Child custody arrangements

Our child law solicitors can advise on any legal issue involving children such as residence (custody), access and maintenance. We’ll help you get the best for your child, whatever your situation.

Sally Powell, Bishop's Stortford
Sally Powell, family law specialist in Bishops Stortford

Child custody lawyers: Expert legal advice

Our child law solicitors can help make the divorce easier on you and your children. We're here to make sure that your child's best interests are represented throughout the process.

Child custody (residence) issues and parental responsibility 

If you’re getting divorced, you and your partner need to agree who your children will live with. The legal language can sometime be confusing but ‘custody’, ‘residence’ and ‘living with’ all have the same meaning. 

In addition to who the child will live with, common child law issues a solicitor can help you work through include:

  • parental responsibility after divorce
  • who pays child maintenance?
  • enforcing child maintenance payments
  • where the children should go to school
  • divorce parenting plan
  • access to the children after the divorce

Jump to child custody FAQs.

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Our family law experts can help you agree:

  • where your children will live
  • how much time they will spend with each parent
  • financial support and child maintenance
  • grandparents' visitation rights.

We’re here to help

If you want a lawyer to take a closer look at your situation, our family and divorce lawyers are based in:

  • Cambridgeshire: Cambridge
  • Essex: Brentwood, Chelmsford, and Saffron Walden
  • Hertfordshire: Bishop's Stortford and Royston 

But we can help you wherever you are in England and Wales.

Call our specialist solicitors on 0808 231 1320

Child custody FAQs

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan is an agreement between seperated or divorced parents about how to raise their children. Both parents need to agree to the plan. A parenting plan can be changed at any time, for example as the children grow up, provided both parents agree. 

(A parenting plan is a voluntary agreement between parents and does not involve a court process).

Parenting Plan template is available from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS).

Learn more - co-parenting 

Who has parental responsibility during a divorce or separation?

If you have parental responsibility before you separate from or divorce your child’s parent, you will not lose it because of the separation or divorce. 

If you were married when your child was born, both you and your spouse automatically have parental responsibility.  A mother has parental responsibility from the birth of the child regardless of whether she is married to the father.  If the father is not married to the mother when the child is born, they do not automatically have parental responsibility but will acquire it if their name is on the child’s birth certificate, if they have a Court Order granting it or if they have a legally binding agreement with the mother.

Who has to make child maintenance payments?

Regardless of who has parental responsibility, the parent with whom the child spends less time  is required to contribute financially to their children’s maintenance. If you are the parent with whom your child spends more time (perhaps the child is living primarily with you and spending time with the other parent) and you are not receiving  child maintenance, a solicitor can advise you about how to secure the payments. If the child or children spend equal time with both parents, there may be no payment due.

Learn more

What does a co-parenting agreement cover?

A co-parenting agreement covers:

  • Who the child will live with
  • Who will have parental responsibility
  • Who will be named on the birth certificate
  • How much contact the child will have with the other parent 
  • Decision making once the child is born e.g. where they will go to school
  • Consent to treatment and storage and what happens if there is a dispute?

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