Many people talk about custody of a child or children on separation or divorce. In English family law there is no such concept.
The starting point is that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for a child and whilst the child or children may spend more time with one parent this does not legally alter this position.
There is a legal concept of parental responsibility for a child. You may not have parental responsibility if you are (i) the father, (ii) were not married to the mother and (iii) are not on the birth certificate or the child was born before December 2003. If you do not have this then you may want to enter into an agreement or apply for an order to achieve this.
In addition if you cannot agree with your co-parent how much time the child or children should spend with each of you then you can apply to the court for a residence order, a shared residence order and/ or a contact order. These define who a child will live with and/ or how much time should be spent with each parent.
The court on divorce or separation will not become involved unless you specifically request that they do so.
Another phrase which is often used in relation to disputes over children is “primary carer”. Again this is not a recognised legal concept.
Lawyers make everything more expensive
Some people avoid speaking to family lawyers because they fear they will make matters more acrimonious and more expensive then they need be.
It is true that family lawyers cost money but very often obtaining advice in relation to financial issues and/ or children at an early stage can ultimately save a lot of time, cost and emotional stress.
When both parties have knowledge of their rights, the legal principles involved and the parameters for any financial settlement it can make reaching an agreement much easier.
Often parties find that it is the emotional issues which hinder any agreement or settlement in relation to finances and/or children. A specialist family law solicitor is able to give parties dispassionate advice without emotions being involved.
We take specialist advice and assistance in many other areas in our lives from medical issues to home or car repairs and divorce and separation should be no different. The potential consequences of failing to take any advice could be significant.
Maguire Family Law is a specialist firm of Family Law and Divorce Law solicitors based in Wilmslow, Cheshire. We offer legal advice to parties going through a divorce including the financial issues which flow from this and children matters including child maintenance.
We can also advise on Schedule1 Children Act 1989 applications.
We advise clients in the Wilmslow area and also to the surrounding areas of Alderley Edge, Bramhall, Hale, Altrincham, Manchester and the North West. We are also able to act for clients nationally and internationally subject to the jurisdiction of England and Wales. For advice please contact James Maguire by telephone +44 (0) 1625 529456 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org