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Your Rights if You Win Custody of Your Children

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 11 Dec 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Separated Dads Custody Residence Order

The important fact to remember is that, in the majority of cases, the father will not be granted custody of the child by the courts. Individuals and groups have complained about this bias of the courts for several years, but it’s simply a fact that unless the circumstances are exceptional, the child or children will stay with their mother under a residence order, and you will be able to see them with a Contact Order.

Conditions For Father’s Custody

However, there are times when a judge will look very favourably on a father’s application for custody. Where the mother has a history of addiction to drink or drugs or an extensive history of binge drinking, which you can prove, there’s a good chance you’ll be given custody. There are solid reasons for this, since addicts often turn to crime to feed their habits, which can put the child in situations that aren’t good as he or she grows.

The courts take a similar attitude where the mother has a criminal record, at least if it’s a reasonably extensive one showing her to be a repeat offender. That applies whether she’s in jail or not (there are instances where mothers in jail can keep very young children with them, but those are few and far between).

The mother might be considered physically or emotionally incapable of raising a child. That might be due to a physical handicap, or it could be emotional instability. In those cases, the father would be given custody.

Similarly, where there’s been emotional or physical abuse of the child by the mother, and it can be proven, then the father will definitely receive custody. Sadly, abuse rates by mothers have been on the increase.

Finally, if the mother is deemed to have abandoned her children, the father will receive custody. Abandoned is classed as not being in communication with a child for a set period, whether by mail, phone, physical contact or email. Also, if she leaves with a new partner and has no contact with the children, or if she neglects the children when they’re in her care, then custody will devolve to the father.

Your Rights

When you have custody, you have the same rights as a mother with custody, and the mother would have Visitation Rights with the children (of course, there might be circumstances when she might be denied access). Be sure you obey the contact order fully.

Something to be aware of is that the mother can later petition the court to have the residence order changed, if she’s cleaned up her act and can prove herself to be upstanding and likely to be a good parent. Sadly, there’s a fair chance she might win, although the courts will take the wishes of the children into account.

You’d do right to feel that everything is more fragile than if you were female, since it probably is. She can always come back with her lawyer.

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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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Taff - Your Question:
Hi, my ex is a narcissist and I was mentally abused by her. She has done the same to my step daughter and now my son who is 13 in march. She has poisoned him against me and she stands back and lets other people do the dirty work. I know my son wants to see me but is torn and conditioned. Iv tried talking to my daughter but she wont help as she is jealous of the blood tie from her brother.this has been put in her head by her mother.i rasied her from 18months.how difficult is it to deal with this sort of situation? Iv read up on narcissistic behaviour and it says run as far away as possible but my son is struggling. I have to do something.help I need some decent advice.

Our Response:
The problem with making a diagnosis without any psychological training, is there is no medical proof your ex is a narcissist. Many ex's choose to diagnose a former partner in this way, when opinions differ, or when they fall out, but it does not necessarily mean your ex is suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Diagnosis is also difficult as people with the disorder frequently do not consider themselves to have a problem and will therefore not go out to seek help. If your ex is parentally alienating your children from you, then please see link here. Cafcass are attempting to do more to combat this, please see link here. However, if your ex will not attend mediation to sort your access issues out, you would have to apply to court.
SeparatedDads - 4-Dec-17 @ 12:07 PM
Hi, my ex is a narcissist and i was mentally abused by her. She has done the same to my step daughter and now my son who is 13 in march. She has poisoned him against me and she stands back and lets other people do the dirty work. I know my son wants to see me but is torn and conditioned. Iv tried talking to my daughter but she wont help as she is jealous of the blood tie from her brother.this has been put in her head by her mother.i rasied her from 18months.how difficult is it to deal with this sort of situation? Iv read up on narcissistic behaviour and it says run as far away as possible but my son is struggling. I have to do something.help i need some decent advice.
Taff - 2-Dec-17 @ 8:38 AM
Jlm - Your Question:
Regarding abuse- will it several 'smacked bums', lying to the child and effectively brainwashing him(lying about his fathers history and making the child believe that he is intolerant to dairy products) and the child consistently having headlice, being dirty(i mean clearly hasn't been bathed for a while) and wearing inappropriate clothing(for the weather, or being far too small) be classed as abuse?

