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Shared Custody of Your Children

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 29 Jul 2016 | 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.

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[Add a Comment]
Hi my ex has now decided to want 50/50. He has told me he don't want to pay child maintance as he can't afford it but his on a good wage but his got bills and debts to pay for. I mentioned csa and now he wants 50 50 so he don't have to pay. I have 2 kids.4 and 2. I just want to know my rights. Have a I got to accept the 50 50? He is on the birth certificate. What happens if I disagree with it. Will that mean he still have to pay child maintance?
Cheese - 29-Jul-16 @ 12:37 AM
Dannyboy1986 - Your Question:
Hi me and my ex currently have a 6 year old daughter I only get to see her when the mum says so but I would like to have her on weekends

Our Response:
If your ex will not consent to you having your child on a regular basis by mutual arrangement, you can either suggest mediation to your ex, please see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here. If your ex refuses or if mediation is not succesful, then you would have the opportunity to take the matter to court. However, court is usually seen as a last resort as it can be a stressful process all round. So, if you can negotiate amicably between you or via mediation then this would be the easier solution.
SeparatedDads - 28-Jul-16 @ 12:45 PM
Hi me and my ex currently have a 6 year old daughter I only get to see her when the mum says so but I would like to have her on weekends
Dannyboy1986 - 27-Jul-16 @ 7:29 PM
I going to court at minute and would like to know if there any sport for dads
Del - 21-Jul-16 @ 4:18 AM
Nanna1 - Your Question:
If my son gets custody three days a week does the law prevent grandparents helping out in school holidays ect.

Our Response:
There are no laws to specify who looks after the child/children. However, if the resident parent disagrees it could give her ammunition to breach the court order.
SeparatedDads - 18-Jul-16 @ 2:30 PM
If my son gets custody three days a week does the law prevent grandparents helping out in school holidays ect.
Nanna1 - 17-Jul-16 @ 9:11 PM
Hi my son & his partner separated a year ago he as been picking his 2 children up from childminders every Wednesday and on Thursday his son goes to school and I look after his 15 month old daughter their mom picks them up from my house at 5.30 pm on Thursday he then picks them up from school and baby from childminders on Friday at 4 pm he keeps them overnight again and returns them home Saturday even though the arrangement was she would pick them up but after living with me for over a year he as finally got his one place which is now 7.2 miles away a 15 minute drive and she drives but she is saying unless he fetches them and returns them he is not allowed to see them is this right ??????
Lush - 14-Jul-16 @ 9:46 PM
I have recently had a baby that is my exs and have applied through CMS for maintenance as he has not provided anything or even checked up on the LO, he has denied paternity which I knew he would and has said he wants joint custody (but I feel like this is to reduce his payments). I believe him to have borderline personality disorder but not sure if I am correct and if he has I don't think he seeks help which leaves him very volatile, easy to anger and very manipulative, I fear that if he gains joint custody he will not look after my LO and manipulate her mind about me as he has done to all his friends. He is also not named on the birth certificate, what are the chances of him getting joint custody if he applies for PR and how can I prove he has a personality disorder.
Richards - 10-Jul-16 @ 11:54 PM
Hi this website looks as though it's only for fathers! I'll ask my question anyway! I have shared custody of my 2 children my daughter is now 16 and doesn't always want to go back to her dad's. I have a residency order if she wants to stop going to her dad's or even stop coming to mine, do I have to go back to court or can we just go with whatever she wants! I would prefer to go with what she wants but heisn't a man you can negotiate with he's very controlling!!!
Son - 9-Jul-16 @ 9:13 AM
Smithpunk - Your Question:
I have 18 month old son and we share residency 50/50 but my ex partner is demanding money, can she do this?

