Residence and Contact Myths

Myth

“I cannot take my child on holiday without a Residence Order.”

Fact: Click to view

It is not necessary to have a Residence Order to take a child on holiday, particularly if both parents give their consent. A holiday of up to 28 days is possible without court permission or involvement. However, you should check with an experienced family law solicitor if you are unsure of the situation.

Myth

“I want custody of the children and for my ex to have access”

Fact: Click to view

These days, there are no such things as custody and access relating to divorce proceedings. When the Children Act 1989 came into being, the issue of where children would reside became known as residence and the issue of them seeing the other parent was classified as contact. However, many people still use the older terms.

Myth

“If I get divorced, my wife will automatically get custody of the kids.”

Fact: Click to view

In considering residence and contact (there is no such thing as custody any more) the court will look at the best interests of the child and there is nothing in law that states it is in a child’s best interests to live with the mother rather than the father. The children and their welfare is of paramount consideration. The courts will look at various factors, including the age and understanding of the children amongst other factors. The younger the child, the more likely it is that the majority of judges will decide the child is better with the mother, but as children get older their views will be given greater weight in deciding where they should live.

Myth

“The court will not commit someone to prison for breach of a residence or contact order”

Fact: Click to view

The divorce courts have recently acquired greater powers to enforce these types of orders but they still can impose custodial sentences for breach of something like a contact order. However, the biggest disincentive remains the court’s power to decide that persistent breaches of their orders leaves them with little option but to make a residence order in favour of the other parent.

Myth

“The kids can’t live half the time with me and half with him.”

Fact: Click to view

Yes they can, assuming that is genuinely in the best interest of the children – and it is increasingly found to be so. Of course, you’d have to consider any possible impact upon things like schooling, after school activities and friends. Normally a court won’t interfere if the two parties can make their own arrangements.