Hi , With the coming of the New Year I've decided to embark on divorcing my STBXH following a 4 year [url=Resources/Library/Cohabitation-and-Separation_s33_m1852.html ]separation[/url]. I'm hoping to do this all myself on the gov.uk website to keep costs to a minimum- we have no assets. The only potentially contentious issue is arrangements for our 2 children. Currently we have 50/50 shared custody (though never. been anything formal in place just a verbal agreement) in the form of having them every other day literally one day here one day there etc. I don't feel this arrangement works anymore or is in the kids best interest as it's literally exhausting, they feel like they are being pulled from pillar to post and can't get into any routine. They lug bags backwards and forwards I'm always lumbered with the washing and do 90% of pick ups and drop offs. They both have Behavioral issues and are at a crucial time. My eldest is about to study for GCSEs and youngest starts secondary school in September. My aim is stop to stop him seeing the kids and they love their dad, however would like to have them a bigger chunk of the time, consecutive days, ideally every week so I can oversee homework etc and him having them every other Thursday night-Monday evening.
This will mean a change from having them 7 nights each out of every fortnight he will have 4 nights and I will have 10.
I suspect he will not agree to this as he is terrified of being made to pay maintenance and the child benefit he currently gets for 1 dc ( we claim for 1 dc each)
My understanding is if we can't agree I have to apply for a child arrangement order. My questions are, does this all need to be done before I can apply for the divorce or can I apply for this at the same time?
Also should I appoint a solicitor now or can I wait and see how it pans out and if we have to go to court?
Lastly, is it right we'd have to attend mediation before the child arrangement order can be applied for? Can I still apply and it's just not heard at court before mediation or can you not even apply.
Who pays for the mediation and what if he doesn't attend?
Any experiences of mediation for this sort of thing as the thought of it makes me feel ill. He really pushes my buttons.
You don't \"need\" to resolve the child arrangements before beginning divorce proceedings, the two can run in tandem together.
If the sticking point to him agreeing is him potentially losing the child benefit for one child and having to pay CM, why not just keep the financial arrangements as they are?
The current arrangements sound exhausting. Longer periods with both parents would provide your children with routine and stability. You are proposing that the children go from seeing their Dad every other to just 4 days every fortnight - that's quite a heavy reduction in time the children will be spending with Dad. How about considering a couple of days during the week too, rather than just every other weekend?. I appreciate that you want to make sure the children are doing their schoolwork, but surely Dad is also capable of doing this too?
I suggest you write out a parenting plan, setting out your proposals, and give it to Dad for consideration. He needs to have an input into this too. If you are struggling to agree on final arrangements, then mediation would be a good next step. An applicant in a child case is legally required to attend at least an initial mediation session before applying to court (certain exemptions are in place).