Is this a Custody Dispute?
The changing terminology in cases involving children continues to confuse at a time that is often already hard to cope with. Is it a custody dispute, a children dispute, a contact dispute or a Child Arrangements Order?
The truth is there are several different phrases but they all mean the same thing. You may find that the courts and lawyers may use different ones than you have heard before. Let’s take a look at the terminology which is and has been used:
The words which were taken out of circulation in the family courts in 1989 were ‘custody’ and ‘access’. Therefore, effectively ending the legal term of being in a custody dispute. Both words, however, are still referred to by many people. They are understood, straightforward words that do what they say on the tin. So why change them?
In 1989 the decision was made to change these words to ‘residence’ and ‘contact’. The reason for this was that it was considered that ‘custody’ and ‘access’ were too emotive and caused unnecessary antagonism between those involved in the case. Did changing the words from custody dispute to residence dispute change how people felt though?
We got used to these new words and, although ‘custody dispute’ and requests for ‘access’ still occasionally appeared, we carried on with this wording from the Children Act 1989 for a quarter of a century.
That is until 2014 when it was decided that these words were also obsolete. The reasons given are similar to that used in 1989! In 2014 we were introduced to the Child Arrangements Order. On the face of it this was something completely different…. but was it?
A Child Arrangements Order is an order which regulates arrangements relating to:
(a) With whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact, and
(b) Where a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person.
So, a new set of words, and we are not to use words such as ‘contact’ but the word ‘contact’ appears in the definition of the new Child Arrangement Orders.
The concept behind the words remains as it has always been, a child can still reside with one parent and have contact with the other. ‘Residence’ became ‘live with’, and ‘contact’ became ‘spends time with’ but ‘contact’ is there and indeed appears in standard Orders. It hasn’t gone.
If you find yourself in any situation involving children you can come to see our specialist family team. You can tell us you are involved in a ‘custody dispute’, want ‘access’ with a child or want to sort out who a child ‘lives with’, it won’t matter what words you use, we can help and we understand.
We can guide you through what feels like a minefield of terminology and help you to achieve what is best for your children in your circumstances, whatever words you use. Custody dispute? Child arrangements Order? Children dispute? We have you covered.
Contact the family law team today by calling 01752 203500 or emailing enquiries@GAsolicitors.com. As one of the longest-standing solicitors in Plymouth, you can be assured you are in the best possible hands. Our team of family lawyers are ranked in The Legal 500 and Chambers UK.