How many types are there of custody? I believe you can have a joint custody of children totally where both have 50% rights, then another where one parent is seen as main carer and then others where the mother gets more rights and up to her when the kids are seen etc?
I guess I want a total joint order to share responsibility 100%.
I'm nitpicking, but just for your info "custody" is no longer the term used.
Both natural parents are deemed to have "parental responsibility" towards the child (step-parents and other carers can also be awarded this status depending on circumstances). It should be noted that this status is about your responsibility towards the child (not ownership of the child).
The other terms in current use are "residency" and "contact".
"Residency" is about who the child lives with and "contact" is about who is allowed to enjoy some access/contact with the child.
One typical scenario is where the stay at home mum has residency and the father has some defined contact.
Note that in many divorces the childcare/contact is agreed amicably between the parents and so no formal court order exists. Only where there is disagreement is it necessary for the court to make a decision.
Other than in exceptional circumstances the courts would want a child to have contact with both parents and so the decision is just a case of how much is best for the kid. This could be (just examples):
- a close to 50/50 arrangement
- dad seeing kid every other weekend plus 1 night in week
- dad only able to see kid once a month at a contact centre
It sounds like you would like "Shared Residency" where it is fully recognised that the child lives some significant portion of the time (not necessarily half) with you.
If you cannot agree this amicably then you need to apply to the court, in your case probably for: "Shared Residency, failing that - contact". This is basically a single application that will consider whether to grant you Shared Residency, and if not, will then consider what level of contact to order. The court forms and information sheets for doing this are available from this site in the Divorce Guide under "Court Forms".
With Parental Responsibility both parents have the rights to fulfill their parenting responsibilities. Most divorcing couples negotiate how much time children are to spend with each parent and they can decide to share parenting equally or as little as they can agree.
If they can't agree they may apply to court for â€œa contact order" meaning an order requiring the person with whom a child lives, or is to live, to allow the child to visit or stay with the person named in the order. Alternatively they can apply for
â€œa residence order" meaning an order settling the arrangements to be made as to the person with whom a child is to live.
In circumstances when a child is deemed to have a strong attachment to both parents so equally happy and confident in both homes and there is some history of shared care courts may order a "shared" residency order which defines the time a child lives with each parent. This is supposed to reflect the reality of the situation and time could be equally shared or as little as 1 or 2 overnights a week.
Courts have a no order principle and won't make an order if the matter can be resolved without. It seems the only real difference of having shared residency is you can go on holiday abroad in "your" time without the consent of the other parent.
Many Thanks for your replies, I do have a very needy oldest boy who has a disability and needs his dad, it would cut him up very bad if my wife and I ever fell out and she gave me minimum time with him.
"shared" residency order has to be the way for me, but we are going through an ammicable divorce at the moment just using mediation, and unsure how do I apply for such an order???
We don't want to use solicitors if possible to prevent extra cost and nastiness.
If things are amicable why do you need an order? There is a no order principle so courts won't issue an order under these circumstances anyway. The vast majority of people don't involve the courts (about 90%) making their own arrangements and all the evidence suggests they are more satisfied and arrangements are better adhered to. Although there has been a change in the way courts view SR and it's being ordered more frequently courts still use contact/residency orders in the majority of cases.
Despite all the hype practically there is little difference between a SRO and CO/RO, except someone with a RO in their favour may take children out of the country for less than a month without consent from the other parent. They both define the time a child stays with each parent. There is much evidence that in other jurisdictions shared residency/joint custody actually increases conflict which is so damaging to children.
IMHO it's far more constructive to agree to share parenting, decide when the children are to stay with each parent and agree how the inevitable changes/problems should be resolved. Then work at making the children feel they have two homes which are equally important.
I agree with you, if amicable then why need a court order, I am just trying to cover myself in future as you never know what it may bring in the form of a new step father who doesn't like it etc, these things happen all the time.
I guess then I would be happy with just writing this into the divorce as an agreement? we are doing it online, so not sure where we can put this bit...
I live in Scotland, but I think in England & Wales you can make a statement of arrangements for the children. There is also guidance on making parenting plans downloadable from the Department of Constitutional Affairs.
With regard to covering yourself I'm afraid a court order is no guarantee. In the last month or so I've come across at least 4 cases when an SRO was in place and one parent simply decided not to return the children. There was another recent case were a parent just kept the children and it was decided this was now the status quo so the other parent lost SR.
The best way to cover yourself is be cooperative, support your x2b in parenting and establish two homes near each other. Then if things do go belly up the fact the child moves easily between the two houses and perceives they have two homes is the basis of your argument for SR. Not that going belly up is necessarily going to happen.