Our Response:
It depends whether your ex and you have an agreed official shared-care, of whether you are defined as the non-resident parent and your ex as the primary carer. If you are classed as the non-resident parent and your child stays overnight with you on a regular basis, this will reduce the amount of child maintenance you have to pay, please see link here. However, if your ex feels that the division of care is somehow unequal and she is classed as the primary carer, then she may be able to claim. The definition of shared-care can be ambiguous, but there are certain rules attached to the term.
SeparatedDads - 5-Jul-16 @ 2:30 PM
I have 18 month old son and we share residency 50/50 but my ex partner is demanding money, can she do this?
Smithpunk - 5-Jul-16 @ 5:28 AM
hi. Me and my boyfriend havejust split up I have a 6 year son from a previous relationship and we have a 18 month old son. My 6 year old son doesn't see his dad but my ex parent of my 18 old son wants to have 50/50 custody he's told me if I don't agree to see to see a solicitor I don't earn lot of money to pay for a solicitor. I work part time I don't want to have 50/50 custody my son is still a baby and my 6 year old would be lost with him being at home I have no problem with him havinghim but just not 50/50 what can I do and I also don't want to be bullied into anything
charlieoz - 1-Jul-16 @ 7:18 PM
John - Your Question:
I was married for a short period of time during which I agreed to have my ex wifes maiden name included as one of my daughters middle names when her birth was registered. My ex wife attempts to double barrel my daughters surname which I do not want, nor appreciate. My ex wife continually ignores my request that my daughter has just one surname which is obviously my own. She has done this with my daughters doctor and I fear that she will do the same with her pre school. What can I do and can I legally force her, doctors surgery, school etc to use my daughters correct surname? Thank you. J.

Our Response:
There is nothing you can do regarding this. If your name was registered on the birth certificate, then your ex would have to ask for consent if she wished to change your daughter's name officially by Deed Poll and if you refused, then she would have the option to take the matter to court. However, you cannot prevent your ex from using the double-barrelled name unofficially (doctors/school etc) or even dropping your name altogether if she so wished, both for the daughter in question and/or your other daughters.
SeparatedDads - 29-Jun-16 @ 12:18 PM
I was married for a short period of time during which I agreed to have my ex wifes maiden name included as one of my daughters middle names when her birth was registered. My ex wife attempts to double barrel my daughters surname whichI do not want, nor appreciate. My ex wife continually ignores my request that my daughter has just one surname which is obviously my own. She has done this with my daughters doctor and I fear that she will do the same with her pre school. What can I do and can I legally force her, doctors surgery, school etc to use my daughters correct surname? Thank you. J.
John - 28-Jun-16 @ 12:22 PM
Hi my partner got regular contact through courts when his daughter was a baby, now she is 6 and the mother is always trying to get her way with changing arrangements etc, i advised him to see about back to court to sort things again if she keeps twisting and turning things to her benefit, but she is now saying that he is required to have her half of the school holidays is this likely to be true? Thanks.
Stacey - 25-Jun-16 @ 2:05 PM
rr - Your Question:
OK so I have been with my husband for 7 yrs and we have his daughter complete 50/50 we pay for everything on our side and take her on 3 holidays a year (her mum has took her on about 2 in those 7yrs ) we still have to pay CSA. my step daughter has a disability and her mum gets all the money for this along with all benefits. We have just received a letter that the CSA is now changing and I noticed there is a section regarding going to court about the payments.if we went to court to get our 50/50 care registered where does this leave us money wise? we have her 4 days then her mum 4 days and it roles like that throughout the year so full shared care!! it annoys me that her mum receives everything from us and benefits and DLA yet we provide a lot more for her than she does!!

Our Response:
You would be advised to seek legal advice regarding this and whether you have a case to request 50/50 shared care. The court will usually only offer a shared care arrnagement if both sets of parents agree - but you may have a case if you are already co-parenting.
SeparatedDads - 23-Jun-16 @ 2:24 PM
triker- Your Question:
Hi I have been separated from my ex wife over 3 years and recently divorced. I have shared custody agreement arranged verbally between my ex and myself. My ex receives the child maintenance and I have been paying her monthly amount since we separated (amount suggested by CSA through telephone call) for my two children aged 12yrs and 13yrs. I have them 3 -4 days a week, 4 weekends away a year, and normal 2 weeks holiday each year. Although receiving maintenance from me each month, she constantly asking me to pay for clothes, school trips, plus £70 a month for dinner money, haircuts, trainers and anything else. When the children were much younger, I continued to pay for pension, and she used the time to complete further education courses while I looked after the children, so she could get a better job when children started school, which she did.If I'm paying for shared costs for the children's clothes and everything else, what I'm I paying maintenance for? The only difference I can see if that my ex is a female, so she benefits from this gender. The children a more or less at both parents homes equally. So can I suddenly suggest I will receive maintenance for the children from her and child benefit.I feel this is very wrong, I would never see my children go without, but I hate the thought my ex sitting comfortable and me being overdrawn every month. the system is wrong and very one sided.

