends it, but it might be worthwhile applying for the order to give you peace of mind. You may wish to seek some legal advice in order to explore your options.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Nov-16 @ 12:09 PM
I am a single dad living in the UK. I originally moved here from Portugal with my ex-partner (my son's mother) 13 years ago. My son was born in the UK. My son's mother made the decision to move back to Portugal 3 months ago, leaving our son in my care. I am concerned that she may return and demand our son lives with her, even though she consensually left him to live with me while she pursues a new life abroad with her boyfriend. If there anyway, considering mum no longer lives in the country and decided to leave her son behind, or me to have sole-residency of my son. I'm very confused and have no understanding of where things stand legally.
Luke - 14-Nov-16 @ 7:33 PM
Tam76 - Your Question:
I have 2 step children age 11&12 and their mother doesn't care they come in 2 small clothes , she doesn't spend anytime with them during the week one of them is on medication for renal failure and bladder reflux she doesn't make sure he drinks or check his medication they come to us in a Friday dirty and smelly With no lunch boxes or drink bottles shoes with holes in we provide all we can for them but they never come in what we have provided , my husband the children's father is at his wits end and so am I , we would like the children full time , how would we stand with getting them full time ?

Our Response:
We cannot say what a court may decide. If there is actual 'neglect' please see NSPCC link here (which sums up what constitutes neglect), then a court may award residency to the other parent. However, unless absolutely necessary a court will not remove children from the care of one parent and hand the care over to the other. You have not said where the children would prefer to live, as now they are age 11 and 12, there opinions would be considered in court. Therefore, I can only suggest you seek legal advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Nov-16 @ 3:03 PM
I have 2 step children age 11&12 and their mother doesn't care they come in 2 small clothes , she doesn't spend anytime with them during the week one of them is on medication for renal failure and bladder reflux she doesn't make sure he drinks or check his medication they come to us in a Friday dirty and smelly With no lunch boxes or drink bottles shoes with holes in we provide all we can for them but they never come in what we have provided , my husband the children's father is at his wits end and so am I , we would like the children full time , how would we stand with getting them full time ?
Tam76 - 14-Nov-16 @ 12:01 PM
currently in a custody battle. Separated 2 years ago, ex partners battle with drug problems and slight personality disorder also drug induced psychosis, had 2 overdoses in the last 2 years, once when he was taking care of our son, so he had to have supervised visits on and off, but then he didn't turn up In February to collect our 4 year old son and then made no effort to arrange to see him since then, until now where he applied to the courts, cafcass is currently drawing up a report, and went to visit my son at school today. They said to me that probs in the future there will be supervised vitsits with a family member that my son knows to reintroduce him to his dad (I volunteered my mum) but the dad is saying that he won't do it with my mum because he doesn't get "along" with her and suggested my sister, she doesn't want to do it and I don't want to get her involved. I'm just wondering how the courts and cafcass can overlook all of this?
cecelia - 14-Nov-16 @ 11:18 AM
Just one point I did not mention clearly. I am Not living with my partner for nearly 7 months now. I have always supported my child through benefit and sometimes my family support me financially. My partner always worked cash in hand but saved for himself.The incidents have been reported to the police therefore, I was removed from my place and placed in a refuge. Please advised me on how to stop him completely to have access Ronny child. Also if I can remove his details from child birth certificate
Yusuf - 12-Nov-16 @ 10:41 PM
My Marraige with my partner is under civil marraige. I have been suffering from sever dominating abuse. I have a child from him but he never consider my child as his son. Later on I found out that he is illegal and he is using and abusing me. As I was under threat from him if I did not make an application for leave to remain based on family live he would harm my child. Anyway, as the domistic violence was high the police removed me and I'm somewhere that my husband doesn't know. As his case for leave to remain in the U.K. Is refused. Now he is threatening me to allow him to see my child or take me to court. I never want him to see my child for even a min because he never contribute or take responsibility of the home or child. Even if my child cries at night he screames at my 1 month old child saying wish you death because you're disturbing my sleep. Now because his case refused and remembered to use my child to stay in the country. Do I have the right to stop him to have access to my child. Every time he was beating me while my child was in my arm. Now my child is 8 months and we are living in a refuge. He is extremely violence and aggressive. I don't want my son be with him at all because It will effect him upbringing. But his name is on child certificate. Is it possible to remove his details from child certificate? I am desperately need help and advice.
Yusuf - 12-Nov-16 @ 10:33 PM
Myself and partner have 3 children. He is only on the youngest child birth certificate. He is not a very nice man he doesnt work and doesnt contribute to a single thing. He doesnt help with school runs in a morning he says why should he get out of bed. I work full time and provide everything.. he constantly puts me down and calls me upsetting names. My 2 older children really dont have a bond at all. He says if he leaves hes taking my son and i wont see him again as he has rights as hes on birth certificate. I feel trapped i just get on with life so he doesnt take my boy. His family are pure poison we have had nothing to do with them for 5 years now my youngest doesnt know who they r. But he would takw him straight there. What can i do
Emma - 11-Nov-16 @ 12:02 PM
I split up with the father of my child as he is not a good father. He cannot cope with his baby daughter and just leaves her screaming. He verbaly abuses me all the time and does not pay for his child. Only wants to see her if his pearents want to see her. Is a useless father and he knows it as he said himself he cannot cope. He always verbaly abuses me infront of our daughter and also can get angry. What rights do i have on making sure that he cannot claim joint custody as im scared my daughter will be neglected as he cannot be bothered to tend to her needs he doesnt show up for visits only when his family want to see her. Dontwant my daughter staying with him overnight as he will not look after her as ive left him alone with her and he just lets her scream and wont even talk to her. Please can i have some advice as he threatens to take her off me and he is not a fit pearent!
Clairesxz - 10-Nov-16 @ 9:22 PM
Pedro - Your Question:
My Thai partner is currently having trouble with her ex husband who is not letting her talk to their son.they have divorced and she now lives back in Thailand whilst the son (six years old) lives in the uk with his father. She would call every weekend and talk to her son but about 4 months ago her ex husband stopped answering her calls and now has blocked her number. She has tried asking his other family members if they can talk to him and get him to take her calls so she can talk to her son but he still does not answer.Not really sure what to do. Any suggestions

