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Shared Custody of Your Children

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 14 Aug 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Contact Residency Visitation Custody

There are numerous questions surrounding shared custody. What is it? How does it work? And how is it different to contact (as visitation is called these days)?

In many instances, residence (custody) is granted to the mother, and you, as the father have your contact rights set out. With shared custody, your children split their time between their mother and you. The amount varies – it can be as much as 70% with the mother, for instance – but it means you have much greater contact with them. It presumes, of course, that both the mother and father are fit parents.

UK Lagging Behind

It’s an idea that has widespread popularity in Europe, and in the U.S. it’s becoming more common, although the UK has lagged behind in adopting it.

Shared custody demands a high level of commitment from both parents. If you’re going to have your children for three days a week, then during that time you have you need to make sure your schedule revolves around them.

The Advantages of Shared Custody

Shared custody, shared residency or shared parenting as it's also known, can offer several distinct advantages, both for parents and children. For separated fathers, it means they can be far more involved with their children, seeing them on a regular, extended basis every week. Moreover, it also means that neither parent is carrying the entire burden of parenting while the other is considered absent.

With standard Contact Orders, one parent has the majority of responsibility for the day-to-day routine, while the other – usually the separated father – sees the children at the weekend or selected weekdays.

Shared custody means your Children Have Two Homes, two stable bases where they can feel secure. Above all, it means they continue to have a real family life with both parents, which makes them feel more loved.

Research has determined that when children have experience of shared custody they have better relationships with both parents and are more satisfied with their lives. It’s also shown that even when there’s strong animosity between the parents, shared custody works well for the children.

The Disadvantages of Shared Custody

For shared custody to work, you have to live fairly close to you ex, for your children to continue to attend the same schools, see their friends, and so on. This can create social problems for the parents, since proximity means an increased chance of contact with your Ex Partner.

Also, if your job or circumstances change and you have to move elsewhere, then the change from shared custody to contact can create emotional problems for your children (the same can apply if your ex has to move for any reason). In other words, by its nature there has to be a certain amount of flexibility in the plan.

Shared Custody in the UK

At present, shared custody/residency is not the norm in Britain, although several organisations are trying to increase its visibility and prominence. The Shared Parenting Information Net and the Equal Parenting Council are both working to make it a very acceptable option here.

Just because it's not necessarily the norm, does not mean you can’t bring up the idea in Mediation or through your solicitor as a viable means of custody. In most instances, children are also given a say in where they spend their time, and where they have excellent relationships with both parents, it means they’re not in a position where they have to “choose” between Mum and Dad.

What Next?

Why not have a read through our article on Making Joint Decisions About Your Child's Future for some advice and guidance on how you and your ex partner can make parenting decisions together.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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[Add a Comment]
Hello, if a father wants shared physical custody of children after divorce, does that mean that he can apply to have a greater share of marital assets on divorce than would be typical, e.g. 50% of home equity rather than the more common 30%? Thanks
Jay - 14-Aug-18 @ 11:30 AM
Simon - Your Question:
Im currently going through separation with my partner. We were never legally married although we lived together for 12 yrs. We have a set of twin boys together now almost 5. I am the registered father and they bare my surname. Also I coverted to the islamic faith and my wife also. My kids were born in Doha. It states on the birth certificate that they are muslim and so is the mother. Contact I see them every weekend from friday to sunday and also for a few hours each wednesday. My wednesday contact has now been cut and I fear my weekend contact will soon follow. My children dont really want to go home and get very upset when its time to go. ReligionAlso she is going back to her old self and fèeding my kids pork. Although I respect orher cultures and religions I have my own principles. I wish my children to grow up with the same values and understanding as myself. From birth they were muslims.CustodyAlthough we live in seperate towns they are in the same county and I live only 20 mins away. I live with my family and a stable home. I want joint custody as it is important I am in my boys life as an active parent. I feel any mediation will be blocked by her.What are my chances of getting joint custody.

