Chances of Father Getting 50/50 Custody UK

Chances of Father Getting 50/50 Custody UK
Legally reviewed by: Shakeela Bi Updated: Family

When it comes to determining child custody in England and Wales, there is no guarantee of a 50/50 custody split. This is because decisions regarding child custody in the UK are influenced by a range of factors. Each custody case is determined by what the court believes is in the child’s best interests. The court will always make decisions with the primary focus of creating a stable arrangement for a child. As a result, the court may grant one parent sole custody or decide on an uneven custody split.

It is essential for fathers aiming for equal parenting time with their child to seek legal guidance to navigate the various custody arrangements available and understand the limitations and requirements each option carries. Our team of family law solicitors can assess your child custody case and provide tailored advice on your chances of securing equal custody.

The Law on Child Custody UK

The Children Act 1989, sets out the framework for all child custody cases in the UK. The act establishes the guidelines and regulations that govern the allocation of parental responsibilities and rights. The act serves as a basis for legal decision making regarding the well-being and care of the child. It ensures that the welfare of a child is paramount and therefore, must be prioritised when making fair decisions regarding the custody of a child.

Where parents cannot come to a childcare agreement, the family court will make a final decision, using an evidence-based approach to determine what they believe is in the best interest of the child.

Understanding your rights as a parent can be pivotal in determining custody agreements. Although both parents have an equal responsibility towards their child, in cases of abuse and neglect this rule does not apply.

It’s important to mention that a 50/50 custody is not always achievable, and the custody split will be unique to each case. This is because factors such as a parent’s financial influence may differ between parents.

What Factors Determine Child Custody?

The court will take some of the following common factors into their decision making regarding the custody of a child.

The Best Interests of the Child:

  • Depending on the age of the child, they may have preference for where they want to live.
  • What are the health concerns of the child and can one parent attend to them better than the other?
  • What are the emotional and developmental needs of the child that require the care of one parent over the other?
  • Are there any special requirements needed?

Parental Fitness:

  • How mentally and physically fit is the parent to provide a stable and supportive environment for the child?

Parent and Child Relationship:

  • How strong is the bond between each parent and the child?
  • How involved is the parent in the child’s life. This includes caregiving responsibilities and emotional connections.
  • History of caregiving, and past involvement in the child’s life?

Current Living Arrangements:

  • The current living arrangements for both parents will influence how practical 50/50 arrangement maybe achieved if required.
  • This includes whether either parent has other children who will be residing with them at any point during visitation periods as this could affect housing space available for overnight stays.

Stability of the Child’s Life:

  • What parent offers the most stability to the child’s life regarding previous routine. This includes current living situation, school, community ties, and relationship to extended family.

Work Schedules and Parental Availability:

  • How much time does the parent have for the child?
  • How much supervision is needed, and can the parent meet those needs?

A History of Abuse or Neglect:

  • Has there been any evidence of abuse or neglect?

It’s vital for those wondering the chances of fathers getting 50/50 custody understand how the above areas can determine what access rights they might achieve within their specific case.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that the weight given to each factor can vary. UK courts aim to tailor custody decisions to the specific circumstances of each case while prioritising the child’s welfare. An expert family solicitor is essential to presenting evidence and arguments related to these factors during custody proceedings.

The Different Types of Child Custody Arrangements

There are four different types of child custody arrangements in the UK: physical custody, legal custody, full custody, and joint custody. These relate to aspects such as the division of custody and decisions relating to how the child is raised.

Physical custody refers to the day-to-day residence of the child. Even if one parent is granted sole physical custody, this doesn’t mean the other parent cannot visit or spend time with their child (unless there is reason for this not to happen).

Legal custody refers to the decision making relating to important aspects of the child’s life. If you have been granted joint legal custody, both parents must be involved in important decision making regarding the child.

Full custody refers to one parent having complete physical and legal custody of the child. The court will almost always favour both parents being involved in bringing up a child. Therefore, will need to be a reason for full custody to be granted. A couple of examples of reasons for full custody is if one parent is in jail or has criminal records or if there has been abuse or neglect from one parent.

