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Applying for Child Custody

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 14 Jan 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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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
Hi I have a 8mth old little girl but I'm not with mother no more I was there at birth but then she didn't put name on birth certificate and I havnt had my daughter once over night or on her own since birth and need advice as only getting to see her when mom feels like it please can someone advise what to do as her living arrangements at minute are bad and would like to go for full custody of my child
Richard - 22-Dec-17 @ 12:03 AM
Hi me and my husband are currently going through a divorce we have 3 children together 4yr 3yr and 2yr olds. He is taking my 4yr old with him and I have the other 2 he is a very angry person although there has never been any violence between us there has been threats in the past from him to me. He hasn't given me or my 4yr old a choice in wither he stays with me or goes even though I have been the primary care giver for all 3 since they have been born and have people that would state that for me. He has always been a lazy parent and never done school runs or anything of the sort no doctors appointments or anything my 4yr old has asthma and must see his asthma nurse at least once every 2 months he is saying there is no need please can I have some advice on what to do my children have always been together and do not want them to split now thanks.
Mum - 18-Dec-17 @ 5:37 PM
Makenna - Your Question:
My partner and I split from a very controlled relationship and since then three of my children have chosen to stay with him. Two of the kids aged 11 and 9 are his but my 13 year old daughter isn't his.as she is from a previous relationship. Can you give me some advice as to whether I can apply for custody of all 3 or only my daughter?I have been allowed contact with them one day per week but this was put in place by my ex.

Our Response:
You can apply for custody or shared residency...the judge will decide whether to award this.
LawAndParents - 15-Dec-17 @ 11:58 AM
My partner and I split from a very controlled relationship and since then three of my children have chosen to stay with him. Two of the kids aged 11 and 9 are his but my 13 year old daughter isn't his..as she is from a previous relationship. Can you give me some advice as to whether I can apply for custody of all 3 or only my daughter? I have been allowed contact with them one day per week but this was put in place by my ex.
Makenna - 12-Dec-17 @ 3:53 PM
Ash192 - Your Question:
Hi myself and my partner have recently broken up and we have a 1 year old together, he’s always worked 6 sometimes 7 days a week and never had anytime to spend together as a family, the last few months of the relationship have been awful where he’s had me thinking suicidal thoughts because he’s emotionally bullied me every single day with name calling, putting me down and we even got physical in one argument 4 weeks ago where He was in my face so I pushed him away which ended up being a slap in the face and then he strangled me with my daughter in my arms on the bed to the point of nearly passing out. I’ve had threats he is going to beat me and get others to do it as well. He’s threatened to take my daughter and not give her back in arguments so I don’t trust him, he picks and chooses when it suits him to buy her food, I’m scared if I let him see her he won’t bring her back as he knows he has parental responsibility with him being on the birth certificate. He has a house in his name and I was staying between there and my parents and now things have gone sour he’s telling me to pack all mine and my children’s things and get out knowing it’s over crowded at my parents. I want to change her name but is there a way I don’t need his permission? Would I be granted full custody?

Our Response:
If you can't arrange contact between you, you might have to ask the courts for child arrangements order. The judge will decide based on your daughter's best interests. If you feel that your daughter will be at risk from her father being in contact without another person present, you should say so in court. You can't change your daughter's surname without the father's permission if he has parental responsibility (i.e his name is on the birth certificate or you were married at the time), unless you can prove he's dangerous or your daugter is at risk keeping his surname etc.
LawAndParents - 5-Dec-17 @ 11:05 AM
Hi me and my ex fiancé broke up 5 months ago where she moved to the Isle of Man with our 5 year old daughter. I moved to the Isle of Man with no family over here under the impression we was getting back together. Since I have been back this has not been the case. Our daughter doesn’t live with her she lives with her parents. During our relationship she was violent to me once and played a lot of head games with me. We’re would I stand on applying for full custody and moving back to England where my family is.
Dom - 4-Dec-17 @ 6:33 PM
Hi myself and my partner have recently broken up and we have a 1 year old together, he’s always worked 6 sometimes 7 days a week and never had anytime to spend together as a family, the last few months of the relationship have been awful where he’s had me thinking suicidal thoughts because he’s emotionally bullied me every single day with name calling, putting me down and we even got physical in one argument 4 weeks ago where He was in my face so I pushed him away which ended up being a slap in the face and then he strangled me with my daughter in my arms on the bed to the point of nearly passing out. I’ve had threats he is going to beat me and get others to do it as well. He’s threatened to take my daughter and not give her back in arguments so I don’t trust him, he picks and chooses when it suits him to buy her food, I’m scared if I let him see her he won’t bring her back as he knows he has parental responsibility with him being on the birth certificate. He has a house in his name and I was staying between there and my parents and now things have gone sour he’s telling me to pack all mine and my children’s things and get out knowing it’s over crowded at my parents. I want to change her name but is there a way I don’t need his permission? Would I be granted full custody?
Ash192 - 2-Dec-17 @ 6:19 AM
Jenjen - Your Question:
Hello I've just broken up with my partner of 2 years we have a 1 & a half year old daughter and he said he's going to take me to court for custody of her but he smokes weed all day everyday and when his mates come round they all smoke it and I've put my foot down I want him to quit but he has said no many times and he don't think it's a problem because he smokes it outside he also don't take the dog out for walks and he lets him do it in the flat and he don't clean it up I've had to take the dog out while I'm watching our daughter he didn't help me at all and didn't support me thought the pregnancy if I was to mention this in court what would they do would he still get custody or would I