Our Response:
You do not have to pay above and beyond what the CSA/CMS has specified. Anything you pay for over this agreed amount is at your own discretion. You can see how much you should be paying via the CMS link here.
SeparatedDads - 23-Jun-16 @ 11:41 AM
OK so I have been with my husband for 7 yrs and we have his daughter complete 50/50 we pay for everything on our side and take her on 3 holidays a year (her mum has took her on about 2 in those 7yrs ) we still have to pay CSA. my step daughter has a disability and her mum gets all the money for this along with all benefits. We have just received a letter that the CSA is now changing and I noticed there is a section regarding going to court about the payments.......if we went to court to get our 50/50 care registered where does this leave us money wise?we have her 4 days then her mum 4 days and it roles like that throughout the year so full shared care!! it annoys me that her mum receives everything from us and benefits and DLA yet we provide a lot more for her than she does!!
rr - 22-Jun-16 @ 9:51 PM
Hi I have been separated from my ex wife over 3 years and recently divorced. I have shared custody agreement arranged verbally between my ex and myself. My ex receives the child maintenance and I have been paying her monthly amount since we separated (amount suggested by CSA through telephone call) for my two children aged 12yrs and 13yrs. I have them 3 -4 days a week, 4 weekends away a year, and normal 2 weeks holiday each year. Although receiving maintenance from me each month, she constantly asking me to pay for clothes, school trips, plus £70 a month for dinner money, haircuts, trainers and anything else. When the children were much younger, I continued to pay for pension, and she used the time to complete further education courses while I looked after the children, so she could get a better job when children started school, which she did. If I'm paying for shared costs for the children's clothes and everything else, what i'm I paying maintenance for? The only difference I can see if that my ex is a female, so she benefits from this gender. The children a more or less at both parents homes equally. So can I suddenly suggest I will receive maintenance for the children from her and child benefit. I feel this is very wrong, I would never see my children go without, but I hate the thought my ex sitting comfortable and me being overdrawn every month. the system is wrong and very one sided.
triker - 22-Jun-16 @ 4:04 PM
Hotdog - Your Question:
My wife and I seperated. I work shifts so I have our two kids for 3/4 nights out of 8. She still wants £400 pm plus split all other kids bills ie.clothes.after school clubs.trips. We earn the same amount. Plus I work over 100 miles away. Is this right?

Our Response:
Much depends on whether you are seen to have shared-care of your children, or whether you are classed as the non-resident parent. You can see how much you should be paying by the CMS calculator here, or you can ring the CMS for some direct, free advice. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 20-Jun-16 @ 11:27 AM
My wife and I seperated. I work shifts so I have our two kids for 3/4 nights out of 8. She still wants £400 pm plus split all other kids bills ie..clothes..after school clubs...trips. We earn the same amount. Plus I work over 100 miles away. Is this right?
Hotdog - 19-Jun-16 @ 10:02 AM
Since my wife was unfaithful 8 years ago we split and I now live over 40 miles away however we have shared custody (no residency order in place) I alone have paid the full travel costs for my children in the past 8 years totally over £12,800. My ex has contributed £10 in all this time. Unfortunately after a brain operation last year I an unable to work for the next 2 years so money is tight I have asked my ex to contribute 50/50 to the cost with no joy. However I was speaking to a family friend the other day who works in familt law and she said that as no residency order is in place only the parent wishing to see the children is liable for the costs "to see them" hence me when I collect them. BUT my ex on the return journey as then it would be her that wants to see the children and not me as they will already be in my presence. I do know that if I chose no to return them there is legally nothing she could do as legally they can reside at either mine or her property due to lack of residency order. I was wondering in a nutshell does she legally have to contribute or should I just stop returning them and that way it will force her to collect them as financially it isn't plausible anymore!
Olly - 15-Jun-16 @ 8:46 PM
James - Your Question:
Hi I have joint custody of my daughter aged 3 I have her more than 50% and my ex wanted to move over 2 hours away and take her, which means taking her away from all my family all her family and out of nursery and swimming lessons everything, what Can I do about this?