Joint custody refers to when parents have shared physical custody, legal custody, or both. In the case of joint physical and legal custody an agreement will be made of how both parents will split the time in which they have custody of the child.

Pros of 50/50 Custody

Some of the advantages of an equal share in care include the benefits from both parent’s involvement in the life of the child. This includes better emotional wellbeing for the child. With shared parental responsibility both parents can tap into their ‘respective strengths, resources, and connections’ for the child. A 50/50 division of time can help reinforce to the child that both parents have an equal status regarding parental powers and responsibilities.

Cons of 50/50 Custody

Alternatively, 50/50 custody can come with some complications, especially for very young children. The old and pre-Children Act 1989, states concern for a child going between households. It states, ‘going backwards each week between mother and father, with no single settled home, is prima facie wrong’ (see Lord Justice May in Riley v Riley [1986] 2 FLR 429).

Furthermore, where there is conflict between both parents, 50/50 custody can expose the harm to increased opportunities for disputes from co-parenting.

Some critics argue that an emphasis on equality of time can indulge the parents’ sense of fairness rather than focusing on the requirements of the child.

Whether an equal shared care arrangement is a good idea depends on the circumstances of the family. The proximity of the parents’ homes, the parent’s work commitments, ability to co-parent constructively and the characteristics, needs, age and wishes of the child can all play a role in determining whether 50/50 care will work.

What Might Affect the Chances of a Father Getting 50/50 Custody?

The Parent’s Relationship with the Child

It’s important that the parent can show their active involvement in the life of the child. Additionally, the quality of the relationship and the father’s ability to provide emotional support are all vital factors for a 50/50 custody.

Child’s Wishes and Feelings

The child’s age and maturity level will be considered during a custody dispute. It is important that both parents listen to the needs of their child and any concerns they might have.

A child’s preference will be a large point of consideration in custody arrangements. It’s important however, that the child’s preferences remain consistent over the period of custody dispute. If the child suddenly changes their preference the court could view it as a result of manipulation or coercion from one parent against the other.

Child’s Age and Gender

Due to the different needs and requirements of a child depending on their age, it’s important that both parents can provide age-appropriate roles in their child’s life. Gender stereotyping can also impact fathers seeking custody in England. This is due to societal norms suggesting that mothers are better at looking after children.

Father’s going through divorce must understand the specific needs of their child based on their age and gender. By demonstrating that you understand the age-appropriate needs of your child. As a result, fathers will have improved chances of 50/50 custody.

Parent’s Work Schedule and Ability to Provide Care

It’s vital that a parent can show flexibility in their work schedule for childcare responsibilities. Being able to adjust the hours a parent works or being able to work remotely are an advantage. Being able to be more involved in your child’s life can positively impact the outcome of disputes.

Furthermore, availability bias can influence court-based decisions. If a father has demonstrated an active role in caring for their children before separation, they are more likely to be seen as a viable caregiver. Additionally, financial support plays a large role in providing for a child’s needs. If a father can demonstrate his ability to provide financial resources, his chances of 50/50 custody are likely to improve.

How a Father Can Get 50/50 Custody?

When it comes to improving your chances of 50/50 custody, the following can help your case:

  • Maintaining a positive relationship with the other parent by prioritising communication and cooperation.
  • Use mediation to resolve any disputes between parents rather than resorting to court proceedings.
  • Create an ideal home environment for your child. This includes establishing routines and stability, creating a safe space, and demonstrating emotional availability to your child’s needs.
  • Show you are involved in your child’s life. This includes attending school events, extracurricular activities, pursuing shared interests etc.

Seek the Expert Guidance of a Family Law Solicitor

If you are hoping to achieve a 50/50 custody split, a family law solicitor can make a big difference in the likelihood of your cases’ success. The court process can be complex and emotionally challenging, but a solicitor can help you understand your rights and the legal process. Your solicitor will ensure you have all the necessary documentation to prepare a strong case. This might involve providing evidence of your involvement in your child’s life, your ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment and your willingness to cooperate with your ex-partner in decision making for your child. Whether your solicitor is negotiating on your behalf or representing you in court, they will be there throughout each step of the process, ensuring they advocate your parental rights and protect yours and your child’s best interests.

Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.