Home > Legal > Shared Custody of Your Children

Shared Custody of Your Children

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 30 Sep 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hi guys, I’ve been looking everywhere for the answer to this question I about to put forth but have had no such look finding it. Around a year ago my and my partner split up, she left or home and left me with a two bedroom flat to run by myself, her reason for this was a) she has somewhere else to go to b) she wanted a stable place for me to have where I can have my daughter every weekend Saturday - Monday or Friday - Monday depending on what the mothers needs are for that week.i work part time to accommodate the time I spend with my daughter every weekend but only recieve a deducted rate of housing benefit as in there eyes I’m only entitled to a one bedroom flat and therefor reduce my housing benefit due to the bedroom tax, is this right?! Surely having my daughter EVERY weekend since the split up, 3 or 4 days a week should effect this and I should get more help with the cost of rent and council tax?
Ss - 30-Sep-18 @ 7:24 PM
Hi, Can it be arranged/agreed to have one house where the child/children live all the time and the mum and dad move in/out every week depending how much time is agreed to spend with the child/children?
Charles - 24-Sep-18 @ 3:35 PM
Hello, my ex has asked me to write a parental agreement cause he is getting his own house and I was just wondering if I write the letter out and agree to it does it affect me (the mother) in any way?, like benefits and getting my own place, ect. Thanks
Ally - 19-Sep-18 @ 6:05 PM
Hi I have a question my nephew has a daughter to a skank that was sleeping with my husband for years and others .now we are a family oriented family to she come along her behaviour is disgraceful the stories and the men in our family coming forward and admitting that they where with her my stupid husband thought she loved him ha ha to the others come out in our family said no she loved them ha ha now I no my nephews daughter does not need to grow up like that .we are planning to take the child away from the mother we have real concerns for the welfare of my nephews daughter and the upbringing she would have had .we are planning not for shared care but full time care of my nephews daughter she needs to live with her daddy .
Penny - 15-Sep-18 @ 12:02 AM
Hi Jay, 75%+ is very generous, especially for shared care arrangement (it's usually the max given unless other factors play a part). A more usual sum is between 50-60% depending on who has greater need and % of time with the children. And this is especially true with shared care because when the kids are with you they are living with you not visiting, therefore you need to provide them a full and secure home as well. Other factors of course play a part, like offers you have already made to the ex, living arrangements, pensions, age, future ability to earn, length of marriage, number of children and even who the judge favours on the day. In your case, her earning more, you may be entitled to more share BUT if the kids live with her more then maybe not. It will have an effect on the CMS you pay which is separate. For most, shared care is all about obtaining stable access between yourself and the children with an equal parental right between yourself and the ex. Usually following numerous frustrations to contact or false allegations. Some are over the moon to just see the kids more that finances no longer matter and they give in to the ex to have done with the situation. Perhaps this is where Darryl is coming from. Hope this helps.
Rosie - 14-Sep-18 @ 10:20 PM
Hi, further to Daryl’s unsolicited response to my query, I was wondering if indeed it is common to give 75% of marital assets to the wife even if the children are spending half of their time living with the father and the mother earns more than the father. It seems bizarre. Would gratefully appreciate the input from a professional rather than a bellend troll. Thanks Jay
Jay - 26-Aug-18 @ 3:30 PM
Hi, l have moved back to Uk from Spain after seperating with my husband, l have 2 children aged 12 and 16, who are currently still in Spain, l have joint custody and am now looking to rent a house in the UK, as in order for them to spend half time with me l need a more space, could you please advice me wether l would be eligible for housing benefit. Thanks
bella - 25-Aug-18 @ 12:57 PM
My daughter who is not british married a British and got a daughter.they divorced when their daughter was five (she s now seven)and that was under domicile violence.the court ordered residence custody for her with alternate weekends contact for the father and a wednesday dinner ,mentioning that that last one will be omitted if she moves from the area where she’s living. Thinking that,as the court has allowed her to move,she’s automatically allowed to change her daughter’s shcool.But after finding a flat and paying for it ,she was told that her ex has to give his consent! SHe thought that she has only to tell him as he can always benefit of the alternate weekends! I wonder if she moves and applies for an emergency issue in the court meanwhile,will that be against her or not ! Is there any possibility she can change her daughter’s school without the father’s consent
Nad - 24-Aug-18 @ 10:45 PM
Hi , im currently going for shared residency of my 2 yo son. His mother and i were married at the time of his birth. I am his father. My ex is refusing to allow me to see my son and has cut co tact. Long story short shes done herself no favors and even the authorities have said she will look pretty bad in court. Im hoping to gain over night contact. There are no safeguard issues etc. My issue is, we live about 80 miles apart. I left her the marital home and everything in it to be able to keep my son in a stable home. I live with my parents. Im About to move in with my gf and her 2 toddlers, its an hour and half drive min. Now, if i get overnight i can only co.mit to monday and tuesdays. My job is long hours and every weekend. Head chef. 14 to 16 hr days. If i get overnight, needless to say my son will be with myself my partner and her 2 kids in our home 80 miles away,i dont know what happens to schooling. He turns 3 next march. He will.attend nursery 3 hours a day. Which 3 hours i dont know my ex wont even tell me which nursery he will be going to or where his day care is etc or even his shoes size.... Can nursery be split between 2? The way itl play is i could pick my son up at 3.15pm on the monday but id need to drop him back off for 12.15 the next day..... or pick him up at 12.00pm and drop him back at nursery at 9.15am the next day....neither is even 24 hour hours with him. What do people do in these cases.. i could drop him on day 2 at 9.15 and wait 3 hours somewhere and hope i dont get wet or cold but its not ideal. Any suggestions???
