Children's law experts
The family court puts the needs and welfare of children first at all times, making child arrangement orders to give sole custody to one parent. Our family law experts are here to help if you need to apply for a court order.
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Can I get sole custody of my child?
The phrases sole custody and joint custody have now been superseded by the legal term ''child arrangements'. So if you have been thinking in terms of having sole custody, the current terminology would describe that you having a "lives with" order in your favour.
Unless the other parent agrees that the children can live with you, you would need to seek a child arrangements order in the family court that specified this course of action.
However, the starting point for all child arrangements between separated couples is that the care of the child should be shared with both parents, unless this would be likely to adversely affect the child's welfare.
Naturally, there may be reasons why you think that you having 'sole custody' would be best for the child or children, but the law requires that, in the first instance, you try to arrange this amicably with the other parent.
How do I get sole custody through a court order?
This is a court order that is legally binding on both parents and will ensure that your partner spends time with the children that is considered safe and appropriate.
In the case of a violent or abusive parent, this might mean spending no time with the children alone, supervised contact, or communication only by letter, email, telephone or Skype call.
Will a court give me sole custody?
The family court prefers the care of the children to be shared with both parents whenever possible, and will generally make that the default option, unless there is evidence that one parent represents a danger to the safety and wellbeing of a child. In making decisions they rely on the following Welfare Checklist:
- The wishes and feelings of the child, taking into account their age, level of understanding and maturity. Most courts regard children of nine years and older as having an understanding of their circumstances.
- The child's physical, emotional and educational needs.
- The likely effect that any change of circumstances will have on the child.
- The child's age, sex, background and any other characteristics that the court thinks are relevant.
- Any harm that the child may have suffered or is at risk of suffering;
- How capable the parties in the case are of meeting the child's emotional and physical needs.
- All of the powers that the court has under which could be used within the proceedings.
This checklist is very important to the family court and will always be referred to when considering applications for a child arrangements order, including when one parent seeks sole custody of a child or children.
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