Our Response:
The courts look at all the circumstances and make a decision in the best interests of the child.
LawAndParents - 29-Nov-17 @ 12:10 PM
Bella - Your Question:
Hi my brother is thinking of going for full custody of his son as his ex partner suffers with bipolar Ans isn't looking after him properly - not feeding him, not collecting from school, being drunk & having physical rows with boyfriend in front of son. What proof wouid he need that she's neglecting him ? He has written down dates where son has called to be picked up as his scared or hungry & dates when she has had him (3 nights since 1st November). He is now having his son full time which she's agreed to apart from two nights a week. And his still paying her child mat of £50 a month. Any advice wouid be great.

Our Response:
The courts might order a CAFCASS report to take a look at your nephew's situation. Depending on your son's age, his views may be taken into consideration by the courts as well.
LawAndParents - 29-Nov-17 @ 10:31 AM
Hello I've just broken up with my partner of 2 years we have a 1 & a half year old daughter and he said he's going to take me to court for custody of her but he smokes weed all day everyday and when his mates come round they all smoke it and I've put my foot down I want him to quit but he has said no many times and he don't think it's a problem because he smokes it outside he also don't take the dog out for walks and he lets him do it in the flat and he don't clean it up I've had to take the dog out while I'm watching our daughter he didn't help me at all and didn't support me thought the pregnancy if I was to mention this in court what would they do would he still get custody or would I
Jenjen - 28-Nov-17 @ 7:17 PM
Hi my brother is thinking of going for full custody of his son as his ex partner suffers with bipolar Ans isn't looking after him properly - not feeding him, not collecting from school, being drunk & having physical rows with boyfriend in front of son. What proof wouid he need that she's neglecting him ? He has written down dates where son has called to be picked up as his scared or hungry & dates when she has had him (3 nights since 1st November). He is now having his son full time which she's agreed to apart from two nights a week. And his still paying her child mat of £50 a month. Any advice wouid be great.
Bella - 28-Nov-17 @ 11:51 AM
Have separate with my wife for 6 months now and all efforts to see the kids has not yielded any results but still send them money every month like dad,have missed my kids and can’t sleep although I they will be find with their mum but thinks this the best time for me to bond with them ... yes and don’t want them to start telling them they’re father don’t care about them and stuff which i know my wife and the mum knows how to do best ... am going through the long process but can’t wait any long , wish I can get some good response to ease my stress
Del - 22-Nov-17 @ 10:46 PM
flo - Your Question:
Hi if abuse was a big part of the relationship and we are divorced.and the children fear they're father.can it be done for me to apply for full custody? He hasn't seen them over a year now.and won't apply for a c100 form.

Our Response:
If the children are living with you full time anyway this probably isn't necessary. If the children fear their father for some reason, maybe a injunction of some sort might be more relevant.
LawAndParents - 10-Nov-17 @ 1:40 PM
Hi if abuse was a big part of the relationship and we are divorced .and the children fear they're father .can it be done for me to apply for full custody?He hasn't seen them over a year now.and won't apply for a c100 form .
flo - 8-Nov-17 @ 1:39 PM
Bella84 - Your Question:
Hi me and my ex partner have been spitt up for 2 years we was together 13years in which we have never lived together so our 6yr old daughter has lived with me I have never stopped him seein his daughter as we live 5mins apart from each other he sees her most weekends and also takes her dancing 2nights aweek but now has dropped the bombshell he has been to see a soilctor and is goin for full custody yet I allow him to see her whenever he wants I am worried he will take her from me which is so unfair when I thought it was good how it was. Im not sure what to expect now ??