Our Response:
For any child arrangements after parents separate, please see the link here , which will tell you all you need to know. There are no right or wrongs post separation, if you cannot agree on how to bring up your children or with whom they should live then this is the process you have to take.
SeparatedDads - 14-Aug-18 @ 9:37 AM
Alan26 - Your Question:
Hi I am into the early stages of seperation from my wife 4 months now we have one child together age 6 and she has 3 other children aged 11 , 14, 21 we have lived together for 10 years so I have brought them up as my own but things are getting difficult. I had to leave the rented property and am currently homeless but sofa surfing at my parents I do work full time but have taken up the debts that have been built up in my name so struggling to find a property I can afford to live in. I get to have the 2 boys school term from school Tuesday , Thursday every other Wednesday to sleep over and I pick them up Friday evening and have them every other satuday and sunday. In the holiday she has them first week Monday day and Friday and Saturday Sunday I pick them up Sunday evening ,second week she just has then Monday day and Friday day I take 2 days a week off work for this and I pay my mum to take them out one day. I no how lucky I am to have this but she is asking for more child maintenance and school uniform money , more than I can afford , firstly I'm worried she will reduce the time I see the boys and secondly how do I find out how much I have to pay ? She does get all the benefit help for them. Is there any way I can get it set so I don't lose contact with my children?

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child contact have no bearing upon each other, meaning seeing your children is not money-dependent. If you are earning and paying tax through HMRC, then you are automatically responsible to pay towards your biological child. However, in theory you are not deemed financially responsible for your non-biological children unless you have officially adopted them - this would be up to their biological father (you don't say whether he pays child maintenance). Only if you divorce, may a judge request that your step-children have some financial provision from the joint marital estate. With regards to seeing your non-biological children, then you would have to apply to court and the court would decide whether it is in the children's best interests (if your ex refuses access). As the court likes continuity and stability and if the children are older (as they will have a say), then you would have a good chance of gaining access.
SeparatedDads - 13-Aug-18 @ 12:13 PM
Im currently going through separation with my partner. We were never legally married although we lived together for 12 yrs. We have a set of twin boys together now almost 5. I am the registered father and they bare my surname. Also i coverted to the islamic faith and my wife also. My kids were born in Doha. It states on the birth certificate that they are muslim and so is the mother. Contact I see them every weekend from friday to sunday and also for a few hours each wednesday. My wednesday contact has now been cut and i fear my weekend contact will soon follow. My children dont really want to go home and get very upset when its time to go. Religion Also she is going back to her old self and fèeding my kids pork. Although i respect orher cultures and religions i have my own principles. I wish my children to grow up with the same values and understanding as myself. From birth they were muslims. Custody Although we live in seperate towns they are in the same county and i live only 20 mins away. I live with my family and a stable home. I want joint custody as it is important i am in my boys life as an active parent. I feel any mediation will be blocked by her. What are my chances of getting joint custody.
Simon - 13-Aug-18 @ 7:03 AM
Hi i am into the early stages of seperation from my wife 4 months now we have one child together age 6 and she has 3 other children aged 11 , 14, 21 we have lived together for 10 years so I have brought them up as my own but things are getting difficult.I had to leave the rented property and am currently homeless but sofa surfing at my parents i do work full time but have taken up the debts that have been built up in my name so struggling to find a property I can afford to live in .I get to have the 2 boys school term from school Tuesday , Thursdayevery other Wednesday to sleep over and I pick them up Friday evening and have them every other satuday and sunday . In the holiday she has them first week Monday dayand Friday and Saturday Sunday I pick them up Sunday evening ,second week she just has then Monday day and Friday day I take 2 days a week off work for this and I pay my mum to take them out one day. I no how lucky I am to have this but she is asking for more child maintenance and school uniform money , more than I can afford , firstly I'm worried she will reduce the time I see the boys and secondly how do I find out how much I have to pay ? She does get all the benefit help for them . Is there any way I can get it set so I don't lose contact with my children?
Alan26 - 12-Aug-18 @ 10:08 AM
Vyvex- Your Question:
Hi. If my ex and I have exact same nights share of children (5 in total). I am getting tax/working credits and she child benefit basically because that was situation while together. We separated without sorting it out. How do you think this will work as for who gets what? At moment I am able to get working credits to help with childcare but she isn't. She is now apply for tax credits and I am applying for chb. Ideally would be shared but not sure how this will work out. How do they share this out or what happens? We have no communication and will be impossible to sort out between is.

