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Joint parental custody: Ex is saying he wants joint responsibility

(38 Posts)
ratflavouredjelly Thu 30-Aug-12 00:04:12

Hi there
I am at the beginnings of process of filing for divorce. We have DS (5) and DD (3). OH is asking for 50% of the equity once we sell out house. I am under the understanding that it starts 50/50 if no children involved and the majority goes to the main carer.

He is trying to get more equity by
1: Asking for joint custody/joint parental responsibility.
2: Stating he wants the children to stay with him 2 nights every week and every other weekend. Wanting to have them every other birthday and every other xmas.

I can't agree to this and feel 2 nights every week is too unsettling for the kids and I don't want them away from me that long. Can anyone advise on my rights? I thought being their mum I should be the main carer. He is currently unemployed (divorcing over his financial mismanagement) and I have been supporting everybody, I am employed 3 days a week.

Very upset that I feel like he is trying to take my beautiful little ones away from me for too much of the time.

OP’s posts: |
BlackberryIce Thu 30-Aug-12 00:07:46

What he is requesting is reasonable. I doubt he wants to spend so long away from them either. Every other weekend and one day/ overnight midweek is the norm.... It's what is usually agreed. So he is requesting an extra night a week

Alternate Xmas, birthday is normal, as is half of holidays.

solidgoldbrass Thu 30-Aug-12 00:10:46

Get a good solicitor - it might be worth asking Women's Aid or Rights of Women for a recommendation. It sounds a little like your XH is after more contact as a way of paying less maintenance or even as a way of demanding maintenance from you. You mention 'financial mismanagement' - does he have a gambling problem?

ratflavouredjelly Thu 30-Aug-12 00:13:52

'Blackberry' I've told him I agree to one overnight midweek but not two nights. If we cant agree through mediation I will have to go to court which we're trying to avoid.

Really? Every other birthday/xmas is normal? Even at such a young age? I find that gutting as their mum.

OP’s posts: |
Wowserz129 Thu 30-Aug-12 00:14:30

What he is requesting is reasonable.

This isn't about you. It's about your children and there right to be equally involved with there dad.

Wowserz129 Thu 30-Aug-12 00:16:27

Every other Christmas and birthday is normal! I can assure you what he is requesting is common.

maytheoddsbeeverinyourfavour Thu 30-Aug-12 00:20:10

It sounds reasonable to me (as long as there are no other issues of course)

Did your ex look after the children while you worked? Could he be seen as the main care giver?

ratflavouredjelly Thu 30-Aug-12 00:22:25

He doesn't have a gambling habit but has racked up large debts. Even his last mobile bill was £500!!!! How he managed that is beyond me. Head in the clouds most of the time... He hasn't paid council tax, housekeeping 1/2 car loan, utilities, food, anything towards costs of kids for months and I've got into debt as a result. He doesn't even have a job at the moment. I've pointed out that he should be looking for a full time job but I think he's planning to use equity to live off for meantime. I also feel he should be living somewhere suitable for the kids. I am very suspicious that he is trying to up contact to pay less maintenance. I told him I would like 65/35% equity on the house as I expect the children to live with me mainly being so little etc...

He refuses to leave the house and I have to live in the house with him (although separately) until the house is sold. I obviously am putting a face on for the kids as I know how destructive parents arguing in front of the kids can be (from experience).

Problem is 'Solidgoldbrass' I'm not eligible for legal aid and can't afford to spend £1000's on a solicitor. Maybe I should have a couple of meetings with one?

OP’s posts: |
BlackberryIce Thu 30-Aug-12 00:30:43

You can get s free half hour with some solicitors

The maintenance thing..... If unemployed he only has to pay £5 a week. I get that to share between 4 dc as my ex is unemployed

ratflavouredjelly Thu 30-Aug-12 00:31:17

Hmmm ok - it seems that every other xmas/birthday is normal. Thankyou for making that clear to me everyone. Yes, I'm aware that the kids need their dad and it's about their best interests etc...but I know there is a financial agenda behind this. He has a solicitor advising him for free (as a favour to his sister who is a secretary at a law firm) and I know he's trying to get more equity/be seen as more of a carer etc.