Our Response:
You can see more via the NSPCC link here, which will explain more.
SeparatedDads - 17-Nov-17 @ 10:48 AM
Regarding abuse- will it several 'smacked bums', lying to the child and effectively brainwashing him(lying about his fathers history and making the child believe that he is intolerant to dairy products) and the child consistently having headlice, being dirty(i mean clearly hasn't been bathed for a while) and wearing inappropriate clothing(for the weather, or being far too small) be classed as abuse?
Jlm - 16-Nov-17 @ 12:11 PM
Dan Cole - Your Question:
Hi there,Does anybody happen to know how to go about getting paid leave from work for a single father with a newborn? I'm told that fathers are only entitled to 2 weeks paternity pay, but surely as I have a court order for sole custody and parental responsibility and DNA proving that I am the biological father, I should be entitled to Maternity or some form of Shared Paternity pay & leave? I've contacted the payroll office at work and they are all completely baffled and claim I'm only entitled to 2 weeks. This is simply not good enough, I obviously can't just leave baby at home alone. Anyone know the law to this or if anyone has found a way round it?Thanks in advance.

Our Response:
You perhaps would be better to apply to your employer for 'maternity' or shared parental leave, if you are bringing the child up alone without the mother and you will have sole parental responsibility. If your employer refuses your leave, your only other option may be to apply for it through the courts. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. In this case, it sounds as though your reasons for requesting maternity or shared care leave instead of paternity leave would be wholly justified and your employer should understand. Let us know how you resolve this issue. Best of luck.
SeparatedDads - 16-Nov-17 @ 11:52 AM
My ex of 10 years came to an event I was performing at and was highly intoxicated before leaving the venue being asked to leave. she was aggressive towards myself and door staff.the night culminated in her getting arrested and held in a cell over night for drink driving.. she is currently on AD and this is not uncharacteristic behaviour. short of stalking me and attempting blackmail she also makes unreasonable demands as to when I have the children 7 and 8. I don't know what step to take next.i welcome anyone's thoughts!
jdiamondsx - 16-Nov-17 @ 10:59 AM
Jlm - Your Question:
Our situation-I have 3 children from a previous relationship and 2 daughters with my partner. We would like my partners 7 year old son to live with us and he has told both us and his mum this is what he wants too. My son's are 5 and 9 and after 4 years of spending 1/3 of the year together, they have a great relationship with my partners son. At home he also has two half sisters 9 and 14 that he is very negative about. Would his wishes be taken into account if spoken to by cafcass?

