Child Residence banner

Family Law Services

Home / Family Law Services / Child Law / Child Residence

Child Residence Solicitors

As expert child residence solicitors we understand that divorce and separation can be particularly difficult if children are involved. Establishing a new routine quickly can prove a great help, which is why it’s important to agree on arrangements for your children swiftly. Making decisions about child residence can be tough and where parents struggle to agree, it is vital to access immediate legal support.

We have a wealth of practical experience and comprehensive legal knowledge about child residency and divorce. We will take the time to meet with you and discuss your options in detail, focusing upon what is in the child’s best interests and providing clear and realistic responses to your questions.

We can support clients with matters related to child residence, such as:

  • Child custody and access in family law
  • How child residency is decided
  • Applying for a Child Arrangements Order (formerly known as Child Residence Order/Child Contact Order)
  • Advice on parental responsibility
  • How the Court determines child access
  • Advice on Specific Issue Orders

Contact our child custody solicitors in London

If you need legal advice on child residency matters today, call our solicitors today or 020 7622 2221. Alternatively, you can complete our online enquiry form.

Our expertise on child residence

Child custody and access in family law

When deciding who will look after children following divorce or separation, it is always best if you and the other parent are able to negotiate amicably. Regardless, we understand that parents often disagree about who will have custody and you may need to apply for a Child Arrangements Order.

In legal language, the term 'child residence' has replaced the use of 'custody' when discussing where a child will live. And 'contact' is now used in place of 'access' to describe how and when the non-resident parent will spend time with the child.

The adult with whom the child resides is known as the resident parent or primary carer. If the child spends roughly equal amounts of time with both parents, perhaps one week with their mother and the following week with father, they are said to have shared residence.

How is child residence decided?

Some people believe the mother automatically gains child residence when a couple separates, however this is not correct. If parents cannot agree who is to be the primary carer, a court will need to decide based on the unique circumstances of the family and always with the welfare of the children in mind.

When the court is asked to make a decision on where a child will live, they will do this through a Child Arrangement Order (previously known as Child Contact and Residence Order). This order will also deal with the issue of non-resident parental contact. The court will usually take the approach that it is most beneficial for children to have both parents involved in their lives.

As a specialist child custody solicitor in Clapham London, Goodsells Family Law can assist you in making an application for child residence (custody) through a Child Arrangements Order.

How do you apply for a child residence order?

A Child Residence Order was renamed a Child Arrangement order; however, some people still refer to these as Child Residence Orders, or sometimes, Child Contact Orders. If a parent already possesses a Child Contact Order or a Child Residence Order, they do not need to apply for a Child Arrangements Order.

To apply for a Child Arrangements Order, you are legally required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, (MIAM) before you make an application. Where any kind of domestic abuse has taken place, you will not be required to attend an MIAM.

Once you’ve attended an MIAM you can then apply for a Child Arrangements Order using Form C100 that can be found on the UK Gov website. It is advisable to work with a child custody solicitor when progressing through the application stages. Your child contact solicitor will be able to provide assistance and help you to prepare for the Court proceedings that follow.

What is the difference between a Child Arrangement Order and a Child Residence Order?

A Child Arrangement Order was previously known as a Child Residence Order or a Child Contact Order. (Some parents will already have these orders in place, and they do not need to obtain a Child Arrangement Order.)

A Child Arrangement Order establishes where a child will live following a divorce, and when they will spend time with each parent.

If you already have a Child Residence Order and you’re looking for further legal advice, we can assist you. If you’re looking to apply for a Child Arrangement Order, we can guide you through the process.

The role of parental responsibility

To apply for a Child Arrangement Order, formerly known as a Child Residence Order, you’ll need to have parental responsibility for your child. Mothers automatically have parental responsibility, yet unmarried fathers do not and may need to apply for this order.

If you are an unmarried father and you wish to become the primary carer of your child, you should make sure you have parental responsibility in place, although it is important to note that having parental responsibility does not confer an automatic right to child residence.

Similarly, if you are in a same-sex relationship and you wish to seek child residence, it is important that you make sure you have parental responsibility. See our page on Parental Rights and Responsibilities for more information.

We appreciate that the idea of not seeing your children often can be incredibly distressing, particularly if there is conflict between you and your ex-spouse. If you do not currently have parental responsibility for your child, our child access solicitors in Clapham, London can offer full legal support, to improve your situation.

What do the Court consider when granting child access?

When granting a Child Arrangements Order the Court will reference Section 1(2A) of the Children Act 1989. According to this act, it is presumed that having both parents in the child’s life will improve their welfare.

Of course, under certain circumstances this may not be the case and the Court will consider various factors when granting child access, including:

  • The emotional, educational, and physical needs of the children
  • The feelings and wishes of the children
  • How a change in circumstances will affect the children
  • If the children are at risk of harm
  • Whether or not the parents are capable of attending to the children’s needs

If you are concerned about maintaining access to your children, our child law solicitors in Clapham, London can offer comprehensive legal support.

Specific issue order

A Specific Issue Order refers to a type of Court order used to settle disputes between parents regarding their child’s upbringing or wellbeing. The order is used for specific issues, for example:

  • Whether or not a child’s name should be changed after a divorce
  • Disagreements about taking the child abroad
  • Disputes about where the child should go to school
  • A child’s medical treatments, for example vaccinations
  • Disagreements about taking the child abroad

If you’re having a dispute with your ex-spouse and you’d like to apply for a Specific Issue Order, our family law solicitors can assist you.

You can find out more on our Child Arrangements Orders page. We have also written a number of blog articles on this subject:

Contact our child custody solicitor in Clapham, London

We are here to help you with all your child residency issues and we are sensitive to the importance of your situation. To discuss any matters related to child residence in Clapham London call Goodsells Family Law on 020 7622 2221 or complete our online enquiry form.