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Applying for Custody: Court Procedure

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 5 Oct 2017 |
 
Court Family Custody Residence Order

If you are seeking custody of your children, you will need to use Children Act form C1 which is readily available from the HM Courts and Tribunal Service website. The order that you will be seeking from the court is a ‘residence order’. It is possible to share custody with your ex-partner, although the courts are sometimes unwilling to grant these types of orders on the basis that they generally mean upheaval for the child – in that the child has to live in two homes.

A residence order also gives the person with the order ‘parental responsibility’ for the lifetime of the order, which usually lasts until the child turns 16. If you are in any doubt as to the type of order you should be applying for, seek the advice of a solicitor.

What a Residence Order Means

A residence order enables a parent to take their child out of the country for a maximum period of one month without having to seek the other parent’s consent. If you are seeking to emigrate on a permanent basis with your child, you can only do this with your ex-partner’s consent, or by order of the court. Similarly, a residence order does not allow you to change the child’s surname without the written consent of your ex-partner. For more details on this, see Specific Issue Orders on this website.

It is worth noting that, if you get a residence order, this does not give you carte blanche to make unilateral decisions in respect of your child’s upbringing. Both parents still have Joint Responsibility in determining how your child should be brought up.

Who Can Apply For a Residence Order?

The parent or guardian of a child can apply for a residence order, as can the married step-parent of a child, as long as that child lived with the step-parent as ‘a child of the family’. It is also possible for someone who has lived with the child for at least three years to apply.

In making a residence order, the court will consider a number of issues:

  • What the child wants – although the court does not have to act on the child’s wishes, they must take it into account
  • The child’s emotional, educational and physical needs
  • The likely effect on any change in the child’s life
  • The child’s sex, age and background, as well as anything else that the court deems relevant in respect of the child
  • Any harm that the child has suffered or any risk of harm
  • The capability of each parent or other person of meeting the child’s needs. This includes work commitments of the person applying for the residence order, and whether their routine is conductive to caring for the child.
  • The domestic routine of the child up until the present time

Other Considerations

If the child’s parents are unmarried, the mother has sole parental responsibility until the father gains parental responsibility. This can be done either by agreement or through a court order. If a child is very young, the court generally assumes that the child will be better off with his or her mother unless the contrary can be proven. You should not let this dissuade you, however – all cases in the family court are decided on their own merits and just because you are the father does not mean that you won’t get a residence order.

Help Filling Out the Forms

There are numerous resources online that can assist you with filling out the forms to apply for residence orders. The HM Courts and Tribunal Service website publishes guides to assist with The Family Rights Group, which has a step-by-step procedure to help you through the application. There is a lot more information on the Cafcass website and Dad Info, among others.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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[Add a Comment]
Hayz10o8 - Your Question:
Hi me and my partner have been together 7 years and are not married I have been in contact with womens aid and gdas as he is mentally abusive and I am looking to leave but he always says that if I leave he will take custody of our 19month old daughter and I would never see her I want out but I am scared he will do this. He is the main earner yet he don't provide for her at all he has never bought clothes food or toiletries for her I have, he never takes her out its always me and my mum she cant play with toys as she has to sit infront of tv and not move he has even started taking toys off her when she is playing if they make noise its getting awful I have been told by him not to buy her clothes toys shoes as she has enough and its taking over our space. she has one small corner in living room for her toys and 3 draws of clothes thats it. I fear if I leave and he takes me to court he will win. I dont think he will but I am scared any advise would be great Thanks x

Our Response:
I can only suggest you continue to keep in contact with Women's Aid for help and advice. If you leave with your child (there are shelters). You can find out about women's refuges if you've experienced domestic violence - how to get a place and what they're like, please see Shelter link here. If you take your child with you if/when you leave, it is highly unlikely a court will take your child from you. However, if your leave you child with your partner, then you will find it more difficult to get your child back.
SeparatedDads - 6-Oct-17 @ 10:45 AM
Hi me and my partner have been together 7 years and are not married i have been in contact with womens aid and gdas as he is mentally abusive and i am looking to leave but he always says that if i leave he will take custody of our 19month old daughter and i would never see her i want out but i am scared he will do this. He is the main earner yet he don't provide for her at all he has never bought clothes food or toiletries for her i have, he never takes her out its always me and my mum she cant play with toys as she has to sit infront of tv and not move he has even started taking toys off her when she is playing if they make noise its getting awful i have been told by him not to buy her clothes toys shoes as she has enough and its taking over our space..... she has one small corner in living room for her toys and 3 draws of clothes thats it.... i fear if i leave and he takes me to court he will win... i dont think he will but i am scared any advise would be great Thanks x
Hayz10o8 - 5-Oct-17 @ 5:06 AM
loguey1976 - Your Question:
I have been split from my ex now for the last 8 years and have had regular access to our two children. She has recently started asking for more money, even though I pay more than the recommended amount through the CSA. I have missed the last weekend to have them due to an injury which has prevented me to drive and I live a fair distance from them. I have asked her to drop them off but she has refused. She has now told me that I can't have them and if I want to I need to go to court. As I know her too well I believe she is doing this to gain more money as the payments would increase if I don't have them as often.Please can you give me some advice??

