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Shared Custody of Your Children

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 22 Aug 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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I have shared residency of my 2 children. My son is due to start high school next year. I live further away than his mother and therefore would need a bus pass for the local education authority. I also want to be the person who registers my son for high school. As we both have the same amount of parental responsibility, can you advise me how I go about making sure it is myself who registers him. Getting rather fed up of being the one who gets copies of things instead of original documentation, when we both have the same rights. Hope you can help!
Albert - 22-Aug-16 @ 5:05 PM
Woody - Your Question:
Need help. Me and my ex split up 2 years ago we had an agreement that when she moved nearer to me I could start having my son more during the week instead of just the weekends now she has moved she is refusing me access to see him during the week. I've offered mediation which she has refused and my son keeps telling both me and her that he wants to live with me and she won't allow that either. What can I do?

Our Response:
You will need to take the matter to court in order to gain access. It is unlikely the court would award you shared access if you generally only have your son at weekends. Where possible the courts will aim for continuity. You don't say how old your son is, but if he is over age 11, then he will be allowed an opinion regarding where he lives and the court will decide what it thinks is in your son's best interests.If you cannot afford the hefty legal fees, you can self-litigate if preferred, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 19-Aug-16 @ 12:43 PM
me - Your Question:
Need advise please. me and the ex aren't getting on well at the moment I'm going for shared custody but while this goes on can the ex leave my kids with a stranger or babysit that I don't know and what can I do if se trying to get her new fella to moving with her and I heard she told my boys to call him daddy

Our Response:
As your ex has parental responsibility, your ex can leave your children with whoever she deems is responsible - the decision making process is up to her. Likewise, if you are separated and she decides to move on with her life, as painful as it may be, it is her decision and something you have to come to terms with. I have added a link to some of the emotional aspects of moving on as a separated dad here , I hope you find them useful. Trying to work with your ex is better than trying to work against her, as this will help you get closer to your children. See also: Developing an Amicable Relationship With Your Ex here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 19-Aug-16 @ 12:15 PM
Need help. Me and my ex split up 2 years ago we had an agreement that when she moved nearer to me I could start having my son more during the week instead of just the weekends now she has moved she is refusing me access to see him during the week. I've offered mediation which she has refused and my son keeps telling both me and her that he wants to live with me and she won't allow that either. What can I do?
Woody - 18-Aug-16 @ 10:35 PM
need advise please.... me and the ex aren't getting on well at the moment I'm going for shared custody but while this goes on can the ex leave my kids with a stranger or babysit that I don't know and what can I do if se trying to get her new fella to moving with her and I heard she told my boys to call him daddy
me - 18-Aug-16 @ 6:57 PM
Kh - Your Question:
Please help. My partner is birth father and on birth certificates and was married at time of births. He wants to keep one of the children. Mother refuses to give her up as she says she doesn't want to lose money. There is no court order in place.Can he just keep her?

Our Response:
It is never a good idea to just 'keep' a child, please see link: What Happens If My Ex Keeps the Children Without My Consent? here. Unless it is absolutely necessary for the child's welfare, keeping a child without the other parent's consent will not be looked upon favourably though the courts and could backfire on your partner. Child access and care should be negotiated by the parents when and where possible, with mediation the next port of call, please see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here.Court is seen as the appropriate action if mediation fails and your partner insists on taking the matter further. If your partner is seriously considering this action then I advise he seeks legal advice so he knows what the repercussions might be.
SeparatedDads - 11-Aug-16 @ 11:39 AM
Please help. My partner is birth father and on birth certificates and was married at time of births. He wants to keep one of the children. Mother refuses to give her up as she says she doesn't want to lose money. There is no court order in place. Can he just keep her?
Kh - 10-Aug-16 @ 1:14 PM
Littledad - Your Question:
I have recently moved to another town (to help my new partner to have better acces to see her kids). Its roughly 40 min drive from the town where my kids live and where I run my business from. I currently see my kids 50% of the time, My ex is now saying I can't have them through the week due to the distance that they wilI travel with me. We agreed during seperation through the courts that it would be 50% shared time. She wants to reduce it to by weekly for the full weekend. Has she any rights to do this?

