Shared Custody Arrangements

Quite often arranging shared custody arrangements could be difficult where parents are not amicable following a bitter divorce or separation. Arranging best child custody arrangements can be difficult without proper planning and legal advice.

Resolving child custody arrangements is quite a stressful time and it could be quite challenging to decide on the best child custody arrangements for your child. Resolving child custody arrangements can be made more difficult when both the parents are separating or going through a divorce. Both parents will usually want full legal custody of their child. Our family law specialists have created this guide on how to obtain the best child custody arrangements for your children.

Article Contents

What are the best child custody arrangements?

The general consensus is that a child has a right to see both parents. The English Law recognises the importance of the impact both the mother and the father can have on the child. Therefore, based on the right of the child to have access to both parents the best child custody arrangements would be the shared custody or joint custody arrangements.

Joint custody arrangements are also known as shared custody arrangements. With joint custody arrangements both parents are involved in the child’s life and decisions made regarding the child. The time the child spends with each parent in shared custody arrangements does not have to be equal, but the main focus is to ensure that the child spends some time with both parents. Shared custody arrangements allow both parents to play an active role in the child’s life which provides a sense of security to the children.

Best child custody arrangements for toddlers

It is often noted that best child custody arrangements for toddlers are those which are stable. Toddlers often cope well when their routine is stable. Parents should plan best child custody arrangements for toddlers where they consistently see each parent. Parents should also ensure their home is childproof which means a child is safe when they visit each parent.

Toddlers are often attached to both parents and therefore best child custody arrangements for toddlers may include frequent contact and visits with both parents. Toddlers develop and grow rapidly. It is recommended that parents should continually discuss best child custody arrangements for toddlers and adapt those arrangements as the child develops. Shared custody arrangements may not seem effective at the start when the child is young, however it is important to remember that shared custody does not necessarily spending equal times with both parents. Therefore, parents can undertake shared custody arrangements and ensure the children benefit from the care and love of both parents.

Where one parent is the primary carer for a child, shared custody could be arranged so the other parent can maintain access and contact with the child when they are free from their routine of playgroups, feed time or any other toddler activities. Shared custody arrangements for toddlers can have a positive impact on children growing up and provides them with security of knowing that both parents are in their lives.

Positive effects of joint custody arrangements for children

Shared custody and joint custody arrangements, regardless of the time the child spends with each parent could be beneficial to the children. With shared custody arrangements the children are able to grow up with the influence of both parents. Both parents remain a part of the child’s life and are able to make legal decisions for the child.

A child’s needs are more likely to be met if both parents remain part of the child’s life. Both parents will attempt to be proactive in the child’s life and will try and meet the needs adequately between them.

With shared custody and joint custody arrangements children will more likely remain in contact with families of both parents. This could be beneficial to children as they will grow up with the love of their parents extended families and will benefit from the experience the families of their parents bring.

The most important benefit of shared custody and joint custody arrangements is that children have two homes. This could provide more security and stability to the children. The children will also continue to have a real family life with the involvement of both parents. With shared custody arrangements children will benefit from the life experience of both their parents and extended families. With this invaluable experience children can grow and develop better and deal with any issues they may face.

Negative effects of 50/50 custody on children

Although joint custody arrangements seem to be beneficial to the child and most importantly fulfil the clients right to access both parents, they come with their disadvantages. Joint custody arrangements could be hard for children. Children may find it difficult to move from one home to another where shared custody is involved. Children may feel that their life is not stable due to them constantly living in different homes.

Shared custody arrangements could cause some disruption to the children and their daily routine. Joint custody arrangements could cause more stress to the child. They may be required to pack up and switch homes every other week or midweek. This could cause confusion for the child as well as added stress and pressure.

Another disadvantage of joint custody arrangements to children is that their needs may go unnoticed. Although they have both parents in their life one parent may try and evade their responsibility knowing that the child still has the other parent who may fulfil their needs.

Quite often during joint custody arrangements a child can often be made to feel like they are the referee or the middle person. Parents can often use children to deliver messages to each other when they are unwilling to work together. In order for shared custody to work parents must ensure they are arranging this for the benefit of the child and not for their own personal motives. Shared custody should not be used as a battleground for disputes involving the parents.

How does joint custody affect child support arrangements?

Usually in child custody cases the non-resident parent will be responsible for child support arrangements which are also known as child maintenance. However, where parents agree on joint custody arrangements who pays for the child support arrangements?

Majority of the parents will be of the opinion that where there is shared custody of the children, the parent earning the most income will be responsible for making the child support arrangements. This is untrue. If both parents equally share the care of the children, then neither parent will make child maintenance payments or be responsible for child support arrangements.

If both parents have shared custody of children which although may not be equal, there will be key factors which will need looking into when considering child support arrangements which are:

  • The tasks and responsibilities for which each parent is responsible during the course of the shared custody arrangements
  • Whether there is equal responsibility for day to day care within the shared custody arrangements, if so then no child maintenance would be payable regardless of whether one parent earns more.Regulation 50(2) of the Child Support Maintenance Calculation Regulations 2012 now mean that if the paying parent can satisfy the Child Maintenance Service that there is equal shared care, then there would be no requirement for either parent to pay maintenance.
  • Child support arrangements are only made if one parent is the resident parent or the parent with care. Where both parents equally share care of the child with the child spending equal time with both parents then child maintenance will not need to be paid given that both parents are equally responsible for bringing up the children.