Our Response:
If your ex does not change her mind, then please see link here , which explains the process you need to go through. I hope the situation manages to resolve itself soon.
SeparatedDads - 19-Sep-17 @ 4:13 PM
Doesn't Matter - Your Question:
My friend had a daughter with a girl back in Portugal. The mother abandoned the child and he became the sole parent. He then moved to the UK and put his daughter into school she is currently in year 4 in the UK.The mother then came to the UK and 3 weeks later she left again without a word. The mother is a known drug user and prostitute and has had her second child from a client (child protective services has taken her son into care).The mother in Portugal has no means to care for neither her son nor her daughter however she refuses to sign custody over to the father of the daughter. (His name is also on the birth certificate.)The father does not want to take his daughter to Portugal and sue for custody as he is afraid the authorities will not let him return with his daughter to the UK without the mothers consent.She has made it clear that all she "wants is to make his life hell by not facilitating custody."As neither the father or daughter are British can the father of the child apply for full custody in the UK or can the UK court do anything about this matter?

Our Response:
Your friend would have to seek legal advice regarding whether he can take the matter to court in the UK. This is beyond our remit to advise, as we can only advise on non-specific UK-based questions.
SeparatedDads - 19-Sep-17 @ 11:52 AM
My friend had a daughter with a girl back in Portugal. The mother abandoned the child and he became the sole parent. He then moved to the UK and put his daughter into school she is currently in year 4 in the UK. The mother then came to the UK and 3 weeks later she left again without a word. The mother is a known drug user and prostitute and has had her second child from a client (child protective services has taken her son into care). The mother in Portugal has no means to care for neither her son nor her daughter however she refuses to sign custody over to the father of the daughter. (His name is also on the birth certificate.) The father does not want to take his daughter to Portugal and sue for custody as he is afraid the authorities will not let him return with his daughter to the UK without the mothers consent. She has made it clear that all she "wants is to make his life hell by not facilitating custody." As neither the father or daughter are British can the father of the child apply for full custody in the UK or can the UK court do anything about this matter?
Doesn't Matter - 18-Sep-17 @ 7:54 PM
I have been split from my ex now for the last 8 years and have had regular access to our two children. She has recently started asking for more money, even though i pay more than the recommended amount through the CSA. I have missed the last weekend to have them due to an injury which has prevented me to drive and i live a fair distance from them. I have asked her to drop them off but she has refused. She has now told me that i can't have them and if i want to i need to go to court. As i know her too well i believe she is doing this to gain more money as the payments would increase if i don't have them as often. Please can you give me some advice??
loguey1976 - 16-Sep-17 @ 6:15 PM
jake 18 - Your Question:
I have been looking after my child full time since the age of 7 months after his mother turned her back on him, there has been no contact from her what so ever ,no presents gifts etc there has been no payments from his mother for our son as was promised, I am wondering whether to make an application for a residency order or just to leave it well alone just incase his mother starts being awkward ,my son is a month or so short of his 3rd birthday now, any advise would be gratefully appreciated ,she still works full time and I am not working