No, 'maytheodds' he couldn't be seen as a main carer. But I wouldn't put it past him to try it on. If I wasn't working we would have nothing. Although he has been hands on and will stick by the kids which is good. Sorry, just angry.

OP’s posts: |
BlackberryIce Thu 30-Aug-12 00:31:21

So he is the main carer now or not?

BlackberryIce Thu 30-Aug-12 00:32:25

X posts there. What are you angry about?

maytheoddsbeeverinyourfavour Thu 30-Aug-12 00:41:34

It must be difficult, and I wasn't trying to imply you shouldn't have been working!

I just think it helps to know what might be coming and if he was at home with the dc while you worked he could be seen as the main carer

ratflavouredjelly Thu 30-Aug-12 01:28:34

'Blackberry' Crikey - £5 for 4 children, eeek!! I'm the main carer. (Work in education, so look after them both all week through summer holidays). However, previously Ex has looked after DD 1 day a week. He's always worked (or pretended to work at his computer) Saturdays too, so I always had the chicks on a saturday as mai carer too.

Oh just angry about the whole thing. Arguments, etc...horrid. Angry about the fact he's driven our family to the brink with his crap financial mismanagement, and I guess angry that he could never get it together to support us, angry that I no longer respect him or am in love with him and have to still spend time living in same house for now.

'maytheodds' - yes, good point. I did see a solicitor for 30 mins and he said the majority of the time very small children will reside with their mum.

OP’s posts: |
Wowserz129 Thu 30-Aug-12 09:51:19

I know it's hard to put aside personal feelings in these situations.

Just because he is a shit with money doesn't mean he shouldn't have his children 2 nights a week though.

It is really important in my opinion that children still have there dad around as much as possible!

You can tell him to fuck off though if he messes around with arrangements with children though.

Collaborate Thu 30-Aug-12 10:21:36

There's no rule that the main carer of a child gets more of the capital split. It's a complicated picture, taking into account the factors listed in s.25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and the 39 years worth of case law developed since then.

I presume that you're on tax credits. If you haven't done so, claim as a single parent now.

wannaBe Thu 30-Aug-12 10:31:22

you have a child together, you parent a child together, IMO.

you say you don't want them to be away from you that much, but equally he may not want them to be away from him either. You are equal parents to these children, the fact you are their mother does not give you more of a part in their lives, sorry.

Any solicitor is working in the best interests of their client - his will advise him to do whatever he can to pay less maintanence, and that might not be so much of a financial ploy on the part of the solicitor - it is simply the case that if he can't afford it, then having a 50/50 parenting arrangement means that he gets more of the children and this will leave him in a financially better position. Equally your solicitor (when you get one) will advise you to go for everything that you can get - including in some cases, a mesher order which means you and the children could stay in the house until they are eighteen (worst case scenario for him).

IMO you would be ill advised to go to court to prevent him having more access - courts take a very dim view of parents who try to block access.

MammyToMany Thu 30-Aug-12 10:40:32

I know it's hard but I think the access he is asking for is more than reasonable - he should have them 50% of the time. My Dc were 4 and 2 when my exH and I split up and it was awful at first being away from them but he is just as much a parent as I am and I had no right to stop him bringing up his children.

We alternate Christmas - the first one I had without my dc I stayed in bed all day on my own and cried! If ex has them on Christmas day then we do out Christmas either Christmas Eve or Boxing day.

olgaga Thu 30-Aug-12 11:18:27

Stick to your guns, you don't have to make any decisions or agree anything right now. This is a lengthy process. The children and their needs come first. It's their right to have a meaningful relationship with the non-resident parent but that is perfectly possible to achieve on alternate weekends. It certainly does not mean taking them away from their main carer or splitting their time between you equally as though they were possessions. What's right for them takes priority.

