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Understanding Residence Orders

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 16 Apr 2023 | comments*Discuss
Residence Order Residency Custody

There may come a time – either as the result of a separation or a divorce – where the issue of where and with whom your children live comes to the fore. For this reason, the application for a Residence Order is normally made.

What is a Residence Order

A Residence Order is an order issued by the Family Proceedings Court, and details which parent the children should reside with. This order normally provides details of when and where the children can be visited by the parent who has failed to gain residency. Once the order has been granted, Parental Responsibility for the children goes to the person with whom the children will be living.

Applying for a Residence Order

You should only apply for a Residence Order if you and your partner cannot come to an amicable arrangement relating to the living arrangements of your children. If this is the case, you should consult with a solicitor specialising in family law, who will advise you on the best course of action to take, and may suggest that a period of mediation is entered into before pursuing the matter through the courts.


This is the term used to describe how the court will look upon such requests for the issuing of a Residence Order. Paramountcy relates to the importance to the children of where they should live and also what is in their best interests. For example, if the court feels that the children’s best interests would to stay with their mother, then they are obliged to issue in her favour.

The most important aspect of any court proceeding relating to the care and wellbeing of your children is what is best for them. This is something that can become a secondary issue if the circumstances between parents is not amicable. Therefore, if your children are old enough to understand, you should discuss the situation with them, and if they are old enough to decide, ask them where they would prefer to live.

Visiting Rights

If you are the parent that the court has ruled against, then you will have visiting rights. This means that between you and your partner you must agree – or the court will make a ruling on your behalf – as to how often and for how long you see your children each day or each week.

It is important that the children have access to both parents and also have the means to contact either parent as and when they wish to. The court may also rule that telephone calls are allowed in between visits in order to maintain some level of continuity.

The most important thing to remember during the application for a Residence Order are the thoughts and feelings of the children involved. You should – at all times – make sure they are aware of the fact that they are not at fault and are not to blame for the circumstances in which they are caught up.