Our Response:
Just because he has applied for full residence doesn't mean the courts will agree to it. The courts might just formalise arrangements - perhaps allowing the father to have his daughter overnight a couple of times a week etc. The courts willl consider all the circumstances and make a decision based on your daughter's best interests.
LawAndParents - 7-Nov-17 @ 9:20 AM
Erika - Your Question:
I broke uo with my partner a few months ago, we have a 20 month old daughter, weve been having her a week at a time. But I want to go for full custody as we live in different cities and I wany to start her in nursery. She has lived at his(his parents) since she was born, but when we split I left his home.We cant reach a mutual decision as we both want her full time and we juat end up arguing. Will the fact that shes been at his since day one affect the final decision in court?

Our Response:
We can't say how your circumstances will affect a court decision as they consider everything and make an order based on the best interests of the child.
LawAndParents - 6-Nov-17 @ 12:39 PM
I broke uo with my partner a few months ago, we have a 20 month old daughter, weve been having her a week at a time. But i want to go for full custody as we live in different cities and i wany to start her in nursery. She has lived at his(his parents) since she was born, but when we split i left his home. We cant reach a mutual decision as we both want her full time and we juat end up arguing. Will the fact that shes been at his since day one affect the final decision in court?
Erika - 4-Nov-17 @ 6:32 PM
samantha denholm - Your Question:
I have currently seperated from my partner and we cannot agree to disagree.when we see other we argue.he doesnt live in the same city as us and wants to take the kids to his mothers to stay.the kids have been living with me for 3 months while he has been gone and not bothered to visit.if I was to go for full custody would this stop him from taking them out of the city?

Our Response:
No, even if you are the major carer, the father still has rights.
LawAndParents - 1-Nov-17 @ 11:04 AM
Hi me and my ex partner have been spitt up for 2 years we was together 13years in which we have never lived together so our 6yr old daughter has lived with me i have never stopped him seein his daughter as we live 5mins apart from each other he sees her most weekends and also takes her dancing 2nights aweek but now has dropped the bombshell he has been to see a soilctor and is goin for full custody yet i allow him to see her whenever he wants i am worried he will take her from me which is so unfair when i thought it was good how it was. Im not sure what to expect now ??
Bella84 - 31-Oct-17 @ 5:49 PM
i have currently seperated from my partner and we cannot agree to disagree..when we see other we argue..he doesnt live in the same city as us and wants to take the kids to his mothers to stay.the kids have been living with me for 3 months while he has been gone and not bothered to visit.if i was to go for full custody would this stop him from taking them out of the city?
samantha denholm - 29-Oct-17 @ 9:42 PM
Gouldy - Your Question:
Hi - my girlfriend and I along my adult family were going to New Zealand for nearly 4 weeks. Her 9 year old son was to stay in the UK with her 26 year old daughter and 2 cousins. We are both in our 50s.She is in the unusual position of being formally divorced but the finances / custody are yet to be settled. She has been the main carer though her son's lifetime and he lives with her now. He sees his father every other weekend and each Wednesday. But he often does not want to see his Dad who seem seems to spend most of the time ignoring him or belittling his mother So the Wednesday visits have stooped and the weekends are becoming more sporadic. After making no progress is settling the remaining issues my girlfriend is taking the ex husband to court. Her solicitor has advised her that taking this holiday without her son will be looked upon badly by the Court and may affect the custody decision. Additionally, as she does not have formal custody she is very worried that if she went, he could just turn up, with the Police if necessary, and physically take their son back to the ex marital home (where he lives), and make his own arrangements for child care and ask the courts for permanent custody? Would all this be possible?