Now start reading!

Relationship Breakdown and Divorce – Advice and Links


Read everything you can get your hands on. Get familiar with the language of family law and procedure and try to get an understanding of your rights BEFORE you see a solicitor. Get word of mouth recommendations for family lawyers in your area if possible. If you have children at school, ask mums you are friendly with if they know of anyone who can make a recommendation in your area. These days there are few people who don’t know of anyone who has been through a divorce or separation – there’s a lot of knowledge and support out there!

If there are children involved, their interests will always come first. It is the children’s right to maintain a meaningful relationship with the non-resident parent (NRP) – not the other way around. Children are not possessions to be “fairly” divided between separating parents. Parents have no rights, only responsibilities. A divorce will not be granted where children are involved unless there are agreed arrangements for finance, and care of the children (“Statement of Arrangements for Children”). It is obviously quicker and cheaper if this can be agreed but if there is no agreement, the Court will make an Order (“Residence and Contact” regarding children, “Financial Order” or “Ancillary Relief” in the case of Finance)

Many family lawyers will offer the first half hour consultation free. Make use of this. Don’t just stick with the first lawyer you find – shop around and find someone you feel comfortable with. You may be in for a long haul, so it helps if you can find a solicitor you’re happy with.

If you can’t find any local recommendations, always see a solicitor who specialises in Family Law. You can search by area here:

You can also find family law solicitors here:

Check your eligibility for Legal Aid here:

Some family law solicitors publish online feedback from clients – Google solicitors to see if any recommendations or feedback exists.


You will be encouraged to attend mediation. If there has been violence or emotional abuse, discuss this with your solicitor first. Always get legal advice, or at the very least make sure you are aware of your legal rights, before you begin mediation.

Married or Living Together?

This is a key question. If you are married, generally speaking you have greater protection when a relationship breaks down.

Legal Issues around marriage/cohabitation and relationship breakdown are explained here:

DirectGov advice on divorce, separation and relationship breakdown:

Legal Rights are further explained here:

I found these guides from law firms quite informative and easy to read – there are others of course:


Before you see a family law solicitor, get hold of every single piece of financial information you can, and take copies. Wage slips, P60s, tax returns, employment contracts, pensions and other statements – savings, current account and mortgages, deeds, rental leases, utility bills, council tax bills, credit statements. Are there joint assets such as a home, pensions, savings, shares?

Handy tax credits calculator:

Handy 5 Minute benefit check, tax and housing benefit calculators:

Child Maintenance Calculator:

Further advice and support
(Re Shelter, if you are not in England follow the link at the top)

ratflavouredjelly Fri 31-Aug-12 00:26:09

Thanks for further advice. Yes, after thinking things through calmly, I realise it is important for my ex to have equal rights - his children too and they love him etc Wowserz12

Yep , put in a new claim for tax credits. I have been offered a new job today funnily enough, great opportunity but it would mean working more hours. I will need to make up the maintenance shortcomings from OH who has bad depbts and no income at the mo.

Mesher Order - interesting, I've heard about those wannaBe BUT I think I'd rather get out of the situation without us turning sour. I think we'll sell the house and give my husband a chance to get some equity so he can offer the children somewhere I'm comfortable with them going. If we stayed in the house, I imagine he'd be in a right state (as he couldn't release any equity) and am thinking of the kids wellbeing. I'd rather move on, am more solvent than him and can provide and offer a life for the kids (just!!), so will put house up for sale, split proceeds however it's agreed and rent somewhere.

MammyToMany god, sounds just horrendous, I'm dreading a christmas without my babes. Does it ever get easier??

olgaga thanks for your post. V helpful and gives a further insight into the world of divorce I really wanted to avoid.

God it's awful. Wish I'd never got married...Just hope hope hope our little ones are ok. sad

However, they deserve to witness a loving relationship - not grow up in a cold house with no love between the parents.

