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Shared Custody of Your Children

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 10 Jul 2020 | 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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Should my child's mum do half of the travelling, as in pick up and drop offs? I pay Cs and have my child every 2 weeks but its a two hour drive one way for me and her mum won't drive half hour. I cant afford to do this.
Matt75 - 10-Jul-20 @ 5:11 PM
Help I get 2 days of work as I am a bus driver I work shifts, I always tell my ex in advance by 6 weeks my days of so she can plan things etc but now she’s being awkward saying I have to quit my job and not work because it doesn’t suit her life style and she wants to go to work and I should look after them wail she goes to work but still wants me to pay maintenance like I currently do but if I don’t work I wouldn’t be able to do so, and I’ve recently moved in with my partner who has 3 children and my ex is demanding I have my over night witch currently isn’t available due to my partners house and her children and now she’s saying if I don’t have them over night I’m Not allowed to see them at all even though all my days off I get I have them all the time I can’t possibly have them any more as I don’t get any more days of please help!!
Phe - 8-Jul-20 @ 7:04 PM
Hi i got a court order from my husband that he wants to take the kids for a few days my 14 years old doesnt want to go is this allowed will the court say that my child doesnt have to go
Kkkkk47263728 - 4-Jul-20 @ 3:52 PM
Hello Question about Shared residency. sadly the children are being shouted at for wanting to see thier other parent ( parent 1)and that the parent shouting ( parent 2) cant move while they do. Parent 2 wants to move 25 minutes away if no traffic but1 hour in traffuc ( school time).. Covid and no school i think are being used as a stop gap to make the move happen. Problem is the children change home every 24 hoursits 1 day swap , 2 days then swap every other weekend. live half a mile apart now so thats easy. The 12 year old wants to live with parent 1 already,but cant get anyone to listen. The solicitor they went to see shrugged them off said come back at 13 ( that could be to late) . The 12 year old does not want to live with parent 2 now or when moving. Theyknow which school and which friends they want to be with. Parent 2 is very mentaly abusive. At this time niether child -12 ( just going secondary) is in schooldue to covid, ages 12 and 7. Very worryung the 12 year old has said they won't go bk as the 7 year old will be open to mental abuse, arguments shouting. 12 year olddoes want to return to school but can't leave the youngest so as long as there is a choice it will be wants to stay home. Why doesnt anyone listen to the children yet? All because parent 2 works in child care they aregiven a free pass an automaric belief of good care. All is not ok and if parent 2 moves thier lives will not improve due ro drink and realy not wanting them puerly for status. This is ownership vs parenting. This is benefits vs working. This is rent vs risking homlessness. This is not a person who sees 2 children as having needs of thier own, They are owned. What can be done please without a big court fight which had to happen just to place the children with some relief from how they have to live. Court cases ( fights) are exhausting when there is a child that knows what they want. With a residency such as this with only 1 extra night at parents 2 each week the residency is 4 nights a month away from 50/50. Is this enough to block a house move? I havent read any answers on here only questions,i can but only hope for a reply please.
Marselle - 30-Jun-20 @ 10:18 PM
My partner and I split last year jan 2019. I had two orders wrongfully served against me which prevented me from going near my property or communicating with my ex partner. I didn’t agree to the admissions made in court but agreed to the court order as my ex and her solicitor said I could see my son twice a week and they would get the house sold and me paid out. After the court date , my ex changed contact to once’s a day on Sunday for 6 hours. In the last 15 months , I have seen my son for a total of 2weeks! ... the orders have now expired, I still have no communication with my ex but she will still only allowing me to see my son once a week. I am self employed and work from home. I want to apply for joint custody of my son. Does anyone have an idea of how it works in this country and if a father gets these kind of rights?
Sam - 22-May-20 @ 7:08 PM
If both blparents drive should it be shared between both parents of picking up and dropping our son to each others house as all I keep getting is, he lives with me you wanna se him you come get him, I also have to drop him off everytime aswell
Lee - 20-May-20 @ 6:41 PM
Hi, I am the rare father that has the majority of care for our child. He lives with me full time and is due to start infants in September. His mother is asking for a 50/50 arrangement when before now it's been every other weekend. I live in Ringwood and she lives Salisbury which is a 40 min drive on a good day. She doesn't drive so is reliant on buses or lifts. Please help, I've said that it would be impossible with that much travelling and the ability to get to school on time.