Our Response:
Usually, it is the parent who receives child benefit who is considered the primary carer and as a result the person who can claim additional benefits. You may wish to get some advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau to find out more. If you cannot agree between you and your ex, you would have to go through the process outlined via the link here . If your ex is considered the primary carer then she also would be entitled to claim child maintenance from you, so it is worth looking into in order to explore your options.
SeparatedDads - 9-Aug-18 @ 9:40 AM
Hi. If my ex and I have exact same nights share of children (5 in total). I am getting tax/working credits and she child benefit basically because that was situation while together. We separated without sorting it out. How do you think this will work as for who gets what? At moment I am able to get working credits to help with childcare but she isn't . She is now apply for tax credits and I am applying for chb. Ideally would be shared but not sure how this will work out. . How do they share this out or what happens? We have no communication and will be impossible to sort out between is.
Vyvex - 8-Aug-18 @ 11:25 AM
Concerned nanna - Your Question:
Hi, I would greatly appreciate your advice please. My son lives in Australia. His wife lives in Scotland with their 2 year old son. They are currently drawing up a separation contract. She says that she wants 100% custody so that she can receive all the single parent benefits, however the separation contract does not include anything about his visitation/contact rights. She verbally says he can visit whenever but we feel that this needs to be documented. Please advise.

Our Response:
Your son should request that access/contact arrangements are included in the agreement before he signs.
SeparatedDads - 7-Aug-18 @ 11:44 AM
Tara - Your Question:
Hi,Do you have any statistics on the likelihood of a shared care order being granted?My boyfriend is currently battling for this and it goes to a contested hearing later this month.The mother has been difficult all along and refused to attend mediation twice, has claimed abuse (we suspect to take advantage of legal aid) up until the point cafcass got in touch.We have asked for no more than we feel is fair, although we would love to have his child full time, but I’m nervous about his court date as his solicitor told him that shared care is pretty much down to the whim of the judge hearing the case and their feelings. What if the judge is one of those who believe the child belongs with the mother? And what options are there for us if we get much less than we’re happy with?

Our Response:
There are no statistics, as every case is dealt with on an individual basis. However, shared care is becoming more frequent. The reason it is becoming more frequent is that more parents are taking an equal responsiblity to bring up their children on a day-to-day basis when together. The courts generally like to keep arrangements consistent. For instance, if your boyfriend has played an integral hands-on part in bringing his child up i.e shared the school run, helped with the children if his ex was at work etc, then the courts would be more willing to offer shared care. However, if your boyfriend hasn't played a big part in his child's upbringing to date, for instance if they separated a while ago and he only sees his child every other week, then it is less likely a court would opt for shared care. There is little option to contest the court order once the order has been made. Both parents would be expected to keep to the order which would change only if circumstances change.
SeparatedDads - 6-Aug-18 @ 2:08 PM
Jim - Your Question:
Hi, I have recently split from my ex. We have a shared parenting agreement in place. I live in a shard house and wants to apply to a council house. Will I get priority so that I can rent a house big enough for my children? Thank you

Our Response:
Unfortunately, unless you are the parent who claims child benefit and are classed as the primary carer of your children then you will not be allowed extra rooms for your children if you rent a council property. You can see more via the Shelter link here .
SeparatedDads - 6-Aug-18 @ 10:02 AM
Hi, I would greatly appreciate your advice please. My son lives in Australia. His wife lives in Scotland with their 2 year old son. They are currently drawing up a separation contract. She says that she wants 100% custody so that she can receive all the single parent benefits,however the separation contract does not include anything about his visitation/contact rights. She verbally says he can visit whenever but we feel that this needs to be documented. Please advise.
Concerned nanna - 5-Aug-18 @ 10:38 PM
Hi, I have recently split from my ex. We have a shared parenting agreement in place. I live in a shard house and wants to apply to a council house. Will I get priority so that I can rent a house big enough for my children? Thank you
Jim - 5-Aug-18 @ 10:24 AM
Hi, Do you have any statistics on the likelihood of a shared care order being granted? My boyfriend is currently battling for this and it goes to a contested hearing later this month. The mother has been difficult all along and refused to attend mediation twice, has claimed abuse (we suspect to take advantage of legal aid) up until the point cafcass got in touch. We have asked for no more than we feel is fair, although we would love to have his child full time, but I’m nervous about his court date as his solicitor told him that shared care is pretty much down to the whim of the judge hearing the case and their feelings. What if the judge is one of those who believe the child belongs with the mother? And what options are there for us if we get much less than we’re happy with?
Tara - 4-Aug-18 @ 9:50 AM
Sid - Your Question:
Hi,What are my rights regarding seeing my children during school holidays. They live with my ex wife, we have joint responsibility. I see them over a weekend every fortnight as we live 100 miles apart. I have requested that they spend half of all school holidays with me but my ex is threatening to restrict the amount of time I see them during school holidays to much less.