Our Response:
If there has been a variation in the circumstances, then if your ex thinks it is in the children's best interests then it gives her a reason to justify the breach. If you do not agree with the change, then you would have to apply through the courts to have the order enforced, please see link: Breach of Contact or Residence Order: What to Do, here.
SeparatedDads - 9-Aug-16 @ 11:42 AM
I have recently moved to another town (to help my new partner to have better acces to see her kids). Its roughly 40 min drive from the town where my kids live and where I run my business from. I currently see my kids 50% of the time, My ex is now saying I can't have them through the week due to the distance that they wilI travel withme. We agreed during seperation through the courts that it would be 50% shared time.She wants to reduce it to by weekly for the full weekend.Has she any rights to do this?
Littledad - 8-Aug-16 @ 6:44 PM
Why does a benefit determine who is the primary carer ? I work full time and support my daughter through my own hard work. Not by support from the government... Can I counter claim the child benefit... not so I benefit money wise but just so I am equal to the 'primary' parent leaving me with just as much right to make decisions for my daughter? because as it seems my word will be over heard just because she claims benefits which is ridiculous...
Tamps - 5-Aug-16 @ 2:53 PM
Tamps - Your Question:
Hi just a quick one.I have 50/50 shared care through court.My daughter is coming up 3 and we need to decide what school she goes to.Me and the ex are from different towns and have different views. We cannot agree on where our daughter goes. How do we manage ?Also because I do not claim child benefit and the ex does, apparently that makes the mother the main parent ? how the heck does that work !

Our Response:
Even though you have shared care of your child, the 'primary carer' is seen as the person who recieves child benefit, as benefits can only be paid to one parent. I can only suggest you sort your issue out via mediation if you cannot resolve it between yourselves. Otherwise, the last resort would be court.
SeparatedDads - 5-Aug-16 @ 11:59 AM
WorldCitizen - Your Question:
Could you please advise me on the following issue: I have a child with my ex partner (they live in Spain with my daughter). Now I am happily married and have a baby with my wife. My ex partner has moved to London and is introducsing chaos in my life. She is using our daughter to make me help them to settle in, as she does not speak English. She basically hopes that a generous benefit system in this country will provide for her.and my daughter. She is threatening me that one day she will drop my daughter to my house and disappears.She also demands more money. I have been paying a child maintenance since we separated (300 Euro per month- as they were living in Spin) but she now demands more. I would like to put a stop to it. Would you know whether I can seek some legal advice as to set the amount I need to pay her and establish the visits, etc. Also is my wife's salary taken into account when calculating child maintenance.Please help me I am at my wits end.

Our Response:
If you have a family-based arrrangement, you could go through the CMS - please see calculator link here. If you do not have to have anything to do with your ex personally, you may wish to seek either legal advice or mediation to help you sort out your arrangements, please see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here.
SeparatedDads - 5-Aug-16 @ 11:28 AM
Sky - Your Question:
I have four kids with an ex partner. We have a court order in place that specifies shared care. It also specifies that we both claim benefits for two named children. 6 months ago we agreed that I would claim benefits for the remaining 2 children with the view that I would give her the benefits since I was unemployed and she was working, Whilst this was agreed one of the children she was previously financially responsible for wanted to go on a trip that cost over a £1,000. I agreed the payment. My child aged 14 then had an argument with my ex and left the home to live with me. I have been making payments for the trip however my ex has now asked child benefit to pay the child benefit for all children to her. I have informed the child benefit agency that 3 of the children do for the most part vist their mother and spend nights with her on a shared care basis however one child now resides fully with me and may stay with her mother on occasions. Child benefit are now asking for information on how many nights the children spend with me and when they leave my care and return to my exs care. I have the following questions : 1) the Residence order states that I should claim benefits for A & B. Can the child benefit agency over ride the Residence order even though we share the care equally and pay my ex the child benefits.? 2) The Residence order specifies that my ex claims for C&D however they agreed that I was the main carer in writing to the Child benefit office who began paying me untill they stopped it when she changed her mind. I have contested this and they are re-investigating. Can they still give her the child benefit for C child who is not living with her.3) Can they pay her the child benefit even though she agreed for me to receive the child benefit for C & D. 4) Is the order still in force even if a child is not with her. Thankyou Sky

