group of children walkingDivorce Myths Part 3: Children

group of children walking

Today’s topic for “myth-busting” is around how arrangements for the children are approached during divorce.

The law sets out that careful consideration should be given to the particular circumstances of the case and that all decisions relating to the children must be “what is in the children’s best interests”. This takes priority over the parents’ wants/wishes for the children. The children come first. 

Here is advice on the topic of children, from Amanda Phillips-Wylds, a specialist family law solicitor in Berkshire:

1.There is an automatic right for the mother to have the children living with her upon separation.

Upon separation it is for the parents to decide who the children will live and how much time they will spend with the other parent. A court will not become involved unless the parents cannot agree and they ask it to make a decision for them. If a court does become involved its decision is based upon what it thinks is in the best interests of the child, and it has a checklist of factors to measure this against. As society changes, parenting roles are evolving from traditional norms and in more and more cases fathers are taking a greater role in the care of their children. It is no longer unheard of for children to live with their father upon separation. There is no “standard”arrangement for parents to follow when agreeing how much time the children will spend with their father or mother once a relationship has broken down. The arrangements may differ during holidays and term time and they normally evolve over time and as the children grow older. 50/50 shared care is becoming a more common arrangement between separated parents.


2.The parent with ‘custody’ of a child has greater rights than the other.

Who a child lives with has no bearing on each parents role in making important decisions in the child’s life, or their role in caring for the child provided they each have parental responsibility. If both parents have parental responsibility they both have an equal say in all the important decisions in the child’s life, for example in relation to education, medical treatment, religion and property. The child’s mother automatically has parental responsibility for the child. The father will have parental responsibility if he was married to the mother at the time of the birth, if he is named on the child’s birth certificate (births from 01.12.03), or if he has a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother or an order from the court.


3. If they are not receiving child maintenance the parent whom the child is living can stop the other parent seeing the child.

There is no legal basis to stop the parent who must pay child maintenance from seeing their child if they stop paying. The remedy is to contact the Child Maintenance Service for a calculation.”


If you have found this blog helpful, click on the links below for other blogs in this series:

Divorce Myths Part 1: Divorce

Divorce Myths Part 2: Finances


(To get in touch with Amanda Phillips-Wylds and to find out more about her family law services, you can contact her via her website KJS Family Solicitors).


During your divorce, it is so important for you and your ex to put aside your personal feelings towards each other when making decisions about the children. Help your children as much as possible to cope with Mum and Dad’s divorce, by approaching matters with dignity and civility. A lot of my work with clients involves support and guidance surrounding children issues during divorce.


If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you will find lots more in my ebook “Tips for Coping with Divorce” which you can download here: free ebook.

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