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Purpose of survey: 

This research was undertaken to help us to target our free advice and FAQs articles so that they are as helpful as possible to the right people.  The survey itself was conducted using SurveyMonkey, which provided results from respondents with children, from across the UK.

Background to ‘Custody’:

In October 1991 the Children Act 1989 came into force, which changed the arrangements relating to child custody and access.  Since then, in 2014 all arrangements relating to children and separation became known as Child Arrangement Orders, to place the emphasis on the child and not the rights of the parents.

There is now no such thing as ‘custody’, as Child Arrangement Orders are now used to decide with whom children live and spend time with, in the event of a separation.

Respondent information

Age:

  • 20-29 = 10%
  • 30-39 = 45%
  • 40-49 = 35%
  • 50-59 = 10%

Marital status:

  • Single = 30%
  • Cohabiting = 25%
  • Married = 25%
  • Engaged = 10%
  • Divorced = 5%

Number of children:

  • 1 child = 30%
  • 2 children = 20%
  • 3 children = 10%
  • 4 children = 25%
  • 5 children = 10%
  • 6 children = 5%

Child arrangements status:

  • Sole access = 50%
  • Joint access = 35%
  • No access = 15%

Child arrangements – access

When comparing those with no access to their child/children at all, 29% of male respondents (with an average age of 40) didn’t see their child/children, compared with 8% of female respondents (with an average age of 35).  This is a difference of 263%.

In direct comparison, those who had sole access were all female, with an average age of 38.

Joint access:

For respondents who did not have full parental responsibility, the most common times that they were able to see their child/children were:

  • Weekends = 25%
  • Alternate weekends = 25%
  • Once a month = 25%
  • Alternate weeks = 12.5%
  • Every 2 weeks = 12.5%

Child arrangements – deciding access

The main considerations when deciding where and with whom respondents’ children should live were:

  • The views of the child/children on where they wanted to live = 30%
  • Working patterns of the mother and father = 25%
  • Who would have the child/children during weekends = 20%
  • Where the child/children’s school is = 15%
  • The location of where each parent lives = 15%

When looking at how respondents came to a decision about child arrangements, the processes that respondents found to be most effective and beneficial were:

  • Deciding on their own = 39%
  • Using a lawyer or going to Court = 33%
  • Using mediation = 17%
  • Using counselling = 11%

Of those who decided on their own, 46% were female with an average age of 40, compared with 57% who were male with an average age of 43.

Of those who found using a lawyer or going to Court most effective, 46% were female with an average of 3 children, whilst 35% were male with 1 child.  Average ages for both male and female respondents who preferred this method were 35.

Deciding child arrangements by going to Court

If deciding child arrangements by going to Court, there are other factors that have to be taken into account.  For example, if the parents are not married then only the mother has parental responsibility automatically.  The father only has parental responsibility if:

  • He is named on the birth certificate for a child born after December 2003
  • He is registered as the child’s guardian
  • He enters into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother, acquires from the court a parental responsibility order or child arrangements order or if he marries the mother of his child

Do you have to have a lawyer if you go to Court?

Whilst many people use family lawyers to represent them at Court, you are able to represent yourself.  However, Court can be a daunting place and we would recommend that you at least take advice from a family lawyer before going to Court so that you feel well prepared and are able to better understand the Court process.   For more advice on this, see our ‘What to Expect at Family Court’ FAQs.

Finding a good child arrangements lawyer

When it came to where respondents would look to find a good lawyer to assist with agreeing child arrangements or changing child arrangements, 50% of respondents would ask a friend or family member to recommend a lawyer; 40% would look online and 10% would use a lawyer that they had used before.

If you don’t know anyone that has used a lawyer for divorce or child arrangements, then take a look at our client interviews for the best of both worlds:

  • Contact with son (Court Order), Hinckley
  • Contact with son – Leicester
  • Contact with son – Hinckley
  • Domestic violence – Leicester
  • Divorce – Leicester
  • Family law – Hinckley

Advice about child arrangements and family law

If you are considering going to court for a Child Arrangements Order or a family law case and would like some advice from a family law expert, call us for a free initial conversation over the phone and we will help as much as we can.

If it is that you would like to come and see us (or if we aren’t able to answer your questions because we need more time and detail) then we have a fixed fee price for an initial 1 hour meeting with any of our expert family lawyers.

Bray & Bray have three main offices across Leicestershire, feel free to phone or pop in to talk to our solicitors.