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Shared custody? How does it work?

(6 Posts)
YouAreMyRain Thu 05-Feb-15 22:02:18

How does shared custody work? Is it a legal status? Is it set in stone? We divorced and I had custody and exH had access but circumstances have changed and we may be looking at joint custody. This could be temporary and may need reversing. Do we need to do it through the courts or can we do it informally?
What happens with child benefit/tax credits/maintenance etc?

PeruvianFoodLover Fri 06-Feb-15 14:36:25

If you're in the UK, then custody is an outdated term with no legal basis.

Courts can issue Child Arrangement orders which set out the arrangements for care of a child and contact with the other parent, but legally, all those with PR have the same responsibilities towards the DCs.

If parents share care 50:50, then one must still claim Child Benefit, but tax credits can be claimed by the other household if the household claiming CB agrees. Under the latest child maintenance rules, neither parent is liable for CM if care is 50:50, but under the "old" rules, the parent receiving child benefit would still be entitled to receive CM.

If you both agree on the arrangement, then court is neither necessary, or possible, because the courts follow a "no order" principle and will only issue an order if parents are in dispute. It might be worth putting a shared parenting plan in writing though - there are templates on the web, and it helps make sure you've both considered all the possible issues.

YouAreMyRain Sat 07-Feb-15 16:49:42

Thanks Peru, that's really useful information. Please could you direct me to a source that clarifies the child benefit/tax credits thing as I need to make a very important decision based on that. Thank you

PeruvianFoodLover Sat 07-Feb-15 17:56:49

rain it's based on my own experience. I receive CB, and was receiving tax credits for DD.

When I moved in with my (now) DH I was no longer eligible as his income was assessed.

DDs dad called HMRC and asked if he could claim tax credits without the child benefit as he had 50:50 care. They told him to apply. I got a letter, telling me about the application, and stating that if I didn't contest, my case would be closed.

A few years later, circumstances in both households changed, and I reapplied, and the reverse happened.
They seem to work on the principle that the parent in receipt of CB gets "first refusal" on tax credits but if they don't contest an application from the other parent, then it can be transfered.

Give the tax office a ring; they were very helpful smile

YouAreMyRain Sat 07-Feb-15 18:48:27

Hmmmmm...thanks for that. Relations with exH may not be amicable enough for that level of cooperation at the moment.

STIDW Sun 08-Feb-15 14:06:56

Custody was replaced with Parental Responsibility 25 years ago. PR gives both parents equal responsibility and rights to carry out those responsibilities. That means important issues such as where children live, when they have contact, changing a child's name, relocating a child abroad permanently, medical and educational decisions need to be agreed. Parents can act unilaterally on day-to-day matters (what activities children do, who they see, delegating child care etc etc) when children are in their care.

When care is shared it can be in different proportions, it doesn't necessarily have to be shared 50:50. The important thing is the welfare of children and meeting their individual needs. Generally it is deemed to be in the best interests of children to maintain and develop their attachments with both natural parents. Clearly some routines need to change when parents separate, but children need many of the routines to remain the same to feel secure. Therefore if a new status quo is set it can be an uphill struggle changing it back.

As far as finances are concerned a parent in receipt of Child Benefit usually is also eligible for tax credits and child maintenance when care is shared in different proportions from 50:50. When care is shared exactly equally 50:50 neither parent is the non resident parent and the Child Maintenance Service cannot process a claim. If there is more than one child each parent can claim CB and if they are eligible tax credits for one or more children.

However there is no reason why child maintenance cannot be agreed and documented in a consent order which is legally binding and enforceable once ratified by the court. That can be included in the divorce settlement if the finances haven't yet been finalised.

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