Our Response:
If you are the main primary carer of your child, then there is little your ex can do to gain residency if she has never had contact with your child previously. A court would not rule to take your child from you and hand him over to a parent he does not know. The most she would be allowed through a court would be access and if she applied, then it would be time to apply for a child arrangement order which would officially determine where your child should live. However, you are eligible to claim child maintenance from her. You may wish to seek some legal advice in order to explore your options fully. The Citizens Advice Bureau can help if you cannot afford paid legal advice.
SeparatedDads - 15-Sep-17 @ 4:15 PM
I have been looking after my child full timesince the age of 7 months after his mother turned her back on him, there has been no contact from her what so ever ,no presents gifts etcthere has been no payments from his mother for our son as was promised,I am wondering whether to make an application for a residency order or just to leave it well alone just incase his mother starts being awkward ,my son is a month or so short of his 3rd birthday now, any advise would be gratefully appreciated ,she still works full time and I am not working
jake 18 - 15-Sep-17 @ 3:05 PM
Sad Dad - Your Question:
Can anyone advise? I separated from my ex Feb-16 and have a new partner now (who is expecting). I have 2 boys with my ex (2 & 7) and she is controlling to say the least, she has been a drinker for over 3 years and daily smokes (pot, weed or whatever other slang), she has also been arrested for diving through my car window and staling my phone, it was on CCTV but I never pressed charges. Since splitting I stayed with my boys a few times and one night her eldest son (19) and he were drunk and decided to take things out on me (whilst I was sat holding my 2 boys) since then my visits have all been pick-up and drop off. She has now decided that I am no longer allowed to see them at weekends and only after I finish work at 6:30pm till their bedtime at 8pm, Monday to Friday. they are not allowed near my home, my partner or her daughters or my family (the boys grandparents, aunties, uncles) they aren't even allowed out of the town they live in. I can only take them for tea (usually McDonald's) and if the weather is OK, we can play in the park for 40 mins. She believes this to be enough so that, if I take her to court, she can tell them she lets me see them and its tough luck on them and me. Also, I have paid her CSA every 4 weeks on time everytime at the maximum the CSA website says. Now she wants more and is trying to "squeeze me" for every penny I have. Please can someone just tell me what rights I have, and where you think I will get. Not seeing them is awful for me and the boys. I can't have a proper relationship with them.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Your only options are to apply for mediation, please see link here and if she refuses apply to court. I think the point you can make here is; why would you be taking the matter to court if your ex allows you see your children? I think your ex has more to be concerned about as if a court order is awarded, then she will have to stick to it (as the order will come with a warning) and if she doesn't she will be in contempt of court. Please also see link here .You do not have to pay any more child maintenance than advised.
SeparatedDads - 21-Aug-17 @ 3:46 PM
Can anyone advise? I separated from my ex Feb-16 and have a new partner now (who is expecting). I have 2 boys with my ex (2 & 7) and she is controlling to say the least, she has been a drinker for over 3 years and daily smokes (pot, weed or whatever other slang), she has also been arrested for diving through my car window and staling my phone, it was on CCTV but I never pressed charges. Since splitting I stayed with my boys a few times and one night her eldest son (19) and he were drunk and decided to take things out on me (whilst i was sat holding my 2 boys) since then my visits have all been pick-up and drop off. She has now decided that I am no longer allowed to see them at weekends and only after I finish work at 6:30pm till their bedtime at 8pm, Monday to Friday. they are not allowed near my home, my partner or her daughters or my family (the boys grandparents, aunties, uncles) they aren't even allowed out of the town they live in. I can only take them for tea (usually McDonald's) and if the weather is OK, we can play in the park for 40 mins. She believes this to be enough so that, if I take her to court, she can tell them she lets me see them and its tough luck on them and me. Also, i have paid her CSA every 4 weeks on time everytime at the maximum the CSA website says. Now she wants more and is trying to "squeeze me" for every penny I have. Please can someone just tell me what rights I have, and where you think I will get. Not seeing them is awful for me and the boys. I can't have a proper relationship with them.
Sad Dad - 18-Aug-17 @ 12:22 AM
Sean - Your Question:
Hi, I decided to share my story in brief so I could get some guidance from what looks like a great community. I am a British Father in a toxic relationship with a woman from Poland. We are unmarried and have a baby boy who is 11months now. Throughout the pregnancy my partner stayed with me and my parents in the UK at our house but not long after the birth she travelled to Norway with our son. I did not give consent to go for over a month which she did. I mean is that allowed? My son is British and had commitments with the gp for regular checks as for every baby after being born. In this time she made it hard for me to have any form of relation with my son by constantly arguing or complaining about something. She practically treats my family as strangers now and I had a lot of stress and she gave me an ultimatum that I would have to be in Norway to be with my son. Again is this allowed? I leftt a really good job because of her, I left my family, friends and everything I know for the sake of being with my son. I'm now in Norway and have been trying to make the relationship work and fix things fot tge sake of our sons futytr but it's just not the same and on top of that I do not speak the language and at home I cannot speak Polish. Her parents are lovely but I just don't feel like a father here anymore in terms of decision making or financially etc, I'm struggling to find work because of language and I just can't do this anymore. I cant count the number of problems in our relationship. It needs to end. What would happen when I return to the UK? What are my rights because she uses our son as a weapon against me or anyone that loves him. Any help or guidance would be really appreciated. Thanks

