How to Deal with Child Custody in Divorce

Maya Bhatiani Divorce and Family Law Solicitor
Author:
Maya Bhatiani
Senior Associate Solicitor, Family Law and Divorce
Date:
13/01/2020

Any parent getting a divorce is going to find that navigating childcare issues can be difficult and uncertain.

Nevertheless, making sure you have the right arrangements in place for your children is essential and can be achieved through mediation, negotiating through a Family Solicitor, or by going through the Courts.

Child Custody Law

Lots of people talk about child custody, but there is no such thing as child custody any more in English Law, and hasn’t been for more than 30 years!

What people mean when they talk about “custody” can be two different, but important, things:

  • What the arrangements are for the child’s care, how he or she will divide their time between their parents (this is known as Child Arrangements);
  • Decision making – having the right to information and to have a say on important issues in the child’s upbringing (this is known as parental responsibility)

From the child’s perspective, joint custody usually works out best, as the child can spend an equal amount of time with both parents. This also helps when making key decisions in the child’s life.

If neither of you can agree on child arrangements, then you should try Mediation before taking matters through the Court. 

To help you reach an amicable solution and resolve your disputes, our specialist Family Law Solicitors can recommend and help you gain access to Mediation services.

For initial advice get in touch with our Child Law Solicitors today.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

Putting Children’s Interests First

Children can be deeply affected by divorce or separation, and they can develop feelings of sadness, anxiety and anger. They can feel as though the divorce is their fault and can be unsure whether the separation is temporary or permanent.

It is important that as parents, you try to minimize the amount of conflict between you and try to support each other. A parenting plan is useful in this instance, and the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) can help put a plan in place.

They will make sure that the child’s voice is heard so any decisions made are in the child’s best interests.

Making Child Arrangements in Divorce

Sorting out child living arrangements can lead to an emotionally charged situation, and coming to an agreement can be problematic.

You and your partner can avoid going through a difficult Court process if you can both agree on certain arrangements for your child. These would include:

  • Where the child lives
  • How much time they will spend with each parent (including holiday time)
  • How you’ll financially support your children
  • How and where they should go to school
  • How any issues relating to their health should be addressed

This is best done through a process known as Mediation, and one of our Family Solicitors can be present if you wish to make the agreement legally binding. At the same time, you can also agree on child maintenance, but this can also be done separately.

Child Arrangement Order

If you still can't come to an agreement with your ex after Mediation, a Child Arrangement Order is an application to the Court for a Judge to make a decision about anything you disagree on, such as where the child lives and when your child spends time with each parent.

It is important to note that you must attend Mediation before you apply to get a Child Arrangement Order.

The Child Arrangement Order will stay in place until the child is 18 (or until a date specified by the Court). If a Child Arrangement Order regulates the amount of contact you are allowed with your child, then this lasts until the child is 16 years old.

Our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors can also help enforce a Child Arrangement Order if the child's other parent has broken your agreements or if you're struggling with a Child Arrangement Order dispute.

Important Things to Consider

When trying to decide where your children will live, you should consider:

  • Who has the most time to look after the children and spend time with them?
  • Is where you want them to live going to be convenient for them?
  • How will their preferences change over time?
  • What if they start at a new school, which means they have to travel long distances?
  • How will you stay in touch if your children do not live with you?

How Simpson Millar Can Help You

Our national team of Family Law and Divorce Solicitors offer a wide range of legal services to help you and your children.

We can provide legal advice on childcare disputes and negotiate agreements such as Child Arrangement Orders and parental responsibility.

We understand that emotions can run high, and divorce or separation can be confusing, especially for the children involved. We want to act in their best interests and we will do all we can to avoid any unnecessary conflict and try to reach the best outcome for you and your children.

We will always handle each case with the sensitivity it deserves and tailor our service to your needs. We will speak to you without using legal jargon and we're always transparent when it comes to our fees.

For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors

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