Rich - 10-May-20 @ 11:53 AM
Hi, if anyone could advise please it would be amazing. Recently mutually separated and agreed on shared custody. I have worked from home and have cared for my 3 children since they were born. I wanted to care for them and be their for them after the separation and care for my children 60% of the time. My ex changed jobs from a 9-5 job which was practical and good for child care routines, to shift work, long days 7:15am to 8:30pm. I have worked out a routine so that the kids are not being dropped off and collected from me at unreasonable and undisruptive times for the children. When she went for the job she said they agreed to set days for her shifts and she agreed to get this in place. I am now having to keep asking her to get set days as she is giving me different shift days each week. basically I am having the children when she tells me i need to have them. I am also there for them when she has appointment etc, no questions asked.Am I entitled to have some kind of routine and life as she seems to be in a position to arrange her shifts to match her boyfriends. Thank you!
Gray - 8-May-20 @ 10:32 PM
Hi, if anyone could advise please it would be amazing. Recently mutually separated and agreed on shared custody. I have worked from home and have cared for my 3 children since they were born. I wanted to care for them and be their for them after the separation and care for my children 60% of the time. My ex changed jobs from a 9-5 job which was practical and good for child care routines, to shift work, long days 7:15am to 8:30pm. I have worked out a routine so that the kids are not being dropped off and collected from me at unreasonable and undisruptive times for the children. When she went for the job she said they agreed to set days for her shifts and she agreed to get this in place. I am now having to keep asking her to get set days as she is giving me different shift days each week. basically I am having the children when she tells me i need to have them. I am also there for them when she has appointment etc, no questions asked.Am I entitled to have some kind of routine and life as she seems to be in a position to arrange her shifts to match her boyfriends. Thank you!
Gray - 8-May-20 @ 10:22 PM
Hi, if anyone could advise please it would be amazing. Recently mutually separated and agreed on shared custody. I have worked from home and have cared for my 3 children since they were born. I wanted to care for them and be their for them after the separation and care for my children 60% of the time. My ex changed jobs from a 9-5 job which was practical and good for child care routines, to shift work, long days 7:15am to 8:30pm. I have worked out a routine so that the kids are not being dropped off and collected from me at unreasonable and undisruptive times for the children. When she went for the job she said they agreed to set days for her shifts and she agreed to get this in place. I am now having to keep asking her to get set days as she is giving me different shift days each week. basically I am having the children when she tells me i need to have them. I am also there for them when she has appointment etc, no questions asked.Am I entitled to have some kind of routine and life as she seems to be in a position to arrange her shifts to match her boyfriends. Thank you!
Gray - 8-May-20 @ 10:05 PM
I need some advice. My wife has split up from me. I see my daughter ever day and she stops at mine on the weekends. My ex wife is saying that I need to have our daughter 4 nights one week and 3 the other. This is just not possible due to my work. What can I do. I have explained this but she will not listen. She just wants it her way it no way
Tank - 8-May-20 @ 5:51 PM
How can I go about to get 50-50 custady of my son when I gave his mother basically full control when he was born I have never been out of his life but the week end thing don't work for me I don't pay matinence as she gets the money for him a boy needs to be round their father more than time than Friday tea time to Sunday night when has to go back to mother
Pj - 14-Apr-20 @ 4:30 AM
Has anyone got any idea about changing a court order during this crisis as to more access. I want my son week on week off at the moment as not working during this crisi
Ed - 2-Apr-20 @ 3:57 PM
I'm in separation with my wife, we have a daughter and have agreed to go 50/50 shared custody. How Could we possibly get that done through court legally without solicitors involved?
Kerfonse - 26-Mar-20 @ 8:04 PM
My son and his wife split up last year and they have a little boy together they have shared custody will this be able to carry on now as these new rules have come into place to keep everyone safe I totally understand if he can not have his son as normal just need to find out the facts thank you Sharon
Shazza - 24-Mar-20 @ 8:24 AM
Hi, Please can anyone answer the following question if possible. I currently live around 25 miles away from my children. For the past 3 years I have driven and picked my kids up from their moms every Friday and have taken them back either on the Saturday evening or sunday morning, however, with the latest news and rules set out by the government over the coronavirus, it explains that I would not be able to pick my kids up for the next 3 weeks plus. I am not a key worker, but can anyone confirm if there is something I can do to get around this matter?
