When a couple decides to separate, their main concern is the well-being of their children. However, deciding on custody can be challenging as both parents may have different opinions on what is best for their child.

The primary concerns are usually centred on the living arrangements, whether to split custody and how to handle childcare responsibilities. Various options are available, and the choice ultimately depends on what is in the child’s best interest.

Types of Child Custody

Sole Custody

Sole custody occurs when only one parent has legal and physical custody of their child. This type of custody is typically granted in cases where the other parent is absent or abusive. It is less common than joint custody.

The non-custodial parent, also called the child’s other parent, has no legal or physical custody rights over the child but may be allowed supervised visitation. Supervised visits are often required in situations involving child abuse or domestic violence.

Joint Custody

Joint custody is a common child custody solution when a couple with children gets divorced or separated. This means that both parents will share custody of the child, and the child will live in both parents’ homes. With joint custody, the parents will also work together in making decisions about the child’s welfare and upbringing, similar to when they were still married.

Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to the power to make decisions regarding the child’s well-being, such as their education. On the other hand, physical custody determines where the child resides on a daily basis. Parents may have both types of custody or just one, or in rare cases, neither, depending on their individual family situation.

Child Arrangement Orders

If the couple doesn’t reach a mutual agreement regarding child custody, they may have to resort to legal action and apply for a CAO (Child Arrangement Order). Essentially, a CAO is a legal agreement between the court and the parents or guardians, which outlines what is in the child’s best interest.

This agreement will officially decide the level of contact between the child and the parents, the child’s place of residence and any specific requirements the child may have. Although most parents request CAOs, others are also eligible to apply for one directly without seeking permission from the court. These include:

  • Anyone with whom a child has lived for three years or more
  • Any civil partner or spouse with children
  • Anyone with an existing residence order for their child
  • Anyone with their child’s parental responsibility
  • Guardians and parents of the child

How Do Parents Improve Their Chances of Getting Child Custody During Divorce

Parents are expected to fulfil most of the points mentioned below as it is considered a given. Although external factors and work commitments may hinder family life, parents are expected to make every possible effort for the well-being of their children. The court will ultimately decide on what is best for the child, but the following points are likely to be viewed favourably:

  • Be respectful towards the other parent. Doing so can greatly improve how you are perceived and help establish a positive self-image
  • Timely payment of child maintenance
  • Make your home child-safe
  • Attend key events such as religious ceremonies, birthdays, etc.
  • Show a genuine interest in your child’s extracurricular activities, being present for their school plays and providing assistance with homework

Wrapping Up

Divorce can be a challenging part of a couple’s life, especially when children are involved in the process. Sorting out custody, access, and contact can be daunting, but it’s a crucial aspect that needs the utmost attention. At the end of the day, it’s best to put your needs second and focus on what is best for your child!