Custody of Children and Divorce

Going through a divorce can be a stressful time for both partners. Not only is this true for spouses, but it can also impact the lives of the whole family. In particular, young children can be affected by the divorce of their parents as they go through a huge change. It is always important to put the children first even when there are problems in separation.

It is always best to try and amicably reach agreements over the children with your spouse during divorce proceedings. Speaking about the situation calmly and remembering to put the children’s welfare first will make sure the right resolution is reached. Alternatively, you can seek the help of mediation to work through problems in a positive way together. This avoids the formalities of court and going through that situation.

However, there will be some instances when spouses cannot agree on who the child should live with, what school they should attend or how much support should be paid. This is when it will be up the spouses to find lawyers and go to court.

When do the Courts become Involved in Children’s Lives?

The courts will not always be involved when it comes to children. They will only step in and help if a couple cannot agree on custody of children or where they are going to live after divorce. In order to make arranges for the future, a Statement of Arrangements will be completed. This is going to set out all of the rules regarding residency, visitation and child maintenance. It is important to stick to these arrangements to ensure that you still enjoy time with your children.


Deciding where and with whom the children live is normally the biggest decision during a divorce. The Children’s Act 1989 is going to be the law that is used to make arrangements by the courts. The child’s welfare will always be the centre of all proceedings and what is best for them will determine the final decision on residency.

There are many factors that will be considered when it comes to residency. For example, this will include your child’s wishes and feelings towards what will happen after divorce. They may have a preference when it comes to staying with their mum and dad. Minimal disruption is important for adjustments after a divorce. This may mean that their current home is preferred over somewhere new.

Of course, your children’s physical needs will be paramount in the decision for residency. This will include looking at their background, age and even any religious needs that they have. The parents’ capabilities will be a consideration too. A lot of the time, the mother will be chosen for residency. But this does not mean that a father should not try to claim for residency during a divorce. Joint residency can also be arranged between parents if this is an arrangement that will work for the child.


Visitation can be granted to the parent that is not awarded residency. This means that during the divorce, arrangements will be made for the spouse to spend time with their children. This can include the days and the time they can spend with their children. It is best to come to a mutual agreement on visitation. You will see your spouse during this time if they arrive at the house to collect the children.

There will be a legal contract for visitation. This means that it is a binding agreement and you cannot deny visitation rights after they have been decided by the courts. Again, the welfare of the child will be considered in any contact orders that are created. If there are possibilities of harm to the child or their needs are not going to be met, visitation can be denied. If you are granted visitation rights, make sure you also obey the schedule to avoid any problems from occurring.

Child Maintenance

There will always be a main carer for the children after a divorce. They will do the day-to-day errands. This means that the other spouse will have to pay child maintenance to them to help look after their children. This money is used for essentials, such as food, clothing, education and other important expenses.

Sometimes, spouses are able to agree on the amount of child maintenance between themselves. But the courts can help with this if they have to. They will take into account living costs and expenses, ordering one of the spouses to pay the amount to the main carer.

Normally, children should be under 16 years old for child maintenance to be necessary. This can be up to the age of 20 if they are in approved education. Your income will be taken into account, as well as how many children you have.