Posted by Jemma Breban on 19th December 2011

If you are applying for a Residence Order (custody), you need to show it is in the child’s best interest to live with you. You will need to think very carefully about their physical needs and daily routines.

One of the most important factors a court will consider in custody disputes, is the existing Status Quo that takes into account the family situation at the time the case comes to court. It is therefore extremely important that parents stop and consider what effect your moving out of the marital home will have. In the same way as spending time with your children, by moving out you may effectively be creating a new ‘status quo’ and you may struggle to obtain a Residence Order (Custody), or Shared Residence Order (Joint Custody), based upon the status quo established when you moved out.

How Residence (Custody) Is Determined

Family courts have a principle called “presumption of contact,” under which they have to do everything possible for fathers to see their children. Before making a ‘residence order’ the court will consider the welfare principle, welfare checklist, and the ‘no-order’ principle: as well as what is in the child’s best interests and the existing Status Quo. The court considers the following circumstances in deciding with whom/where the child will live:

It is possible to grant a Residence Order to more than one individual (in the case of shared parenting for example).

A Residence Order also provides Parental Responsibility to the holder of the order for the lifetime of the order, usually until the child turns 16 years of age unless there are exceptional circumstances. For example if an unmarried father without PR is granted a residence order, the court will also have to grant him an order for Parental Responsibility.

Who Can Apply For A Residence Order?

The following people have an automatic right to apply for a residence or contact order:

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