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Applying for Child Custody

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 24 Apr 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Custody Applying For Custody

Sadly, not every marriage can maintain a 'happy ever after', leading many couples to divorce. In the midst of a marital split, there may be children involved and each parent may have their own ideas as to how their offsprings should be looked after and who should look after them.

Sometimes feelings are so strong as to who should have the children that one or both parents may instigate custody proceedings in order to have the law rule on which parent is the most suitable carer.

What is Child Custody?

Child custody is a ruling by a magistrate – or Family Panel – who determines which parent should have the children living with them. This decision is based on a number of factors and also takes into consideration the feelings of the children involved, if they are old enough to understand what is going on around them.

Child custody also rules on how often and under what circumstances the parent who has been refused custody should see his or her children.

Applying for Custody

Before you can apply for custody you must ensure that all avenues of amicable agreement have been exhausted. It is important to remember that a custody battle can be a long drawn out series of hearings and, throughout this, your children will be fully aware of what is happening. They will have to speak to the court welfare officer during this time, too.

You must first consult a solicitor who specialises in family law, and they will instruct you on the best course of action. If there are no mitigating circumstances in the custody request, such as domestic violence, you should reasonably expect the process to take some time.

Appearing before the Family Panel

When you are given the date for your custody hearing, you will be required to appear before the Family Panel – which consists of three magistrates – and explain your reasons for wanting custody of your child/children. Your partner will also have to do this and the Family Panel will put a series of questions to you in relation to how you think you can cope with the children on your own, why you think you are the parent to whom the court should grant custody, and also if you are able to support the children financially?

The Court Welfare Officer

The Court Welfare Officer is given the task of assessing your status at home and also how you interact and look after your children. They will make their report and submit their recommendations to the Family Panel, and may on the day of the custody hearing be asked to present their findings to all those present.

The Court Welfare Officer may also have to speak with your children to try to find out Who They Would Like To Live With and the reasons why. All of this information is documented and presented to the Family Panel for review.

The Family Panel’s Ruling

You should be mindful of the fact that the Family Proceedings Court is a court of law and the magistrates operating therein are doing so in accordance with the law. With this in mind the Family Panel’s decision is legal and binding and – unless you appeal it – you are required by law to adhere to the terms and conditions of the custody agreement.

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Me and my partner have split up due to her cheating, we have 2 kids together and I want full custody of our children. They currently live with their mum who is more interested in meeting other men than spending time with the kids. She also has mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and BPD. She has also self harmed in the past due to this. She has also dragged me out of work to come help her as she struggles and can’t cope looking after them by herself., recently she has dropped the kids off at her mums and ran away claiming she is going to kill herself. And I am worried and scared for the kids being around her when her mood is low. There have been numerous times she has been crying down the phone struggling and self harming whist in care of the children. I want to get full custody of them to save them from any harm which may occur due to her mental health. Any advice?
Kevin - 24-Apr-18 @ 10:38 PM
Blondebunny - Your Question:
My partner is fighting for full custody (atm he has no custody plans legal written not even for weekends just as and when she allows him to see the boy) his fighting for full custody as social services have been involved as neglect has been going on, mild stuff like dirty uniform, arriving late to skol etc the Mum seems to be struggling. If my partner gets full custody it would mean moving the boy a three hour drive down here! I don’t want this. Me and my partner Both work full time. This is also my house and I am on the mortgage and I don’t want him here!. We live in Essex and the boy and his mum and sibling he lives with from previous relataionships are in Nottingham. Do you think my fiancé will be granted full custody? His solicitor told him he will win 100%?