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. However, we cannot speculate what may happen when and if you return to the UK. Much depends upon what the relationship with your child's mother is like and whether the courts would have to be involved in trying to determine access/contact. If you cannot come to a mutual arrangement with the mother, then it will cost to take the matter to court, especially if it is an international case. If you left the UK with your partner and child willingly (regardless of whether your partner issued an ultimatum) then you have little legal recourse. If you leave Norway and return to the UK, that is your prerogative and you would have to either negotiate access with your child's mother, or if you can't agree take the matter to court. It is unlikely you would be granted custody of your child, if your child is deemed to be settled in another country. If you bring your child to the UK without the mother's consent, you could be charged with abduction.
SeparatedDads - 6-Jul-17 @ 12:24 PM
Hi, I decided to share my story in brief so I could get some guidance from what looks like a great community. I am a British Father in a toxic relationship with a woman from Poland. We are unmarried and have a baby boy who is 11months now. Throughout the pregnancy my partner stayed with me and my parents in the UK at our house but not long after the birth she travelled to Norway with our son. I did not give consent to go for over a month which she did. I mean is that allowed? My son is British and had commitments with the gp for regular checks as for every baby after being born. In this time she made it hard for me to have any form of relation with my son by constantly arguing or complaining about something. She practically treats my family as strangers now and I had a lot of stress and she gave me an ultimatum that I would have to be in Norway to be with my son. Again is this allowed? I leftt a really good job because of her, I left my family, friends and everything I know for the sake of being with my son. I'm now in Norway and have been trying to make the relationship work and fix things fot tge sake of our sons futytr but it's just not the same and on top of that I do not speak the language and at home i cannot speak Polish. Her parents are lovely but I just don't feel like a father here anymore in terms of decision making or financially etc, I'm struggling to find work because of language and I just can't do this anymore. I cant count the number of problems in our relationship. It needs to end. What would happen when I return to the UK? What are my rights because she uses our son as a weapon against me or anyone that loves him. Any help or guidance would be really appreciated. Thanks
Sean - 5-Jul-17 @ 3:44 AM
Hi I am a grandmother and my son who still lives with me has a son who is 18 months old.He had a very brief fling with the mother (saw her 5/6 times) in early 2015 and didn't carry on the relationship.He hears via text some 28 weeks later that she is pregnant and that the child is his.Shocked to say the least, I wanted to meet the mother and see what was going on.She told my son that she was divorced and had two children who were 4 and 12 - no mention that they lived with their father.Anyway to cut a long story short, the mother didn't inform my son that she had her children taken away from her due to her alcoholism or the fact that she was still drinking at 28 weeks 2 bottles of wine a day, she had been a long term drinker for over 12 years. I ultimately met with the MGM who informed me of this and the fact that SS were involved and wanted to see my son about this.She mentioned that adoption proceedings were underway.When I told my son about this he was taken aback, said he knew nothing of this, the mother had not told him any of this and so he contacted SS the next day to see what was going on.Since his son was born, he has been in his life every single day, SS have downgraded and bowed out and there is no adoption going ahead, but have said that mother is to attend TAF - what ever that is.SS have been terrible in all of this, not doing reports, missing appointments and generally messing about the whole time.When my son had approached SS regarding the mother's negligence of his son (she has stopped drinking and has been dry for 20 months now) but everything the health visitor and social worker put into brief reports were that they attributed all of her bad behaviour, neglect, filthy living conditions to her drinking.She still has these qualities but is not drinking and when he has brought up concerns with ss about her they immediately have gone to her telling her what he has said, which has made for a very difficult time as she keeps holding him to ransom that she is the parent who has residence and not him and kept threatening to stop his contact. Anyway, the upshot is that things came to a head last month and my son took my grandson because the mother was in bed and had leftmy grandson in the lounge to dismantle the sky tv (again) and when my son went into the lounge having let himself into the property, go to the bathroom and wash up and change his clothes (10-15 minutes) his son was in a filthy state and about to place the sky power cable into his mouth.He made application to the court for residence and was granted it temporarily as the Judge said that the SS needed to do a report as she could not say one way or the other whom the child should reside with. Upshot is adjourned hearing and the second Judge said status quo to be reinstated and CAFCASS to do a report.They have spoken on the telephone to my son and the mother this week and have now said that she will do report to the Court (section 37
Mimmins - 15-Jun-17 @ 11:28 AM
Bruce - Your Question:
What agency or court do I have to contact in order to gain joint custody of my children. I am unsure how to go about it

