The word Custody is not recognised by English or Welsh courts. However it is a term that the general public do use when they are seeking expert legal advice with regards to child issues and in particular arrangements to see children and the living arrangements for children and any other issues.
The Legal Profession and Courts use the following terms when dealing with child matters:
Residence – Where the child(ren) should live
Contact – When the child(ren) should see the non-resident parent
Parental Responsibility – All the rights, powers, responsibilities and authority by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.
TEN Legal Solicitors seek to resolve custody/child disputes as amicably and swiftly as possible to prevent any distress to the child and their parents.
Parents generally agree custody/child arrangements between themselves. Sadly, due to individual circumstances or a variety of other reasons parents may not be able to agree on custody/ residence, contact or other issues involving the child(ren). Our Family Law team can provide expert legal advice and negotiate a solution with the other parent or their solicitor/legal representative. An independent Mediator may also try to resolve the dispute. If the dispute cannot be resolved Court Proceedings can be issued for a Judge to make a decision into an Order.
The Court has powers under the Children Act 1989 to make the following Orders:
- Residence Order – where the child should live. The Court can also grant Shared Residence Orders in favour of more than one person
- A Contact Order – specifying details of the dates and times when the non-resident parent or applicant sees the child
- A Prohibited Steps Order – Preventing a person from taking a specific step such as preventing a parent from taking a child to live in another country
- A Specific Issue Order – the Court can make an Order deciding on a specific issue such as the school the child should attend
Any Order the Court makes in respects of a child must be in the best interests of the child and the child’s welfare is the Courts paramount consideration.
Many unmarried fathers do not have parental responsibility with regards to their own child. Parental responsibility allows a parent to have a say in a child’s upbringing, health issues, schooling, religion etc and more importantly to be able to consent to urgent medical treatment if required.