Our Response:
We don't know what a judge will decide. They look at all the information and decide based on the best interests of the child. We suggest you talk to your partner about this as he may not realise that you don't accept that he hasa child for whom he is responsible.
LawAndParents - 24-Apr-18 @ 11:05 AM
My partner is fighting for full custody (atm he has no custody plans legal written not even for weekends just as and when she allows him to see the boy) his fighting for full custody as social services have been involved as neglect has been going on, mild stuff like dirty uniform, arriving late to skol etc the Mum seems to be struggling. If my partner gets full custody it would mean moving the boy a three hour drive down here! I don’t want this. Me and my partner Both work full time. This is also my house and I am on the mortgage and I don’t want him here!. We live in Essex and the boy and his mum and sibling he lives with from previous relataionships are in Nottingham. Do you think my fiancé will be granted full custody? His solicitor told him he will win 100%?
Blondebunny - 23-Apr-18 @ 8:14 AM
I have 2 children with my ex and he was extremely abusive my entire pregnancy kicking me in my stomach and throwing me around he has made threats to kill me and my family many times and also threatens my other 2 children he also threatened to kill our daughter when I was pregnant with her he does drugs and is very abusive when he doesn't get his way and extremely manipulative he threatened to take our kids and I fear that the children I have with him will be mentally of physically abused or worse can I get full custody of our kids and if so, how?
Yaya - 20-Apr-18 @ 4:45 PM
Hi, I’ve managed to get away from my nacassist boyfriend after a long and traumatic 20 months. We have a 6 month old baby, he’s been making threats towards me and the kids and also threatening to lie and have my kids taken away by social services. He’s a very angry man and his other kids have seen far too many angry outbursts, even crashes my car with the kids in. I want to know if I can gain sole custody of my son because I fear for his safety physically and mentally if he is to take him to his home for visits. Does anybody know how long this takes and how much it will cost me. This is not out of a spite, I have a 5 years old daughter who sees her dad 3 nights a week and we have a good relationship regarding our daughter, this is purely because I’m petrified he uses the baby to torture me further or worst still anything happens to my baby ??
Traceymollytheo - 18-Apr-18 @ 9:00 AM
Magpie- Your Question:
I split from my ex and divorced for 2 years now. He moved away from myself and 2 children over a year ago but kept a house nearby to see kids. He’s supposed to have kids every other weekend (our arrangements). He however, goes on holiday most months for 3 weeks at a time. He has no involvement with the kids, doesn’t know anything medically about them (my son autistic). He chooses not to get involved. I am registered disabled and need urgent operation and he refusing to help in any way. Won’t take even an afternoon off. I have no other help. Social services do help me with my disability but by law if I have an operation does he have to have them? He thinks not. I’m not asking him to take a day off, merely a few hours to collect kids from school for one day. If I try to ask him to see the kids or help more, he stops my money or threatens to cut me and my kids off health insurance (I pay him to stay on his as it’s cheaper). His girlfriend whom he lives with doesn’t have kids and they both find kids v stressful. Every time my kids do see him (3 nights a month), my eldest cries as she hates it so much. I make them go as I need the break. Under law what difference is there if I apply for full custody or as they live with me 27 days month do I have this. Also can I or social services force him have kids so I can go inTo hospital? Thanks

Our Response:
You don't need to apply for a full residency order (unless you think the father will take the children/not bring them back etc) as you are already the main carer. The father can't really be forced to have the children while you're in for your operation. Talk to social services and ask them what your options are. They may be able to provide temporary foster carers (if anything that might make their father feel sufficiently guilty and agree to look after them himself).
LawAndParents - 11-Apr-18 @ 12:57 PM
I split from my ex and divorced for 2 years now. He moved away from myself and 2 children over a year ago but kept a house nearby to see kids. He’s supposed to have kids every other weekend (our arrangements). He however, goes on holiday most months for 3 weeks at a time. He has no involvement with the kids, doesn’t know anything medically about them (my son autistic). He chooses not to get involved. I am registered disabled and need urgent operation and he refusing to help in any way. Won’t take even an afternoon off. I have no other help. Social services do help me with my disability but by law if I have an operation does he have to have them? He thinks not. I’m not asking him to take a day off, merely a few hours to collect kids from school for one day.If I try to ask him to see the kids or help more, he stops my money or threatens to cut me and my kids off health insurance (I pay him to stay on his as it’s cheaper).His girlfriend whom he lives with doesn’t have kids and they both find kids v stressful. Every time my kids do see him (3 nights a month), my eldest cries as she hates it so much. I make them go as I need the break. Under law what difference is there if I apply for full custody or as they live with me 27 days month do I have this. Also can I or social services force him have kids so I can go inTo hospital? Thanks
Magpie - 10-Apr-18 @ 5:12 PM
I have a 6 yr old son who has little contact with his father since he was born by his own accord he just did not have any interest of our son at all he moved abroad and never set any contact up or never messaged to ask about our son until 2 years later I messaged and said he needs to see our son so I visited for 2 weeks he still had no interest just interest in us getting back together, which I agreed hoping he would spend more time with our son, I left after 5momths as he was abusive and controlling the reason I left him when our son was 1, he moved back to the uk where he stalked and harrassed me which is on police reports, I got into a new relationship now been 2 years and for a few month my sons father asked to see him but it was not genuine and I didn't think it was safe as the abusive he given me in front of my son it's been 1yr6moths without any contact again. I filed an application to court to ask permission to move to New Zealand with my new partner who's a citizen. And now my sons father has put an application in for my son to live with him permanently and that I'm unfit mother nothing to prove what he is saying andI'm scared to think my sons father will take him off me my son hardly knows him and doesn't refer to him as dad! Just the thought of him being removed from my care is sickening! What are the chances of this happening ? Thanks
J - 1-Apr-18 @ 11:56 PM
Hi. My ex partner decided to cheat and end our relationship. We have a three year old daughter that resides with her. She let's me have my daughter 2/3 nights a week which I'm lucky and can make this happen around my work. She has work but is cash in hand. She lives ina council house on benifits with her new partner who takes cocaine and drink/drug drives. She also has a 18year old son who has just moved back in who Is also on drugs and fear for my daughters upbringing whilst in her care. I moved away to stop any future annomosity but feel my daughter would be far safer with me. I have contacted a welfare officer but haven't heard anything back yet and would like any advice possible as to next steps to take?
John - 31-Mar-18 @ 9:43 PM
Big s - Your Question:
I split from my partner and now from 3 days a week I now have him 2 and under her rules what can I do

