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Making Joint Decisions About Your Child's Future

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 16 Oct 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.

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]
Jay - Your Question:
I currently have my kids (2 boys 11 and 13) 2 then 3 days a week rota but with holidays with me and whilst their mother goes on holiday I've ended up having them 50% of the time over the last 6months. I have recently asked if I can now have them an 50/50 split on a 3 then 4 day week rota but she has said not it but maybe in the future. What can I do now to try and make this happen, as she will not discuss face to face?

Our Response:
You would have to suggest mediation to your ex, please see link here . If your ex will not discuss the matter and you are insistent, then your only option would be to apply to court. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question. The court will always put the children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
SeparatedDads - 17-Oct-17 @ 3:56 PM
I currently have my kids (2 boys 11 and 13) 2 then 3 days a week rota but with holidays with me and whilst their mother goes on holiday I've ended up having them 50% of the time over the last 6months. I have recently asked if I can now have them an 50/50 split on a 3 then 4 day week rota but she has said not it but maybe in the future. What can I do now to try and make this happen, as she will not discuss face to face?
Jay - 16-Oct-17 @ 9:09 PM
My partner has shared custody of his 2 children with his ex wife. They live with us 50% of the time. However there have been a number of issues. The latest issue is that she has changed their GP and dentist to one that is close to her house (around 40 miles away from us). It is not practical to have to take the kids there if they have a health problem whilst they're with us but the GP at the practice they were registered with says they have to be registered at a practice near to their mother. Surely if he has shared custody this is nonsense? Does anyone know the legal basis for this though as we are intending to lodge a complaint with the practice manager.
K - 29-Sep-17 @ 12:28 PM
Me and my ex split about 9 years ago and my boy is going to high school next year but he doesn't want to go tget the one she wants him to go to as it's not a sports science school although that's what he wants to do however there was s one about 4 miles away he could go to but she won't let him because that means she would have to take him to school and back what rights do I have to help him get what he wants or have I not got a leg to stand on ? Help pls ??
Jim - 25-Sep-17 @ 9:01 PM
DShelp - Your Question:
My partner has two children with his ex wife. Since their divorce, they have had shared custody of the boys, as stated in the court order. There is no communication between the parents, which is the mother's choice. She chooses to relay all information via their now 13 year old son or his grandmother.The eldest, who is now 17, was successfully alienated from his dad about 2 years ago. After a minor arguement with his dad, he stopped going to his dad's, having any contact with any family on that side, moved to a school much further away from his dad's house and stopped all contact with any friends from his old school. He has totally cut himself off from everyone and everything.His youngest has just spent two weeks with his mum, as part of his summer holiday. He is due to return to his dad on Thursday. My partner has just received a text from him saying that he won't be returning to his old secondary school (which is very local to my partner) and is now going to the same school as his brother, miles away. As a result, he probably won't stay at his dad's so often. There has been no consultation at all about this. Obviously my partner is very upset and extremely worried that he is now going to lose his youngest son too. I would be very grateful of any suggestions of what he can do, not to stop it, but to stop her from alienating his youngest son too. Thank you.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. You can see more via the link: What Happens If My Ex Keeps the Children Without My Consent? here which will tell you all you need to know.
SeparatedDads - 31-Aug-17 @ 12:30 PM
My partner has two children with his ex wife.Since their divorce, they have had shared custody of the boys, as stated in the court order.There is no communication between the parents, which is the mother's choice.She chooses to relay all information via their now 13 year old son or his grandmother. The eldest, who is now 17, was successfully alienated from his dad about 2 years ago.After a minor arguement with his dad, he stopped going to his dad's, having any contact with any family on that side, moved to a school much further away from his dad's house and stopped all contact with any friends from his old school.He has totally cut himself off from everyone and everything. His youngest has just spent two weeks with his mum, as part of his summer holiday.He is due to return to his dad on Thursday.My partner has just received a text from him saying that he won't be returning to his old secondary school (which is very local to my partner) and is now going to the same school as his brother, miles away.As a result, he probably won't stay at his dad's so often. There has been no consultation at all about this.Obviously my partner is very upset and extremely worried that he is now going to lose his youngest son too. I would be very grateful of any suggestions of what he can do, not to stop it, but to stop her from alienating his youngest son too. Thank you.
DShelp - 29-Aug-17 @ 5:42 PM
Jb001 - Your Question:
Hello my ex and I split up at end off feb this year, we at the moment share custady and have my 3 boys 50/50 we still have a shared Tennant's in are family home. Me being the fair one decided to start applying for a separate home. Now shs has told me she wants to move 11 miles away where she originaly came from re school the kids and take them with her In the future. I don't see the point in me moving out off are currant home to get another home when she already plans to do so anyway and also do not want her to change the kids life drastically by changing there school is there anything I can do ? No legal action has being taking yet so there no order in place or anything we just have them shared care 50/50 my name is on the Birth certificate's.

