Shared Parenting & Where Children Live
Who will the children live with?
One of the many decisions to arise because of a divorce or separation is who will live where. This can be even more complex when children are involved. Therefore, it is important to agree on the living arrangements of everyone involved at the earliest opportunity.
Home should be somewhere that children feel secure and settled. The mixture of emotions stemming from their parents’ relationship breakdown can mean they feel the complete opposite. Therefore, deciding on living arrangements should be carefully considered with particular attention paid towards the children’s needs.
There are many ways to reach an agreement on living arrangements and what is right for one family may not be right for another.
How to decide where the children live after divorce?
The decision might be made that the children live with one parent for most of the time and have contact with the other parent on certain days that are agreed by both parties. Depending upon the circumstances of the agreement, this can involve overnight stays, holidays and the division of visits at special occasions such as birthdays, Easter and Christmas. Shared parenting is another option.
Other factors that might influence the living arrangements include the location of both parents in relation to one another, the distances from school and available space in either home.
As with other arrangements, many couples will be able to decide on the living arrangements of their children by talking them through together. For those who are unable to do that there are other ways issues can be resolved. Talking to friends, family and various support organisations can be one option as can the formal process of family mediation. If all else fails, Court intervention is possible, although this should be considered very much as a last resort.
What is shared Parenting?
Sometimes arrangements for children can result in what is known as shared parenting. This does not necessarily mean that the time spent with both parents is split equally but does mean time is spent living with both parents. An arrangement for the care of the children to be shared between both parents may not be suitable in all cases but there are instances when it is.
What are the benefits or shared parenting?
This is generally the case when the children have a strong attachment to both parents and it is feasible. For shared parenting to be feasible ideally the parents need to live near one another and to the child’s school. There needs to be a degree of cooperation between the parents for a smooth transition between the two homes on a regular basis. Shared parenting may give the children a greater sense of belonging and has the benefit of them feeling like they have two homes rather than just one and another that they visit.
Arrangements for babies and small children will differ from children of school age and teenagers. The dynamics between parents and their children can change, in some cases dramatically, and this factor should be considered.
Do UK courts always favour the mother?
Contrary to popular belief, there is no inbuilt bias in the law towards mothers or fathers. It is true that traditionally more children than not tend to live with their mothers after a separation, but this is more a reflection of the traditional arrangements that have existed in the past, than of legal bias. If a child has been cared for primarily by one parent rather than the other it is much more likely that the care will continue to be provided by that parent.
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Emma Piff, Family Solicitor, Lawson-West Solicitors
As well as qualifying as a solicitor in 2005, talented family law expert Emma is a qualified family mediator, trained Collaborative Lawyer and a Resolution-accredited specialist in domestic abuse and complex financial remedies; she is also a Law Society Family Law Panel member.
“The best interests of the children always come first”, Emma says, "I like to guide people through a family dispute and help them move on with their lives afterwards.”
With offices in Leicester, Market Harborough and Wigston you can arrange an initial meeting and find out how we can help you reach an agreement about the child care arrangements for your children.
The first phone call is likely to be the hardest to make but our Family Law Team know and understand what you are going through. We will work with you throughout your case as much as is required, independently, sensitively, discretely and compassionately.
Call 0116 212 1000 for our Leicester Office, 01858 445 480 for our Market Harborough Office or 0116 212 1080 for our Wigston Office. Whichever office you call, someone will be available to assist you.