Dave - 24-Mar-20 @ 4:19 AM
@bernie.as I read these posts .i never payed child support or payed for schooling or Sporting clubs .or even (seen )the child .(sounds expensive ).i like to (think) I could be like that involved with the (child )sharing custody making memories with child . like some off my (mates do )and I do wish I could be like that and I am a (bit jealous )when I see my mates with there children it makes me (think) if I only went to (court all those years ago) that could off been (me And my child) .but in (reality) that is not going to happen for me my child is no (child anymore )and wouldn’t even( remember me in reality)it’s been over a (decade) .the child is most likely living in her own flat with boyfriend or friends bye now .oh well (it is what is )can’t live in the what if’s and differently can’t turn back the clock .
Chris - 5-Feb-20 @ 10:46 PM
I separated from my wife last year (she had an affair) we both work full time, i earn more than my ex, we both live in rental properties and we share custody 50/50, one week our 3 kids, (15,12 & 9) live with me the next week with their mother and so on, i have been paying child maintenance to my wife since May last year. This was a figure i obtained from the HMRC web-site and was not arranged via solicitors. My question is should i actually need to be paying anything if we are sharing child care and sharing costs for after school clubs, uniform, clothing, food etc any advice gladly accepted thanks
Bernie - 5-Feb-20 @ 8:37 PM
I am currently going through a divorce and have two children with my ex. I have them every weekend unless they are on holiday with their mum and I have them on a Monday night for football training. I pay for them all weekend pay her over and above what she’s entitled too in child maintenance and pay their hair cuts etc we have days out and they are well looked after in my home when their with me. But then Christmas comes and she gets awkward. All I’m allowed is two-five hours Xmas day, never a Xmas eve or a full day any day, even Boxing Day to celebrate it. Is she allowed to do this ? Is it my right for it to be shared 50/50 on special occasions ?
Seany - 9-Dec-19 @ 3:44 PM
(This is my final post) ,I will never talk to my (child’s mother again) it will (never) be (civil) between us (gods truth) .and if they think it’s( just time) and I will come around (think again gods truth ).there will be no shared custody, there will be no child support paid .there will be no friends with ex’s there will be no visitation.(it will remain the same us it has for the (last 10 years ).and every thing will be (fine) .i truly wish them well in life .(goodbye and god bless.)
C w l - 13-Nov-19 @ 11:34 PM
My ex is trying to force me to have 50/50 custody with my son as much as I’d love to have him 50 percent I can’t because I work full time. She says she’s going to take me to court over it but surely the courts cannot make me have him 50/50 as this would then make me unemployed?
Mac - 10-Nov-19 @ 8:16 PM
I am divorced, have 4 children between 18-8 years old. Now, the children are living with there mother and she is getting the children benefits and the housing benefit, she is on universal credit. The mother and I agreed to go 50/50 child custody. So I have to rent a bigger house. My question is: who is going to get the housing benefit and the child benefit? How is the state benefits is going to work between us? Thanks
Rohi - 8-Oct-19 @ 11:04 AM
@nes.i have a personality disorder been diagnosed .i can go from zero to high on the violence in a snap on finger and feel no remorse .I can spent all my time bye myself and be content.it’s no fault off my own it is genetics my whole family have it .thats why It doesn’t bother me not seeing my daughter .and the reason I read things like this blog so I can understand other people emotions.but deep down I don’t have emotions like a normal person I fake it to “get bye “.like for example most people willfall in love with someone or something where (I can’t )I can mimic them but deep down if I have no use for you it’s goodbye .
C.laurie - 7-Oct-19 @ 6:04 PM
My son separated from his partner earlier this year, he walked out from an argument and 2 days later was thrown out of his home with some of his belongings, I've been blamed along with every member of the family for the split, my son has been in a verbally abusive relationship for 7 years and had learned to deal with it for the sake of their 2 children, being away from her he's realised just how controlling she was, every little thing was scrutinised every decision was made by her and if he did anything or dare say anything or challenge her in any wayall hell broke loose. He is now living back at home and is trying to secure a mortgage to buy her out of her share,he's had months of threats changing her mind about the children he can see them now he can't and so on, he can buy her out then she changes her mind, he's said he thinks she has a personality disorder as her moodsansd temper change so quickly, she has in the past month's not been to bothered about what she says in front of the childrenand this really upsets him, so he dosent retaliate as this just makes her worse, she's bad mouthing him and all his family in a vile way to get a reaction, hopefully he'll stay strong and get his time with his children which is all he wants, he would like to have shared custody as both parents work full time, would this be something he could achieve or wouldhe haveto go court, he's worried that cafcass will rule in favour of the primary carer as his partner is quite toxic and won't hide any bitterness, and it seems the advice he's received leads him believe that if this is the case it won't get to court as cafcass will rule beforehand to stop any further emotional stress to the children, any help or advice from someone that has been on a similar situation would be appreciated.