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here which should help answer your question.
SeparatedDads - 22-May-17 @ 2:09 PM
What agency or court do I have to contact in order to gain joint custody of my children. I am unsure how to go about it
Bruce - 22-May-17 @ 6:46 AM
Derby dad - Your Question:
Hi could you give me advice please. I have two daughters with my ex partner one 11 and the other 10 the oldest start secondary school this year where I live and that was a battle with the mum as she tried everything to ruin my daughter chance of getting in to the school. My daughter choice the school as she wanted to get into a good as she wants to be a vet. Her mum told her she can work in a pet shop and she tells my daughter that she don't want her to go to the school and now my youngest daughter as stated she wants to go to the same school as her sister next year and now her mum having ago at her and also my youngest going to start volunteering at a horse riding school when she twelve as she wants to be riding instructor when she leaves school and her mum said no to her as she wants her to be carer and because the horse riding school is where I live. I already have shared contact with my ex. But now for the past few years the oldest as stated she wants to live with me full time as she can't cope with the way her mum treats her and the younger daughter also stated she would live with me full. I have already spoken to their mum about them coming to live with me full time and she said she don't care what the girls want. I stated to her they can live with me from Sunday night to Friday so they can go to school and she can have every other weekend and half the holidays and split Christmas and birthday but got that thrown in my face. With my oldest keep going on about moving in full time and not wanting to go back and asking to go back to court. I want to do my best them both. I don't know what to do as already done mediation and nothing ever comes from it. I can't to go to court for full custody. But dont think court will hand me the full custody as I'm the dad. Any advice please

Our Response:
Much depends upon how old your daughters are. If they are over the age of 11, then will be able to state their preferences of where they wish to live. However, this does not mean the court will act upon their wishes as it will always opt for what it thinks is in your children's best interests.
SeparatedDads - 9-May-17 @ 12:00 PM
Hi could you give me advice please.I have two daughters with my ex partner one 11 and the other 10 the oldest start secondary school this year where I live and that was a battle with the mum as she tried everything to ruin my daughter chance of getting in to the school.My daughter choice the school as she wanted to get into a good as she wants to be a vet.Her mum told her she can work in a pet shop and she tells my daughter that she don't want her to go to the school and now my youngest daughter as stated she wants to go to the same school as her sister next year and now her mum having ago at her and also my youngest going to start volunteering at a horse riding school when she twelve as she wants to be riding instructor when she leaves school and her mum said no to her as she wants her to be carer and because the horse riding school is where I live. I already have shared contact with my ex.But now for the past few years the oldest as stated she wants to live with me full time as she can't cope with the way her mum treats her and the younger daughter also stated she would live with me full.I have already spoken to their mum about them coming to live with me full time and she said she don't care what the girls want.I stated to her they can live with me from Sunday night to Friday so they can go to school and she can have every other weekend and half the holidays and split Christmas and birthday but got that thrown in my face.With my oldest keep going on about moving in full time and not wanting to go back and asking to go back to court.I want to do my best them both.I don't know what to do as already done mediationand nothing ever comes from it.I can't to go to court for full custody.But dont think court will hand me the full custody as I'm the dad.Any advice please
Derby dad - 8-May-17 @ 1:03 PM
lac - Your Question:
Hello im stuck not sure where to turn to i basically seprated with my ex about 10month now I been paying child support and she receives all benefits as she doesnt work. but lately she forced me.to pay though csa which doesnt bother me but what bothers me is I set up my child to go preschool because she didnt wanna take her because she kept moving from hostel to hostels now I take her school 1 day week at set days I have her and she takes her the rest but now she has pulled her out of preschool because its to far for her to travel (abour hour travel on bus )and when she does take her she only provides 2 items of food for her backlunch the preschool.not happy about it she has no intention of helping our child for her future she just looks after her when she has her doesnt take her to dentists or moans when she has to tske her doctors shes the main carer but I feel she doesnt deserve this and I have a stable house income where do I start if I wanna try for main carer and she has visitations?

