Custody of children
Disputes regarding custody of children during divorce or family breakdown can often be difficult to resolve. In the best interests of the children, professional advice at an early stage is highly recommended. Our family law experts Sarah Jordan and David Williams can advise and represent you for disputes between family members relating to custody of children. We make sure we fully understand your circumstances and situation with care and sensitivity. We will also explain the options available to you in settling disputes over children including, contact (visitation), residence ( custody ), change of name, child support, schooling issues and parental responsibility.
How can we help resolve custody of children disputes?
The starting assumpton in a dispute relating to the custody of children, or contact (visitation), is that the court will not make an order unless it is necessary. The court will only make an order if it will be better for the child to make the order, than not to do so.
Sometimes, when a relationship breaks down communication becomes difficult. You might find that mediation, solicitor – solicitor negotiation, or collaborative law might help you and your partner to discuss the issues and reach an agreement without stressful and expensive court proceedings. An application to the court is usually seen as a last resort.
What can the court order?
If any dispute cannot be resolved by alternative forms of dispute resolution, an application can be made to the court for an order under the Children Act 1989. This Act is child centred and the emphasis in English law is on the rights of children and parental responsibilities. The paramount concern for the court is the welfare of the children.
- Residence order
This states who the children will live with, and the court can make a shared residence order which will mean that both parents have an order. Residence used to be referred to as custody, so when we refer to sole or shared residence we are referring to sole custody of children or shared custody.
- Contact Order
This will set out the type and frequency of contact. A child has a right to a relationship with both parents, and sometimes an order is needed to ensure a child gets to exercise that right. Contact was previously known as visitation.
- Parental Responsibility Order
All married parents share parental responsibility until their children reach 18. Parents do not lose parental responsibility if they divorce. Unmarried fathers can acquire parental responsibility by having their names on the child’s birth certificate, or by making a parental responsibility agreement with the child’s mother or by order of the court.
- Prohibited Steps Order
This order limits the exercise of certain parental rights and obligations e.g preventing a parent from seeing a child.
- Specific Issue Order
This order contains a direction(s) in respect of a particular issue in dispute such as where a child will go to school, or perhaps whether a parent can relocate or take a child out of the country.
If you need assistance or advice in relation to the custody of children, contact, or any other children issues please contact our expert family solicitors David Williams and Sarah Jordan for a free initial consultation.