Sunday, 5 February 2012

Joint Child Custody or Contact

Q: My wife does not want me to see my son, what can I do?




A: In my opinion, Joint Custody is best for the child to know both parents, so the following information is tailored towards that opinion.

The law governing applications for custody of children under the age of 18 years, in the Magistrates’ Court, can be found in the Family Law (Guardianship of Minors, Domicile and Maintenance) Act 1981.

By making an application for custody of a child, a person is applying for the right to possession and care of the minor, including:

the right of physical control over the child;

the right to discipline the child;

the right to control the education of the child;

the right to protect the child; and

the right to make medical decisions affecting the child.

According to Section 4, both father and mother have EQUAL rights, so here's the process.


Who can make an application?

A father or mother of a child can apply for custody, regardless of whether the parents are married to each other.

Any other person, not being a parent of the child who the court thinks has a sufficient interest in the child, for example, relatives such as grandparents, aunts, or older siblings, can also apply.


How to make the application?

(1) Make a plea before a Justice of the Peace or a Clerk of the Peace at the Magistrates’ Court in your district.

A plea concerning the reasons why you should be granted legal custody is done in an interview between you and the Justice of the Peace.

In the interview, you need to show that you are the child’s parent, if this is the case, and you must take with you proof of this. The child’s birth certificate can prove this. If you are not a parent, you must establish that you have a sufficient interest in the child.

On the basis of your plea, and the interview, the Justice of the Peace has to determine if you have sufficient grounds to make the application.

If the Justice or Clerk of the Peace finds that you have grounds to make the application, you are then directed to do so.

The application is made by completing a standard form for both married and unmarried people, which is given to you at the Magistrates’ court. You then take the completed form to the process or counter clerks to pay an application fee, and have the application processed.

If the child's parents are married, the fee is a standard three dollars (TTD$300), irrespective of how many children the application is being made for.

If the child's parents are not married, the fee is three dollars (TTD$300) for each child being applied for.

After the application is made, a court date and a summons is made out in the name of the parent or person to be excluded from custody.

You must take the summons to the summons officer in the police station nearest to which this person lives. It is your responsibility to ensure that the summons is served on the person.

You should provide the summons officer with the person’s proper address, and also make periodic checks with the officer to see that the summons has been served.

Once the summons has been served, the officer who delivered the summons signs a return of service form which is included in the court’s file for your matter.

If on the date that the matter has been assigned, the matter is called, and the summons has not yet been served (which will appear from the absence of the return of service form), then the matter will be adjourned until the person is served with the summons.


What happens when the matter is called?

When the matter is called, and you and all the other persons concerned are present, the court will ask whether the application is contested by the other parent (does the other parent agree or disagree to custody application). If it is uncontested, the court will proceed to deal with the matter immediately.

The court will grant custody of a child, if it thinks it fit, having regard to the welfare and the best interests of the child. The welfare of the child is the first and most important consideration above all others

On granting custody to the applicant, the court will usually grant a right of access to the child to the other parent or person(s), and may then go on to make an order requiring that the parent or person(s) excluded from custody pay to the parent granted custody, periodic payments for the maintenance of the child.

Where the application for custody is contested, the court usually makes a temporary order for custody of the child, until the final determination of the matter.

63 comments:

  1. I am a single mother, have raised my daughter without the active involvement of her father for many years, he would pay maintenance to me in between and recently I brought him up in court for Maintenance, after he requested a paternity test and got positive results a temporary order was put in place, he had not complied and is now threatening to file for joint custody since he says he wants her for the entire wknd and for half the vacation periods.

    ReplyDelete
  2. my ex common law and i share a child i have allowed him to see him when he wants he does not see him on the weekend so as to "prevent" me from going outthe few times i asked him to sit he just never showed up i have now limited the access in that he cannot just drop in whenever he wants he has gone to the police who told him he has a right to take the child an threatens to do so i have asked him to come up with a reasonable schedule but he insists to be difficult and reminds me that he can just come and take the child someone please help

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. File for custody and let the courts decide who gets the child at what times.

