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To wonder how it is decided who is the main carer of a child?

(27 Posts)
TheDetective Sun 12-Feb-12 11:43:05

If a childs parents separate, residence normally goes to the main carer - right?

But how is that decided in this day and age of equal parenting? Is is the parent who stays at home? The parent who works less hours? The parent who gets up with the child in the night?

How? Who can decide this?

What if the parents work the same number of hours, and share parenting completely? Do they get shared residence?

I just don't see how it works. AIBU?

Kayano Sun 12-Feb-12 11:44:08

Well on here a lot of people say it should be the mother... Which annoys me no end angry

NotaDisneyMum Sun 12-Feb-12 11:45:21

No you are NBU - welcome to my world sad

WorraLiberty Sun 12-Feb-12 11:46:49

I have no idea OP but I agree with Kayano

If that's any help grin

Kayano Sun 12-Feb-12 11:47:13


randommoment Sun 12-Feb-12 11:47:17

Is there a back-story here?

TheParanoidAndroid Sun 12-Feb-12 11:48:20

Whichever one loses the coin toss?

fuzzywuzzy Sun 12-Feb-12 11:48:50

It's the parent that does the bulk of the childcare. If the parents both work equal amount of timne and spend equal time in rearing their child then it's shared residency.

niceguy2 Sun 12-Feb-12 11:50:34

The main carer is the one who does as the name suggests, the bulk of the caring.

Most of the time this is pretty obvious since much of the time one parent will work full time to earn the lions wage and the other will work part time/SAHM.

In the event a couple seperate then the authorities will also look at things like who's name is child benefit in, which house is the child registered with at school, who is paying whom maintenance.

That I think should sort out virtually all cases. I guess in theory there could still be instances where it's not easy to judge. In which case that's what courts are there for I guess.

Convention dictates 99/100 this is the mother. It doesn't always have to be though. Many will argue the law is biased towards the mother. I'm not sure that's true to be honest although I can see why many feel that way.

fedupofnamechanging Sun 12-Feb-12 11:50:46

I think the courts would decide on a case by case basis, if the parents couldn't come to an agreement between themselves. I think shared residence could work, if they live close enough to each other, so the child could attend school, no matter whose week it was to have the child.

TheDetective Sun 12-Feb-12 11:56:05

No back story, just reading about various benefit changes, got me thinking about things.

Only relevance to me is that I am TTC with DP, and I have one child from previous relationship. My DP would be the one dropping his hours at work so save on childcare as I earn a lot more than him. However due to shift work I'd still be the main carer, I think! Although I don't want to think to deeply about it! Anyway, we'd be a complicated case :D Not that it will come to that!

Ooooh, the more I think about it the more complex it would be. I work FT, DP 19 hours, one child of 9 who is mine, and one potential baby. House is owned/mortgaged by me, my DP moved in with me and DS. So say my Dp was classed as the main carer, in the case of a separation, would they take the house off me and my DS, and throw me and him on the street in favour of DP and potential baby. I doubt it! I'd like to think not anyway! Not unless they then classed DP as DS's main carer too... oh hell, I'm not thinking about any of this!!

Kayano Sun 12-Feb-12 12:01:15

..... If you are intending to stay together it's a very odd thing to be thinking/ worrying about...

TheDetective Sun 12-Feb-12 12:05:06

I wasn't! Until I read some crap early about changes to the CSA etc, sometimes the mind wanders!

fedupofnamechanging Sun 12-Feb-12 12:05:13

I think it wouldn't hurt you to get some professional advice as to where you would stand. I think if he was the main carer, you would have to pay him child support - don't think the house could be taken from you, esp as you already have a child, for which your dp has no legal responsibility.

Wouldn't hurt to find out properly though.

TheDetective Sun 12-Feb-12 12:05:27

earlier not early

CailinDana Sun 12-Feb-12 12:05:58

If you're not married your DP has no claim whatsoever to the house. So even if he was the main carer you would keep the house. If you're genuinely worried then why not look into it? To be honest I think it's foolish for any couple to decide to have children without being married, especially if one partner is cutting down work and is in a financially vulnerable position.

Gay40 Sun 12-Feb-12 12:06:24

I disagree, I think it's sensible and practical to think about these things and at least have some plans in place IF it all goes tits up.
Statistically, for most people, happy ever after only lasts a decade.
How many times do we read on here about the shit that kicks off because no one gave this any thought?

HoneyandHaycorns Sun 12-Feb-12 12:12:27

I work more hours than DP and I am the main breadwinner. However, I would also say that I was the main carer, and I think DP would agree.

I have always been the one who gets up with her in the night if she is upset or unwell. I'm the one who gets her up & ready for school in the mornings. I'm the one who keeps track of all her activities, parties, homework etc. I'm the one who listens to her read, & fills in all the forms for school etc. I'm the one who takes her to the doctor when she is unwell. I'm the one who talks to her teacher if there is a problem in school. I'm the one who cooks her dinner every night. And I'm the one she wants the most when she is hurt or upset.

I have no idea if a court would take all these things into account if DH and I were fighting over custody, or if they would be more swayed by the fact that I work longer hours and am the main earner for the family. confused Luckily, DH and I have no intention of going our separate ways, so it's a purely hypothetical question. smile

EdithWeston Sun 12-Feb-12 12:16:40

On a more frivoulous note, to me the main carer is the one who remembers to arrange the DC's dental appointments.

HoneyandHaycorns Sun 12-Feb-12 12:20:07

Ah blush on that logic, Edith my DH would be the main carer then. I am phobic about dentists, so he has to take care of that side of things.

niceguy2 Sun 12-Feb-12 12:26:19


Firstly your DP would never be classed as the main carer of DS unless he somehow was given parental responsibility or he adopted DS (in which case he'd get PR).

For your potential baby then that could be an issue given he would in theory be the main carer. However, the fact that courts rarely split siblings would mean you would more than likely be given the main carer status regardless.

The best thing to do though is talk it through with your DP whilst things are good. You can't have it both ways. Ie. Have DP be the main carer but if things go wrong expect to suddenly get it back. It's a reality most men have to face and we are told to just suck it up.

StiffyByng Sun 12-Feb-12 12:27:18

If you get to the stage of court proceedings then it should frankly be a far more in depth examination of the situation than looking at working hours etc. My husband was awarded residency even though he worked full time and his ex stayed at home, but it took a year of Cafcass, court hearings and reports from schools, social workers etc.

Nice Guy is way off beam to talk in vague terms about 'the authorities' making decisions outside a courtroom. Family life is seen as private. The only authorities who would take an interest are benefits agencies of various sorts. If you and your partner are in dispute, it's up to you to work this out, or go down the mediation/legal route.

OnlyANinja Sun 12-Feb-12 12:59:28

You might find more useful advice or stories from people who have been in this situation if you posted on the Legal board.

TheDetective Sun 12-Feb-12 13:00:56

Its ok, I wasn't after advice, just more of a WTF moment!

NotaDisneyMum Sun 12-Feb-12 13:16:32

Yup - WTF just about sums it up!

Imagine a scenario where both parents consider themselves the primary carer....but communication is non-existent; and schools, GPs, even the Royal Mail are being given conflicting information about the Childs address; that's my life!

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