Home > Child Support & Family > Shared Care of a Child

Shared Care of a Child

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 9 Nov 2016 |
 
Csa Shared Care Non-resident Parent

Although it is often the case that child support cases refer to the parent ‘with care’, or the ‘non-resident parent’, there are in practical terms many other domestic arrangements that do not fall into these two definitions. One such situation is ‘shared care’, in which more than one person looks after a child or children, but those people live in separate homes.

Who Can Share Care?

For the purposes of child support laws, ‘shared care’ does not include people who live under the same roof and share the care of a child. However, the following people are classed as having shared care: a person with care who is treated as though they are a non-resident parent (child in his/her care for at least 104 nights a year) – this could be a grandparent; a non-resident parent who looks after the child for at least 52 nights each year; or a child who is sometimes in the care of the local authority.

The CSA’s Decision

The CSA will, in deciding cases in which there is an issue of shared care, consider all the circumstances of the arrangements. The evidence to support a shared care application should be provided in writing but may be given orally if both the parents consent.

Who Receives Maintenance Payments?

There may be a question in shared care circumstances as to who should receive maintenance payments. If two people share responsibility for a child on a day-to-day basis, either one of them may apply to the CSA, on the condition that either both of them has parental responsibility or neither of them have parental responsibility. If one person does and the other person does not, it will be the person with parental responsibility who is entitled to apply for child maintenance.

If parents share care, the one who has the majority of the care will be the one who is entitled to child maintenance. If the shared care is entirely equal, it is the person who is in receipt of child benefits who can apply to the CSA. If both parents make competing applications for child benefit, the person who applied first will take priority.

Calculating the Rate Reduction

As we have already seen, a non-resident parent who looks after a child for at least 52 nights per year qualifies to have ‘shared care’ of the child. Although there are a number of variations and some exceptions, the following information reflects the general effect of shared care on CSA maintenance calculations.

If a non-resident parent has care of a child for between 52 – 103 nights per year, maintenance payments will be reduced by 1/7. For 104 – 155 nights, this fraction increases to 2/7. For 156 -174 nights, there will be a reduction of 3/7 and if the child spends 175 nights or more with the non-resident parent, maintenance payments will be reduced by ½.

The overnight care does not need to stretch to a 24 hour period, but must be overnight. If a child is in boarding school, with a babysitter, staying with a friend or is in hospital, the person who would otherwise have had care of the child during that period is considered to be the person with care.

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Carolina - Your Question:
Hi, my partner is still living under the same roof as his ex-wife and children whilst he completes a court application for the ex-marital home to be sold. He mostly cares for his children overnight whilst she stays out drinking. The CSA have assessed him for child maintenance on the grounds that she has full-time care of the children, the reason that the CSA have given is that she receives the child benefit and is claiming she is the full-time carer. He has been presented with a huge bill totalling over £5,000. How can this be justified??? Please offer advice on how can they base their calculation with him living in the house and basing the decision purely on child benefit. How can he prove he is the primary carer? Thank you very much indeed.

Our Response:
This is a touch confusing. As a rule, payments are made by the 'non-resident' parent to the primary carer and is not only calculated by the NRP's earnings, but also by the amount of nights the NRP has the children overnight. This, of course, wouldn't apply if he is resident under the same roof, as effectively he is still a 'resident' parent. If he thinks the calculations are unfair, he would have to complain or appeal, please see gov.uk link here. He may also wish to seek some independent professional advice. There are organisations such as NACSA that can help, but will charge.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Nov-16 @ 10:53 AM
Hi, my partner is still living under the same roof as his ex-wife and children whilst he completes a court application for the ex-marital home to be sold. He mostly cares for his children overnight whilst she stays out drinking. The CSA have assessed him for child maintenance on the grounds that she has full-time care of the children, the reason that the CSA have given is that she receives the child benefit and is claiming she is the full-time carer. He has been presented with a huge bill totalling over £5,000. How can this be justified??? Please offer advice on how can they base their calculation with him living in the house and basing the decision purely on child benefit. How can he prove he is the primary carer? Thank you very much indeed.
Carolina - 9-Nov-16 @ 2:08 PM
Hi, my wife left me a couple of days before Christmas last year, I have my son for a minimum of 3 nights per week, she earns pretty much the same as I do, I pay for as many out of school activities as she does, I do homework with him, buy clothes for him, pay similar rent on a property so he has his own room, cook healthy meals for him, I spend the majority of my holiday days with him. All this on top of paying the full amount the csa calculator spewed out.I cannot find anywhere a definition of what 50/50 shared care is, I feel I am doing enough to qualify, and this way I could have more to spend on him than I currently do. Any advice appreciated Thanks
Shellshocked - 22-Oct-16 @ 6:01 PM
How do Iget my partner removed from guardianship of our grandson. We have dual guardianship but forreasons I can not disclose, I wish to be the sole guardian.
Devastated - 15-Oct-16 @ 12:02 AM
I have my son twice a week overnight and I have claimed for shared care, my child's mother is now saying that this will stop all of her benefits is this true ?
Jplonthorne - 8-Oct-16 @ 7:25 PM
Mummy- Your Question:
Hi my son spends 3 over nights one week and 4 over nights the following at his dads. So it works 50/50 custody should I be receiving maintenance?? I receive tax credits and child benefit

