Custody of Children, Residence and now Arrangements for Children. What does it all mean?
Years ago when a couple divorced the court would automatically become involved to determine who would have custody of the children. An order would be made and this was usually in favour of the mother. In effect, the mother would then be able to make all future decisions regarding the care of the children.
The word custody was not very nice. It sounded like children were possessions to be owned. As a child of divorced parents I certainly never liked the idea that anyone had ‘custody’ of me. Especially as I was a 15-year-old Goth at the time.
The Children’s Act of 1989 changed things. Now parents were to have Residence of their children. This determined which parent a child would live with. However, the new rule was that court orders relating to children should be a rare thing. If parents agreed arrangements between them there was no need for a court order to be made. A new generation of Goths could live free of the stigma of having a court order hanging over their heads!
Things, in theory, were also looking up for fathers. The concept of Shared Residence was introduced. It was expected that children would have regular overnight stays with both parents.
However, it hasn’t always worked out that way as Fathers For Justice will tell you. So now we have Arrangements For Children. No ownership in the title. The court is expected to promote regular contact between children and both parents. That is the starting assumption. It is expected and promoted, that children will spend time overnight with both parents and also be able to spend part of school holidays with each parent.
I am glad of the change. It is a different mindset. Also, as long as both parents have Parental Responsibility, which you obtain automatically if your name is in your child’s birth certificate, then they can both make decisions about their child’s future. One parent is no longer in the driving seat.
“After being in the legal field and having rubbed shoulders with the cream of the crop of firms, I decided to use a local firm myself for child contact issues. I met your lawyer who was extremely well versed in this format of law. He was a good listener and kept the whole process as simple and diplomatic as possible. I would never have known he was a Trainee, he seems to be working the circuit like an old pro. Thanks guys for all of your help, regards Usman”.
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