Our Response:
If you can't get her to agree to a more equal split and fair conditions, you can try and come to an agreement using a mediation service. If this fails, you may need to apply to the courts for a child arrangements order.
LawAndParents - 20-Mar-18 @ 12:58 PM
Chynesa- Your Question:
Hello,I have a 4 yr old son who lives with just me, his father has made it clear he doesn’t want to be in any part of his life. He lives in Nigeria, we are married for 5 years but separated for 3 years e doesn't see our son since he had 1 year old, when his father left the country. My husband doesn't have any contact with our son has himself denied to talk on the phone with his dad. His dad doesn't help financially and doesn't contribute with nothing for his well being. Would I be within my rights to apply for sole custody of my son? I work and solely support myself and my son. Would an application be successful? And how long all the process would take to come to a end? Many thanks

Our Response:
You will already be considered the main carer as your son lives with you full time.
LawAndParents - 19-Mar-18 @ 2:04 PM
I split from my partner and now from 3 days a week I now have him 2 and under her rules what can I do
Big s - 18-Mar-18 @ 11:14 PM
Hi, I have been split from my ex wife for 4 years now. I have had my two children living with my 50/50 every week for the last 4 years. This is 7 nights in every 14 so it is exactly 50/50. I also pay their mum maintenance money in line with what the calculator says. I also pay for school trips, some uniform and clothing and swimming lessons each week. I do not get any of the benefits as these all go to their Mum. I have given Extra money to their mum and advanced Maintance payments many times to help her out when she needs it. I am with a new partner for 4 months now and we are going to go away for a week in the summer, as soon as I said this to my ex she got annoyed and she said she is taking one night away from me from now on. She knows the girls are my world and This will hurt me. I’m going to my solicitor next week. But just thought I would ask opinions or advice on here from people as I’m feeling anxious and low about losing time with my girls. Thank you in advance
Saintdee - 17-Mar-18 @ 12:53 PM
Hello, I have a 4 yr old son who lives with just me, his father has made it clear he doesn’t want to be in any part of his life. He lives in Nigeria, we are married for 5 years but separated for 3 years e doesn't see our son since he had 1 year old, when his father left the country. My husband doesn't have any contact with our son has himself denied to talk on the phone with his dad. His dad doesn't help financially and doesn't contribute with nothing for his well being. Would I be within my rights to apply for sole custody of my son? I work and solely support myself and my son. Would an application be successful? And how long all the process would take to come to a end? Many thanks
Chynesa - 16-Mar-18 @ 4:08 PM
Hi I need help. My ex took my son away from me and gave himself full custody. I'm only allowed to see him for 2 hours a week with him and his mum there. He's saying that my son lives with him now when he isn't but he's staying at his mum's. I'm trying to sort it out as I've already attended mediation and they said to get full custody of my son as they don't see him attending mediation. (I had to travel far to go to the app) I will need help with costs to do this as I'm on a low income and I'm struggling to put a roof over my head, I may even become homeless because of what he's done. I just need help and advice please
DesperateMum23 - 14-Mar-18 @ 3:20 PM
Mrsssss - Your Question:
Hello, I'm hoping someone can help me. Last year my ex took me to court accusing me of neglect and abuse of our daughter with who I had a shared care agreement, after a seven month legal battle (during which my ex only allowed me to see my daughter for nine hours a week) the judge decided that there was no neglect or abuse , I admitted cannabis use as part of my section 7. I was transparent throughout the investigation and the judge reinstated the shared care agreement. Since court my ex has tried to overrule the judge and forcibly remove my daughter from my care. The last time he took her he made no allegations but refused to let me see her for ten days, when I was allowed to see her she told me her father wouldn't let her come home. Over the weekend my ex contacted me to say my daughter had seen some cannabis at my house (I dispute this) and is again refusing to return her to me and will not allow any contact with my family. He's insisting I take him back to court and will not reply to my pleas to let me see my child. Even though he's breaching the court order again I've been told there's nothing I can do! Any advice would be appreciated.

