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Making Joint Decisions About Your Child's Future

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 19 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Decision Child Ex Mother Communication

You may have split up from your child’s mother but you are still both jointly responsible for your child’s upbringing and making choices that influence their life. It can be difficult if you have differing opinions, but you need to respect each other's viewpoints and discuss them maturely. You have a legal right, as your child’s father, to have a say in major decisions in their life.

Why Make Joint Decisions?

It doesn’t matter that you have split up from their mother, or how far away you live from them, you will always be your child’s father. This means that you will be always be responsible for their wellbeing and major decisions that affect them. You and your ex need to find a way to work together for the sake of your child and respect each other’s opinions. Your child will feel better knowing that you act as a united front and can set an example.

How to Work as a Team

Of course, you and your ex are not going to agree on everything – even if you were still together you wouldn’t. What is important is finding a way to listen to each other, consider and respect the other person’s opinion and come to a decision together. Stay calm and focused on the needs of your child. Never raise your voice, make any kind of threats or undermine your ex as this will only make future communication much harder. (Read our article How to Improve Relations With Your Child's Mother on this site.)

Legal Rights

As the father of your child, you have a legal right to be involved in any major decisions in their lives. If your ex has custody, they have the responsibility for your child’s everyday upbringing and have the final say over the decisions. However, for major things such as medical or financial matters, you have a right to be involved. If your ex tries to cut you out, consult your lawyer for advice.

The Benefits of Mediation

One of the best ways of finding ways to communicate and make decisions together is through Mediation. A mediator can help you to talk with each other calmly and teach you the tools to do so in the future. Whatever you think about your ex and her decisions, you need to find a way to work with her so that you can be involved in your child’s upbringing.

No two people are ever going to think exactly the same about everything. As parents, though, you need to work together to make important choices about your child’s upbringing. You have a legal right to be involved in major decisions and if mediation doesn’t help you communicate, you should contact your lawyer to make sure you can execute your right.

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sutty - Your Question:
Hi need advice separated from wife 3 years now with 3 kids which I see everyFri till sat work restricts any other time I recently found out through my youngest child that she is planning to move away with them next summer all this as been planned without my knowledge even down to them seeing new schools again all done without my knowledge it as been said to the children that if dad wants to see you he will have to come get you its hour and half drive but I don't drive she as a car but refuses to drop them is ther anything I can do she will refuse mediation or any compromise

Our Response:
If you have parental responsibility for your children, then your ex has to request your consent to move away. If you fear your ex will move your children without your consent, then you can apply through the courts for a Prohibited Steps Order. A PSO, is an order granted by the court in family cases which prevents either parent from carrying out certain events or making specific trips with their children without the express permission of the other parent. This is more common in cases where there is suspicion that one parent may leave the area with their children. There is no guarantee you will be awarded this through the courts, but it is worth you seeking legal advice in order to explore your options. The court will weigh up what it thinks is in your children's best interests. However, they will take into account your relationship with your children and how this would be affected if your ex was allowed to move. If your ex does not have a good and valid reason for the move, a court can move to prevent it.
SeparatedDads - 16-Nov-16 @ 12:15 PM
Hi need advice separated from wife 3 years now with 3 kids which I see everyFri till sat work restricts any other time I recently found out through my youngest child that she is planning to move away with them next summer all this as been planned without my knowledge even down to them seeing new schools again all done without my knowledge it as been said to the children that if dad wants to see you he will have to come get you its hour and half drive but I don't drive she as a car but refuses to drop them is ther anything I can do she will refuse mediation or any compromise
sutty - 15-Nov-16 @ 2:03 PM
Hi, My partner and I have separated recently, we have an almost 2 year old daughter and have lived in our current house (jointly owned with a joint mortgage) for just over 2 years. My ex initiated the split saying she wasn't prepared to work through our issues and wanted a clean break. Initially she was keen for completely joint custody and has arranged to buy my half of the property from me, which is fine, we've agreed a price. Recently, since initiating the process of taking my name off the property deed (which is not yet complete) she has started saying that she wants an uneven split of my daughters time, in her words, "because she needs a base" She initially suggested a 5/9 fortnightly split but then when I refused changed this to an 8/6 split. My feeling is that I am her joint parent, I was her primary care giver for her first 2 weeks as mother was unwell, and also took shared parental leave (taking 3 months off work unpaid during which time I was the caregiver while ex-partner went back to work) Questions: 1) Should I delay the transfer of the property into her name, and therefore me moving out, until custody of my daughter is settled and agreed. I am worried that she is now very keen to get the process sorted quickly. My suspicion is that she wants me out to strengthen her position should this end up in court (which is looking likely) 2) How likely is it that I will be granted 50/50 custody and shared responsibility if this ends up in court? (I am conscious of how much it costs to hire a lawyer and hopefully want to avoid an expensive legal bill) 3) If we go to mediation and come to an agreement, is this legally binding? 4) If my ex decides in 5 years time that she wants to move away with my daughter, would having a majority share of my daughters time strengthen her position in terms of getting this granted? Many Thanks
Ricky - 1-Sep-16 @ 10:22 AM
rj15 - Your Question:
I have split up from my girlfriend over a year a go and the first 6 months I was allowed to see my son but soon as I moved away she has point blanked stop me seeing him cant speak to him blocked me on everything I asked advisd from a solicitor and they were saying 150 pound an hour I really dont no what to do can any one help

