Custody(the biggest misconceptions in English law)

One of the biggest misconceptions in English law is the notion of   Custody. We don’t have custody in England. We separate out parental rights and the issue of a child’s care. Even if you have parental responsibility. This is the decision-making powers in relation to a child.

This include the right to be informed and consulted. Including, key aspects of the child’s upbringing.

This does not mean then you have the residence and contact arrangements. This is obviously how a child’s time is divided.


Many people wrongly assume that the more time a child spends with a parent the greater their decision-making powers. Also the greater their parental responsibility in contrast to the other parent.

That’s not the case at all and even on very unequal care arrangements. If both parents have got parental responsibility in the eyes of the law. Then, they’re equal and their decision-making powers are equal.

Many  people wrongly believe that if the child lives with them. Then, they can do what they want without reference to the other parent. This  also includes changing schools and going on holiday.

These are very common issues that comes up.

A lot of non-resident parents wrongly believe that they don’t have the right to take a child on holiday. Also, often a lot of resident parents believe that they can.

In law, if both parents have got parental responsibility. Then they need the consent of the other to go outside the country for a holiday.

Unless they have a residence order. Which is now kmown as a child arrangements order, in their favour in which case they can go on holiday for up to 28 days without the consent of the other. So as long as that’s not overriding a provision within the order whereby the child needs to be spending time with the other parent within that window of time.

There is no such thing as a standard arrangement for the care of children.

Each individual case  at on its own merit. So for some families, an arrangement where, for example, a child lives with one parent during the week and sees the other parent every other weekend might be a perfect arrangement.

For other families that’s not going to work at all. Something like a shared care arrangement whether that be exactly 50-50, or just a high amount of time in both households may work a lot better.

Each case will be evaluated on individual merits. Looking at what the child’s particular needs are and the care that each parent can give.

Therefore, people often fail to offer suggestions that they believe would work. They think that they are constrained by this normal ‘standard arrangement’ but, that no longer exists.

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