Our Response:
Applying for custody is always a tricky procedure, as a court will try to maintain a consistent home routine for your child when and where possible. Meaning it is rare that a court will take a child from one parent and hand them over to another unless absolutely necessary. If you think your child is being neglected, then please see NSPCC link hereand you can also talk to its helpline if you need further advice. Otherwise, I suggest you seek legal advice as going for increased contact or shared-care is one thing, but applying for sole custody is a different matter altogether and you will need a strong case to back it up.
SeparatedDads - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:50 PM
I am looking to apply for residence for my daughter and I know this sounds wrong but I eventually intend to take her with me to another country since I face deportation to that country. Her mother and I get on well but I can't bare the thought of never seeing my daughter if deported. Any advice?
Joe - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:11 PM
hello im stuck not sure where to turn to i basically seprated with my ex about 10month now i been paying child support and she receives all benefits as she doesnt work. but lately she forced me.to pay though csa which doesnt bother me but what bothers me is i set up my child to go preschool because she didnt wanna take her because she kept moving from hostel to hostels now i take her school 1 day week at set days i have her and she takes her the rest but now she has pulled her out of preschool because its to far for her to travel (abour hour travel on bus )and when she does take her she only provides 2 items of food for her backlunch the preschool.not happy about it she has no intention of helping our child for her future she just looks after her when she has her doesnt take her to dentists or moans when she has to tske her doctors shes the main carer but i feel she doesnt deserve this and i have a stable house income where do i start if i wanna try for main carer and she has visitations?
lac - 6-Apr-17 @ 10:03 AM
Hi my name is jordan im 19 am a dad and my ex has stopped me seeing my son i am a great dad and im missing my son too she stoped me one because i had work and i couldnt watch him then, she text me saying she wants me to stay away, so i did for 2 to 3 weeks, then i still had message or call of her witch i was upset and yes i been to her door the day knocking and being nice to her i said can i see harry please or have him for couple hours she said no get away from my door, then i said what days can i have him she said i dont want you to have him so bye so i left then she rang the police then they said i was harrassing her witch it wasnt because i was talking and being nice and talking like a man about things and she was shouting and screaming at me if you could get back to me that will be great all of this is really hurting me i am a good dad
ross - 16-Feb-17 @ 8:57 PM
Unfortunatly myself and my wife are considering divorce and separation. However during some of our talks whilst the kids are at school she made her intentions very clear that she wanted our flat and kids to herself. And me out of the picture. Since then i have confirmed with the housing authority that as i am a sole tenant she cannot evict me. But.....she has done some work with social workers....(whom are now friends of hers). And i really would not put it past her to try something underhanded.( visa vie). False aligations and the like.....can anyone give me some advise as to how to protect myself from this. I dont think i could bare losing them.....!!!
Bower - 10-Feb-17 @ 4:32 PM
My partner want to apply for custody but said to me if he gets denied he can only apply every 4 years. Is this true ? Does the circumstances change at all if the child was taken from the mother by docs
Kelg - 21-Jan-17 @ 9:06 AM
Lcarve - Your Question:
Hello there, I was hoping that I could get some advice on the following:I have been a single dad to my daughter since she was 3 months of age, she is now 9 years old. She was born in Portugal but has lived here in England all of her life. Her mother practically abandoned her at 3 months of age, and since that time has had almost absolutely no contact whatsoever with my daughter. She does not endeavour to get in contact with my daughter even for her birthday or Christmas; and for a very long time I do not even know of her whereabouts. I want therefore to seek full child custody of my daughter, as I have been the sole carer for her practically all of her life and her mother has had no involvement in her upbringing whatsoever.Please could you advise me on this matter, and give advice as to how I would go about attaining full child custody of my daughter? Thank you greatly in advance - any advice is greatly welcome. Kind regards, Luther.

