Fathers Rights to Child Custody

Fathers Rights to Child Custody

You can ask our online solicitors for advice on fathers rights to child custody using the question box on the front of our website or the following free legal advice guide may answer your questions.

Navigating through the complexities of custody can be both challenging and confusing. There are many issues to address and it can sometimes be an emotional time for all parties. The custody process must strike a balance between ensuring each parent has access while protecting the welfare of the child. The law put in place to govern custody proceedings is designed to ensure that children are a priority and their feelings and wishes are taken into consideration when making decisions.

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Child Custody Explained

Custody, or residency as it is sometimes called is a process that is used to determine where a child will live after a couple separate or divorce. In the UK, there are two main types of custody that can be arranged:

  • Full custody – One parent retains full custody of the child. The child will live with them full time. Arrangements will be made for the other parent where this is necessary and appropriate to visit the child at arranged times.
  • Shared custody –  Where the parents share joint responsibility of the child. Also known as shared residency or shared parenting. When a joint custody arrangement is in place, custody will be shared. The child will live with each parent either for an equal amount of time or may spend the full week or weekends with the other parent. Shared custody brings a number of benefits in that both parents have equal access to the child and they both have a say in decisions made about the child as well as key events in their life. 

In the UK the law surrounding custody is designed to provide parents and legal professionals with guidance on how to determine who should have custody of children after a couple separate or divorce. The court will undertake a review of the situation and decide the most suitable custody arrangements for the child based on their best interests.

The court will review the details of the case and then determine how custody should be arranged based on the needs of the child. Often custody proceedings will be instigated when parents cannot reach an agreement without intervention from legal professionals. For the majority of cases, the mother will be awarded custody of the child with the father having rights to contact. That said, efforts are being made by a number of organisations to ensure that fathers have greater contact with their children.

Shared Child Custody

Shared custody in the UK is particularly low compared with America and other countries around Europe but measures are being taken to actively encourage shared parenting in the UK. In 2013, a new Children and Family Bill was introduced which outlined plans to ensure that laws relating to shared custody were put in place. Children always benefit from a joint relationship between both parents following a divorce or separation. This is important because it is in the best interests of the child.

The details within a joint custody order do differ from those which are outlined in the standard contact order. Where a standard contact order is issued, custody is weighted more in favour of one parent than the other. The remaining parent can have access to the child as set out in the order. In most cases this means that the mother will have primary custody with the father receiving access to the child at weekends or some days during the week.

The father of the child is within their rights to have access to the child and to have involvement in key decisions that are made about the child’s life. Fathers are also entitled to have a say in medical decisions that need to be made about the child or financial arrangements where this is possible. The situation can become even more complicated when a mother denies the father access. It is in this instance that the father should seek legal advice to find out their rights.

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