Our Response:
Your only recourse if you cannot agree mutually or you cannot agree via mediation, would be to apply for a Specific Issue Order through the courts, please see link here. However, as in all cases, when making a decision the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question and what is deemed in their best interests.
SeparatedDads - 22-Aug-17 @ 3:13 PM
Hello my ex and I split up at end off feb this year, we at the moment share custady and have my 3 boys 50/50 we still have a shared Tennant's in are family home. Me being the fair one decided to start applying for a separate home. Now shs has told me she wants to move 11 miles away where she originaly came from re school the kids and take them with her In the future. I don't see the point in me moving out off are currant home to get another home when she already plans to do so anyway and also do not want her to change the kids life drastically by changing there school is there anything I can do ? No legal action has being taking yet so there no order in place or anything we just have them shared care 50/50 my name is on the Birth certificate's.
Jb001 - 17-Aug-17 @ 7:55 AM
HTTTU - Your Question:
Hi, my partner has a 4 year old son. We have been together ever since his mum was 6 months pregnant and now have 2 children of our own. We did not have any contact with his son for the first 14 months (apart from a couple of visits a week until he was around 2 months) as we were young and stupid (my partner was only 17 when his son was born and like a lot of young boys got scared, didn't know how to deal with the emotions and found it easier to walk away -something he will regret for the rest of his life).He then realised how important it was to become a big part of his life and since then we have done everything we can to build a strong relationship with him. My stepson now absolutely adores his father and his little brother and sister - their relationship is amazing. However, we are currently only allowed to see him every other weekend and she will not negotiate this as "she doesn't see him enough either" (partly due to the fact that on the weekends where we do not have him, he stays with another member of her family which is entirely her choice). We would like to have shared custody - 50% of the time - so that he feels like he is completely included in our family and has the chance to have the same level of relationship with his dad and siblings as he does with his mother and the brother that he will have there (due in the next couple of months). We live just a 5 minute drive from his mother and school and can provide with everything that he needs just as much as his mother and her partner can.What kind of chance do you think that we would have given the circumstances?Thanks,

Our Response:
It is highly unlikey a court would jump from your partner having access fortnightly to a shared-care arrangement. However, there is nothing to stop your partner suggesting mediation to his ex regarding more access and if she refuses to attend, taking the matter to court. A court will always decide upon what it thinks in in the child's best interests and it does want fathers to have meaningful relationships with their children where possible.
SeparatedDads - 4-Jul-17 @ 3:13 PM
Hi, my partner has a 4 year old son. We have been together ever since his mum was 6 months pregnant and now have 2 children of our own. We did not have any contact with his son for the first 14 months (apart from a couple of visits a week until he was around 2 months) as we were young and stupid (my partner was only 17 when his son was born and like a lot of young boys got scared, didn't know how to deal with the emotions and found it easier to walk away -something he will regret for the rest of his life). He then realised how important it was to become a big part of his life and since then we have done everything we can to build a strong relationship with him. My stepson now absolutely adores his father and his little brother and sister - their relationship is amazing. However, we are currently only allowed to see him every other weekend and she will not negotiate this as "she doesn't see him enough either" (partly due to the fact that on the weekends where we do not have him, he stays with another member of her family which is entirely her choice). We would like to have shared custody - 50% of the time - so that he feels like he is completely included in our family and has the chance to have the same level of relationship with his dad and siblings as he does with his mother and the brother that he will have there (due in the next couple of months). We live just a 5 minute drive from his mother and school and can provide with everything that he needs just as much as his mother and her partner can. What kind of chance do you think that we would have given the circumstances? Thanks,
HTTTU - 30-Jun-17 @ 3:41 PM
Adamsimpson - Your Question:
I want sharedo custody of my daughter and my ex will only agree to a Wednesday night and all day Saturday and drop off Sunday morning which suits her perfectly. What can I do to gain 50 50 access so I see my daughter equally and I'm not just fitting in with my ex?