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I have a child arrangement order for my 2 grandsons now dad is refusing to hand them back saying he is applying fir a urgent court order where do I stand
Di - 16-Apr-23 @ 7:04 AM
Me and my husband has joint residence order on our grandson. But January of this year he left us. So now am on my own with him. Can I apply for a passport for my grandson, and if so who has to agree to this, his grandad who left him or his patents
Scarysarah - 9-May-22 @ 6:56 PM
I have a residence order over my 4 grandchildren 1 who is 17 is refusing to stay with me she is on drugs and drink but staying with her best friend and her gran social services are saying she is safe there but they are still on drugs and drink and the other gran can not see it so why is she safe why don't they make her come home she looks so dirty and ill has lost 6 partime jobs this season and is refusing to go back to collage even through she has passed every thing in her first year and was doing so well can social services not see that this family are not right for her
Nanna - 16-Sep-21 @ 12:47 PM
My ex partner was given resident order for my daughter in 2013 she is now 17 in December and doesn’t want to go back to my ex partner home for many reasons will she be made to return back to him I’m stuck at what I can do and can’t do The court order I can’t find and wen calling court the files have been transferred to another system that she can’t access realy confused
Ki - 3-Aug-21 @ 9:50 AM
My partner lives 716 miles away and I want to move to him I have the children 85%of the time and looking into a residency order with agreed access to the children twice a year which I will bring and collect them from their father, I don't know where I stand with this if anyone can help I would appreciate it
Dominique Fae Hamilt - 17-Jul-21 @ 4:46 PM
My husband has a cocaine addiction that caused our marriage to collapse after sixteen years. We have five kids together and my son. He became abusive and kicked me out of the marital home. He wouldn’t let me take the kids so I daughter refuge with a friend and he moved himself back into the house and told me if I ever wanted to see the kids I had to move back in with him and them. He has been saying for three months that he has a residency order but I’ve never seen it. With Christmas and lockdown I’ve seen my kids for a day since November and I’m out of my mind trying to get a legal aid lawyer and social services to help. I’m in England and he is in Scotland with them. Any advice
Momma bear - 8-Feb-21 @ 6:19 PM
My parent now got given a residency order but we live together and have done for 2 years now. Does the residency order still stand as I live with him and my daughter?
Lottie - 15-Sep-20 @ 4:48 PM
I lost my son to my ex in 2014 and he became resident order parent. I had by the judge nearly half as much in overnight and holidays in days as him. So I didn't have to pay nothing to my ex. My sons 17 and he wants to live with me full time and is soon leaving his father's and moving in with me. Has I have him nearly 50%of the time but his dad as the child benefit as the first parent can my ex do anything to get him back when he's 17 I'm in England. An I can't work out if my ex is over him till 18 but if my son at 17 wants to live full time with me dosnt my son have a say
Nicky - 3-Aug-20 @ 7:02 PM
My daughter had a permancy agreement till she was 16. Shes been 16 for the last about a month and the social work said to the carers if she thinks she's kept in don't tell her she can't be told what to since she turned 16(they don't mind being unethical, eh), sorry about the rant! I just want to know if she can come home.
Cadgie - 28-Jul-20 @ 2:42 PM
My daughter's permancy order stoped when finished when she turned 16 she has tuned 16 she want to return home socail worker says she cant as i only have a 1 bed room house the housing aren't showing houses because of carona virus can she come home just now until I get 2 bed room house.
Cadgie - 28-Jul-20 @ 2:32 PM
My ex partner was given residency of our 2 children in 2015 I wasn't in any fit state to look after them due to the death of my youngest child. I sorted myself and in 2016 he handed my children back to me but we never told the courts. Can he take them back? He hasn't maintained any contact with them since early 2017 he hasn't seen them since the day he handed them back to me.
Tat - 7-Apr-20 @ 11:42 PM
Can I as a grandparent go for emergency residence order or a residence order. I’m a little confused as some parts of google say the child’s had to of lived with me for three years? Is this true or can I apply without the child having lives with me before?
Carebear123 - 27-Mar-20 @ 1:04 PM
I am a single father to my 11 year old daughter and had her on my own since she were 3 years.I have a residence order but because her mother left the court before we went in, no contact order has been made and the courts said it was for the parents to work out.During the 8 years her mother has repeatedly not shown as arranged, let my daughter down with stopping overnight and owe over £800 child maintenance.Just recently she has been dating a support worker and they plan to get married later this year.My daughters mother earlier today said she was going to keep her and look after her from now on.Her mother has 4 other children who are on child protection. What rights do I have to stop her mother from upsetting my daughter from the constant let downs and rights as the resident parent to keep her in my care.
Chris - 15-Feb-20 @ 5:18 PM
Need a bit of advice on what I can do regarding a situation with my niece that is 14 years old,last year my sister had a break down and struggled with behaviour issues and getting her daughter to stop truanting school however social services stepped in and asked my sister's ex partner to take the kids for a week or so until my sister sorted herself out,both kids refused Togo at first as there dad didn't have much to-do with them for 10 years,cut a long story short my sister's ex won a residency order in court with help and support of a social worker that only had ever visited my sister at home twice in a whole year and when she did visit was satified with home conditions ext the kids have always told social services that they don't want to live with there dad and his controlling partner however there feelings I felt has never been taken into account these kids are now 12 and 14,the court order was finalised in July in favour of my sister's ex with arrangements put in place for how much time kids can spend with there mum ext,My oldest niece has now gone of the rails she's threaten to kill her dad's controlling partner she took the knife to school the next day in her bag and threaten a girl that was bullying her sister and got kicked out of school she's been reported missing 7 times social services has recantley became involved again and has said that my niece can not return to live with her father because of his controlling partner and they advised him to put her with a family member,My niece was placed in her nan's care by her dad and my niece continued to spiral out of control to the point she ran away for 3 days,now the nan has thrown her out and iv stepped in she's now been living with me for 6 weeks however she insists that she wants to return to my sister's care and have made herself clear to everyone that she will not be peranted by anyone apart from her mum ,social services is doing a visit tomorrow to see my niece but I'm just wondering if there is any way that this could be taken back to court and get this order dropped because I'm unable to make any decisions without dads final say in everything,his now using the court order and threatens me by saying if I make certain decisions for my niece weather I fill it's in her best interest I can't without his final say,My niece is 14 and all she wants is to return to her mum's care and have envolvment with her mum,social service has said she can't return to her dad's care and the nan has said she's not an option anymore she won't be placed into care either and I'm over crowed because I have 2 kids of my own the only option that I can see is her returning back to her mum's care but a court order is in place,I need some advise on next steps please can someone help
