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Residence orders

The law changed a few years ago to get rid of the concept of ‘custody’.

 

Instead, the courts are empowered to make orders requiring a child to reside with a particular person. These ‘residence orders’ are normally made only if there is a dispute about where a child should live.

 

In most cases, perhaps with the assistance of solicitors, mothers and fathers are able to reach an amicable agreement about the care arrangements for children following upon separation. The agreement can then be formalised in a Separation Agreement. However, it is sometimes necessary to apply to the court for a Residence Order. This might happen:

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  • if the child’s mother and father cannot reach an agreement about where the child should reside;

  • where a child has not been returned following a Contact visit;

  • if a person other than the child’s mother and father (perhaps a grandparent or temporary carer) has been looking after the child for a while; or

  • if the parent looking after a child wishes to move abroad against the wishes of the other parent.

 

Despite recent changes to the law, it is still more common for children to live with their mothers than their fathers. However, there are plenty of examples of the opposite being ordered. Sometimes couples are able to agree ‘shared care’ arrangements. What can be said with some certainty, though, is that in all cases the courts must put the best interests of the child above all other considerations.

In most cases, perhaps with the assistance of solicitors, mothers and fathers are able to reach an amicable agreement about the care arrangements for children following upon separation.

 

The agreement can then be formalised in a Separation Agreement. However, it is sometimes necessary to apply to the court for a Contact Order. This might happen:

  •  

  • if the child’s mother and father cannot reach an agreement about how much contact (usually the father) should have with the child;

  • if one of the child’s parents is refusing to allow the other parent to see the child;

  • if a person other than the child’s mother and father (perhaps a grandparent or sibling) is being denied contact with the child.

 

Most child psychologists are agreed that children benefit from keeping in touch with both of their parents following separation. The courts recognise this by making Contact Orders in the vast majority of cases where there is a dispute. It must be remembered, though, that in all cases the courts must put the best interests of the child above all other considerations.

 

Once a Contact Order has been made, it must be obeyed. Failure to do so could result in a conviction for contempt of court which in turn could lead to a fine or even imprisonment.

Contact orders

 

For more information on residence and contact orders, please contact us on:

01506 656 820

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