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Going for shared care
Hi all,

I wanted your opinion on my quest for shared care.

Current situation: I have a contact order made by consent for 3 nights every week as follows: week 1 - Wednesday 7pm to Saturday 8am, week 2- Thursday 7pm to Sunday 2pm.

The above has been in place for a year but rubber stamped by judge 6 months ago.

I basically want the children, aged 11 and 8, to live with me till Monday school time in week 2 and I want exactly half of all school holidays. That would make the nights equally shared between us.

To make this possible I have dropped Fridays from work and I am now in the position to buy my own house (living with parents at the moment).

Is this a good enough argument for me to convince the judge that I should have 50/50? The reason why I couldn't get 50/50 previously was cos ex refused and I just didn't want the hassle. She also now has a partner. Does that have a bearing?

All advice welcome.
Hi Sandman,

Firstly it’s about your availability which you seem to have covered, was there any reason why you didn’t go for half the holidays last time? Usual a court orders half the holidays unless you specifically say otherwise. Re her new partner - does he have children? This will be factored in as your ex (like mine did at court this week) use her new partners children to argue “they are the family unit” so to speak. From personal experience it’s difficult to say what people will get but if your children want it and you can feasibly do it then go for it. If there is one thing I learned from my court experience is that there will be an expectation to “compromise” over issues and although I did to a point I stuck to the mantra that my son wanted 50% of his time with me. Good luck and I say go for it.
I didn't go for half the holidays due to work. Like you said that is now covered as I do not work fridays now.

Her new partner does have a son the same age as my son. But they have only now been introduced to him and ex's new partner and they don't all live under one roof.

I am determined to give this a go and see what I end with.
Nothing to lose by giving it a go, but I would imagine she has a strong "status quo" argument
What your ex thinks is irrelevant, you are wanting to vary the current order as your work circumstances have changed. This is a strong enough reason to vary.

Put arguments forward why it would be in the childrens best interests for a shared lives with arrangement; this should be backed up by examples of where you can show how essentially you have shared the care of your children with your ex. The change to the lives with status maybe more difficult to achieve given the current order has been in place for less than a year and was by consent.
My advice is to go for it: shared care is the best thing you could aim for, as it would provide your two little ones with a balanced upbringing.

It would remove any threat of demands for money and reduce the potential risk of alienation.

I have had shared care for the past two years and my daughter has benefitted enormously by having a dad who spends 50% of the time with her.

It is interesting to see how her mum keeps mentioning on school documents that she is the "primary carer", which sums up how some exes will never acknowledge that you are equally important for your children.

My recommendation is to stress the benefits that your children would get from spending an extra night with you:

- continuity (think of school homework on a Sunday evening)
- any activities on a Sunday that they could benefit from?
My ex and I have agreed a shared care arrangement between ourselves, initially 2:2:3,2:2:3 but now 2:2:5:5 (my ex was travelling a lot and "borrowing" so many nights from me that an arrangement with longer weekends suited both of us better).

We've been doing it for 10+ months now since she left and I'd suggest that I've stuck to it far more scrupulously than she has, but there is no conflict and we cooperate and support each other's plans when we need to.  I'm glad to have the kids more so don't give her a hard time if she needs more help from me.  It helps that we live near one another too.  My kids have all just got their school reports for the year and have done brilliantly.  They seem comfy with spending time at two homes and I'm just keen now to finish our separation so that I can plan a future for them.  They do get upset about the split sometimes but seem generally happy.  When they're with me, they never say anything to suggest they wish she was there or that they're having a worse time because she isn't with us.

I have asked for some flexibility at work, which has been granted, so I can be more involved and I would consider cutting my hours (and wages) to ensure I can do my 50%.  Somehow I've managed to cover half the holidays by using my 5 weeks, the bank holidays and swapping a weekend or two.

So, in my story, shared care has been a success and I think my ex agrees.  She has a lot of freedom plus maximum access to the kids.  If she ever tried to change things, I would argue against it rigorously because it's working right now.  I've even offered to have the kids a lot more.

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