Doris - 2-Feb-20 @ 1:24 PM
I amm in divorce process since December 2018. I have primary phisical custody and we share legal custody with dad of my baby. Baby is 2 years old. His dad has a visitation 2 times a month. He is living in different city. 4 hours driving from us. I would like to travel with my baby abroad to my native country to see my parents.But his dad doesn't want to give a permission to me to take our son out of country. Do I really need his permission? can Itravel without his permission? What can I do?
Sveta - 18-Dec-19 @ 9:49 AM
I have two children aged 7 and 10 who haven’tbeen living with me since September 2016 because of the domestic violence relationship drink n my mental health problems at the time since that my grandparents have had my daughter and my son is living with his dad and grandma I’m still currently looking for a stable home to have them back with me but feel like my grandparents keep putting goal posts out and that anything I do is never good enough what can I do to take back the control for my daughter are they aloud to control every aspect or do I go back to court.
Kimmie - 12-Dec-19 @ 5:01 PM
I need some advice on the residency of my 4 nearly 5 year old daughter. 3 and a half years ago I was thrown out of my house and my Daughter was with my Daughter's father's parents who manipulated me and they took my daughter away from me just because they wanted her all to themselves. The father has custody of my Daughter but now he is living in a mess I've heard from people who went to his house that he has a full kitchen of dirty pots and plates and he's really unclean. I've tried fighting for my daughter but the last court case was on the 1st of March 2017 I couldn't get there due to the snow storm, could someone please help me. I need her out of the place she's living in as it is a state Thank you
Georgie1994 - 25-Nov-19 @ 3:09 PM
My ex the father of my 2 boys took out a residency order without me able to defend myself.He has lied and social have said I am a fit mother and should have them with me which I have had for 11 years.It has been 3 years and my kids hate living with him and want to return home. He stops all contact and phone calls and lies to them all the time. He has tried to get my daughter taken of me forno reason .social services wont get involved because they cant make a case against me because I am a very good mum
Traceyanne83 - 24-Nov-19 @ 9:10 PM
I have a court order and residency order in place. The father has contact in which he allowed to see our son. He has stated to me that he will be keeping the child outside of the ordered contact and therefore not returning child home. If the child is not returned home am I able to ring police to collect son due to court order and residency?Thanks
Molly - 15-Oct-19 @ 3:10 PM
My husband and I have been divorced since 2016 they live with me permanently we have an amiable where you sees the children when he wants, there's no fixed days. We do however have a dispute regarding me taking my daughter abroad to Kenya for a month where I do voluntary work. He absolutely refusees to allow her to go. Do I have to apply to the courts for full resency to enable me to take her without written consent
Boo - 13-Oct-19 @ 6:27 PM
My ex husband has a residence order of my son who is nearly 12.my son is upset and wants to see me and I spoke about it to my ex husband who said that he would let me see him , however he never does . Its affecting my son who is aggressive with his siblings due to thinking they are loved more than him and I can't put into words how much pain its causing me.i think I need a judge to decide on contact but i have no idea how to go about it. Please help me.
Kiki - 8-Oct-19 @ 5:24 PM
My parents have had redensisie of my child and we have always decided she would return to me for secondary school once I was better with my mental health .. that time has come what do my parents do or does she just return home without any court proceedings or do my parents have to apply for court I'm so confused and worried this is going to stop my child coming home to me , I don't kNow what to do can someone help me on how I proceed this as I have to also start applying for schools on my area but at moment she is out of catchment area with my parents
Charli - 30-Sep-19 @ 6:29 PM
I have a 6 year old son and my baby's dad has a residency order from 4 years ago, does this mean that I have no parental rights for my son as this is what he is telling me and he is also trying to stop my contacts even though I have never been late to a contact. He has already taken away my phone calls to my son and I feel as this is only getting worse
Maddy - 17-Sep-19 @ 8:27 PM
I have a 7 year old daughter that's father has the residency order for can I apply to get this decision relooked at? I am a mother of two and my oldest daughter is 13 and still lives with me
Amanda - 13-Aug-19 @ 7:05 PM
i got a letter from a sheriff to vary the residence order granted in favour of the pursuer in 2014 by finding the defender entitled to a residence order
coco - 11-Aug-19 @ 8:28 PM
I need good advice, my ex partner was granted a live with order for our two children aged 7&11. I have been granted spend time with. My ex (the father) is not providing the care for our children, he is leaving this to his current girlfriend for the day to day running of their life. I am not happy with this arrangement and I believe the father misled the court. He won’t tell me his new address and I receive hurtful and spiteful messages from himself and his partner. Our children want to spend equal amount of time with their mum and dad. How can I appeal this court decision?
Piseag - 10-Aug-19 @ 2:11 PM
I was hoping to get some advice. My ex has a residency order for our 2 children. A few months ago our daughter decided she wanted to come back living with me which we both agreed on after speaking to authorities also. The issue I have though is he is refusing to cancel his claim for tax credits for her and with 3 other children here I’m finding it difficult to be able to get the essentials for her. She has outgrown most things that she came with. I do work and he doesn’t. He is now saying that if I add her to my claim then he will keep her at his which will mean disruption to her school after she transferred once already. What can I do?
gina - 3-Aug-19 @ 7:46 PM
Hi. My nephew currently stays with his nana as she has a residency order. She had a stroke recently & is now saying she is un able to care for him. Is there anyway she can sign his residency over to myself.
Boo - 25-Jul-19 @ 4:07 PM
My partner and myself split 5 years ago, he hasn’t seen my daughter in 2 years and refuses to answering anything regarding my daughter who is now 13 and has ASD. I no longer have any details of his whereabouts but recently contacted his mum as my daughters passport is up for renewal, he is now refusing to sign the relevant paperwork! Where do I currently stand on this matter? Thanks
Mum - 12-Jun-19 @ 11:09 AM
Added on from previous message I have had 5 year old since he was 2 and the residency order started February 2017.
M - 3-Jun-19 @ 9:06 AM
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