Our Response:
There are no specific 'rights' unless there is a court order in place (which you and your ex would have to keep to). If you are not happy with the arrangement then mediation then court (if you can't agree) are your only options. Please see the link here . If you have been awarded shared care via the courts, then please see the link here, which will outline your rights and options.
SeparatedDads - 3-Aug-18 @ 9:44 AM
Hi, What are my rights regarding seeing my children during school holidays. They live with my ex wife, we have joint responsibility. I see them over a weekend every fortnight as we live 100 miles apart. I have requested that they spend half of all school holidays with me but my ex is threatening to restrict the amount of time I see them during school holidays to much less.
Sid - 2-Aug-18 @ 12:01 PM
Babycakes - Your Question:
Hi we are both woman that had a little boy together though ivf we have split up and she has took the boy as she was the one who gave birth to him but we both on birth certificate as his mum I have the little boy at weekends and 3 weeks in the holiday the problem is I am in a council home and only have a one bedroom I have a new partner I have been with for 3 years which we share the bedroom but we need two bedroom so my little boy can have his own room his can I get help as council are saying because I don't have him full time they don't have to help me please help

Our Response:
Unfortunately, this is the same with all non-resident parents who have visiting children who live elsewhere and who you don't claim child benefit for.
SeparatedDads - 30-Jul-18 @ 1:56 PM
Hi we are both woman that had a little boy together though ivf we have split up and she has took the boy as she was the one who gave birth to him but we both on birth certificate as his mum I have the little boy at weekends and 3 weeks in the holiday the problem is I am in a council home and only have a one bedroom I have a new partner I have been with for 3 years which we share the bedroom but we need two bedroom so my little boy can have his own room his can I get help as council are saying because I don't have him full time they don't have to help me please help
Babycakes - 27-Jul-18 @ 5:25 PM
Stuart- Your Question:
Me and my wife have decided to separate after 10 years being together she as said I can have joint access to my kids And im trying to find a place for me and our boys would I be entitled to help with housing ect as my wages wouldn’t cover everything we would need

Our Response:
Only the resident parent (the parent who claims child benefit) can claim housing benefit, or more rooms to accommodate the children.
SeparatedDads - 27-Jul-18 @ 12:35 PM
Me and my wife have decided to separate after 10 years being together she as said I can have joint access to my kids And im trying to find a place for me and our boys would I be entitled to help with housing ect as my wages wouldn’t cover everything we would need
Stuart - 27-Jul-18 @ 6:49 AM
My partners ex will not admit to any overnight care my partner has as it decreases her child maintenance award. His not in a position where he can afford to take her to court. Is there anything that they will accept as evidence for overnight care?
Sg191293 - 24-Jul-18 @ 8:03 PM
Loulou - Your Question:
Hi my boyfriends ex wife won’t let him have his 2 children staying over night in the week it has to be weekends. He works shifts and works 3 weekends out of 4. But he gets 2 days off in the week so is able to collect the children from school and take them the next day. It’s breaking his heart because she threw him out after 15 years of marriage and she’s screwed him over with money etc and he’s just starting over again. What can he do legally? He pays her maintenance every month and loves his children so much. He hardly sees them at the moment due to work commitments. She ended the marriage and threw him out but she’s been really nasty about seeing his children. I don’t know what to do to help. Any advice please.

Our Response:
The link here , should tell you all you need to know.
SeparatedDads - 19-Jul-18 @ 11:32 AM
Hi my boyfriends ex wife won’t let him have his 2 children staying over night in the week it has to be weekends. He works shifts and works 3 weekends out of 4. But he gets 2 days off in the week so is able to collect the children from school and take them the next day. It’s breaking his heart because she threw him out after 15 years of marriage and she’s screwed him over with money etc and he’s just starting over again. What can he do legally? He pays her maintenance every month and loves his children so much. He hardly sees them at the moment due to work commitments. She ended the marriage and threw him out but she’s been really nasty about seeing his children.. I don’t know what to do to help. Any advice please..
Loulou - 17-Jul-18 @ 10:26 PM
Munchkin - Your Question:
Hi I just wanted to know something , my daughter's live with their father and I see them in the holidays and every fortnight, I have them for a week in the summer holidays I just wanted to know as I don't receive benefits for them if they stay with me for a week does he have to give me that weeks benefit?

