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50/50 split of childcare on divorce - is this best for the children? How do you feel about it? How does it work?

(53 Posts)
WavingNotDrowning Thu 02-Mar-17 14:14:56

I've been divorced for 2 years and have had almost sole charge of the children (6 of them aged now, 4-18) since then. ExH has been crap and now sees them once a fortnight. half the children refuse to go so I pretty much have sole charge. I'm working full time.

I've finally cracked, I just can't do it. ExH continually complains that he can't carry on funding me to the extent he does (child maintenance, not spousal - he is pretty good at paying this) and the children continually throw the fact that their father is wonderful and they want to live with him, at me. My job and health are suffering. So I've suggested shared care.

I have suggested 50/50 split - maybe one week on, one week off. I wondered who did this? How does it work? Do you miss the children on your weeks off?

Do the children benefit from this arrangement? I think mine do need to see their father more. They love and miss him. he isn't a crap father (well he is a bit - but he's capable of doing it).

Thanks if you've read this. I'm truly at breaking point at the moment.

ImperialBlether Thu 02-Mar-17 14:24:19

But if half the children refuse to go, are they also saying they want to live with him?

PaterPower Thu 02-Mar-17 14:24:20

So half the kids want to go but half don't? And is that split by age? Would it be 50:50 for all of them or just some?

I only have two, and had mine 50:50 until exW decided she wanted to fuck me around and then put almost 200 miles in between me and them. It was working for me, and the kids, but not for her apparently.

It can work, assuming he's able to do the school runs etc with his job (and assuming he has a big enough house etc). There are different patterns - week on, week off, or 2 nights a week each with alternating Fridays and weekends.

You can't force him to accept (I'd love to have my dc back - 50% or full time but not every parent can or, unfortunately, wants to) so you need to sit down and talk to him about the practicalities and get his agreement on a system that works (for you both).

Finola1step Thu 02-Mar-17 14:28:39

Do you envisage 2 family homes big enough for all the dc? Or one family home where the dc stay all the time and the parents take it in turns to stay for a week?

childmaintenanceserviceinquiry Thu 02-Mar-17 14:30:57

Personally I dont think 50:50 is great particularly for younger children. When they get to an age where they can state what they would like to do - so perhaps early teens - than it can make more sense. But again only if flexibility is there and both parents actively and truthfully welcome flexibility.

I think a lot of 50:50 child arrangements have now come about to avoid maintenance. Not a good reason at all.

Every1lovesPatsy Thu 02-Mar-17 14:31:40

I do this.

It works for us, but maybe our circumstances are a little different. We earn pretty much the same, share childcare fees and neither pays any maintenance to the other. All 50/50.

There are only 2 children, so that makes things a little easier. It works out fine. We call to visit each other on the weeks we don't have the children. I tend to do a bit more, for example I support my x-husband a little more during the week he has the children. I help with the babysitting while he is doing activities with one of them, or I babysit if he is out with work. So I tend to help out a little more when he has the children. On the week I have the children, he tends to pop in for a visit when it suits him. I tend to take time off work for dentists and day time appointments regardless of whose week it is (but thankfully my job is flexible and it doesn't cause too much hassle).

So it's not 100% divided evenly, not 50/50 but it's pretty close and it works pretty well. The children are very close in age and it is a never-ending play date just between the two of them. Our dynamic will of course be different. I think (hope) we are not scarring them in any way. We remain respectful and loving (like a brother and sister).

I have a lot more time to myself now, than I did before....loads more. So if you try this out, you will get an opportunity to recharge your batteries.

DreamingOfADifferentMe Thu 02-Mar-17 14:38:39

When my ex-husband and I split we started doing 50/50 as neither of us could bear to be without our son. It lasted about two months and in that time, my poor little DS didn't know which way was up. One minute he was with me, the next his dad, two sets of rooms, two sets of clothes, and after a while his anxiety hit the roof so I suggested to my exH that we did things differently and it's been that way ever since. He was only four though, and was coming to terms with us not being together, so there was lots for his brain to process.

As you're further down the line, maybe now is the time to talk about shared care - not sure if week on/week off is the best option - it's a long time to go without seeing their mum? Maybe split the week down the middle and alternate weekends?

Could be living with their dad for a few days each week is what's needed to stop you being the evil one who stops them from going out/jumping on the sofa/eating Nutella out of the jar with their fingers... he can do the disciplining too - unless you think he won't?