Our Response:
Where your ex does not agree, your only recourse to negotiate further child access is through mediation or via court. If your ex refuses to negotiate via mediation, then court is the last resort. There is no guarantee the court will award 50/50 shared care though, as it will always decide upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your child with regards to the situation and circumstances. Therefore, you may wish to seek legal advice in order to explore your options further.
SeparatedDads - 15-May-17 @ 11:50 AM
I want sharedo custody of my daughter and my ex will only agree to a Wednesday night and all day Saturday and drop off Sunday morning which suits her perfectly. What can I do to gain 50 50 access so I see my daughter equally and I'm not just fitting in with my ex?
Adam - 14-May-17 @ 11:50 AM
Concerned parents - Your Question:
Hi There,I have 2 x stepchildren aged 10 and 15, my husband split from his ex 6 years ago, we have been together 5 years and married a year.We have visitation/custody rights and have both boys Thursday, Friday post 4 pm through to saturday every week with the eldest son also on Tuesday overnight due to football practice.Both of us work full time so once of us needs to start at 6 on the days we have the boys to ensure we are home to collect. The ex is not flexible on swapping dates/amending this schedule which we have accepted over the years. Although we regularly received demands for her to have quality time (which is our time) with our eldest. We do try to accommodate but it is becoming more frequent and is one sided to the eldest which in turns impacts the youngest as there is no request to have him.The youngest is in mainstream school with a deaf unit attached and in the last 2 years has had an autism diagnosis resulting in him not being able to remain in mainstream due to increased bouts of angry, aggression and violence. We have now had him accepted to a fabulous boarding school (great news for him as we believe it will bring out the best in him and give him the future he deserves).We have been trying to negotiate new custody/access arrangements, which differs to what we have but no less i.e. alternate weekly where the boys come to us saturday to monday morning opposed to Thursday 4pm to Saturday noon or 5. She is showing no flexibility despite changes to the youngest schooling.It is now causing immense stress and pressure between us all with only the kids suffering. Can we go back to court and request a change to access/visitation with the changes to youngest/circumstances.