Love - 7-Oct-19 @ 3:25 PM
My son separated from his partner earlier this year, he walked out from an argument and 2 days later was thrown out of his home with some of his belongings, I've been blamed along with every member of the family for the split, my son has been in a verbally abusive relationship for 7 years and had learned to deal with it for the sake of their 2 children, being away from her he's realised just how controlling she was, every little thing was scrutinised every decision was made by her and if he did anything or dare say anything or challenge her in any wayall hell broke loose. He is now living back at home and is trying to secure a mortgage to buy her out of her share,he's had months of threats changing her mind about the children he can see them now he can't and so on, he can buy her out then she changes her mind, he's said he thinks she has a personality disorder as her moodsansd temper change so quickly, she has in the past month's not been to bothered about what she says in front of the childrenand this really upsets him, so he dosent retaliate as this just makes her worse, she's bad mouthing him and all his family in a vile way to get a reaction, hopefully he'll stay strong and get his time with his children which is all he wants, he would like to have shared custody as both parents work full time, would this be something he could achieve or wouldhe haveto go court, he's worried that cafcass will rule in favour of the primary carer as his partner is quite toxic and won't hide any bitterness, and it seems the advice he's received leads him believe that if this is the case it won't get to court as cafcass will rule beforehand to stop any further emotional stress to the children, any help or advice from someone that has been on a similar situation would be appreciated.
Nes - 7-Oct-19 @ 3:21 PM
Hi, I'm in a little bit of a situation and could really do with some advice. Last year we had a 8 month trial as ex wouldnt let me see daughter.All alligations you could think of were made against me and these were cleared. My ex is very unique and doent appreciate we both are parents to our daughter. I was awarded every other weekend and one after school until drop off and half of all school holidays. This arrangement has been working for a year and me daughter want more time together but ex is determind to reduce contact. Daughter is nearly 5. I would really like joint care so that i could be more involved but ex seems to be very awkward and so our daughter is missing out this. I've set up mediation but fear it will go to court. If it does no doubt ex will dv and get legal aid and cafcass will pause my contact. Is there much point of going to court? In anyones experiance has awarded time been reduced. With me and my exs lack of relationship would shared care be concidured?? Or am i hoping to fight a loosing battle? Any advice appreciated
Ziggy - 22-Sep-19 @ 11:34 PM
With reference to my additional information about my situation (see below), what experience have others had in terms of: -do young teenager daughters reunite with their dads positively after periods of total cut-off at their choosing lasting at least half/three-quarters of a year (or longer)? - if they do reunite how did it happen and who played the key role/s? - any positive outcome restoring contact with children aged 13 and 14 even if they tell CAFCASS they don't want it with one parent? - do CAFCASS consider slapping/smacking on an in frequent basis like mine (on average once a year and within the definition of Children's Act 'lawful chastisement' which I hasten to add would never happen again anyway) insufficient grounds for children aged 13 and 14 to separate from one parent who they clearly had a loving relationship with? -Is the least I would be granted by a court some kind of newsletter from the mother (or preferably the girls themselves) about how my daughters are getting on? - have courts instructed children in similar situations to be supported by the parent they are with (or any third party) to engage in talks, or reconnecting in some way, with their Dad to restore the positive relationship they had? For info - I was an active loving father both before and after my separation from my children's mother 7 years ago. After that I positively co-parented my 2 lovely daughters (just turned 13 and 14) successfully from the date of separation with their mother until earlier this year when first the older one then the younger one cut off completely from me. Their mother says this is due to a slap I gave each of them for fighting terribly in the back of the car around New Year and which they have retained a strong anger about, but I only have her word on that. I have tried to write to my girls but no response and when I tried speaking with their mother she refused to help them reconcile the situation with me and has since insisted I communicate only through solicitor's letter to her and has refused to attend mediation so preventing any re-connection between the girls and I so far. This is very bemusing and deeply upsetting for me as my daughter's mother has always acknowledged that I am a good dad. Right up until she stopped communicating with me she said the girls would get back in touch but its now 8 and 4 months respectively and not a word from them. Everyone always says I am a good dad and have a very positive and loving relationship with my daughters and I am very open about my parenting. I had managed to keep communication with their mother relatively amicable for these last 7 years despite her vexacious texts and repeated claims that I was to blame for the break-up even though it was completely her choice. I have always given all my love to my kids but there were a few occasions when their behaviour was unacceptable and regrettably I slapped them (on the legs). I am not proud of this but believe it wa
