Children and Divorce – What You Need to Know about Sole Residency (Full Custody)

can I get full custody
Haroop Ahluwalia
Divorce Solicitor
Cordell & Cordell

Making child arrangements can be an extremely difficult issue to tackle when two people are experiencing the ordeal of a separation or divorce.

But when it comes to filing for sole residency, do you know the absolute essentials to help make this critical decision?

We have compiled the essential need-to-knows to assist parents going through a divorce in making that all-important decision about sole residency.

Residency: The Legal Landscape

When it comes to arrangements about children, the preference of both the parents and the courts is often to agree on joint legal residency. However, if an agreement cannot be made amicably between parents, the court may be involved, which will lead to a decision being made on the parents’ behalf.

Child Arrangements

If parents are unable to agree on where the child/children will live and when they’ll spend time with each parent, the next step will be to go through the courts.

A family mediator can also be instrumental in helping a decision and agreement to be made.

What is Sole Residency?

If you consider filing for sole residency, it is crucial to know the different types and what is involved.

Types of Sole Residency

There are two types of sole residency:

  • Sole legal residency –This involves one parent holding complete decision-making authority for the child.
  • Sole physical residency – This involves the child living with one parent, with the other parent receiving visitation rights.

Court Orders

Filing for sole residency will involve filling out the relevant court order.

The type of court order parents will need depends on the exact details of what they have been unable to agree on, and numerous court orders can be applied for at once.

The types of court orders concerning residency arrangements were previously known as ‘residence orders’ and ‘contact orders.’

These have since been replaced by a ‘child arrangements order,’ which decides the following:

  • Where your child will live
  • When your child will spend time with each parent
  • When and what other types of contact will take place, such as phone calls

If parents already have an existing residence or contact order in place, there is no requirement to reapply with a new child arrangements order.

Applying for a Court Order

There are a number of steps to take to apply for a court order:

  • Fill in a C100 court form. Within this form there must be evidence that you have attended a meeting about mediation first. This is exempt in certain circumstances, such as in domestic abuse cases.
  • Send the form to the nearest court dealing with child cases, together with the fee of £215.
  • If you are on a low income or receive benefits, you may be eligible to receive financial help with the fees.

The Court’s Decision

Once your child arrangements order has been received by the court, a directions hearing will be arranged by the court for both parents to attend.

A family court adviser from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) is likely to be present at the hearing.

If an agreement cannot be made during the first court hearing, this will lead to the judge or magistrate setting a timetable outlining what will happen next.

It is important to remember that the court will make the child’s welfare its absolute first priority, and this will be the deciding factor in determining who will receive sole residency of your child/children.

About Haroop

Haroop Ahluwalia is a London divorce solicitor at Cordell & Cordell.

He has significant experience in both property and family law. The opportunity to work closely with clients, guide them through each step of the divorce process and help level the playing field in the UK divorce courts is why he chose to practise family law exclusively.


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