Hope it works out OP, you sound exhausted and I'm not surprised. If they all do go to their dads for a day/week make sure you take some time out to look after you.

WavingNotDrowning Thu 02-Mar-17 14:40:34

The older children refuse to go at weekends because he doesn't live locally and they want to stay near their friends. They're the ones that say they want to live with him half the time though. if he pays me 50% less maintenance he'll be able to rent a flat - probably in a crap area that's big enough for them all to stay (in shared rooms).

I'll probably have to sell up too and get a similarly sized flat. Currently I got the family house (subject to a huge mortgage) (still most of the children share bedrooms!).

The older children would be happy doing shared residency provided he isn't too far from their schools. I worry most about my 4 yo who just wants to be with me all the time (and tbh it's her I'd miss the most - she's my baby!).

WavingNotDrowning Thu 02-Mar-17 14:43:23

So on his part, he wants (or says he needs) to reduce maintenance. He refused to disclose his income to the court though.

On my part I am just too exhausted. i actually just had a 2 week holiday on my own (my mother had the children for one week) before this I was on the verge of just breaking down. It's taken me 4 days back and I'm already cracking. 6 children and a full time job (which is really full on) is just too much for me.

I think the children would benefit from not having me all the time -I'm vile to them.

Could do mid week and alternate weekends - hadn't thought about this.

I worry most about my 4 year old.

WavingNotDrowning Thu 02-Mar-17 14:45:33

finola he's suggested that arrangement before, but I just don't want to do it. I read that's confusing for the children, but also, for me, I need my own home. I just won't get that if I have to move out every other week to live in a crappy bedsit. (and in fact I'll end up cleaning 2 places).

Kr1stina Thu 02-Mar-17 14:49:24

I'd be drowning and not waving if I worked FT and had sole care of 6 kids. I have 6 too but they're very spread out in age and I only have three at home. And I only work PT.

So I'm not suprised you are stressed out. Are your teenagers pulling their weight BTW or being arsey?

Sorry I have no useful ideas on the 50:50 thing but just wanted to offer sympathy and flowers

WavingNotDrowning Thu 02-Mar-17 15:03:02

My teenagers are completely arsey. Completely.

lazy, entitled, fuckers.

(actually my eldest son being lovely, but he's dyspraxic and has aspergers so any help he provides is slightly limited!).

my 2 teen girls being particularly horrible. I know they're just being teenagers, but, yes, I'm drowning.

DreamingOfADifferentMe Thu 02-Mar-17 15:07:44

Waving, you poor exhausted thing, you sound at breaking point. Is there any way he can have them for a few days to give you a breather, even if it's just a long weekend?

I work full time in a full-on job, have three kids and a hugely hands-on husband and I'm still beyond exhausted so I'm not surprised you're finding it too much.

Can the teens step up and do more, preferably without moaning how they'd rather live with Dad? Do they see how tough you're finding things?

Can you rope in your ex and your mum so that they each give you some space and time to just breathe on your own without constant demands from work, children, the house and so on?

It sounds like you need some head space before you make a big decision. Sending you a restorative cup of tea, sounds like you need it.

mrssapphirebright Thu 02-Mar-17 15:19:20

Me and exh do 50/50 split. I have them Saturday night through to Wednesday morning and he has them from after school Wednesday through to Saturday tea time. My exh is semi retired so only works 2 days a week. I work full time. No maintenance paid as exh has them more of the school holidays usually as I only get 7 weeks off a year.

It works well for us as we are amicable, both have a large enough house for the dc (age 13 and 16) and live 5 mins walk from each other (there is lots of forgetting bits and leaving stuff at each others houses).

I do find that on my child free days it is still difficult to switch off and get any me time as usually its me who does the majority of the planning and sorting for the dc. My ex is very hands on and a great dad, but tends to leave all the planning and organising to me.

I've been divorced for over 4 years now and still miss my dc when they aren't with me. Having a night or two to myself a week is probably enough really, but it works and the dc are happy.

i do have nice lazy saturday mornings though smile

WavingNotDrowning Thu 02-Mar-17 15:23:46

oh thank you everyone. I feel like crying!

My ex is horrible to me most of the time (even though he's the one that left). I can't have him in the house really without him calling me a cunt.