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. If you cannot afford a solicitor, you can self-litigate, please see link here. You can also obtain legal advice from a McKenzie Friend which can be paid for (but less than a solicitor) and/or can be free - please see link: Using a McKenzie Friend in Court, here. Our Separated Dads forum may also help, please see link here - where you can get advice from dads who have been through similar issues and know the law. See also the Corum Law Advice Service here. If you have parental responsibility, you have a right to see your son, but you will have to put the process in motion. Please see link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 18-Jul-16 @ 12:10 PM
I have split up from my girlfriend over a year a go and the first 6 months i was allowed to see my son but soon as i moved away she has point blanked stop me seeing him cant speak to him blocked me on everything i asked advisd from a solicitor and they were saying 150 pound an hour i really dont no what to do can any one help
rj15 - 17-Jul-16 @ 12:39 PM
Where to turn? - Your Question:
Hi, been split with ex for a few years, always had an agreement for contact and financials, however relationship has become frayed and now I'm looking to get joint custody. Where should I go?

Our Response:
It's rare that a court will offer shared-care as an arrangement unless agreed between you and your ex. The court will generally not change an existing arrangement (i.e resident-parent and non-resident/paying parent) unless absolutely necessary, or unless it thinks it is in the best interests of your child/children to do so. If you think you still wish to take this route, then I suggest taking legal advice to see whether you have a case.
SeparatedDads - 4-Jul-16 @ 2:04 PM
Hi, been split with ex for a few years, always had an agreement for contact and financials, however relationship has become frayed and now I'm looking to get joint custody. Where should I go?
Where to turn? - 3-Jul-16 @ 6:42 PM
Wayne - Your Question:
Is there any sort of letter that both parents can sign showing a legal agreement to when each parent has the children

Our Response:
Have you thought of applying to do this through mediation? Please see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here.
SeparatedDads - 30-Jun-16 @ 10:30 AM
Is there any sort of letter that both parents can sign showing a legal agreement to when each parent has the children
Wayne - 29-Jun-16 @ 11:32 AM
Indie - Your Question:
Hi there. I have two children with my ex who has now decided to move from the Midlands where we live down to the south coast where her family live. I don't want my kids to move that far away. Can I stop her moving??

Our Response:
If you have Parental Responsibility, your ex legally has to ask your consent to move out of the area. However, if you feel she may take the decision without doing this, then you can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. A PSO is an order granted by the court in family cases which prevents either parent from carrying out certain events or making specific trips with their children without the express permission of the other parent. This is more common in cases where there is suspicion that one parent may leave the area with their children. You would have to specify the reasons why you think the move is not in the best interests of your children, while your ex will attempt to justify why it is. It means there is no guarantee the court will prohibit your ex from making the move, but it is worth applying for as in some cases the move can be stopped.
SeparatedDads - 3-May-16 @ 11:01 AM
Hi there. I have two children with my ex who has now decided to move from the Midlands where we live down to the south coast where her family live. I don't want my kids to move that far away. Can I stop her moving??
Indie - 2-May-16 @ 12:10 PM
Kev - Your Question:
Hi, recently separated, but due to financial implications, I have to continue to work abroad, so far verbally my ex wife has agreed that any time the kids can come and visit me and I will have access to see the children when I am able to return to the UK. Unfortunately this easy access will not be available to my side on the family ie grandparents. I would like to know how best to secure my rights to be able to visit my children in the UK and ensure they are able to visit me abroad if they so choose. As I know my mother will go down the legal route to ensure she is able to visit her grandchildren, and I'm sure when this happens any verbal agreement I have with my ex wife will go out of the window.