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello,

    I've been a single parent for 16 years now. My daughter's birth certificate does not name her biological father and he has not tried to make contact with his child since birth ie. through no fault of mine. I would like to migrate with my child, however, I have no idea as to where in the world her biological father is in order for him to approve the form. What is the easiest course of legal action to take regards satifying the authorities that my daughter should be allowed to migrate with me? Would some sort of affidavit suffice?

    ReplyDelete
  5. i have a 4 year old daughter to which i have no say in her life, her father takes full control and he's trying to keep her away from me.. he said that if i ever try to take her away from him he'll kill me and my family, he has money so he says he can do watever he wants. i love my daughter, she's suffering i'm depressed and sometimes feel like dying. i need help!

    ReplyDelete
  6. My wife has passed away and we have a son together. My son and my brother are very close and I want to share joint custody of my son with him. What to I need to do legally?

    ReplyDelete
  7. my son's father took me to court saying i denied him access which is far from the truth. a legal officer told me to file for legal(sole)custody as my son's father is very vindictive towards me and i feel he may try and flee with him. along with the custody he advised me to file for maintenance as well. i am now being told that the magistrate can still send my son to spend weekends with his father although i am not comfortable with them being alone. what else can i do?

    ReplyDelete
  8. at present my ex common law is 14 weeks arears for maintenance and hasnt paid his half of travelling school and extracuurcular activities since january 2011 the case is at arima magistrate court when it has been post poned for several reasons since then mainly his none appearance or the magistrates absence i have gotten a lawyer for the last three appearances hoping that it would help but it hasnt my next date is january 8 and i am hopingthe new year brings some kind of resolution i keep all my records and have everything documented but in the mean time i have a son in university and another writing SEA next year what can i do to encourage the magistrate to insist that he makes some kind of attempt at paying what is owed to his children
    can you offer me any advice please thank you

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi I have a five year old son whose father has never showed any type of interest in him. That is until recently when his fathers mother requested a paternity test. Since then they are demanding that they(mainly his mother) get my son on weekends. They have threaten to take me to court for custody on one occasions if I don't comply with there request.I was advised to send him so I've sent him for one weekend already but I'm really not comfortable. I'm frighten, they are in a better financial situation than me I don't want to lose my son. I'm going to apply for full custody what are my chances?

    ReplyDelete
  10. What if one parent was given custody in the Magistrate Court and five (5) years after the other parent not given custody applies to the High Court for custody? Is this possible?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, if circumstances have changed.

      Delete
  11. we are separated, the father wants full custody of our 3 year old son, who i have been taking care of for the past year, since the separation. Lawyers want to settle out of court, but i am not sure

    ReplyDelete
  12. hi let me first mention that this is great what you are doing, thank you.
    My situation is this, i share my three year old daughter with my ex- commonlaw wife, however owing to several fights and misunderstandings she through me out with this i stop assisting her with her rent for i now had to fit a rent myself, since she has moved on, i rearly see my daughter or speak with her as i like. she was advised to take out a protection order on me stating i threating to kill her i used intimidating language towards her the order was granted for 21 days.
    i was very careful to play my cards safe she then lied and told the police that i threatened her i was then arrested for 4 days went before the court plead not guilty, and with no prior convictions was given $15000 bail. with this towards my name she is filing for legal custody of our daughter, i live with my parents while she lives with her new boyfriend who sleeps there from time to time, we both have a good job, however given the situation do u think the court would give her custody?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This area of law is very biased, so she will more than likely get custody, but don't just sit by and let it happen. My advice is to find a good Family Lawyer and FIGHT for your child.

      I know a few good Lawyers in P.O.S., so contact me if you need help finding a good one.

      Delete
  13. I am having a child with a non citizen of the country. Due to his having tried to commit suicide outside of the country after knowing about the pregnancy and his overall lack of concern for finances etc. We have parted ways. I would like to have full custody of the child in question, but I am scared he could stop the proceedure or take her away....what are my options??