My mum was lovely to help me out, but she lives 50 miles away and can't do it very often. I'm also not too good at letting people know that I'm struggling. And as for the children, they promised that they'd do more, but they just don't. I've concluded that 50:50 care is the only way forward, even if it means I have to sell the house.

WannaBe Thu 02-Mar-17 15:36:35

To be honest I wouldn't change the arrangements based on what your teens say they want, given the change is so huge and will involve house moves etc. What happens if six months down the line the older two decide that actually they don't like living with dad half the time after all and you've given up the maintenance, sold the family home and your ex has relocated? IME teens are too changeable to be the deciders of such arrangements, and too old to be able to be forced into any arrangement if they decide they don't want to stick to it.

We started out with 50/50, two nights during the week and eOW. But for about the past eighteen months DS has spent much more time here and much less time at his dad's, maybe four or five nights during the week every month and he hasn't spent a weekend there for almost a year - he's fourteen, and we live a ten minute walk away from each other.

As teens grow they tend to want one base rather than necessarily going between houses. Given yours already don't want to go to their dad's I wouldn't be looking to make such drastic arrangements. I would be telling them first that they need to start going to their dad's eOW as their siblings do, as a proof of their commitment to this, given such drastic changes, and money will be involved.

cooliebrown Thu 02-Mar-17 15:41:29

we did 4 days on 4 days off, which fitted in with work shifts. It meant fair shares of weekends and worked well for us

WavingNotDrowning Thu 02-Mar-17 16:01:05

no, I'm not basing this on the teens. They're saying this to hurt me I know that. However, their dad is saying he needs to reduce the payments he makes to me. (Whether he does or not I don't know because he refuses to disclose his income to me).

And I know that I need a break. I think they'll all benefit from being with him (they do love him), I think they'll benefit from having a more relaxed mother too.

And tbh I also want exH to take on his fair share of parenting - he does NONE at the moment. I want to be able to date, see friends and sometimes just lie in bed reading a book. In the meantime, my ex has a girlfriend, swans around travelling, eating out, and criticising my parenting while all the time sniping about money (he simply paid me less this month for no reason).

StiffenedPleat Thu 02-Mar-17 16:10:03

Is your ex willing to do 50:50 parenting? It doesn't sound as though he is.

Every1lovesPatsy Thu 02-Mar-17 16:10:54

Another option: Dad collects all kids Friday from school and returns to school/nursery on Monday morning (split 3 nights with Dad and 4 with mum).

It might work for the older ones and maybe another solution for the youngest child, until he/she is able to cope away from mum.

I'm sorry your ex is an abusive twat.

Every1lovesPatsy Thu 02-Mar-17 16:11:43

I know the teenagers want to be near friends, but they can't have it every way.

Every1lovesPatsy Thu 02-Mar-17 16:13:18

And you are 100% right: All of your children will benefit if you are more contented and rested and feel you are not being taken advantage of.

WavingNotDrowning Thu 02-Mar-17 16:15:54

my ex is motivated purely by paying less money. He says he misses them, but I can't imagine how he would fit them in his life.

I think I need to sit down with the teens and try to have a rational conversation with them.

In any case if exh reduces my maintenance I won't be able to afford to stay in the house anyway so I won't have any choice.

c3pu Thu 02-Mar-17 18:35:18

I have 50/50 shared care with my kids mum when she's not going batshit crazy for some nasty bloke and generally it works quite well.

We do week on, week off with an overnight midweek so we don't go too long without seeing the kids.

Kr1stina Thu 02-Mar-17 18:56:59

So can I just check that I'm understanding correctly?

Stroppy lazy teens fancy living with Disney dad half the time. He doesn't have to do any real parenting so can be Mr Fun and Mr Cool, unlike boring old mum who makes them do homework and pick up their clothes.

However, they don't want to go at weekends because they want to see their friends. And they can't go midweek because presumably they are at school /college . So when exactly ar they going to live with him ?

Lazy arse of a father believes that supporting his kids is too expensive, so he can have the older ones to live with him and it will be dead easy. ( Not the younger ones who will require childcare of course).

These teens are the only ones in the county who will be cheap to run. They won't eat much and will have cheap hobbies and require no pocket money . They will also create no extra housework and do their own washing.

So he can half the child suport he pays for them and it will be no hassle for him.

Is that right ?

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