A Guide to Child Custody Rights

Higgins Miller is a family law firm based in the north-west of England. We pride ourselves on helping our clients get through some of the most stressful events that life can throw at them, whether that means coping with a divorce, handling the will and probate of a loved one or dealing with children disputes. This last is one of the most upsetting of all when a relationship breaks down and the issue of child custody rights has to be dealt with. The good news is that the expert solicitors at Higgins Miller offer the perfect blend of carefully honed legal advice and empathetic emotional support. 

We’ve dealt with a huge number of relationship breakdowns over the years, and we know that no two are exactly the same. We also understand that when the issue of child custody rights is a part of the mix then any anger, bitterness and trauma can become hugely amplified. We work with every client to ensure that the support they receive is carefully balanced and given in a calm and clear manner. When it comes to child custody rights we explain exactly what the legal position is and what the rights and responsibilities of each party are. We explain all of this using the kind of plain English that the average person will be able to understand, avoiding the kind of legal jargon and technical phrases that we know can seem daunting and off-putting. As well as dealing with the technical matters we do our best to diffuse the situation and proceed as calmly as possible to ensure that the interests of the children remain front and centre.   

Any explanation of child custody rights will begin with setting out exactly what is meant by parental responsibility. If a married couple separate, then parental responsibility is automatically shared by both parents. In cases where the parents aren’t married, only the mother has these rights automatically, although, for children born after 2003, fathers can claim parental rights providing they are mentioned on the birth certificate. Even if they don’t officially have parental responsibility, child custody rights mean that any parent moving out of the family home still has a duty to provide financially for their children. 

Our experience dealing with child custody rights means that we always work as hard as we can to reach a solution arranged between the parents without having to appear in court. The arrangements for child custody rights, which used to be known as residence and contact arrangements, are centred upon finding the solution which is best for the children at the centre of the process. Issues which will be considered when drawing up an arrangement will include:

  • Which parent has the most free time to be able to devote to providing quality care for their children
  • Where it would be the most convenient for the children to live. Issues such as which parent lives closest to a child’s school could have a huge bearing on this decision
  • The chances of circumstances changing in the future. If one child is due to change schools, for example, then the identity of the most conveniently located parent might change

Another aspect of dealing with child custody rights will involve putting together a plan for how each parent will stay in touch with the children in the future, as well as how they will communicate with each other to discuss any issues or problems which arise. In some cases, the breakdown of the relationship is such that the parents no longer wish to speak, and in such cases, an alternative can be arranged such as text messaging, emailing or the intervention of another family member to pass messages back and forth.  

Once child custody rights issues such as these have been resolved, we’ll work with the client to draw up a parenting plan. This details exactly what arrangements have been agreed, and can offer a sense of stability moving forward as well as providing something to refer back to if there are any arguments in the future. As long as both parents give permission, the specific details of the plan can be altered at any time. Our knowledge will ensure that any plan drawn up includes all relevant details and that both parents are meeting their parental responsibilities. In some cases, the parents might wish to turn the plan into a legally binding document, in which case we will draw up something known as a ‘consent order’ which details all of the practical matters covered by the plan. Getting this order recognised by the court involves a fee, but should be straightforward providing the judge is satisfied that there are no safeguarding issues and the best interests of the children are being met. If you’d like to learn more about child custody rights please call us on 0161 429 7251 or email us at [email protected] We’ve recently passed our Cyber Essential accreditation, something which demonstrates our forward-thinking attitude and determination to remain ahead of the competition. A 20-minute appraisal can be provided free of charge, and if you want to find out more we’ll provide the first appointment for a fixed fee, so you don’t have to worry about how much our advice is going to cost. If you want to learn about our wider charging system then please take a look here.

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February 20, 2020

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