How to Deal with Child Custody in Divorce

Maya Bhatiani Divorce and Family Law Solicitor
Maya Bhatiani
Senior Associate Solicitor, Family Law and Divorce

Any parent getting a divorce is going to find that navigating child custody 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

Child custody law in England and Wales decides who should be responsible for the care of a child after a divorce or separation, and also where the child will live.

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 custody, then you are required to enter into a process called Mediation before taking matters through the Court. 

To help you reach an amicable solution towards resolving your child custody dispute, our specialist Family Solicitors can recommend and help you gain access to Mediation services.

For initial advice get in touch with our Divorce Solicitors.

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 ensure 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 are both able to 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 Divorce 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 Mediation fails and you still cannot come to an agreement with your ex, 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 the Court 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 assist with enforcing a Child Arrangement Order or 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 child custody disputes and negotiate agreements such as Child Arrangement Orders, Parental Responsibility and Court Orders.

We understand that emotions can run high, and the divorce process 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 and circumstances. We will speak to you without using legal jargon and we will always be completely open and transparent when it comes to our fees.

For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors

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