Rich - 18-Aug-18 @ 11:48 PM
Lj.i am sorry to hear this .sounds like you bred with deadbeat .i am sorry hun but if he doesn't want anything to do with the child there is nothing you can do about it and to throw a spanner in the works hun if is not earning well you are going to get zero money .so you better get use to doing everything yourself .ps i am victim myself i fell for this tall dark and handsome prince got me pregnant he went to 'shop'to buy baby milk he never come back and do you no what the kicker was he run off with my aunty on my mother side and got married in thailand now they are living over there and my aunty is selling coconuts on the beach why he surfs i get no support .
jenny - 18-Aug-18 @ 10:39 PM
Hi, what route do I need to take if I am a single mother, I do 100% of everything on my own, my child’s father plays a lot of games and is very much in and out of our child’s life as and when he pleases. He gives me nothing for her, a few weeks ago he was seeing her once a week every week, he suddenly stopped and has not bothered to make any contact, I contacted him and instead of owning up to his wrongdoings he has said he will change his number if I go to CSA or outside agencies regarding his lack of support. I’m so tired of doing everything on my own all the childcare is on me I literally do not get a moment to myself, Iv been thinking of taking him to court to put something in place where he has to have our child at least once every other week. How do I go about this, this is really something I have shyed away from doing for the past 9 years but Iv had enough my child is constantly asking for her dad and I’m just fed up now
LJ - 18-Aug-18 @ 9:46 PM
Hi , im currently going for shared residency of my 2 yo son. His mother and i were married at the time of his birth. I am his father. My ex is refusing to allow me to see my son and has cut co tact. Long story short shes done herself no favors and even the authorities have said she will look pretty bad in court. Im hoping to gain over night contact. There are no safeguard issues etc. My issue is, we live about 80 miles apart. I left her the marital home and everything in it to be able to keep my son in a stable home. I live with my parents. Im About to move in with my gf and her 2 toddlers, its an hour and half drive min. Now, if i get overnight i can only co.mit to monday and tuesdays. My job is long hours and every weekend. Head chef. 14 to 16 hr days. If i get overnight, needless to say my son will be with myself my partner and her 2 kids in our home 80 miles away,i dont know what happens to schooling. He turns 3 next march. He will.attend nursery 3 hours a day. Which 3 hours i dont know my ex wont even tell me which nursery he will be going to or where his day care is etc or even his shoes size.... Can nursery be split between 2? The way itl play is i could pick my son up at 3.15pm on the monday but id need to drop him back off for 12.15 the next day..... or pick him up at 12.00pm and drop him back at nursery at 9.15am the next day....neither is even 24 hour hours with him. What do people do in these cases.. i could drop him on day 2 at 9.15 and wait 3 hours somewhere and hope i dont get wet or cold but its not ideal. Any suggestions???
Rich - 18-Aug-18 @ 9:00 PM
Hi Jay, yes, normally with shared custody the father would be entitled to more like a 50:50 shar as equals. If he isn't a money grabbing wh0re, then he would likely be more generous to like a 76% split (majority to former wife) in support of his children. I wish you the best of luck with your situation...
Daryl - 18-Aug-18 @ 8:56 PM
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
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments