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Applying for Child Custody

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 8 Nov 2017 | 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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[Add a Comment]
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
aurora - Your Question:
Hello! I want to leave my partner with which I am for 2 years and we have a son that is 13 months. Just went out of maternity leave and I work only 2 days a week. the house is his and aswell he pays the bills while I buy the food and the clothes for our boy. another point of importance is that he is english with family close by and I am from Romania and I am alone. How will I have to act to make sure I get custody of our son? I wouldn't mind sharing custody 3-4 days between but I don't want to leave untill I am sure that I would still see my son. thank you

Our Response:
There is no reason why you and your partner could not share contact/residency aslong as you remain living in the UK.
LawAndParents - 5-Sep-17 @ 11:02 AM
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
Jellyfish - 2-Sep-17 @ 5:16 PM
hello! i want to leave my partner with which i am for 2 years and we have a son that is 13 months. Just went out of maternity leave and i work only 2 days a week. the house is his and aswell he pays the bills while i buy the food and the clothes for our boy. another point of importance isthat he is english with family close by and i amfrom Romania and i am alone. How will i have to act to make sure i get custody of our son? i wouldn't mind sharing custody 3-4 days between but i don't want to leave untill i am sure that i would still see my son. thank you
aurora - 2-Sep-17 @ 4:39 PM
I have a one year old son with my husband. He left almost a year ago due to what he described as a mental breakdown. He threatened suicide several times for around 6 months and even requested that I and his ex partner, tell the children he loved them and that he was better off dead. During his supposed 'mental breakdown' he spent most days drinking heavily (he was a rather heavy drinker regardless ) and confessed to sleeping with various other women. Shortly before he left the marital home he was removed by the police for domestic abuse (he came home drunk and used threatening behaviour towards me whilst our baby was present then threatened me as I slept in bed with our baby in the cot next to me when he returned). He has lied about many, many things since, including having cancer and being sexually abused by an older sibling. He was very controlling and emotionally abusive throughout our relationship and upon striking up a relationship of mutual understanding with the mother of his other child, our stories are chillingly similar in what we both went through during our time with him. He has seen our son a handful of times since he left - but sometimes he can go up to 7 weeks without so much as a text to even enquire about him. He stopped paying for him for a couple of months because he thought that was justifiable seeing as he wasn't able to take him away from my home / without my supervision (he is pretty much a stranger to my son). It was only because the CMO chased him and told him if he didn't pay they would go direct to his employer (the London Fire Brigade). He earns a LOT of money doing illegal work (cash in hand) on a building site. In the past I was given excuses such as 'Im at work' or 'I cant get there' etc etc as to why he couldn't come to see his son but due to the fact I know a lot of people he knows, he was always found to be in a pub or watching football. I could go on and on but basically, I have had enough of him letting his son down and I worry constantly about the effect it will have on him when he's old enough to realise what his father is, his other son is 12 and is emotionally scarred by him and actually chose to move to a different country with his mother rather than stay and continue a haphazard relationship with him. My husband is a very good showman, he could sell snow to an eskimo and is happily going round telling anyone who will listen that he has a bitter ex wife who is stopping him from seeing his son when it's actually quite the opposite. I 100% believe that he will be a negative influence in my sons life and I wish to only better it by moving forward without him being able to flit in and out and also, the fact he's mentally unstable and a nasty drunk, doesn't help one bit. I am seeking to gain sole custody of my son and am hoping this is something I can at least have a decent chance of achieving.
milo81 - 15-Aug-17 @ 4:19 PM
Harris - Your Question:
My ex husband is threatening to tak me to court for full custody of our daughter due to the fact our daughter witnessed a violent act in public on me by my ex partner. I am no less ne'er with this man and even have had put in place a non molestation order. My ex husband sees his daughter every other weekend and takes her for half a day every Wednesday and he also gets a holiday with her and a few days during half term holidays. I have never stopped him seeing her. My daughter and I are very close and apart from my abusive ex who my daughter rarely saw, we were only really together whilst she stayed weekends at her dads, I wondered if he had a case?

Our Response:
This would be for the courts to decide really. They'll look at all the circumstances and make a decision in the best interests of your daughter.
LawAndParents - 8-Aug-17 @ 11:35 AM
My ex husband is threatening to tak me to court for full custody of our daughter due to the fact our daughter witnessed a violent act in public on me by my ex partner. I am no less ne'er with this man and even have had put in place a non molestation order. My ex husband sees his daughter every other weekend and takes her for half a day every Wednesday and he also gets a holiday with her and a few days during half term holidays. I have never stopped him seeing her. My daughter and I are very close and apart from my abusive ex who my daughter rarely saw, we were only really together whilst she stayed weekends at her dads, I wondered if he had a case?
Harris - 5-Aug-17 @ 7:31 PM
Suzanne Tait - Your Question:
Hi, I think my ex is going to take me to court and I'm wondering if he'll have a case? I have 2 children under 2 years old and they see their father regularly. (Stay with him once a week) I've said he can't have them stay over on their birthday's ( the day I gave birth to them ) and I won't allow him to take them 260 miles away over Christmas every other year. He's now threatening to take me to court. We've had a couple of mediation sessions and can't come to an agreement

Our Response:
We can't really say what the courts will decide on this sorry.
LawAndParents - 28-Jul-17 @ 12:16 PM
Hi, I think my ex is going to take me to court and I'm wondering if he'll have a case? I have 2 children under 2 years old and they see their father regularly. (Stay with him once a week) I've said he can't have them stay over on their birthday's ( the day I gave birth to them ) and I won't allow him to take them 260 miles away over Christmas every other year. He's now threatening to take me to court. We've had a couple of mediation sessions and can't come to an agreement
Suzanne Tait - 25-Jul-17 @ 11:36 PM
Hi, From my previous e-mail, I finally meet my son three times now. I am still having a lot of issues with regards to me going to see my son. I live in London and my ex partner live in Bolton. She has denied me several times to see him already, She is asking me to see my son on week days and will not allow me to see him on weekend as she is busy every single weekend with her personal stuff. The problem I have is that I work on week days and I can only have weekends off. I need help and advice to how I can apply for his custody and what more do I need to do for my sons custody. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hi, My partner have gone to her parents house and taken my son with her who was 3months old. She accused me of slapping her and i was given minor caution by police and got released. I have not seen my son for 2months and she is not letting me to see my son. I have tried to get in contact with her so many times and she has ignored me till today. I am going to see mediation to have a meeting after 5 weeks as she again refuse to see me any earlier until july 2017. I am so dying to see my son but have no clue what other options i have for his custody, Do you think i will be el8gable for 50/50 custody for my son as he is going to be 5 months in June. Pls help me...
fam - 20-Jul-17 @ 9:48 PM
Hi this is going to be a long one but could really do with some help. So my and my partner have been together 2 years,he has 3 children with his ex witch he was with for 9 years. So abit about the story. They had 3 kids and then split (she went with another guy) she then moved with the kids and my partner didnt know were she or his children had gone,he after 18 months of trying he go her new address. Went to the house and she agreed to let him see the children for a few hours every other weekend. She would not let me meet the children as she said that was best for them,after about 3 months of my partner doing this she said they could stop at our house for the weekend (the first time i met my partners kids was when they stopped for the weekend) it continued to be were they came to us every other weekend... She then stoped them from coming because my partner let his boys watch a tv program that she said was to old for them,so they went to mediation. It was sorted out and stated that we would have them every other weekend,she had to tell him is there was any medical problems or changes to the kids and they would both only let the kids watch/listen to age rated things... But she is not aloud to tell my partner how to act/bring up his children when they are with us. Any way now she has picked witch secondary school her eldest is going to without talking to my partner about it. She is not telling us about school plays,she is telling my partner what time to put the children to bed... Asking him not to straighten his daughters hair... And bot following through with doctors appointments that my partner has asked her to make regarding one of the children... 1 of the kids has now said he wants to live with me and his dad... And said the reasons were because he feels like he dosnt get any attention off of his mum as she now has a new baby and her new partner has a son... He never gets any space or time to himself as there are 3 beds in his bedroom... And his mum makes faulse prommises to him... Im just wondering what we can do as i hate to see the kids like this,my partner pays her monthly,yet the children are all in second hand clothes or hand me downs and there trainers are walking off there feet so to speak! Help please
Help! - 17-Jul-17 @ 6:40 PM
Hi I have a 13 week old baby with my ex and 3 sons previous I currently left my partner due to domestic abuse and child abuse to my younger son, he also snatched her last weekend and I had to get a emergency 24 court order to get back, I'm due bk in court but I think he wants custody off her but with me reporting it to everyone I needed too to get myself and children safe will he get it or access
L3ann3 - 8-Jul-17 @ 3:09 PM
Hi, My husband and I separated 18 months ago due to domestic violence this was reported and on the waiting list for crown court however I heard he was planning on moving to Australia (new girlfriend is Australian) so I withdrew my statement and the case was dropped. Surprise surprise a month later he is now in Australia. What I need to know is can I apply for sole custody so I do not need to seek permission from him when we go on holiday, schools they go to etc. I don't want to ban contact as the girls love their dad I just want to be in control of it and their upbringing. TIA
Louise - 2-Jul-17 @ 10:07 AM
Legend- Your Question:
I recently split from my wife of 15 years, and she has since moved on and is in a new relationship with someone 80 miles away. She leaves to see him regularly and does not inform the kids, we have 3, and I am left to deal with the fallout! I have a full time job and I work around this to enable me to take and collect the children from school. I pay the mortgage on the property they live in and I finance the children day to day things when they with me! I have the children more often than she does and when they are home they do nothing with their mother as she is always on the phone/Facebook etc and the kids go to their rooms whereas I have one on one with the kids all the time. She is no mother, just a figure in the lives as and when she pleases. I have reported her twice to the police for abuse and a public order offence on more than 1 occasion. I want to go for full custody of the children to give them every chance of moving in the right direction in life and supporting them as best I can emotionally as they in a bit of a mess. Please advise the best way forward?

Our Response:
The form to apply for full residency is C100 Child Arrangements Order. The courts may expect you to attend mediation first to come to some agreement, so it's worth trying this first.Give your reasons for asking for full residency, make sure that your case is centred around the children - it might be worth considering professional legal advice. The courts will make their decision based on the best interests of the children.
LawAndParents - 28-Jun-17 @ 11:03 AM
I recently split from my wife of 15 years, and she has since moved on and is in a new relationship with someone 80 miles away. She leaves to see him regularly and does not inform the kids, we have 3, and I am left to deal with the fallout! I have a full time job and I work around this to enable me to take and collect the children from school. I pay the mortgage on the property they live in and I finance the children day to day things when they with me! I have the children more often than she does and when they are home they do nothing with their mother as she is always on the phone/Facebook etc and the kids go to their rooms whereas I have one on one with the kids all the time. She is no mother, just a figure in the lives as and when she pleases. I have reported her twice to the police for abuse and a public order offence on more than 1 occasion. I want to go for full custody of the children to give them every chance of moving in the right direction in life and supporting them as best I can emotionally as they in a bit of a mess. Please advise the best way forward?
Legend - 26-Jun-17 @ 4:57 PM
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