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What does joint custody actually mean?

(12 Posts)
deepbluewave Mon 01-Apr-13 19:21:01

Evening all LP's!

Thanks for reading. I know the question seems a little bizaare, but I'm just left wondering what all the legal implications are!!???

Basically, my STBEX & I have been separated a few weeks only. It was my choice, but in the last week he has been banging on about getting a divorce right away. He said as long as we agree on everything, we can do a fast on-line one, I just need to sign. He wants joint custody of our 21 month old DS, 50/50 care, alternate weekends. He is a teacher, so would have him more in the holidays. I'm fine with that, obviously I want my DS to grow around his dad. I think he is rushing the divorce to make a point, but I'm more worried about the future. If he decides to move etc.
so, are there any hidden things behind joint custody. Since we broke up, I've been entitled to Child tax credits. Someone told me that if he has our DS to stay over night, one more night than I do, I could end up paying him. Is this right?
Also, when you get a divorce, does Joint custody have to be stipulated legally or can you just crack on, but without finalising things????

Thanks so much. We didnt own a house & neither is after any assets, so that doesn't need to be this stage!!!! (Watch this space)

Fleecyslippers Mon 01-Apr-13 20:27:05

Firstly, the term 'custody' isn't actually used anymore. The favoured term is contact.
Secondly 50/50 really isn't about splitting your childs time down the middle and shifting them between 2 homes according to a schedule. A 50/50 arrangement is about being coparents, in agreement about your childs home, schooling, etc and it's not about making sure that a parent gets what they see as 'their' fair share of a child. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that living half the time in each parents house isn't always in the best interests of the child.
It sounds as if your Ex is reacting to you splitting. I really wouldn't be rushing into agreeing to or signing anything just yet and I think your worries about the future are justified.
You could try posting on the Legal forum here, or speak to a family law solicitor for some advice. They may suggest mediation as a first step - it seems as if your Ex has now stepped into the driving seat and expects everything to be done as he dictates.

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 01-Apr-13 20:35:25

In answer to your question about does it have to be legally stipulated. You will not be able to get divorced unless you have completed Statement of arrangements for children that you have both signed.

purpleroses Tue 02-Apr-13 14:25:20

What you've been told about child tax credits, etc is correct. You and your ex can work out any kind of co-parenting agreement you like - splitting his time between the two of you as works best for all of you. But the benefits system only recognises a child as having one home. So if your ex is providing the "main" home of your DS - even if that's only one more night a year than you - then he is the one who can claim child tax credit, child benefit, and could also seek child support off you. If you're not working, or earn less than your STBX, then you'd be much better off pushing for slightly more than 50-50 - at least as far as the benefit system is concerned.

You could alternate weekends, you have DS in the week, and let your ex have him for most of the holidays (possibly in small chunks at least whilst he's little) - which would work out probably around 60% with you. You could then if you wanted apply for child support from your ex (and you'd get a reduced amount because of the 40% of the time your ex has DS), or you could instead decided to split all the costs 50-50 (or however you like) and not use the CSA at all. It's not compulsory.

You do need to get things worked out to move on, but don't let him rush you into something you later regret.

And in answer to your question - joint residency doesn't necessarily mean a 50-50 split of time. You could have a joint residency but only spend 2 nights a week with one parent. It just means that you both retain equal parenting rights (apart from only one of you being able to claim child-related benefits). In practice it's more or less the same as single residency with an agreed contact pattern with the non-resident parent. But different rules around taking DS abroad for holidays - if you have single residency you don't need to get permission from the other parent, whereas with joint residency I think you both do.

deepbluewave Tue 02-Apr-13 20:34:49

Thanks so much for these replies. They are really informative & helpful. I will have my DS the majority of the time, he will be with me mid week & every other weekend. I work 4 days a week & earn more than my STBEXH, so i will always have that extra time. I've just spoke to him & he said even though he will have DS school holidays, it will only be in 3 day bursts , in the week, when I'm at work. It's the figures that worry me, but he said its works out about 60 nights a year for him & 256 for me. So I feel better about that. I'm happy he wants joint custody & he is as concerned for our DS. I just worry if it means anything for the future. Ill have my free hour with a soliciter.

Thanks again.

MsColour Tue 02-Apr-13 22:29:29

It sounds like you are able to work out a sensible arrangement between you which is in the best interests of the child and that is really positive if you can do that without mediation or court.

It doesn't really matter whether it is called joint residence or not. My ex took me to court to try and get joint residence, I didn't want him to have joint residence (as it would have negated my position as main carer when I have them most of the time) but I didn't want to push for single residence as I didn't want him to feel I was pushing him out so it was left with no residence order in place which was fine and just the contact was specifed in court.

deepbluewave Wed 03-Apr-13 06:04:57

Really??? So the court didnt set a residency order, but just stipulated joint contact???

deepbluewave Wed 03-Apr-13 06:05:12

Was that hard to fight for?

Dadthelion Wed 03-Apr-13 08:59:28

You know if you're amicable you don't have to use the CSA or go to court?

We never have, and it's been 6 years now, we also never fought for who had the most nights as the children's needs change as they get older and what works for a 5 year old isn't necessarily the same for a 12 year old.

We worked out the costs and split them 50-50, the child benefit is split 50-50 as well. Th childeen have a say in what they want to do about contact.
Takes all the aggro out of it.

wannaBe Wed 03-Apr-13 09:12:51

we haven't gone to court either and have worked things out amicably between us. We have 50/50 where possible but my ds is ten and of more of an age where he gets a say in things iyswim.

If you can work things out amicably there's no need to get the courts or the CSA involved.

MsColour Thu 04-Apr-13 22:27:12

The court didn't rule on it because the issue wasn't put before the magistrates. If he had pushed for it to be called joint residency then they would have had to have made a ruling one way or the other. My point was that it kind of doesn't matter what you call it as long as it works smile The court order was for his contact.

ozzywiz Fri 05-Apr-13 01:41:38

The courts have a no order principle and will not make a residence order in anyones favour unless it is in the best interest on the child/children.

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