Divorce can be difficult on everyone that is involved, but especially on children if they are caught between their parents. Usually, the court doesn’t decide matters of custody; it generally agrees with whatever the parents decide. However, if the parents cannot come to an agreement, then the courts may have to step in on matters of custody.
Deciding Custody Matters
When a couple with children decides to divorce, they must file a document called the ‘Statement of Arrangements for Children.’ This document gives information on how many children there are, where they go to school, the current living arrangements and their caretaker if both parents work. The court only uses the file for information, not for making custody arrangements.
The only time that the court will step in on custody matters is if the parents do not agree on arrangements for their children and want the court’s help. In general, the court will decide custody on what it considers to be in the best interests of the child or children. While most people think that the mother usually gets custody, that has changed and both parents are now considered equally.
The Custody Process
Before seeking the court’s help in making the decision about a child’s custody, you must try to come to an agreement with your former spouse. Only after exhausting all attempts to come to an agreement can you petition the court for help. During this time, you should seek the assistance of one of the family law solicitors in London, to help ensure that everything is done properly to obtain custody of your child.
Custody hearings can take time, as long as there are not mitigating circumstances, such as child abuse of any kind. If one of the parents is abusing their child, then the court will usually quickly rule in favour of the other parent in order to protect the child. However, if there are no allegations of abuse, then a family panel will hear both sides of the custody case.
The Family Panel consists of three magistrates who will question both parents as to why they want custody and about their plans for caring for their child on their own. A Court Welfare Officer will also get involved and assess how the parents interact and take care of their child, along with their home status. If the child is old enough, they may ask him or her questions as well.
Once a report from the Child Welfare Officer is filed, it will be taken under consideration by the Family Panel. The panel will take everything into consideration and make their ruling in the best interests of the child. Their ruling is legal and binding, but it can be appealed if the other parent doesn’t agree with it.
It is important to try to agree on the custody of your children if you are divorcing, because it will make the process shorter and easier on everyone concerned. However, if agreements cannot be reached, the court will decide custody.