Our Response:
I'm afraid apart from attending Mediation as a family, see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here, the only recourse you have for an official agreement is to apply through the courts.
SeparatedDads - 26-Jan-16 @ 10:57 AM
Hi, recently separated, but due to financial implications, I have to continue to work abroad, so far verbally my ex wife has agreed that any time the kids can come and visit me and I will have access to see the children when I am able to return to the UK. Unfortunately this easy access will not be available to my side on the family ie grandparents.I would like to know how best to secure my rights to be able to visit my children in the UK and ensure they are able to visit me abroad if they so choose. As I know my mother will go down the legal route to ensure she is able to visit her grandchildren, and I'm sure when this happens any verbal agreement I have with my ex wife will go out of the window.
Kev - 25-Jan-16 @ 9:57 AM
BattlingDad - Your Question:
My wife recently moved out of our home into a rented house. She previously refused mediation and was actually moving our son with no child arrangement order etc in place and was constantly making little changes to how she wanted things to work. Eventually I got a Prohibited Steps Order to stop her taking our son. She is not restricted re contact and has seen him every day since she moved. Ive made an offer to split everything 50/50 but she has refused it as she only wants me to see him weekends and take him to scouts one evening and look after him a second evening while she is at college. She has also refused to split any of the child related benefits instead she wants it all. Surely this can not be right! I certainly do my fair share of looking after him. She has no contact with any of her family and does not want our son to have contact with my family. Im happy for 50/50 arrangement but not the one where my son has no family.

Our Response:
The only kind of solution in these type of circumstances where neither party will agree either between themselves or through mediation is to take it to court, in order to let the courts decide what is in the best interests of your child.
SeparatedDads - 8-Dec-15 @ 12:12 PM
My wife recently moved out of our home into a rented house.She previously refused mediation and was actually moving our son with no child arrangement order etc in place and was constantly making little changes to how she wanted things to work.Eventually i got a Prohibited Steps Order to stop her taking our son.She is not restricted re contact and has seen him every day since she moved.Ive made an offer to split everything 50/50 but she has refused it as she only wants me to see him weekends and take him to scouts one evening and look after him a second evening while she is at college.She has also refused to split any of the child related benefits instead she wants it all.Surely this can not be right!I certainly do my fair share of looking after him.She has no contact with any of her family and does not want our son to have contact with my family.Im happy for50/50 arrangement but not the one where my son has no family.
BattlingDad - 7-Dec-15 @ 3:11 PM
MrDad - Your Question:
Hi, I split with the ex 12 years ago and have had joint custody of my 14yo daughter since. The issue I have is that she doesn't care properly for my daughter, and I'm often left to pick up the pieces. We have polar opposite views on how to parent, hers being generally not caring. She doesn't check clothes are washed, daughter showered, missing Dr and dentist appts if they land on her day. How can I sort this out?

Our Response:
If you cannot sort this problem out between you, then I can only suggest mediation. Please see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here. However, this is a tricky one to answer as if your ex is generally like this, then it may be very difficult to make her try and change. Now your daughter is 14, she is really old enough to take at least some responsibility for her own welfare such as dental appointments and showering and even sorting out her own clothes. Also, should your daughter prefer to live with you, her opinion would be taken on board if you decided to take it to court for a residence order.
SeparatedDads - 30-Nov-15 @ 1:59 PM
Hi, I split with the ex 12 years ago and have had joint custody of my 14yo daughter since. The issue I have is that she doesn't care properly for my daughter, and I'm often left to pick up the pieces. We have polar opposite views on how to parent, hers being generally not caring. She doesn't check clothes are washed, daughter showered, missing Dr and dentist appts if they land on her day. How can I sort this out?
MrDad - 29-Nov-15 @ 9:00 PM
AdamL - Your Question:
Hi all separated with my ex 4 months ago and she now moving my son in to the house of her new boyfriends parents and I would like to no the address for peace of mind and for emergencys but is decling me this I do have regular contact with my son and am on the birth certificate HELP