If day to day care is shared between both parents, then parents will need to consider who must pay child maintenance. If the care of the child is not shared equally then the parent who looks after the child for the most hours or days will be the one who is considered as the resident parent for the purposes of child maintenance.

However, for the non-resident parent, its important to note that if the child has any overnight stay with them, this could reduce their liability for child support arrangements. However as per the advice from the Child Maintenance Scheme it is up to the non-resident parent to make them aware of how many overnights contact there is. Without this the Child Maintenance Service will assume that you only have one overnight contact a week.

How far apart can parents live and still have 50/50 custody?

The distance between the parents can play an important part in deciding on best child custody arrangements for children. When parents agree to make shared custody arrangements they should try and limit the disruption which is likely to be caused to the children.

The main considerations for parents when considering joint custody arrangements is whether the children are in school. If children are in school parents will need to take into account that children will need to be either collected or dropped off to school as part of their shared custody arrangements. Parents will therefore need to consider the distance which the children will be travelling and the time they will be travelling. Quite often distance between the parents could be the cause for shared custody arrangements to fail.

Parents will also need to consider whether children are taking part in any extra curricular activities as again parents will be responsible for collecting and dropping off children to these activities when they are with them. With shared custody parents will need to be clear on the routine of their children to ensure the children can continue with their daily life with minimal disturbance.

Both parents will ideally need to live relatively close to each other to ensure they can effectively cater for the children’s needs. If there is significant distance between where the parents live this may not be ideal or accommodating given that with joint custody arrangements, there may be multiple exchanges for children in the week. Parents will also need to be mindful that if there is significant distance between where they reside then this could lead to issues. Parents may not always be able to stick to their arrangements given that they may encounter traffic or work issues which could cause delays and as a result lead to conflicts between the parents.

How to win full legal custody of a child?

Full legal custody of a child is where the child lives with one parent who is responsible for looking after and maintaining the child and responsible for making key decisions concerning the child. The other parent may have some contact with the child but will have a limited role to play in the child’s life.

When considering child arrangements, the courts put the needs and welfare of the children first. Parents can look to reach an agreement on who will have the full legal custody of a child amicably without the need of court interference. If the parents are unable to agree on child custody arrangements, then one parent will usually make an application to the family court. The starting point when considering full legal custody is that the child should have access to both parents. The courts will therefore look to promote shared custody arrangements. The courts are only likely to award full legal custody where the child’s welfare will be affected if the other parent stays involved with the child.

Before applying for full legal custody of a child, parents will need to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Family law specialists can often assist parents with mediation and arranging this meeting. At Kabir Family Law, our family law specialists can also act as mediators to attempt and resolve any differences and disputes between conflicting parents.

Once an application is made to the court, they will consider the individual circumstances of the case. Before considering providing full legal custody the courts will consider the welfare checklist.

Examples of where the court will consider providing full legal custody to one parent rather than shared custody is where the other parent is not able to raise the child adequately, where one parent has neglected, abandoned or abused the child, where one parents working arrangements are better to provide care to the child, the other parents has issues such as drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence or mental health issues. With family lawyers in Northampton as well as across the UK we are able to help client’s nationally on child law issues and resolving child custody issues.

Can parents give up custody of a child?

Quite often parents may consider giving up custody of a child. Usually giving up custody of a child will be temporary. Parents will often consider giving up custody of a child when they are unable to care for the child. This will usually be the case where they are faced with an illness or health issue which affects their ability to look after a child. Parents may also need to be away from their house or even the country for work or other family commitments which may lead to them giving up custody of a child.

As well as voluntary giving up custody of a child, the courts can also force one parent in giving up custody of a child. In doing this the courts can also remove a parents parental responsibility over a child. The courts will only force a parent in giving up custody of a child or remove their parental responsibility if it is in the welfare and best interests of a child. The circumstances leading to removing child custody or removing parental responsibility from one parent must be exceptional or extreme.

Situations which give rise to the court forcing a parent in giving up custody of a child can include:

  • Chronic abuse or neglect
  • Sexual abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Long term mental illness
  • Long term alcohol or drug induced incapacity of the parent
  • Failure to support or maintain contact with child.

The courts can also order giving up full custody of a child where a parent has committed certain crimes in which case the courts can terminate the child and parent relationship and remove parental responsibility.

Contact us today to arrange a free consultation to discuss your options

At Kabir Family Law we aim to provide tailored advice and assistance to suit all family needs. If you require advice and assistance on the best child custody arrangements or any child law matter then contact us today on 0330 094 5880 to discuss your options or let us call you back. Our family law specialists can also provide you with advice on shared custody arrangements and advice on whether this will suit your children’s needs and your circumstances.