    ReplyDelete
  14. Good day, I have care and control but we have joint custody of my two sons, 12 and 8. My ex-husband is constantly breaking the High Court orders, he keeps them longer than he should and I am constantly made to go to the police station to make reports. After I make the vacation schedules he always breaks them to suit him at the last minute. Last night at 10pm I received a text from him to check my email, when I did it was filled with insults and name calling and in the end he states that he would not be bringing the boys home on the scheduled day and time but the next day. I am tired of this nonsense from him. The last time he did this was Carnival Sunday when I then had to go up to the police station in the night and I didn't get my boys back til the next day at 4:30pm. His mom warned him that I was at the station and he hid the boys at his girlfriend's home and then they took the boys to the cinema Carnival Monday. Please is there any advice you can offer to me please?

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have two daughters ages 9 and 6 they live with me .there father spends no time with them at all it effect my oldest daughter really bad,she cry all the time and ask why daddy not calling,why he do not want use to come up again i keep on telling her i do not know.Q:CAN THE FAMILY COURT MAKE A PARENT SPEND TIME WITH HIS CHILD OR CHILDREN FOR THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD OR CHILDREN.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, being a bad father is not a criminal offence. The court can force him to pay child support, but not spend time.

      Delete
  16. At what age can a parent file for sole or joint custody of a child? Is there a minimum age, below which 'custody' may be forgone for 'visitation' until the child is older? What are the odds of a father getting custody of a child younger than 6 months of age; in a case where the parents are not married or in cohabitation and the mother is unemployed?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Custody and contact can be applied for at any age.

      There are no "odds". Each case is different. Is the father's name on the birth certificate? Is the father working? Would he have enough time to care for the child? Is the mother mentally disabled? Does she have the ability to raise the child properly?

      In family matters, the only way to win is to fight dirty. The father will have to show the mother in the worse light possible.

      Delete
  17. Good day....My question is - What can the father of a child do if the mother of the child is not following the court ordered visitation rights? (Also no one knows where she is now...she doesn't want anyone to know where she lives)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ask the court to hold her in contempt and force her to comply. Further failure to comply could result in a possible prison sentence.

      Delete
  18. Hi I have live abroad for the last 9yrs and returning home could I still collect back child support from my ex husband

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can sue him for back child support IF there was a court order made AND only up to the age of 16.

      Delete
  19. I have lived with my children's father for the past six years. During that time he has seen about us financially for everything while I was in school. We are now separated and I would like to move out and take the children with me back to my parents; with the intention on allowing them to spend time with him on weekends and holidays that he isn't working.
    What will be the best solution legally for us with regards to the children.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Petition the court to grant an order for contact during the times convenient for both parents.

      Delete
  20. I have been married to my husband for 12 years, we have an 11year old son and a 3 year old daughter. He is always working no time at home and when he's there he is drinking until he get drunk. Do you think he'll get custody of our children.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have been taking care of my son since birth. His father has been a good father but I would kile to find out more about visiation etc since I plan on moving out soon. HE has threatened me today telling me that I will see how dread he can get as he tried to grab my son. I saw that as an eye opener an I got a very scary feeling. PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHERE I CAN GO TO GET ADVICE

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  22. hi i am a 27yr old father I hav 2 kids a 6yr old daughter and a 7month old son with my ex she stopped me from seeing them and she doesn't want me on their property she also changed her phone nos home phone cell phone and she leaved her job I usually buy my kids stuff and drop it off on work for her I find she is being ova spiteful wat can I do as a father to see and spend time with my kids I love them alot and I need to talk to my daughter because they telling all kinda stuff how she not hearing from me because their phone nos are changed please help

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Take her to court for custody. Send me a private e-mail.

      Delete
  23. Hi I am a teenage mother who recently gave birth to my son. My baby's daddy and I are in an on-again off-again relationship. One minute we are happy and things seem perfect, however, when we have any dispute, he doesn't want to take care of our son financially. Ironically, he wants to put me through court to get full custody of our son. I am currently unemployed but I have the support of my family to maintain my son. My son isn't registered as yet because he is less than one month old. I am interested in the rights that my boyfriend have towards our son
    My questions are:
    1. What rights does he have if he is not listed on the birth certificate?
    2. Can he get full custody of my son because I am unemployed?
    3. What actions can I take against him to have full custody of my son?
    4. Can he be denied custody because he doesn't want to take care of our son?

