A Residence order settles with whom the child lives and not to whom the child belongs. It also provides Parental Responsibility to the holder of the order for the lifetime of the order.
The residence order usually lasts until the child turns 16 years of age unless due to exceptional circumstances there is justifiable reason that the order be extended beyond the child’s 16th birthday.
It is possible to grant a Residence order to more than one individual. In this case, the specific period of stay with each of the holder of the order is specified by the courts.
However, the holder of the order does not have the right to change the surname of the children nor can the holder travel outside of the country with the child without the written consent of all those with Parental Responsibility or by a Court Order except when the travel is for a period not to exceed one month.
The residence order granted does not provide the right for the holder of the order to decide on the child’s unilateral upbringing. Both parents still have joint responsibility on the child’s upbringing.
As a holder of the order, and if you plan to bring the child out of the country permanently, you must acquire appropriate consent from those who have parental responsibility to the child - such as the mother, the father, guardian and any other persons granted a residence order or leave of court.
Who can apply for a Residence Order
Individuals who can apply for a residence order include:
- The child’s parent or guardian
- The married step parent of the child where the child lived with the step parent as a child of the family
- A person with whom the child lived for a period of at least three (3) years
How to Apply for Residence Order
To apply for Residence order, the Children Act Form C1 is available from your local Magistrate’s Court, the County Court or the High Court. The information you have to provide includes: details of the children, yourself and your partner, and explain the order you wish to apply for and the reason for your application. The fee to be paid depends on your financial circumstances.
How Residence Is Determined
The Court considers the following circumstances in deciding with whom/where the child will live:
Applying for a Residence Order
Applying for an order is not the most simple of processes, so one is advised to get as much support as possible from friends, family, counselors and perhaps support groups. However, getting this far in the application process does proves one’s mettle. It may be daunting but it is worth it in the end!
- The best person to be able to meet the child’s daily needs
- The domestic routine of the child up to the present
- The work commitment of the person/s applying for a residence order which is most conducive to attending to the child’s primary care
- With unmarried parents, the mother takes on the sole parental responsibility until the father, through an agreement, gains it or by Court Order. Parental responsibility is automatically granted to the father ones he has been granted a Residence order
- In the case of very young children, The Court assumes that in the case of very young children, they are better off living with the mother unless proven contrary. However, the granting of a residence order is still subject to the case’s individual merits and may not necessarily invalidate the father’s probability of being granted a residence order.