Child Custody and Visitation
It’s natural to worry about child custody arrangements for divorcing couples. Responsibility for the care of the child is determined by child custody law in the UK. In most cases, custody is granted to the mother, while the father gets contact rights. Contact here in legal terms means visiting, staying overnight with your child, supervised contact or indirect contact through phones, emails, cards, etc.
However, if one of the partners poses a threat to the welfare of the child, they will not be given custody of the child or allowed any contact following the divorce.
Statement of Arrangements for Children
If you’re filing for divorce and have children with your spouse, as the petitioner, you must simultaneously file for a “Statement of Arrangements for Children” too.
The respondent may or may not sign this statement depending on the situation of your divorce. This particular form provides the court with basic information regarding the child – their name, age, school(s), current residence, caregivers and more.
Generally, in the UK, parents arrange their children’s custody by themselves without the involvement of the court. The court is involved in unusual circumstances such as an abusive parent or if circumstances clash with the child’s best interest.
What Is Parental Responsibility
In legal terms, Parental responsibility refers to the person who provides and protects the child and looks after their wellbeing. All mothers have parental responsibility. Fathers do too, but only when they are named on the birth certificate or are married to the child’s mother.
If one parent has parental responsibility, it does not mean the child will live with them or have the right to contact them. Regardless, the child’s welfare, health and living arrangements are provided regularly by the other parent.
As long as a parent has parental responsibility, they are involved in making decisions on behalf of their child’s welfare. Royce Legal Solicitors ensure your parental rights are protected and provide a fair and even playing field for both parties.
Custody is now legally referred to as “residency” in the UK. The term entails the child’s chief residence after the divorce.
Factors Determining Residency
Some universal standards determine custody and visitation rights based on the child’s “best interests”. These factors fall into four categories:
- Each parent’s history and role as a parent in nurturing the child since birth.
- Each parents financial circumstances and future scenario.
- Each parent’s personality and behavioural characteristics.
- The child’s preference (concerning which parent they wish to reside with).
Shared residency is also known as joint custody or shared parenting. A shared residency allows the child to divide their time between each parent equally. The shared residency also allows parents to have equal involvement in making decisions for the child.
The decision for joint residency is taken by the court, if the parents are unable to agree. Shared residency is very uncommon in the UK.
What is a Contact Order?
A standard court order is very different from joint residency. It allows one parent the majority of the child’s responsibility. The other parent (in most cases the father) is allowed contact with their child/children on selected weekdays or weekends and sometimes under supervision.
Royce Legal Family Law Services
If you require help and assistance for child custody, contact Royce Legal today. Our divorce solicitors are experienced in child maintenance and custody issues. We also offer mediation services to help meet your specific situation.