Our Response:
Your ex doesn't have to declare where she lives. If you lose track of your child, then you can apply through through the courts for a C4 - application for an order for disclosure of a child's whereabouts. However, even though the address may be disclosed to the courts in order to find out where your child is, the courts still do not have to disclose the address to you. In other words, she is within her rights to keep the address private.
SeparatedDads - 18-Aug-15 @ 11:00 AM
Hi all separated with my ex 4 months ago and she now moving my son in to the house of her new boyfriends parents and I would like to no the address for peace of mind and for emergencys but is decling me this I do have regular contact with my son and am on the birth certificate HELP
AdamL - 17-Aug-15 @ 6:05 PM
@Father of 3 - hope you dont mind me jumping in? but noticed that you said a 2 bedroom house? dont know the sizes of them but think it might be a good idea to but one sex in the smallest room and the two other sex in the other and yourself sleep down stairs.... that way they would have they own rooms and your ex should not have a problem with that. other hand if she still had a problem with it, then it would only show she is picking at anything and would show that you are at least trying to compromise! just a thought and hope it helps in anyway!
robbie7399 - 9-Jun-15 @ 3:18 PM
@Father of 3 - you don't say what the issue your ex has regarding the sharing arrangements, which would help. However, here’s no law in existence which governs children of different sexes sharing rooms in privately owned homes. It’s up to the home owners/parents to sort out bedrooms and sleeping areas and make sure all children are well catered for. Many children share bedrooms with their siblings and step- brothers and sisters and don’t experience any problems. If there was a law in place, it could be very difficult for people who are unable to buy a bigger home due to lack of money. On the other hand, if the house is rented and owned by a housing association, sometimes they do have rules and regulations in place concerned with how many children, and which sex of children, can sleep in any one bedroom. For example, they may state that after the age of 10, different sexes of siblings shouldn’t share a room. If this applies in this instance, then it would be best to contact the relevant housing association for information and to discuss the circumstances. Be aware, however, that overcrowding may be allowed if the room is naturally big, or if it occurs simply because children get older, and reach that ten-year-old threshold. If your ex has concerns, it is important for you and her to find a way to work around this amicably. If you have a house with two bedrooms, it may be that you do some re-arranging that might make your ex happier. I hope this helps,
SeparatedDads - 6-May-15 @ 10:56 AM
I should add the 10 year old has the second bedroom upstairs and does not share with me
Fartherof3 - 6-May-15 @ 7:42 AM
Hi Me and my ex split 2 years ago although we are still married . I have recently moved to a small 2 bed house (rented ) as this is all I could afford . So I have 10year old girl who has a room upstairs with me , I then have a living room and desperate dining room downstairs . My 8 year old girl and 5 year old boy share the dining room . This has been converted to a bedroom with a sofa bed and their toys . The room is also superate . This was discussed in detail before we moved . They stay twice a week and a month in my ex is dictating sleeping arrangements and basically telling me I need to sort a bigger place ... I can not afford that . What can I do does she have legal rights to dictact this ?
Fatherof3 - 6-May-15 @ 7:36 AM
@Mum - Have you thought of going through mediation in order to get an agreement signed that you are both happy with? This could include your wish for not having any contact with your ex. The mediator could help you organise how the hand-over of your children could be made with little or no effect to you. I have included the link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here, which I hope may help.
SeparatedDads - 15-Apr-15 @ 12:51 PM
How can I get a joint custody order so me and my childrens father donnot have to communicate anymore as he is abusive towards me and I don't want to be in his life anymore than I have to be
Tin - 12-Apr-15 @ 10:20 PM
Hi me and my partner split and it's been hell he's not very negotiable and gets angry over little things I want to cut all contact with him as being around him is very bad, I would like him to have joint custody set by law so that I don't have to be in contact with him anymore and he can just see his children. How can I make this happen. I'm at my witts end and don't want to stop him seeing his children but I also don't want to be I. His life to take abuse from him.
Mum - 12-Apr-15 @ 10:18 PM
@ric - you say that Social Services have told you not to attend the house. Do you already have access to your children, or have you been forbidden? The only thing you can do is take it through the legal system, so you may find the article When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access helpful here which outlines the process you will need to go through. However, if the Social Services are involved they will stay involved and will issue reports through the courts on its opinion of the situation and whether you should have access. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 6-Mar-15 @ 11:47 AM
Hi iv broke up with my ex she as 4 of my children and social services have told me not to attend mothers house so I don't now. She is with someone else andjust had twins and I know she want be able to cope it as all the children are under 6 yo I want to make agreement so I can help her so she can focus on the the new borns I would like to to find a site where I can use a guide line or template of a agreement
ric - 3-Mar-15 @ 12:16 AM
@owl83 - if you don't want the children to move schools then you can apply for a prohibited steps order through the courts. Your agreement, while not legally binding as such, may be taken into consideration via Cafcass or the courts, if it was to get that far. Regarding your ex introducing your children to her new partner, there isn't really anything you can do about that, as hard as it is, people do move on.
Martyn - 2-Mar-15 @ 12:12 PM
Hi me and my partner split up in December last year. We wrote down a plan of who has the children on what days we both signed it. Firstly is that plan even legally binding? There was no witnesses to it being made. She only moved out 3 weeks ago and she is already trying to introduce the children to her new partner. The kids don't want to be around him does there decision count for anything? And she has also decided to rent a flat quiet far away from my house and there school both kids don't want to move but she has said you won't see mummy anymore if you don't move. The kids are 5 and 8 .
owl83 - 26-Feb-15 @ 8:44 PM
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