Our Response:
Unless the mother agrees, this would be a matter for the courts. It is rare the court will take a child from one parent (i.e the primary carer) and hand him over to another unless there was a justifiable reason. Generally, the likes of child neglect, or abuse would be considered a justifiable reason by the courts. Your partner would have to discuss this matter directly with his ex. If your partner wishes to push this issue and his ex refuses and also refuses mediation, the next option would be court. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. Stability, consistency and routine are considered the most important factors in the upbringing of a child and a court would do little to change this, if your partner's son (regardless of his own personal preference) has this in place already. Court is always seen as a last resort as it can be as stressful to the child as it can the parents. Therefore, any agreement that can be negotiated outside court is always preferable.
SeparatedDads - 16-Nov-17 @ 10:00 AM
Our situation-I have 3 children from a previous relationship and 2 daughters with my partner. We would like my partners 7 year old son to live with us and he has told both us and his mum this is what he wants too. My son's are 5 and 9 and after 4 years of spending 1/3 of the year together, they have a great relationship with my partners son. At home he also has two half sisters 9 and 14 that he is very negative about. Would his wishes be taken into account if spoken to by cafcass?
Jlm - 15-Nov-17 @ 2:07 PM
Hi there, Does anybody happen to know how to go about getting paid leave from work for a single father with a newborn? I'm told that fathers are only entitled to 2 weeks paternity pay, but surely as I have a court order for sole custody and parental responsibility and DNA proving that I am the biological father, I should be entitled to Maternity or some form of Shared Paternity pay & leave? I've contacted the payroll office at work and they are all completely baffled and claim I'm only entitled to 2 weeks. This is simply not good enough, I obviously can't just leave baby at home alone. Anyone know the law to this or if anyone has found a way round it? Thanks in advance.
Dan Cole - 15-Nov-17 @ 12:50 AM
High im a singke dad of 2 i already have custody of my 1st child and now my ex is demand my second to live with her.when we were together she keot leaving them to take drugs n 8 weeks ago i kicked her out n i gave her four chances to come see them however she was to high to bother. She had a prevouis son who live with her gran parents throu social services and her drug n abondoning. My kid are in a stabke environment i work there in nursery like they have being from ababy they are hapier now than when she was here im just asking could she take my youngest as there is no order on her yet
jo - 13-Nov-17 @ 9:52 PM
Hi just after some advice for my friend has male and married with twin girls now 8 has looked after them while mum works since they were 6mnths old she has recently walked out on them but returned and is now threatening to leave again.will he get custody of the girls if she walks out? She is abusive to him physically and mentally in front of the girls too no one seems to want to help him family don't want to know either she's becoming unstable and sycotic
Concerned friend - 5-Nov-17 @ 6:21 PM
Fuming - Your Question:
Bit of a tricky one this, I’m male, 32 and sole parent to a 1 year old her mums phsycotic behaviours, drinking, drug use and self harm issues made the courts have no other option than to give me my daughter and full custody, now my daughters Mum is saying she is going to take me to court to argue that I shouldn’t have my daughter and both the kids should stay together (my ex has a daughter from a previous relationship) she has the other child, I work hard, I’m no risk as I would obviously not have custody, I don’t see her problem and I don’t want my daughter going into her grans care, what rights do I have if she takes me to court what help will I receive? What are the likely results. please help me because I have fought so hard to keep my daughter safe providing childcare while I work and spending every bit of time I can with her I love her so much it will honestly break me if everything I now have was ripped back from me

Our Response:
It is highly unlikely a court would remove your child from your care and hand her to another person to look after her, unless absolutely necessary. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. Consistency and stability are what the court values most. So, if you have a happy, healthy child, in your care then there would be no reason for the court to choose to intervene. In addition, it would be highly unlikely a court would allow your ex to apply directly once an order has been awarded, unless it deemed necessary i.e if violence or neglect were witnessed. It sounds as though your ex is making idle threats in order to get a reaction. However, these are threats without foundation and if she has a history of such behaviour, this will have been logged by the courts. Likewise, your ex's mother does not have parental responsibility of your daughter, so therefore she would not be considered an option. So, I hope you can relax a little here.
SeparatedDads - 16-Oct-17 @ 3:38 PM
Me and my ex divorced 8 years ago and I have had custody of both children with him having visitation every other weekend. We don’t communicate as things turn nasty so he deals directly with the kids now (12 and 15). Me and my daughter had a row and I told her to go and stay at her dads for a bit, she now has no contact with me (I took her phone off her before she went as a punishment), she has now told social services I hit her etc and regularly physically abuse her....ss report states no concerns with safety of kids living with me. Ex is now trying to take me to court for custody of both children citing I’m unsafe, unstable and erratic?? My son doesn’t want to go as he doesn’t want to leave me or his younger sibling......where do I stand?
Worried3 - 14-Oct-17 @ 5:58 AM
Bit of a tricky one this, I’m male, 32 and sole parent to a 1 year old her mums phsycotic behaviours, drinking, drug use and self harm issues made the courts have no other option than to give me my daughter and full custody, now my daughters Mum is saying she is going to take me to court to argue that I shouldn’t have my daughter and both the kids should stay together (my ex has a daughter from a previous relationship) she has the other child, I work hard, I’m no risk as I would obviously not have custody, I don’t see her problem and I don’t want my daughter going into her grans care, what rights do I have if she takes me to court what help will I receive? What are the likely results... please help me because I have fought so hard to keep my daughter safe providing childcare while I work and spending every bit of time I can with her I love her so much it will honestly break me if everything I now have was ripped back from me
Fuming - 14-Oct-17 @ 12:12 AM
James - Your Question:
I have a difficult situation and I don't know what to do.My daughter lives with her mother who is living on benifits schemes, mentally ill, possibly has an alcohol problem and so on.There is currently no legal matters between us and I have my daughter on most days that I do not work but sometimes when I'm not in work I have to beg to see my daughter for maybe an hour. Her mother as i've stated is mentally it but pretty severely from a majorly abusive and traumatic past as a child, she is unable to make good decision and does not mentally live in this reality.I'm concerned that to spite her incapability to be a strong and intellegent female role model for our daughter will ininvertantly damage our child is she is left majority in her mothers care. My circumstances though are not ideal materialistically speaking, I still live my parents as I can't afford my own place on a minimum wage job and I do not recieve any beneficial help. I am how ever on a managment scheme in work and so by the end of next year I should be in my own place with plenty of income to support both myself and my daughter.There is an abundance of proof to her mental health issues as she disscusses it regularly wth her GP and has been on meds for years. Physical health is also on the decline which obviously makes her mental health worse and also on the decline.How much of a chance do I have of having custody, I believe that her mother should be involved in my daughters life as she is a woman in the making and paychologically needs a mother figure but I wish to be the decision maker & responsibility provider for her.What do I do? Do you need more information in order to advise?

