If you are going through a separation or divorce, it will be necessary to decide upon your child’s future living arrangements. For example, who are they going to live with? Will it be with their mother, father, or someone else such as a grandparent? If, however, you cannot agree upon these issues, then you may want to ask the courts to decide. This process is known as applying for a residence order.

What is Residence?

In the past, people would always talk about getting ‘custody’ over their children. However, this term is no longer in use, and has instead been replaced by the term ‘residence’. Nevertheless, the two words essentially have the same meaning in a family law context: a child’s primary home will be with the parent with residence, with whom they will live for the majority of the time.

When choosing where a child should live, it is important to keep their best interests in mind at all times. This should help steer you towards an amiable decision with your ex-partner. Making arrangements without the need for external intervention will undoubtedly be beneficial for the entire family, helping to reduce stress by keeping relations amicable.

What is a Residence Order?

However, there are times when parents simply cannot agree upon their child’s domestic set-up. If so, it is wise to seek advice from a legal expert, who can guide you through the options available. This will begin with methods of dispute resolution, such as negotiation and mediation.

If you still cannot come to a mutually agreeable decision, it will be necessary to ask the court to decide who the child should live with. This is known as making a residence order, and can be made by either parent, a step-parent, guardian, foster parent or anyone with parental responsibility or with whom the child has lived for three years.

Applying for a Residence Order

Once you have submitted an application to the court, it will be necessary to attend a hearing. Every case is different: an agreement may be made at the first hearing, or it may be necessary to follow a more complex timetable. Ultimately, however, a court will make an order which will determine where the child should live.

As the child’s welfare is the most important consideration, the court’s decision will be influence by factors such as:-

  • The child’s wishes and feelings;
  • The child’s needs (physically, emotionally and educationally);
  • How change may effect the child;
  • The child’s background (such as age and gender);
  • Whether the child is at risk of harm;
  • The ability of each parent to meet the child’s needs.

If the court thinks it appropriate, they may grant a shared residence order, whereby a child is shared between each parent depending upon their day-to-day schedules. For example, this may mean in a two-week period, a child spend 10 days with the mother, and four days with the father.

Do you need legal assistance?

If you are thinking of applying for a residence order, it is important you have the right legal assistance on your side. To talk to an experienced family lawyer, contact us at Roskell Davies and discuss your situation with one of our solicitors.

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