    Please educate me about the parental laws.... You can private message me because I have so many questions to ask...... Please contact me with information on bestplaym84life@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If he has refused to maintain the child when there is a disagreement, he is unlikely to get full custody, even if you're unemployed; however, contact or joint-custody are options.


      You have to e-mail me, not the other way around.

      Delete
  24. Based on section (13) subsection (4) which states:
    "An order under subsection (1) or (2) may be varied or
    discharged by a subsequent order made on the application of either
    parent or after the death of either parent on the application of any
    guardian under this Act, or (before or after the death of either parent)
    on the application of any other person having the custody of the
    minor by virtue of an order under subsection (1)."
    Can the parent who was given custody by virtue of trial in the Magistrate Court five (5) years ago object to an application in the high court by the other parent who lost custody, as it states the application to vary or discharge can be made by the parent/person having custody of the minor by virtue of an order under subsection (1)?
    Taking also into consideration the parent that lost custody also did not file an appeal within the three (3)month period and is now making an application for custody five(5) years after. If not, does this mean one do not need to rush an appeal within the three (3) month period and can come back to the courts any time and make an application?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know where you got 3 months from, but according to section 47(2) it is 30 days.

      However, if it's not an appeal of the previous order, a parent can start new proceedings when their situation has changed and they believe that they have a better chance of getting custody.

      Delete
  25. hi good night i`m recently became a grandparent an was so over joy then suddenly in 1mth time my daughter in law became the worst person and started callin me names when she and her husband decided to separate,any way to make a long story short she took the baby and moved out and rented an apt with her divorced sister. she does want me and my husband to see the child which is nine mths now and my son is payin child support for her since she moved out and demanded that from him. she is using the child as she has the upper hand on us, we haven`t seen the child in like a month and she always telling the father she does want the child around us the grandparents. only she side family must be with the child/ this is our first grand. is their some sort of advice u can give us on this matter. does the father have any rights on the child

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your son should ensure that custody is shared, so that you can see the child. I don't understand why he pays without even ensuring that his family is part of the child's life as well.

      Delete
  26. hi i am a father and i would like to no what is the least amount of money the court would require me to pay as maintenance of my 4 year old son. i usually give money to his mom but without getting anything in writing stating that im paying,if it reaches in court what is the procedure

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only the Court decides that. There is no formula; everything's based on the specific circumstances of the parties involved.

      Delete
  27. Concern Grandma27 August 2013 15:45

    my grand children ages 8yrs and 3yrs lives with my son and I at our home he and I are both employed at different government agencies. The mother is employ but on a contractual basis so we allow her to financially assist with education and clothing for the eight year old, all other expenses are met by my son and I.When ever the mother of the children and their father have a dispute she takes the children away with her and we are barred from being part of the children lives. they sleeps at (her)friends and family'S homes when-ever she works the 2 to 10 or 10 to 6 shifts. Please help me to be there for my grandchildren

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm assuming they're not married?

      The solution to this is simple; your son needs to file for custody, which he will most likely get because of the "status quo" doctrine. The mother will get contact, but that will only be for specified periods on specified days, so this "quasi-kidnapping" will end.

      I am willing to deal with this matter for you, so send me a private e-mail.

      Delete
  28. Hello,

    I have a daughter than is 14 months old and her mother and I were never married. We are not in a relationship anymore and does not want me to come at her house to see my child.She wants to drop her off only 2 days for the month at my house. This is not good enough for me. Please advise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You need to make an application for joint custody. Send me a private e-mail and we can set up an appointment to discuss your options.

      Delete
  29. How can I get my name on my daughter's birth certificate without her mother's permission? I've been granted access by family court and the mother doesn't deny that l'm the father.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only way to do it with or without her consent would be to make an application to the family court to have the name inserted.

      Delete
  30. hello i have a 1year daughter her father has his visitation rights but has havent come in over 3 months and want to put me back in court for joint custody...he's a drinker so is his people in his household i dont feel its safe for her there...what could i do?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Come to us and we'll take the matter to court to have to order varied.