Our Response:
No. Your ex's benefits are attributed to him directly and he is under no obligation to give the money to you.
SeparatedDads - 17-Jul-18 @ 11:38 AM
Hi I just wanted to know something , my daughter's live with their father and I see them in the holidays and every fortnight, I have them for a week in the summer holidaysI just wanted to know as I don't receive benefits for them if they stay with me for a week does he have to give me that weeks benefit?
Munchkin - 16-Jul-18 @ 4:11 PM
Ruby - Your Question:
Hi I am at the moment in divorce with my husband.he is the one that has more income and has both our houses on his name plus business and savings. I worked with him and we brought this after we meet and now we have a 4 monts baby. He does not want me to stay in this house with the baby wich legaly I have all the wright. Anyway we are resolving this with the solicitors. My questionis: he told me he want half of custody of my baby and it is posible after the baby is not breastfeeding anymore he could take the baby away from me? Do you think that is posible? Can he go in a trial again after 5 years for example and claim the baby for himself? I dont know if relevant the baby is english I have doble citizenship but father has a diferent citinship. Can he go in this country to open a trial in the court if the baby is british?

Our Response:
If you are the primary carer of your child from birth, then it is highly unlikely that any court would allow your husband to keep the child. Usually, you can agree terms through mutual discussion or mediation. Only if you can't agree would court be an option, please see the link here .
SeparatedDads - 16-Jul-18 @ 12:32 PM
Hi I am at the moment in divorce with my husband .he is the one that has more income and has both our houses on his name plus business and savings . I worked with him and we brought this after we meetand now we have a 4 monts baby.He does not want me to stay in this house with the baby wich legaly I have all the wright. Anyway we are resolving this with the solicitors. Myquestionis: he told me he want half of custody of my baby and it is posible after the baby is not breastfeeding anymore he could take the baby away from me? Do you think that is posible? Can he go in a trial again after 5 years for example and claim the baby for himself? I dont know if relevant the baby is english I have doble citizenship but father has a diferent citinship . Can he go in this country to open a trial in the court if the baby is british?
Ruby - 14-Jul-18 @ 5:17 PM
Mos613 - Your Question:
Hi my ex partner and I are currently going through a split involving two children. She has moved into a council house and I have stayed in the family house. She only works part time yet is claiming she cannot claim any benifits to help towards her rent, bills ect. With myself working full-time and only earning just about enough to pay all my bills and rent with very little disposable income to save and spend on days out with the kids. I am trying for 50/50 and upto now she is in agreement of allowing this, I just wondered if anyone has any information weather there is any help single father's can get?? As well as information if my ex can get help?? I have a little nagging feeling that she is trying to pull the wool over my eyes here as all the benefits calculators I have used say different to what she is telling me.

Our Response:
Much depends upon who is claiming child benefit, as the parent who is claiming child benefit is the parent who is eligible to claim other benefits such as housing benefit etc. If you are not the parent who is eligible to collect child benefit, then you would not be entitled to any other means-tested benefits relating to you having children.
SeparatedDads - 6-Jul-18 @ 2:11 PM
Hi my ex partner and I are currently going through a split involving two children. She has moved into a council house and I have stayed in the family house. She only works part time yet is claiming she cannot claim any benifits to help towards her rent, bills ect..... With myself working full-time and only earning just about enough to pay all my bills and rent with very little disposable income to save and spend on days out with the kids... I am trying for 50/50 and upto now she is in agreement of allowing this, I just wondered if anyone has any information weather there is any help single father's can get?? As well as information if my ex can get help??.... I have a little nagging feeling that she is trying to pull the wool over my eyes here as all the benefits calculators i have used say different to what she is telling me.....
Mos613 - 4-Jul-18 @ 10:32 PM
chris2912 - Your Question:
Me and my ex have a fairly good relationship in terms of seeing my son, however, I don't see why in this day and age she automatically gets to have him full time. She gets to determine what days and times suit her best etc, I can facilitate having him 50% of the time so am I entitled to having him 50% of the week? As I say I am happy to work out suitable days and times for both of us and I would prefer to not cause any issues, just wanted to check where I stand

Our Response:
There is no right or wrong here, you can agree between you or if you wish try to agree via mediation, please see link here and here , which should help answer your question further.
SeparatedDads - 3-Jul-18 @ 10:26 AM
Me and my ex have a fairly good relationship in terms of seeing my son, however, I don't see why in this day and age she automatically gets to have him full time. She gets to determine what days and times suit her best etc, I can facilitate having him 50% of the time so am I entitled to having him 50% of the week? As I say I am happy to work out suitable days and times for both of us and I would prefer to not cause any issues, just wanted to check where I stand
chris2912 - 2-Jul-18 @ 2:57 PM
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