Stoic1 - 1-Sep-19 @ 10:47 PM
With reference to my additional information about my situation (see below), what experience have others had in terms of: -do young teenager daughters reunite with their dads positively after periods of total cut-off at their choosing lasting at least half/three-quarters of a year (or longer)? - if they do reunite how did it happen and who played the key role/s? - any positive outcome restoring contact with children aged 13 and 14 even if they tell CAFCASS they don't want it with one parent? - do CAFCASS consider slapping/smacking on an in frequent basis like mine (on average once a year and within the definition of Children's Act 'lawful chastisement' which I hasten to add would never happen again anyway) insufficient grounds for children aged 13 and 14 to separate from one parent who they clearly had a loving relationship with? -Is the least I would be granted by a court some kind of newsletter from the mother (or preferably the girls themselves) about how my daughters are getting on? - have courts instructed children in similar situations to be supported by the parent they are with (or any third party) to engage in talks, or reconnecting in some way, with their Dad to restore the positive relationship they had? For info - I was an active loving father both before and after my separation from my children's mother 7 years ago. After that I positively co-parented my 2 lovely daughters (just turned 13 and 14) successfully from the date of separation with their mother until earlier this year when first the older one then the younger one cut off completely from me. Their mother says this is due to a slap I gave each of them for fighting terribly in the back of the car around New Year and which they have retained a strong anger about, but I only have her word on that. I have tried to write to my girls but no response and when I tried speaking with their mother she refused to help them reconcile the situation with me and has since insisted I communicate only through solicitor's letter to her and has refused to attend mediation so preventing any re-connection between the girls and I so far. This is very bemusing and deeply upsetting for me as my daughter's mother has always acknowledged that I am a good dad. Right up until she stopped communicating with me she said the girls would get back in touch but its now 8 and 4 months respectively and not a word from them. Everyone always says I am a good dad and have a very positive and loving relationship with my daughters and I am very open about my parenting. I had managed to keep communication with their mother relatively amicable for these last 7 years despite her vexacious texts and repeated claims that I was to blame for the break-up even though it was completely her choice. I have always given all my love to my kids but there were a few occasions when their behaviour was unacceptable and regrettably I slapped them (on the legs). I am not proud of this but believe it wa
Stoic1 - 1-Sep-19 @ 12:14 PM
Hi messaging for some advice. After a very traumatising childhood followed by a violent relationship I have two children with my ex, we are apart and it’s the best for everyone. We still try to keep things as civil as possible but have really butted heads recently. I have struggled since I can remember with manic depression and ptsd, after all the events in my life I am finally coming to breaking point. I am a loving mum and my children have always come first hence why I’m considering this option as I need to address my child hood traumas but feel unable to re open very ugly wounds around my children. I have begged my ex to help co parent with me, even if it was just for a year so I could seek the therapy I need and have been advised. He won’t as it would mean a bit of a lifestyle change on his behalf but in the long term I feel that if he doesn’t auooort the children so I can be a better person and mother I feel like I won’t be around much longer to be thier mum. I really struggling. Any advice please much appreciated x
Georgie - 15-Aug-19 @ 2:42 PM
Recently broke up with wife, now shes reducing access for me to see them. So I'm only allowed to see them twice week, when before it was 3-4 times a week, all because I couldnt have kids over night on my oldest daughter a birthday because i was at work early the next day, but she says it because the kids need routine which is a lie, she just annoyed because I couldnt have them over night, any advice would be appreciated
Peter - 6-Aug-19 @ 3:07 PM
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