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How Child Custody Is Determined in a Divorce

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One of the most difficult aspects of a divorce is trying to determine who gets custody of any minor children in the relationship. In some cases, the parents can amicably decide who will get custody and arrange visitation for the other parent. However, in cases in which an arrangement cannot be made, the courts may have to step in to decide custody and visitation arrangements.

Statement of Arrangements

In most divorces, the parents of minor children will discuss who gets custody, otherwise known as residence arrangements. If they agree on living arrangements and visitation, family lawyers in Nottingham will submit a Statement of Arrangements for the court’s approval. If the court agrees with the arrangements, then they will be approved.

If the parents cannot come to an amicable arrangement, they will apply to have the court decide on custody arrangements. A judge will usually meet with the parents about arrangements prior to the case going to court. Normally, the judge will recommend mediation to decide on custody, which can take several weeks if both parents are still fighting about arrangements.

During mediation, someone from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, or CAFCASS, will also attend the meetings. The officer is responsible for writing up a welfare report that is ordered by the judge when the couple cannot agree about child custody arrangements. The judge will then use the report’s recommendations when determining custody.

Once the judge makes his or her decision, a court date will be scheduled for the decision to be explained. The judge will consider many factors and decide who gets custody based on the best interests of the children. The judge will also outline visitation and how much child maintenance should be paid by the parent who doesn’t have physical custody of their children.

Other Factors in Decision

There are several other factors which must be taken into consideration when the court makes child custody arrangements. Along with assessing both parents, they also need to consider other important adults in the child’s life. If the children are close with their grandparents, a stepparent, or other family members, then the judge may arrange for visitation for these other adults as well, especially the grandparents.

If the child is old enough, he or she can have a say in which parent they want to live with. Legally, a child who is 16 years old can decide with whom they wish to live, but they must abide by a custody order which states they are to live with a certain parent until they are 18. Parents can decide at which age a child can choose where to live, and the courts will take it into consideration. However, if the child is under 11, they can tell the judge their preference, but it won’t hold much weight.

If one of the parents doesn’t like the custody arrangements, they can fight them in court. However, this can be a long, drawn-out process. It is best to try to agree on arrangements with the child’s other parent if possible.