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Making Joint Decisions About Your Child's Future

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 14 May 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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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
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
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