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How to apply for custody of a child in the UK

I want custody of my children

Child custody is an outdated legal term. However, plenty of parents will still refer to child custody when talking about who their children will live with following a divorce or civil partnership dissolution.

Parents who cannot agree about where their children will live and how they will each spend time with their children can apply for a Child Arrangements Order.

If you need support to make arrangements for your child, formerly known as ‘child custody’, our specialists at Woolley & Co can help.

Custody rights and shared custody

Whilst you may think you should have sole custody of your child, it is anticipated that a child will have a relationship and spend time with both parents unless they are at risk of harm. If you are worried that your child is at risk of harm, you should take action immediately – call on 0800 321 3832 or request a call back.

Most parents manage to reach an agreement between themselves and arrange what they call ‘shared care’.

Parents who cannot agree about how their child will be cared for can apply to the court for a Child Arrangements Order, but they should first attempt mediation where an independent third party will listen to both sides and try to help a couple reach an agreement. Often, both parties will take legal advice alongside the mediation process to provide confidence that the agreement reached is in the child’s best interests.

Parents who are still unable to agree, whether that is with the help of their solicitor or with a mediator, can ask the courts to decide at a court hearing. The resulting Child Arrangements Order will deal with living and contact arrangements with both parents.

The processes that surround ‘custody’ can be complex with a number of different factors to consider. At Woolley & Co, our child custody solicitors have experience working on a wide range of complex cases, putting us in an excellent position to assist you. Call Woolley & Co on 0800 321 3832 or complete our online form.

Will I be able to get custody for my child?

A court will always consider what is in the best interests of the child and will use the Welfare Checklist before making their decision. This checklist requires them to consider things like the age, physical/emotional needs and wishes and feelings of the child, taking account of their age and maturity. The court will also look at the capabilities of the parents to meet the physical and emotional needs of the child.

There is a presumption of continued parental involvement by both parents, often referred to as shared parenting. It is worth noting that continued parental involvement does not mean a particular division of time. The age of the child will be one important factor to be considered.

‘Custody’ of a child can be an emotional topic, yet rest assured our experts will always offer empathetic support. ‘Child custody’ arrangements vary according to each different case and the family Court will always make a detailed assessment of the individual circumstances before making any final decision. Call Woolley & Co on 0800 321 3832 or complete our online form.

How to get full custody of a child

In the UK, people refer to full custody to mean that a child only lives with one parent.

If you would like to get ‘full custody’ of your child, you will need to get a Child Arrangements Order which confirms that the child will only live with you. To do this, you will need to work with a solicitor who can help you move through the necessary processes.

It is important to note that if it is safe for the child to be with the other parent and they wish to spend time with them, there will need to be very convincing reasons why this would not be permitted by the courts.

To discuss your child custody case today, please get in touch with us at Woolley & Co. Call Woolley & Co, family lawyers on 0800 321 3832 to arrange a telephone appointment with one of our family law experts, or complete our online form.

Can I get full custody without going to court in the UK?

There may be circumstances which mean that it’s best for you to have ‘full custody’ of your children. Potentially, you may be able to make these arrangements amicably with your ex-partner using alternative dispute resolution processes.

If the child’s other parent agrees that you should have ‘full custody’, you do not need a Child Arrangements Order, or to attend Court.

What are the grounds for full custody of a child in the UK?

When the Court is asked to make a Child Arrangements Order, the theoretical starting point is that a child should spend time with both parents, not necessarily on an equal basis.

However, where there is a concern that dividing childcare between both parents would have a negative impact on the child’s wellbeing or safety, this could be considered as grounds for ‘sole child custody’.

Each situation is different, and the Court will assess the specific circumstances before deciding where the children should live, and how contact should work with the other parent.

How is child custody decided in the UK?

Where children should live, formerly known as child custody, is decided by a Child Arrangements Order. This is a type of Court order to help separated couples make the necessary arrangements for their children.

Prior to applying for a Child Arrangements Order, you will need to try mediation, a legal process used to help individuals settle disputes without going to Court. If you and your ex-partner cannot agree on ‘child custody’, you will need to apply for a Child Arrangements Order and go through the necessary Court proceedings.

The Court will make a decision based on the child’s welfare and will consider any circumstances that may put them at risk of harm.

Alternatively, you may be able to use arbitration to reach a decision which is confirmed in a court order. Speak to one of the specialist lawyers at Woolley & Co to find out which option is right for you. Call 0800 321 3832 or complete our online form.

What considerations are made when granting child custody?

When making decisions about ‘child custody’, the family Court refers to a Welfare Checklist, focusing on matters such as:

  • The wishes and feelings of the child, (whilst being sure to consider their level of understanding and their age)
  • The educational, emotional, and physical needs of the child
  • How the circumstance changes might affect the child
  • If the child has suffered harm, or is at risk of experiencing harm
  • The background of the child, including sex, age, or any other characteristics relevant to the situation
  • To what extent the parents are able to meet the child’s physical and emotional needs
  • The range of powers available under the Children Act

If you have any further questions about ‘child custody’ law, and your legal rights, our solicitors will be happy to answer these. Call Woolley & Co, family lawyers on 0800 321 3832 to arrange a telephone appointment with one of our family law experts, or complete our online form.

Talk to Woolley & Co child custody solicitors

If you’d like to apply for ‘custody’ of a child, our lawyers can assess your circumstances, explain your options, and guide you through the necessary processes.

We appreciate that matters related to your children can be incredibly emotional, and that you’ll want to secure a solution that’s best for them at all costs. At Woolley & Co, our family lawyers always take a sensitive approach, tailoring our support to your preferences.

For support with ‘child custody’ today, you can call us on 0800 321 3832 or complete our online form.

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