      Delete
  31. My custody case goes to trial this evening in Family Court. The Magistrate has postponed this case 3 times because she was unable to attend Court. I have since decided that I no longer want to persue the Custody battle and leave things how they are now cause we seemed to have worked out a system on handling our child's matters. How can I inform the Magistrate of this in her Court today? I don't want to waste the Courts time anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do not drop the matter because when the child's mother decides that she no longer wants you to see the child, what do you think will happen?

      Men in your position who make that decision, ALWAYS regret it.

      Delete
  32. I am married, my husband has cheated on me an has another child. He takes my kids to the next woman's place where she tells them horrible things about me, i have asked him to stop doing this along with a probation officer of the court. He has not stopped. I want to file for sole custody of my three kids, do I have sufficient grounds to do so?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You all still live together? I don't think you'll get sole custody if you guys still live together and he's capable of taking care of them on his own as well.

      Regardless, we can handle this for you. Send me a private e-mail.

      Delete
  33. Hi I have a 2year old daughter and her father an I was in an on again off relationship. I tried to be a gUd parEnt by allowing hin visitation rights 2 see her but when he's mad at me he refuses to come an see her. I finally decided 2 leave because I was fed up of the physical abuse. An now he wants sole custody and I'm scared. I don't want him 2 have her by himself because he's a very ignorant person an I'm scared of him takin out his rage 4 me on her. Could he really get full custody?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, fathers don't get full custody unless the mother is on drugs or mentally ill.

      Delete
  34. I am married and I have 3 daughters, ages 20, 16, and 7. For years now, my husband has been giving me and my children problems and he drinks, for example he tells the oldest to go and crash and kill herself and he also got drunk and took a cricket bat to burst my 16 year old daughter's head and his brother took it away, also he calls her a fool and tells her she is stupid and my youngest is terrified of him. We are not allowed to leave the house (only for school and lessons for the kids and I to go to pay bills but if I am not on time, he will get upset.) He calls me a nasty woman and an invalid and tells me that I am not a good mother and not a good wife. He is the sole breadwinner and is in control of all the money, even though we have a joint account, I am not allowed to take any money. Also if we have cash in the house and it is not the same amount as when he last counted, he tells me that I am stealing it but I don't do such a thing. I am not allowed to work even though I am well and able. We have two vehicles and the family vehicle is on my name because he registered it that way. I am also not allowed to see my parents and my brothers and their wives and nieces. I tried to leave once but because my husband's family has money, they wanted to report me and my younger daughters also if I leave, they will fight for full custody of my younger kids but my younger daughters will not stay with him and also I fear for their lives and my own. Also my husband is uneducated but his family has the last word and according to them I am not allowed to leave, and that I have to stay here with my kids and forever take his verbal abuse and not say a word. Also I have no real evidence of the verbal abuse but can you help me please, also I want full custody of my kids because I can't see my kids go to sleep crying every night and my youngest being terrified. Please advise me on what I can do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Based on what you've said there, there is no way he would get full custody.

      If you divorce him, I am certain that alimony would be awarded.

      You need to send me a private e-mail. See "About me"

      Delete
  35. Hi.
    My ex and I have shared a daughter till she was 4 months. I left him after a domestic dipsute. She is now 2. During that time he has not provided consistent assistance to maintain her and does not wish to see her. He says when she gets older he will start to visit and maintain. i have moved on and is going to get married. I want full custody of my daughter because her father does not show any interest or care in her. What do I do?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Come see us and we'll make an application for custody and I think we should also petition for maintenance because the child needs more money now rather than later.

      Delete
  36. hi. my son's mother is currently filing for full custody of him as a means to be spiteful toward me. i have always been a very active father in my childs life and has assisted in maintenance up until she refused to let me see him after we split up and she filed. i was granted a lawyer through legal aid and i have advised her that i would like to apply joint custody of my son but she says that i cannot because my ex and i were never married. is this correct? because reading this forum seems to differ. i desperately seek your advice as the matter continues this week

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know what quack Lawyer told you that, but you're the father and once the right application is made in the Family High Court, you can obtain joint custody.

      Send me a private e-mail.

      Delete
  37. Hi. Please forgive me if i missed the obvious but how do i send a private e-mail to you (as in what address to use?)

    ReplyDelete