Our Response:
If your ex does not agree with you taking a more active role in your child's life, then your only option is to try to push the matter further via mediation and if your ex refuses, take the matter to court. Unless you can prove in court that your ex is incapable of looking after your child, then it is unlikely a court would remove your child into your care and take her from her mother. Mental health issues alone do not mean your ex is incapable of being a good parent to your child. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. Therefore, if you think you may have a case to answer, then you should seek legal advice in order to explore your options.
SeparatedDads - 3-Oct-17 @ 2:12 PM
I have a difficult situation and i don't know what to do. My daughter lives with her mother who is living on benifits schemes, mentally ill, possibly has an alcohol problem and so on. There is currently no legal matters between us and I have my daughter on most days that I do not work but sometimes when I'm not in work I have to beg to see my daughter for maybe an hour. Her mother as i've stated is mentally it but pretty severely from a majorly abusive and traumatic past as a child, she is unable to make good decision and does not mentally live in this reality. I'm concerned that to spite her incapability to be a strong and intellegent female role model for our daughter will ininvertantly damage our child is she is left majority in her mothers care. My circumstances though are not ideal materialistically speaking, I still live my parents as I can't afford my own place on a minimum wage job and I do not recieve any beneficial help. I am how ever on a managment scheme in work and so by the end of next year I should be in my own place with plenty of income to support both myself and my daughter. There is an abundance of proof to her mental health issues as she disscusses it regularly wth her GP and has been on meds for years. Physical health is also on the decline which obviously makes her mental health worse and also on the decline. How much of a chance do i have of having custody, I believe that her mother should be involved in my daughters life as she is a woman in the making and paychologically needs a mother figure but I wish to be the decision maker & responsibility provider for her. What do I do? Do you need more information in order to advise?
James - 29-Sep-17 @ 3:38 PM
If Father stashed money during marriage by financialy abusing Mother while she brings up young children, it will help him get highly expensive lawyers (while mother is in legal aid) who are socialising w Judges via Masons organisation and this is way to take children away from perfectly normal, healthy, capable and fit Mother's!!
Annon - 28-Sep-17 @ 11:11 AM
Stress - Your Question:
Hi. I'm extremely upset. I'm in recovery from alcohol. I've been accused of drinking alcohol and despite explaining that I have been drinking energy drinks in high volume. Researched it too. They have decided to go to court for a care order. She's been told she will be coming home 2 weeks ago,. Now this. At 10 how much weight will her wishes and age hell her return or have I lost her? Any advice appreciated