Our Response:
You would have to apply for a child arrangement order through the courts, please see link here which will determine who your child will live with on a full-time basis. If you have had full-time care, then your daughter will remain in your care.
SeparatedDads - 13-Jan-17 @ 2:50 PM
Hello there, I was hoping that I could get some advice on the following: I have been a single dad to my daughter since she was 3 months of age, she is now 9 years old. She was born in Portugal but has lived here in England all of her life. Her mother practically abandoned her at 3 months of age, and since that time has had almost absolutely no contact whatsoever with my daughter. She does not endeavour to get in contact with my daughter even for her birthday or Christmas; and for a very long time I do not even know of her whereabouts. I want therefore to seek full child custody of my daughter, as I have been the sole carer for her practically all of her life and her mother has had no involvement in her upbringing whatsoever. Please could you advise me on this matter, and give advice as to how I would go about attaining full child custody of my daughter? Thank you greatly in advance - any advice is greatly welcome. Kind regards, Luther.
Lcarve - 11-Jan-17 @ 10:26 PM
Bob4321 - Your Question:
Hi. I am currently in a bit of a dilemma and would welcome any advice. Me and my wife split two years ago and since then we shared custody of our daughter on an informal agreement between us. It was a pretty equal share, I had her Wed til Sat lunch time. Everything seemed to be going well until in October 2016 out of nowhere she phoned social services and accused me of abusing our daughter as she had noticed some odd behaviours. I was only allowed supervised contact while the issue was resolved. Eventually, after 4 weeks I had a meeting with social services who said that everything could return to normal and they were extremely annoyed with my ex for making false claims and even suggested that I should apply for residency. I didn't as I didn't want to put my daughter through a big change(she is only 5). Recently my ex has decided that the agreement should change to a 5 and 2 day split in her favour and as we only work on an informal agreement there is nothing I can do to stop her. My dilemma is do I now apply for custody of our daughter? I genuinely believe she is better of with me. My worry is that in going through the official process it could be very upsetting for my daughter and could even result in my contact being reduced. Any advice would be very welcome.

