Child Custody: Essential InformationPosted on 11th January 2015 by Goodwins Family Law Solicitors
If a couple feels that their marriage has broken down irreparably, then divorce is often the next step that they take in order to legally and formally dissolve the marriage. The length of the divorce process varies with each couple – some can be resolved quickly with minimal fuss, while others can become very protracted as each party tries to claim what they feel they are entitled to in the divorce.
However, there are some people who don’t get a say in what happens in a divorce, who are often left confused, upset and scared about what is happening – children. Child custody is an aspect of divorce that many couples have fought lengthy battles over, deciding who gets sole custody of their children. If possible, avoiding these bitter disputes is very much advised, as it can be stressful and traumatic for you, and particularly difficult for the children themselves. By entering mediation, backed up by legal advice, you can help reach a resolution without having to go through potentially lengthy court proceedings.
If your mediation sessions do not help you reach a conclusion, certain aspects of child custody can be decided by a court agreement. These aspects include where the children will live, who is responsible for child maintenance, and when the children will spend time with each parent. As well as access or contact arrangements, court orders can also dictate the frequency and times of other types of contact such as phone calls, for example. In most cases, you must prove to the courts that you have considered mediation before you enter into Children Act proceedings – however, in some circumstances, such as where domestic abuse is involved, this rule does not apply.
If you apply for a court order and court proceedings begin, a judge or a magistrate will determine what you can agree on and what you are having disagreements about. For the latter, there are several factors that a judge or magistrate will take into account when deciding the outcome of these disagreements, the priority always being the welfare of the children:
- The child’s opinion and feelings
- If there is any risk of harm to the child
- The age, gender and background of the children
- The ability of the parent to appropriately support the child (financially and otherwise)
- The potential effects any changes may have on the child
It is important to remember that a court order will only be passed if the judge or magistrate feels that doing so is in the best interests of the child.
Here at Goodwins Family Law, we are proud to offer expert services across all aspects of matrimonial law, from divorce cases to civil partnerships and pre-nuptial agreements. Our fully trained legal experts will provide you with sensitive, realistic and helpful advice during your legal process. For more information, get in touch with us today.