Our Response:
Under the Children Act 1989 a council can apply for a care order if it believes a child is suffering or at risk of suffering significant harm. I'm afraid we cannot anticipate what a court may decide. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of your child. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
SeparatedDads - 26-Sep-17 @ 12:48 PM
Hi. Stress is really desperate for advice.
Stress - 25-Sep-17 @ 10:40 PM
Hi.. I'm extremely upset. I'm in recovery from alcohol. I've been accused of drinking alcohol and despite explaining that I have been drinking energy drinks in high volume. Researched it too. They have decided to go to court for a care order. She's been told she will be coming home2 weeks ago,. Now this. At 10 how much weight will her wishes and age hell her return or have I lost her? Any advice appreciated
Stress - 25-Sep-17 @ 10:38 PM
Summersunuk - Your Question:
HiIve been house husband for my two boys 16 and 10 for their entire lives. We are getting divorced am I likly to retain custody?

Our Response:
Much depends upon what you and your ex agree between you. If you can't agree and you wish to remain the primary carer of your children, then you or your ex would have to either try to resolve the matter via mediation and/or if mediation doesn't work out, the courts. If you have been the primary carer for your children to date, you will stand a good chance of remaining the primary carer (dependent upon the situation and who remains in the family house). The courts will always decide upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your children and stability and consistency are key. However, if your ex remains in the family home, she will also have a good chance. Shared-care is an increasinly more frequent arrangement these days also, which is best arranged between you both. However, only one parent can apply for child benefit etc and by default this theoretically makes them the primary carer. As both of your children are older, they too would have a say in court. If needed, you may wish to seek legal advice in order to fully explore your options.
SeparatedDads - 18-Sep-17 @ 11:45 AM
Hi Ive been house husband for my two boys 16 and 10 for their entire lives. We are getting divorced am i likly to retain custody?
Summersunuk - 15-Sep-17 @ 4:21 PM
Soontobedad - Your Question:
Hi my ex is currently pregnant about 4-5 months she has two other kids already but there not mine I know she has a very poor mental state and an addiction to canabisI was wondering were do I stand on gaining full custody of my daughter when she's born I have a full time job and I'm paid well I don't currently have my own place to stay but I'm looking for somewhere would I have a case in court I know she wouldn't give me access to her and I know for a fact my name won't be on the birth certificate I just want what's right for my daughter when she's born and I don't think my ex can give it to her please help :/

Our Response:
It is highly unlikely you would be granted full residency of your child unless it was absolutely necessary the child had to be removed from the mother. However, if your ex refuses to name you on the birth certificate, you can claim parental responsibility through the courts.
SeparatedDads - 14-Sep-17 @ 2:33 PM
Hi my ex is currently pregnant about 4-5 months she has two other kids already but there not mine I know she has a very poor mental state and an addiction to canabis I was wondering were do I stand on gaining full custody of my daughter when she's born I have a full time job and I'm paid well I don't currently have my own place to stay but I'm looking for somewhere would I have a case in court I know she wouldn't give me access to her and I know for a fact my name won't be on the birth certificate I just want what's right for my daughter when she's born and I don't think my ex can give it to her please help :/
Soontobedad - 14-Sep-17 @ 2:10 AM
Si - Your Question:
Hi I been fight my ex girlfriend for 5 years straight now she kept stopping my contacts with my son. Saying you not his dad cause my name was not in his birth certification she when to give birth but did not inform me of this I found out on Facebook site. Now am having regular twice week contact my name on birth certification threw dna I have share rights with social services. My son is nearly 6 years old been told that I am getting custody in November so I moved into a 2 bed flat with local council I work full time at mc Donalds. Please can help me what benifits could I start claiming for of get forms to fill in ready please.