Our Response:
Make attempts to discuss the matter with the father so you have evidence that you have tried to be reasonable. To back this up, write a letter saying that the court order has been breached and you would like to reinstate contact as dictated by the court order. If that fails unfortunately you will have to return to the courts for enforcement.
LawAndParents - 12-Mar-18 @ 12:41 PM
McNugget- Your Question:
Hi, me and my husband have separated and I am the primary career for our 16 month old daughter. My husband has a drinking problem and I have recently found out that he is not allowed to drive at the moment and based on past events and circumstances that add I have come to the conclusion that he has been caught drink driving. If I find out that my suspicions as true I wish to file for a divorce but I would also want full custody of our daughter. What would the chances of me getting custody be?

Our Response:
We don't know what your chances would be as it's up to a court judge to decide this, one who would have all the facts to hand. Being caught drink driving doesn't necessarily make a father unfit to look after a child, so a judge would investigate all the circumstances.
LawAndParents - 12-Mar-18 @ 12:35 PM
JJ - Your Question:
We currently share parenting 50/50. Can I apply for sole custody but still allow them to spend this time with their dad? I don't want to deny any contact but I do want the decision making to end with me as poor decisions have already been made and I want the ability of the final say.

Our Response:
No, the other parent (with parental responsibility) has a right to be involved in important decisions in your child's life such as schooling, health etc, no matter how much contact they have. If you have a shared parenting arrangement, you have to accept that while the child is in the care of the other parent, they are responsible for making decision that arise during that time. If you can't agree on important issues, it might be worth considering involving a third party to mediate rather than expecting to have the "final say" at all times.
LawAndParents - 12-Mar-18 @ 10:28 AM
Hello, I'm hoping someone can help me. Last year my ex took me to court accusing me of neglect and abuse of our daughter with who I had a shared care agreement, after a seven month legal battle (during which my ex only allowed me to see my daughter for nine hours a week) the judge decided that there was no neglect or abuse , I admitted cannabis use as part of my section 7. I was transparent throughout the investigation and the judge reinstated the shared care agreement. Since court my ex has tried to overrule the judge and forcibly remove my daughter from my care. The last time he took her he made no allegations but refused to let me see her for ten days, when I was allowed to see her she told me her father wouldn't let her come home. Over the weekend my ex contacted me to say my daughter had seen some cannabis at my house (I dispute this) and is again refusing to return her to me and will not allow any contact with my family. He's insisting I take him back to court and will not reply to my pleas to let me see my child. Even though he's breaching the court order again I've been told there's nothing I can do! Any advice would be appreciated.
Mrsssss - 9-Mar-18 @ 3:24 PM
Hi, me and my husband have separated and I am the primary career for our 16 month old daughter. My husband has a drinking problem and I have recently found out that he is not allowed to drive at the moment and based on past events and circumstances that add I have come to the conclusion that he has been caught drink driving. If I find out that my suspicions as true I wish to file for a divorce but I would also want full custody of our daughter. What would the chances of me getting custody be?
McNugget - 9-Mar-18 @ 1:19 PM
We currently share parenting 50/50. Can I apply for sole custody but still allow them to spend this time with their dad? I don't want to deny any contact but I do want the decision making to end with me as poor decisions have already been made and I want the ability of the final say.
JJ - 9-Mar-18 @ 6:50 AM
If I want to divorce my husband but he wont leave the house that we own, if I leave and find other accommodation to rent as I believe it’s in our sons best interests we don’t live together, does that effect my custody.
J - 3-Mar-18 @ 12:12 AM
Hi, I have a 4 yr old son who lives with just me, his father has made it clear he doesn’t want to be in any part of his life. He occasionally gets back in touch, sees our son for 3/4 weeks and then goes missing again. Would I be within my rights to apply for sole custody of my son. His dad doesn’t help financially and has let him down on countless occasions. I work, I provide our home and solely support myself and my son. Would an application be successful? Many thanks
Cat - 23-Feb-18 @ 11:59 PM
Hi I have a 7 year old son with my ex partner that was put into prison for domestic violence on myself. This happened in early 2014, my son has never seen or heard from my ex partner since, he does not even remember as he did not have much involvement with him before the split. My ex partner is on my sons birth certificate therefore he has parental responsibility. I was wondering because of the circumstnaces of domestic violence and absence from his life could this mean he could have his parental responsibilities taken away?
Lauren_24 - 21-Feb-18 @ 7:42 PM
Gman- Your Question:
Hi there I'm a single dad with 1 child with I have a residency order for and the mum of my child has not see or even bin to speak to in 2 years wots the possibility of me getting full custody of my child he is liveing with me and had bin his hole life