Our Response:
I'm afraid it is rare the courts will take a child from one parent and hand her over to another unless there is very good reason. However, if your access is being changed without your consent, then you would have to either suggest mediation, please see link here. If your ex refuses to attend, your next option would be court where Cafcass would get involved, please see link here. If you have had consisent access since the investigation, then in all likelihood this will be continued through a court order which your ex would have to adhere to. However, if you feel you wish to seek residency, then I suggest you seek some professional legal advice in order to explore your options.
SeparatedDads - 11-Jan-17 @ 2:50 PM
Hi. I am currently in a bit of a dilemma and would welcome any advice. Me and my wife split two years ago and since then we shared custody of our daughter on an informal agreement between us. It was a pretty equal share, I had her Wed til Sat lunch time. Everything seemed to be going well until in October 2016 out of nowhere she phoned social services and accused me of abusing our daughter as she had noticed some odd behaviours. I was only allowed supervised contact while the issue was resolved. Eventually, after 4 weeks I had a meeting with social services who said that everything could return to normal and they were extremely annoyed with my ex for making false claims and even suggested that I should apply for residency. I didn't as I didn't want to put my daughter through a big change(she is only 5). Recently my ex has decided that the agreement should change to a 5 and 2 day split in her favour and as we only work on an informal agreement there is nothing i can do to stop her. My dilemma is do I now apply for custody of our daughter? I genuinely believe she is better of with me. My worry is that in going through the official process it could be very upsetting for my daughter and could even result in my contact being reduced. Any advice would be very welcome.
Bob4321 - 11-Jan-17 @ 8:13 AM
hi i am a full time father to 4 children(boys) eldest is 6, my 2nd eldest is 3 my youngest twin boys are 2. Me and their mum split last year we had social services involvement due to family breakdown different ways of parenting and emotional abuse on both parts. social services decided to move my ex to a refuge and was asked if she wanted to take all 4 children and never gave me a choice to which she said no and left me with my eldest 2 and she took our 2 youngest boys. After me finding out she was dating a pedophile and put him around our youngest boys I alerted social services who then confirmed the guy was not allowed contact with any children and told my ex to keep him away from our children she was then moved to a council property to which she then gave the pedophile her new address and he started following her and our boys round town shouting and swearing demanding money from her what she owed him I flipped and threatened the guy. a few months later I noticed our 2 youngest boys were been neglected clothes that were too tight cutting into their skin (3-6 clothes on 12 month old boys) very sore bums to the point where they were in agony could not sit down without screaming and constantly crying their bums were bleeding and weeping I told their mum to get medical attention 2 weeks later I noticed it got worse I told her i was reporting her to social services due to neglect and i wanted our boys in my care she did not hesitate and gave me our 2 boys and told me if i want them to come get them and pay for what they need... i did not hesitate I have had all 4 of our children in my care for 10 months now.... their mum keeps threatening me with court i have set mediation up to which she has phoned them and declined mediation and wants to take me straight to court for joint custody..... before this abrupt decision to not try mediation I had given her 1 night a week contact Saturday 12pm to sunday 1pm to which she agreed then started going down hill phoning me 2 hours before due to bring them home screaming she cannot cope and sick of eldest mouth and behaviour and wants them back home with me etc (even though I had asked her for a written proof of contact where when times etc and even asked her to sign and date everytime she had contact) saying she could not afford her bus fare to come and get our kids she has let our children down so so much.... so much so that our eldest sits and cries and asks me why his mum is not coming does my mummy love me etcto which I can only reply "mummy must be busy love and yes mummy loves you she loves you all" he has done drawings of a broken heart sayin I don't love you mummy..... when I softly asked him why he felt like that he said "my mummy does not read me a story when I stopped at hers she put me and my brother to bed and closed the door left us in the dark I shouted mummy to read me a story she said no because she had to sort her boyfriends little girls". the last time our boys had overnight contact 4 weeks
father1987 - 3-Dec-16 @ 9:47 PM
hi i am a full time father to 4 children(boys) eldest is 6, my 2nd eldest is 3 my youngest twin boys are 2. Me and their mum split last year we had social services involvement due to family breakdown different ways of parenting and emotional abuse on both parts. social services decided to move my ex to a refuge and was asked if she wanted to take all 4 children and never gave me a choice to which she said no and left me with my eldest 2 and she took our 2 youngest boys. After me finding out she was dating a pedophile and put him around our youngest boys I alerted social services who then confirmed the guy was not allowed contact with any children and told my ex to keep him away from our children she was then moved to a council property to which she then gave the pedophile her new address and he started following her and our boys round town shouting and swearing demanding money from her what she owed him I flipped and threatened the guy. a few months later I noticed our 2 youngest boys were been neglected clothes that were too tight cutting into their skin (3-6 clothes on 12 month old boys) very sore bums to the point where they were in agony could not sit down without screaming and constantly crying their bums were bleeding and weeping I told their mum to get medical attention 2 weeks later I noticed it got worse I told her i was reporting her to social services due to neglect and i wanted our boys in my care she did not hesitate and gave me our 2 boys and told me if i want them to come get them and pay for what they need... i did not hesitate I have had all 4 of our children in my care for 10 months now.... their mum keeps threatening me with court i have set mediation up to which she has phoned them and declined mediation and wants to take me straight to court for joint custody..... before this abrupt decision to not try mediation I had given her 1 night a week contact Saturday 12pm to sunday 1pm to which she agreed then started going down hill phoning me 2 hours before due to bring them home screaming she cannot cope and sick of eldest mouth and behaviour and wants them back home with me etc (even though I had asked her for a written proof of contact where when times etc and even asked her to sign and date everytime she had contact) saying she could not afford her bus fare to come and get our kids she has let our children down so so much.... so much so that our eldest sits and cries and asks me why his mum is not coming does my mummy love me etcto which I can only reply "mummy must be busy love and yes mummy loves you she loves you all" he has done drawings of a broken heart sayin I don't love you mummy..... when I softly asked him why he felt like that he said "my mummy does not read me a story when I stopped at hers she put me and my brother to bed and closed the door left us in the dark I shouted mummy to read me a story she said no because she had to sort her boyfriends little girls". the last time our boys had overnight contact 4 weeks
father1987 - 3-Dec-16 @ 9:16 PM
Shez - Your Question:
Me and my girlfriend split as she was pregnant but I'm always keen and see my daughter as much as possible between time off from the military and travelling me and my current partner love having I want her full time but understand that won't happen as my daughter ( Ella ) is only 2 at the moment and I understand little girls need to be with there moms but I %100 know she will have a better life with me I'm not on the birth certificate which seems to be an issue but my ex's mom approached me saying I need to apply for parental rights which knowing my ex and her current partner just tells me there on drugs. And if her moms telling me that I know it's gone too far and I really need to know where I stand plz

Our Response:
It is very rare a court will hand a child over to another parent, even if the non-resident parent does have parental responsibility. I can only suggest you apply for PR (as your ex says), this will give you a better chance if your ex agrees she can no longer look after your child.
SeparatedDads - 2-Dec-16 @ 12:58 PM
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