Our Response:
You would have to have to speak to the child benefit office regarding these matters as we don't have this information. However, the court order will stand. Your ex would have to apply for a variation through the courts if she wished to try and contest it.
SeparatedDads - 5-Aug-16 @ 10:01 AM
Hi just a quick one. I have 50/50 shared care through court. My daughter is coming up 3 and we need to decide what school she goes to. Me and the ex are from different towns and have different views. We cannot agree on where our daughter goes. How do we manage ? Also because I do not claim child benefit and the ex does, apparently that makes the mother the main parent ? how the heck does that work !
Tamps - 4-Aug-16 @ 3:22 PM
Could you please advise me on the following issue: I have a child with my ex partner (they live in Spain with my daughter). Now i am happily married and have a baby with my wife. My ex partner has moved to London and is introducsing chaos in my life. She is using our daughter to make me help them to settle in, as she does not speak English. She basically hopes that a generous benefit system in this country will provide for her.....and my daughter. She is threatening me that one day she will drop my daughter to my house and disappears. She also demands more money. I have been paying a child maintenance since we separated (300 Euro per month- as they were living in Spin) but she now demands more. I would like to put a stop to it. Would you know whether i can seek some legal advice as to set the amount i need to pay her and establish the visits, etc. Also is my wife's salary taken into account when calculating child maintenance. Please help me I am at my wits end.
WorldCitizen - 4-Aug-16 @ 1:38 PM
I have four kids with an ex partner. We have a court order in place that specifies shared care. It also specifies that we both claim benefitsfor two named children.6months ago we agreed that I would claim benefits for the remaining 2 children with the view that I would give her the benefits since I was unemployed and she was working,Whilst this was agreed one of the children she was previouslyfinancially responsible for wanted to go on a trip that cost over a £1,000. I agreed the payment . My child aged 14 then had an argument with my ex and left the home to live with me. I have been making payments for the trip however my ex has now asked child benefit to pay the child benefit for all children to her. I have informed the child benefit agency that 3 of the children do for the most part vist their mother and spend nights with her on a shared care basis however one child now resides fully with me and may stay with her mother on occasions.Child benefit are now asking for information on how many nights the childrenspend with me and when they leave my care and return to my exs care. I have the following questions : 1) the Residence order states that I should claim benefits for A & B. Can the child benefit agency over ride the Residence ordereven though we share the care equally andpay my ex the childbenefits.? 2) The Residence order specifies that my ex claims for C&Dhowever they agreed that I was the main carer in writing to the Child benefit office who began paying me untill they stopped it when she changed her mind. I have contested this and they are re-investigating.Can they still give her the child benefit for C child who is not living with her.3) Can they pay her the child benefit even though she agreed for me to receive the child benefit for C & D. 4) Is the order still in force even ifa child is not with her. Thankyou Sky
Sky - 4-Aug-16 @ 3:15 AM
Hi - can anyone help me as I am finding myself stuck between a rock and a hard place! I have a contact order with the court that says I get to see my children, now 9 and 11 every other weekend and for longer periods throughout the year as arranged. My ex is a horrible woman and seems to be manipulating my 11 year old daughter into not wanting to see me. This is now the second weekend I have not seen my daughter as her mother says she is sick and doesn't want to come. So I now won't have seen her for a month. As she is 11, am I able to insist that she does come with me for my weekend? Or can I pay my ex half the monthly money if she is only letting me see half my children? I can't even talk to my daughter, my ex has blocked my mobile number from her phone for control purposes. I have rights and I pay her more than the CSA guidelines so I don't accept that she can stop me from seeing my daughter. I don't want this to end up back at court!! Thanks for any advice!
Cbtasr - 30-Jul-16 @ 10:34 AM
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
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