Our Response:
Yes, if there is already a court order in place and circumstances have changed, then you can apply for a variation. However, mediation should be considered/explored first in order to come to a mutual resolution outside court (but subject to court approval).
SeparatedDads - 21-Mar-17 @ 11:47 AM
Hi There, I have 2 x stepchildren aged 10 and 15, my husband split from his ex 6 years ago, we have been together 5 years and married a year. We have visitation/custody rights and have both boys Thursday, Friday post 4 pm through to saturday every week with the eldest son also on Tuesday overnight due to football practice. Both of us work full time so once of us needs to start at 6 on the days we have the boys to ensure we are home to collect. The ex is not flexible on swapping dates/amending this schedule which we have accepted over the years.Although we regularly received demands for her to have quality time (which is our time) with our eldest.We do try to accommodate but it is becoming more frequent and is one sided to the eldest which in turns impacts the youngest as there is no request to have him. The youngest is in mainstream school with a deaf unit attached and in the last 2 years has had an autism diagnosis resulting in him not being able to remain in mainstream due to increased bouts of angry, aggression and violence. We have now had him accepted to a fabulous boarding school (great news for him as we believe it will bring out the best in him and give him the future he deserves). We have been trying to negotiate new custody/access arrangements, which differs to what we have but no less i.e. alternate weekly where the boys come to us saturday to monday morning opposed to Thursday 4pm to Saturday noon or 5.She is showing no flexibility despite changes to the youngest schooling. It is now causing immense stress and pressure between us all with only the kids suffering. Can we go back to court and request a change to access/visitation with the changes to youngest/circumstances.
Concerned parents - 20-Mar-17 @ 2:06 PM
Me and my sons dad split 8 years ago iwe have a shared residence order.his school contacts his dad first then his wife instead of me as his mother i have told the school i should be contacted before his step mum but they are ignoring me
em - 16-Mar-17 @ 7:42 PM
Colin - Your Question:
Hi, I have a shared residency order for my daughter who is due to start high school September. Ive been in touch on many occasions with the admin department trying to find out information on her schooling as they will not add my address to their system. Even though I have a court order stating that my daughter lives at 2 houses for the exactly the same amount of time. I applied for her secondary school place by email and received an email back saying I would be informed which school she has been accepted in to and once again I have had no contact from them. I am being victimised and discriminated against. No where on my court order does it state that my daughters mother has parental responsibility and I don't. It says we have SHARED! How can I make them understand how important it is that my details need to be on their computer system just like her mothers are and that I need the same information. It really frustrates me that I have to be chasing everyone up and pleading for information that I am entitled to. Why am I the one who has to inform my daughters school that I need copies of everything but her mother doesn't? It is so unfare! Can you help me by advising me what I can do and who is the most senior person I can contact and get things change.

Our Response:
Schools are required by law to have a wide range of dealings with pupils' parents and can find themselves caught up in disputes between parents regarding parental responsibility of a particular child. This gov.uk document shows the guidance given to schools regarding such matters, please see link here. In a nutshell, if both parents have PR, they should be given equal rights to acquire information regarding their child. If the school refuses this, a solicitor's letter may be able to outline the school's obligations further. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 3-Mar-17 @ 2:18 PM
Hi, I have a shared residency order for my daughter who is due to start high school September. Ive been in touch on many occasions with the admin department trying to find out information on her schooling as they will not add my address to their system. Even though I have a court order stating that my daughter lives at 2 houses for the exactly the same amount of time. I applied for her secondary school place by email and received an email back saying I would be informed which school she has been accepted in to and once again I have had no contact from them. I am being victimised and discriminated against. No where on my court order does it state that my daughters mother has parental responsibility and I don't. It says we have SHARED! How can I make them understand how important it is that my details need to be on their computer system just like her mothers are and that I need the same information. It really frustrates me that I have to be chasing everyone up and pleading for information that I am entitled to. Why am I the one who has to inform my daughters school that I need copies of everything but her mother doesn't? It is so unfare! Can you help me by advising me what I can do and who is the most senior person I can contact and get things change.
Colin - 2-Mar-17 @ 5:16 PM
Flip - Your Question:
My ex wife has my 2 children. We divorced in 2013. No child custody order or child support order. My daughter is15 yrs old and has begun being disrespectful and sneaking out with older guys and recently passed out at a party and was sexually assaulted by an older man. My ex wife won't press charges because she has been allowing underaged drinking at her home and doesn't want to be prosecuted. My daughter I feel needs to come stay with me. But my ex wife won't allow it she says. What rights do I have? Can I legally go get my children and bring them to stay with me? Please help.

Our Response:
If you have parental responsibility, then please see link here. However, this is not an ideal solution and parents taking the law into their own hands is not condoned by the courts, unless the action is absolutely necessary. Mediation is the the advised way, or court (if an agreement cannot be reached via mediation).
SeparatedDads - 6-Feb-17 @ 12:11 PM
My ex wife has my 2 children. We divorced in 2013. No child custody order or child support order. My daughter is15 yrs old and has begun being disrespectful and sneaking out with older guys and recently passed out at a party and was sexually assaulted by an older man. My ex wife won't press charges because she has been allowing underaged drinking at her home and doesn't want to be prosecuted. My daughter I feel needs to come stay with me. But my ex wife won't allow it she says. What rights do I have? Can I legally go get my children and bring them to stay with me? Please help.
Flip - 5-Feb-17 @ 7:51 PM
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
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