Child Custody Rights

UK child custody law determines who should be responsible for the care and charge of a child, following divorce or separation.

What are child custody rights?

The terms ‘custody’ ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ have been replaced with the terms ‘Child arrangements’. Child Arrangements means where a child lives and what time they spend with a parent or other family member other than at their residence. Child arrangements can be flexible to suit the needs of the child.

Divorce and child custody

When a child is born the mother will have Parental Responsibility. The Father will also often have Parental Responsibility automatically. Click here for further information on parental rights . Having Parental Responsibility does not provide a right to have a child live with you. Making child arrangements is not part of a divorce in the UK so it’s important to put arrangements in place.

Making child arrangements if you divorce or separate

Parents should try to decide together where the child will live and how often the non-resident parent should have contact with the child. If parents can decide between themselves then there is no need to take the matter through the court to formalise arrangements. More information can be found by here

Arranging contact with your child / children

There is no automatic parental right for contact with children. Contact is the right of a child, not the parent. If the parents are unable to agree arrangements, the family courts can determine these for you as part of the Child Arrangements Order. All decisions made by the Court are based on the welfare of the child. There is a presumption in law that a child will have a relationship with both parents.

A Child Arrangements Order is a court order which details the living and contact arrangements for the child(ren).

A child arrangements order will set out (a) who the child will live with, and when (b) who the child will spend time, or otherwise have contact with, and when. Ultimately, the welfare of the child is the priority of the court. The court will consider a number of factors when making any decisions, including, where appropriate, the wishes and feelings of the child.

If the child lives with one parent, the court can order when the child is to spend time with or have contact with the other parent. 

When to use a solicitor

If parents cannot agree on where the child shall live there are three options available:

  • Family mediation may help them to reach agreement.
  • They can ask solicitors to help reach an agreement.
  • If reaching an agreement is unsuccessful, you can apply to court for a Child Arrangements Order to determine where the child should reside.

Our specialist team can assist you with the process. Our Solicitors have a wealth of family law experience. The Children team is managed by two Law Society Children panel members Rebecca Delaney and Alison Rowley which means that our Solicitors are recognised experts in child law. 

To speak with one of our Solicitors for further advice please contact us today on 01442 218090.