Our Response:
This is really specific legal advice you're after and we can't really give that unfortunately. A parent can usually take a child abroad for up to 28 days without permission from the other parent see this page for more information
LawAndParents - 23-Oct-17 @ 11:04 AM
Hi - my girlfriend and I along my adult family were going to New Zealand for nearly 4 weeks.Her 9 year old son was to stay in the UK with her 26 year old daughter and 2 cousins. We are both in our 50s. She is in the unusual position of being formally divorced but the finances / custody are yet to be settled.She has been the main carer though her son's lifetime and he lives with her now.He sees his father every other weekend and each Wednesday.But he often does not want to see his Dad who seem seems to spend most of the time ignoring him or belittling his motherSo the Wednesday visits have stooped and the weekends are becoming more sporadic. After making no progress is settling the remaining issues my girlfriend is taking the ex husband to court.Her solicitor has advised her that taking this holiday without her son will be looked upon badly by the Court and may affect the custody decision. Additionally, as she does not have formal custody she is very worried that if she went, he could just turn up, with the Police if necessary, and physically take their son back to the ex marital home (where he lives), and make his own arrangements for child care and ask the courts for permanent custody? Would all this be possible?
Gouldy - 19-Oct-17 @ 2:41 PM
I'm struggling at moment for answers my now x husband was arrested for child porn and I left as soon as I knew he was in court and he has been charged and put on sex register I'm wanted to change the kids names but he won't let it I need to do i to protect my kids
Jopatri - 6-Oct-17 @ 8:52 PM
Kp747 - Your Question:
Hi,I've had a verbal agreement for several years with my ex were I see my daughter 3 nights one week and 4 nights the next and this is continuous throughtout the year regardless of what days each others times fall on (Xmas, birthdays etc)While this sounds ideal the mother has continously shown signs of possible neglect but with no proof I couldn't do anything as I only had what my 7 yo was telling me. She does like going to her mothers but its due to getting to do what she wants. She has told me she just spends everyday on ipad. Gets fed junk and doesn't have to do her own homeworks and has even missed school several times when her mum can't be bothered to take her.Recently however the mothers own mum approached me with information. Apparently the mother has been taking drugs, weed and cocaine definitely. Possibly with my daughter present. My daughter feels her mum can act erratically at times and she sounds like she emotionally abuse her and makes her feel like she lets her down. The mothers mum has also confirmed the living standards as mentioned above as well as information unbeknownst to me until recently, that during the 5 years we were together she had cheated on me several times and used me to look after our daughter so she could live in that way.My question is how much of this is likely to go into a report, how strong does evidence have to be to be considered. I fear for my daughters health and will be approaching our doctor to see about involving social services also in this case.

Our Response:
We really can't say what the court would decide but they will order investigations into your daughters circumstances and make a decision based on her best interests. Are you planning on asking for full residence? Sorry it's not clear what yourquestion is/ who is undertaking the report you mention.
LawAndParents - 19-Sep-17 @ 2:47 PM
Hi, I've had a verbal agreement for several years with my ex were I see my daughter 3 nights one week and 4 nights the next and this is continuous throughtout the year regardless of what days each others times fall on (Xmas, birthdays etc) While this sounds ideal the mother has continously shown signs of possible neglect but with no proof I couldn't do anything as I only had what my 7 yo was telling me. She does like going to her mothers but its due to getting to do what she wants. She has told me she just spends everyday on ipad. Gets fed junk and doesn't have to do her own homeworks and has even missed school several times when her mum can't be bothered to take her. Recently however the mothers own mum approached me with information. Apparently the mother has been taking drugs, weed and cocaine definitely. Possibly with my daughter present. My daughter feels her mum can act erratically at times and she sounds like she emotionally abuse her and makes her feel like she lets her down. The mothers mum has also confirmed the living standards as mentioned above as well as information unbeknownst to me until recently, that during the 5 years we were together she had cheated on me several times and used me to look after our daughter so she could live in that way. My question is how much of this is likely to go into a report, how strong does evidence have to be to be considered. I fear for my daughters health and will be approaching our doctor to see about involving social services also in this case.
Kp747 - 18-Sep-17 @ 5:45 PM
Andy - Your Question:
What classes as mental instability? My wife is anorexic and in the past has nearly passed out whilst I was at work, I also worrie that in the future she may pass traits onto our daughter. Would this issue have much sway in a custardy hearing?

Our Response:
In any Child Arrangements procedure the judge will investigate all the circumstances relating to the child and any decisions made will based on the child's best interests.
LawAndParents - 15-Sep-17 @ 12:01 PM
What classes as mental instability? My wife is anorexic and in the past has nearly passed out whilst I was at work, I also worrie that in the future she may pass traits onto our daughter. Would this issue have much sway in a custardy hearing?
Andy - 13-Sep-17 @ 7:41 PM
Jellyfish- Your Question:
My daughter has been residing with her father for 1 year, I want her to reside with me. Her father has a violent criminal background whereas I don't. Will the court take I to consideration of his Violent background and history with drug and alcohol abuse

Our Response:
The court will look at all the circumstances relevant to your daughter and make their decision based on her best interests.
LawAndParents - 5-Sep-17 @ 11:03 AM
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