Our Response:
If you can't agree between you and your ex and you think your ex may take your daughter away without your consent, 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. However, there is no guarantee you would be granted this order, as the courts would decide on what it thinks is in the best interests of your child. Have you thought about discussing this directly with your ex and relaying your feelings to her? If she will not take your opinion on board, then another option which you may wish to explore prior to a court order is mediation, please see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here. I hope these suggestions help.
SeparatedDads - 15-Jun-16 @ 10:48 AM
questionmark - Your Question:
Am I legally allowed to change access days (tea time visits) without my ex's consent? She goes twice a week and it's making her tired at school. She lives with me and sees him on alternate weekends and twice a week for tea.

Our Response:
If there is a court order then unless you both agree to the changes, then no you cannot change the terms. If you have a family-based shared care arrangement then it is better that any changes are negotiated first, but there is nothing stopping you from making changes if you feel they are necessary. However, if you restrict access then your ex's option would be to take the matter to court.
SeparatedDads - 14-Jun-16 @ 12:54 PM
Hi I have joint custody of my daughter aged 3 I have her more than 50% and my ex wanted to move over 2 hours away and take her, which means taking her away from all my family all her family and out of nursery and swimming lessons everything, what Can I do about this?
James - 14-Jun-16 @ 11:32 AM
Am I legally allowed to change access days (tea time visits) without my ex's consent? She goes twice a week and it's making her tired at school. She lives with me and sees him on alternate weekends and twice a week for tea.
questionmark - 13-Jun-16 @ 5:20 PM
My partner and I are in the throes of a separation which is proving a bit difficult for me... If I'm taking medication which helps with my current anxiety, will that work against me in any custody claims? Also, My partner has another relationship which is ongoing, both her and her "friend" are high earners, will I still be expected to financially contribute to our children?
Mart - 12-Jun-16 @ 4:17 PM
Now I received 50 50 joint custody thru our local court house....during the upcoming months..the mom started act weird...she was seen butt naked at 330 in the morning screaming I'm god...she began to here voices....well I notified cps and our local sheriffs.... Now isn't it only right for me to get my kids after the removal...because of me having joint custody and me not living in the home where they were renoved
thablaclghost - 12-Jun-16 @ 3:59 PM
Hi I recently split from my girlfriend we have daughter we decide to share 50/50 time with her .do I intaitel to any financial support all all of it will go to my ex girlfriend
Ndw - 10-Jun-16 @ 10:24 PM
Jon - Your Question:
Hi I separated from my wife over 11 months ago, I have a 3 year old daughter with her. Who I see every weekend and all school holidays. My daughter has said me and my wife, she wanted to be with Daddy. And has not got a good attachment her mother. And has a strong attachment to me And wife has a history of going out and drinking excessively and get her friend to baby sit or letting her parents see to my child when her mum is a alcoholic. I do have the money to divorce my wife or fight for full custody of my daughter. Is there any other way to get full custody of my daughter on grounds of attachment. As I am worried about my daughter's well doing emotional well-being and as a single father I feel powerless.

Our Response:
You would have to take the matter to court in order to apply for custody. But please be aware that it is rare that a court will take a child from one parent and hand the child to another unless absolutely necessary. If your ex has a history of alcoholism which proves she is unable or unwilling to care properly for your daughter then you may have a case, in which case you can self-litigate, see link: here. However, it is advisable to seek some legal advice to help you assess your options.
SeparatedDads - 10-Jun-16 @ 2:46 PM
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