OP’s posts: |
Threelittlemonkeys Fri 31-Aug-12 11:20:10

For Christmas you could do it so one of you has Xmas Eve and half of Xmas day and the other has them the other half of Xmas day and boxing day. My DP and his Ex "swapped" the kids (also very young) at 4pm Xmas day last year. Wasn't great for anyone but makes the best out of a hard situation.

MammyToMany Fri 31-Aug-12 13:02:58

It honestly does get easier, it helped when I had a boyfriend to be honest as I had somewhere to go and someone to spend the day with but I an single again now so will be by myself this year (apart from my 14 month old) Christmas is just a date in a calendar though, you can celebrate the day before or after like we do and still have a lovely time. The dc get letters from Father Christmas to both houses and have always felt special.

NarkedRaspberry Fri 31-Aug-12 13:18:51

The ideal for DC is to see both parents for Christmas/birthdays, and if you live close enough there's no reason you couldn't both see them on the day.

CouthyMowWearingOrange Sun 02-Sep-12 09:18:44

With DS1 we have half of each birthday every year, changeover at 1pm, one year with me in the morning, one year with his dad. We figured that each birthday is a unique birthday, so we both wanted to see him then.

Other 'special' days in the year, we alternate. Christmas is done so that one year he wakes up here, and goes to his dad's at 10am Boxing Day, the next he stays there till 10am Boxing Day.

We alternate Easter and Halloween, and first day of the new school year, and wangle contact around these things.

We try to make sure that he is here for his siblings in this houses' birthday, and there for his siblings in that houses' birthday.

We also try to make sure that he spends Mothers day with me, and Fathers day with his dad.

I made sure that as we couldn't come to a full agreement, that ALL of this was included in the Court Order.

The first Christmas he spent there was horrendous. I spent half of it in the bathroom crying, and the other half plastering a smile on my face for my other DC's. He was 3yo when he first spent Christmas Day away from me.

This Christmas I have all 4 of my DC's. Next year, for the very first time, I won't have ANY of them, as DD now sees her father, and it has been arranger for her to spend next Christmas there for the first time. I can't say no, as she has never spent Christmas with them, but it means that I won't see her until the 27th at the earliest as she has to fly there and back.

And DS2 & DS3 will be spending Christmas with THEIR dad at his for the first time, rather than him coming to mine.

And it's DS1's turn with HIS dad.

I'm burying my head in the sand about how miserable I will be with NONE of my DC's and no partner on Christmas day next year...

STIDW Sun 02-Sep-12 13:48:36

I think it's best to deal with the finances and child arrangements separately. You don't want to get bogged down with arguments that someone wants more contact for financial reasons because it can work both ways and you reach impasse. In any case arrangements for children and finances are treated differently under different pieces of legislation.

Both parents have Parental Responsibility so you have equal responsibility and rights to carry out those responsibilities. That means arrangements for children need to agreed, or if no agreement can be reached the matter is resolved through the courts.

The most important thing about arrangements for children is that they are practical. There is no point in demanding to have the children midweek if a parent regularly doesn't get home from the office until 7:30pm or if it means children are in child care when the other parent is available to care for them. Different arrangements suit different families, but sharing the quality times at weekends and during the school holidays with perhaps one or two night midweek is a fairly common arrangement.

If you think you will find it hard being away from the children at Christmas and birthdays it is actually possible to share them if you can remain civil. I've been separated for 13 years and although our children are now adults and my ex has a new partner we still share Christmases, graduations, birthdays etc. HOw you separate and divorce sets the tone for future family relationships.

By all means see a solicitor early on to find out where you stand and what options there are. Many solicitors will offer a free first half hour so you can find out a bit about the general process and see if you want to engage that particular solicitor but for specific advice you will need to pay. If you can then go away to negotiate and reach agreement between you or with the help of a mediator it will be cheaper, quicker and does less damage to long term family arrangements.

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