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. I'm afraid the only recourse your partner has is to take the matter to court to request contact. However, the cost of taking the matter to an international court would be expensive. I can only suggest she seeks legal advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Nov-16 @ 2:20 PM
My Thai partner is currently having trouble with her ex husband who is not letting her talk to their son. they have divorced and she now lives back in Thailand whilst the son (six years old) lives in the uk with his father. She would call every weekend and talk to her son but about 4 months ago her ex husband stopped answering her calls and now has blocked her number. She has tried asking his other family members if they can talk to him and get him to take her calls so she can talk to her son but he still does not answer. Not really sure what to do. Any suggestions
Pedro - 8-Nov-16 @ 10:39 AM
Eth275 - Your Question:
Hi, I have seperated from my partner and she is threatening to challenge for sole custody. I have been in my current employment since Feb 2016 and have support myself, my ex parnter and our child for 3 years. Our Daughter is now 2 and I am concerned she will try to take her away from me. I can provide proof that our daughter is well looked after cared for and is in a loving home when she is with me, and I am worried about my ex parners mental state as she has started to act irrationally and aggressive towards me when our daughter is either in my care or hers. I feel as though she is trying to use our child as a weapon to hurt me, when not actually having her best interests at heart. We have a parental agreement of the days/times we spend with her. How do I go about making this agreement legal binding and something she needs to stick too?

Our Response:
I'm a bit confused over who your child is living with, making it difficult to answer your question. However, if your child is living with you and you are the resident parent, then it is very unusual a court would remove a child from your care unless absolutely necessary. If your child is not living with you and you have shared care, then if your ex tries to deny access, you would have to suggest mediation or take the matter to court. You may also wish to seek legal advice to see whether it is worth taking the matter to court to apply for a child arrangement order, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Nov-16 @ 10:19 AM
Hi, I have seperated from my partner and she is threatening to challenge for sole custody. I have been in my current employment since Feb 2016 and have support myself, my ex parnter and our child for 3 years. Our Daughter is now 2 and I am concerned she will try to take her away from me. I can provide proof that our daughter is well looked after cared for and is in a loving home when she is with me, and I am worried about my ex parners mental state as she has started to act irrationally and aggressive towards me when our daughter is either in my care or hers. I feel as though she is trying to use our child as a weapon to hurt me, when not actually having her best interests at heart. We have a parental agreement of the days/times we spend with her. How do I go about making this agreement legal binding and something she needs to stick too?
Eth275 - 7-Nov-16 @ 10:03 AM
I am currently getting divorced and have a 13 year old daughter. Can my ex stop me moving back to my home city where I have family to support me until my child is 18?
Cathy - 5-Nov-16 @ 8:30 AM
Tashs - Your Question:
Me and my partner recently split up and he is trying to get my two young children friday to sunday every weekend so that would mean I had no quality time witj my children as the week is school home tea then bed I have suggested 1 night and one full day a weekend so we both get quality time and he can see them every week night for 2hrs before bed.will the courts agree with me or him on this matter as im terrified I wont see my kids

Our Response:
This seems a reasonable suggestion and one that the courts will consider (many courts will opt for every other weekend access to give both parents weekend time with the kids). You have nothing to worry about with regards to not seeing your kids - a court will not remove them from you. If the court sees you are being fair with regards to access, it is more than likely to agree with your proposal.
ChildSupportLaws - 4-Nov-16 @ 12:47 PM
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