Our Response:
You can see all you need to know via the CAB link here. You may also wish to visit your JobCentre Plus if you wish to speak to someone directly.
SeparatedDads - 11-Sep-17 @ 5:06 PM
Hi I been fight my ex girlfriend for 5 years straight now she kept stopping my contacts with my son. Saying you not his dad cause my name was not in his birth certification she when to give birth but did not inform me of this I found out on Facebook site. Now am having regular twice week contact my name on birth certification threw dna I have share rights with social services. My son is nearly 6 years old been told that I am getting custody in November so I moved into a 2 bed flat with local council I work full time at mc Donalds.Please can help me what benifits could I start claiming for of get forms to fill in ready please .
Si - 11-Sep-17 @ 9:05 AM
Hi my ex is an alcoholic cocaine user my girls aged 12.17 live with her but there mother will leave them imiddle of the night to go get drugs or drink I always pick up the pieces she will disappear on any given day and not come back for days but dies remainin contact with them I have sufficient evidence that proves she is a drug and alcohol abuser and the man she is with is a drug dealer l have been in contact with social as I want full custody of the girls my problem is also I live in a 1 bed housing association flat so would need sufficient accommodation. Also I find social to be absolutely useless
Taliflo - 2-Sep-17 @ 10:46 AM
Hello. My brother is a couple of years younger then me, but will always be my baby brother. He lives with his fiancee in a different area to his friends and family, yet I've began to notice a domineering trait. So much so, that they're under one roof sometimes living two separate lives. He is commuting to work, doing a managerial position, coming home running errands and then doing daddy chores (although I will admit he dotes on the latter). There is nothing he wouldn't do for his baby boy, and that's the part that scares me. My brother has recently been diagnosed with depression, and I'm concerned that this is because he's unhappy with his situation/relationship but he would rather "put-up and shut-up" as opposed to risk losing his son. By ending the relationship, he wouldn't just have the wrath of his now-ex, but also the ex-mother-in-law too. I would love to be able to tell him that this isn't the only option and he would be able to at least have access to his son, or possibly even apply for custody? However, in making the split, he would have to move back to his routes which is a 3 hour distance away... would this make a difference? Any help would be much appreciated.
Perspective - 14-Aug-17 @ 4:24 PM
My partner has had 2 childrenremoved her for neglect from ipswitch social services and once they were informed about her being pregnant with her 3rd she ran off to spain. And when i met her she hmgave me a sob storie of the social services were nothing more than a systematicmachine who abducts children who then can sell. 2 years later we had out child and had social services and she had pases of doing things she shouldnt of like spending more time outside than thats redeemd acceptableshe ran off and stayed at her friendshouse who she met of the group who has a cocain and alcahol problem she has had alot of times of not coping and strugling to understand the right from wrong with her learning difficultiesshe stole £400 out of my bank bank for the past 3 months leaving us short. She has kidnaped ny son to be closer to her familiy becouseshe isnt coping and realying on her mom who tried to refuse jacobs injections her 3rd child shes refusing contact all i know is that she is 240 miles away what will be my chances in court once i prove my side with the help of social servises
DaddylittleAngel - 16-Jul-17 @ 9:56 AM
Concerned - Your Question:
My brother and his wife have 2 children. She is emotionally and verbally abusive to the children and to him. They also have had no physical relationship for nearly ten years. He has been the primary caregiver since the children were born working nights while his wife works days. His children are beginning to pick up her abusive nature and treat him in the same manner. He wants to end the marriage but is afraid to leave that the children will be stuck with their mum without him to protect them. What is his recourse, if any?

Our Response:
If your brother has been the main primary carer of the children, then he has an equal case to maintain the status and gain residency of the children. Much depends upon whether he and his wife agree on who would become the main carer. If his wife does not agree to the suggestion, or to mediation in order to come to an agreement then he would have to take the matter to court. The court will always decide upon what it thinks is in the children's best interests. I'm afraid there is no definitive answer at this stage as there are so many variables.
SeparatedDads - 10-Jul-17 @ 3:19 PM
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