Our Response:
A residency order means your child lives with you full time and you are the majority carer, so you have full "custody" already. If you want to prevent the children's mother from seeking contact completely then it's different order you need to consider (most likely an injunction or PSO).
LawAndParents - 20-Feb-18 @ 2:51 PM
I have a 7 year old son who has lived with me since he was born. My ex partner the mother dissappeared on holiday and did not return after a period 7 months. We ended the relationship and both amicably agreed due to the circumstances of the mother she was unable to look after the child. She has not been in any physical contact with the child since 2016. She has the family house number to contact her son but has only contacted him by phone on 1-2 occasions. I am due to settle down and get married and I informed the mother about this giving her the chance to come to some sort of arrangement to see the child. She is now threatening to take my child away from me. Can you advise on what I should do and whether I would be granted full custody due to this. Iv asked by son if he’s happy but does not what contact with the mother. But I don’t want to deprive my child
Selina Rehman - 19-Feb-18 @ 11:53 PM
Hi there I'm a single dad with 1 child with I have a residency order for and the mum of my child has not see or even bin to speak to in 2 years wots the possibility of me getting full custody of my child he is liveing with me and had bin his hole life
Gman - 16-Feb-18 @ 2:21 PM
Ex took son to different county, not returning even pulled him out of school, I’m main primary career,? He’s filed for full custody, rang family services with allegations, but no problems why I can’t have my son in my care, Ex is refusing access to myself and my family, or returning him so he can go to school. Where do I stand as a mother? I applied for to court for CAO, prohibited steps and specific steps to bring him back but he’s applied for CAO gor son to be in his care
Tash - 29-Jan-18 @ 3:38 AM
Wy6714 - Your Question:
Hi all I have 3 boys from a previous marriage. Things have never been 100% amicable between us, but my boys interests have been been number 1. Recently I discovered my ex wife's new partner is smoking cannabis and keeps it in my children's home, which my ex assured me would stop. Within the past couple of days I saw my ex wife's partner with her father after a night out and he had a bag of cocaine on him, which him and my exes father were taking. My concern is that this is in the house and my ex is well aware. Obviously my number 1 concern is for my children but where do I go from here? The last thing I want to do is take my children from their mother but I can't stand idly by knowing this?

Our Response:
This depends what outcome you want. You could apply for majority care of the boys? Or a PSO (Prohibited Steps Order) preventing the new partner from being present at the same time as them?
LawAndParents - 16-Jan-18 @ 3:40 PM
Hi all I have 3 boys from a previous marriage. Things have never been 100% amicable between us, but my boys interests have been been number 1. Recently I discovered my ex wife's new partner is smoking cannabis and keeps it in my children's home, which my ex assured me would stop. Within the past couple of days i saw my ex wife's partner with her father after a night out and he had a bag of cocaine on him, which him and my exes father were taking. My concern is that this is in the house and my ex is well aware. Obviously my number 1 concern is for my children but where do I go from here? The last thing I want to do is take my children from their mother but I can't stand idly by knowing this?
Wy6714 - 14-Jan-18 @ 1:10 PM
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