Our Response:
Usually if residency is joint then child maintenence is usually cancelled out, especially if you are also in receipt of tax credit and child benefit and this is not shared mutually with your ex.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Oct-16 @ 2:22 PM
Hi my son spends 3 over nights one week and 4 over nights the following at his dads. So it works 50/50 custody should I be receiving maintenance?? I receive tax credits and child benefit
Mummy - 2-Oct-16 @ 11:38 PM
I pay maintenance to my ex partner and have my daughter every other weekend and usually Thursday nights as well. My Ex partner is getting married this weekend and they are going on honeymoon for three weeks so I will have my daughter for that period (with the help of my parents when Im working etc). Am I still required to pay maintenance for the three weeks that my daughter stays with me as this seems a bit unfair that I will be paying for them to be on holiday whilst also paying to keep my daughter. Also (Long shot I know but only seems fair) Could I claim maintenance from my ex partner for the three week period?
marko - 30-Sep-16 @ 3:01 PM
I receive maintenance through the cms for my son. During the past year I said to them that his father was having him overnight once a week (this has never happened because my son won't stay overnight at his fathers for reasons unknown). I didn't inform the cms to see if things changed but they haven't. At this years review I have informed the cms that my son doesn't stay overnight. Can I still claim this although it's his choice not to stay at his fathers.
Wendyjg - 23-Sep-16 @ 6:08 PM
A_Dad - Your Question:
I have an informal arrangement with me ex about access to our son. I have him 3 nights per week and would like to make that 3.5 nights per week. This would entail me sending him to school from mine on one extra day rather than taking him to his mum's the night before, once per fortnight. I pointed out to his mum that if I did that we would have 50/50 care and she has refused because she knows if we do that she will get no maintenance and I will be entitled to claim child tax credit to help me with childcare costs. It seems she is only refusing for this reason. He is 8 but as he gets a little older, perhaps 10 I had assumed we would switch to one week with each of us at a time, which would be 50/50, obviously now she knows the significance of that one evening a fortnight I think she will refuse that too. Is there anything I can do about this?Would I need to apply formally through court in order to get 50/50 care simply cos she refuses to do it voluntarily? Any advice would be grateful.

Our Response:
Yes, unfortunately you would have to apply through court. However, before you do it is worth seeking legal advice in order to weigh up your options. It is rare a court will consent to shared-care if the resident parent is against it, so you'd need to see whether you have a case.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Sep-16 @ 10:50 AM
I have an informal arrangement with me ex about access to our son. I have him 3 nights per week and would like to make that 3.5 nights per week. This would entail me sending him to school from mine on one extra day rather than taking him to his mum's the night before, once per fortnight. I pointed out to his mum that if I did that we would have 50/50 care and she has refused because she knows if we do that she will get no maintenance and I will be entitled to claim child tax credit to help me with childcare costs. It seems she is only refusing for this reason. He is 8 but as he gets a little older, perhaps 10 I had assumed we would switch to one week with each of us at a time, which would be 50/50, obviously now she knows the significance of that one evening a fortnight I think she will refuse that too. Is there anything I can do about this? Would I need to apply formally through court in order to get 50/50 care simply cos she refuses to do it voluntarily? Any advice would be grateful.
A_Dad - 8-Sep-16 @ 1:27 PM
Hi, i ws looking for clarification on the 'overnight' rule. My ex has our 2 children one night a week and every other weekend. For the last 3 years i have paid childcare afterschool and school holidays for all 5 days of the week as we both work full time. I am now wondering wether he should cover the childcare from end of school on his evening that week and one day in the holidays. I.e a 24 hour period for the 'overnight' as i get a reduced CSA amount as he has them 104-150 Days a year. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Kizzy118 - 1-Sep-16 @ 1:08 PM
coverpoint - Your Question:
Hi, I could do with clarification regarding 'overnight care'. My ex is claiming 'shared care', but is often with her new partner on nights when he is supposed to have her daughter. He leaves her with his grandmother or her aunt on these occasions. Does he not have to be at the same address overnight for it to qualify as overnight care?

Our Response:
Who your ex leaves her child with as part of her shared-care is at the discretion of your ex; i.e the parent with parental responsibility.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Aug-16 @ 11:17 AM
Hi, I could do with clarification regarding 'overnight care'. My ex is claiming 'shared care', but is often with her new partner on nights when he is supposed to have her daughter. He leaves her with his grandmother or her aunt on these occasions. Does he not have to be at the same address overnight for it to qualify as overnight care?
coverpoint - 17-Aug-16 @ 2:09 PM
My sons father has him four hours every fortnight at the moment i have notified csa several times he is in arrears as far as i know aswell but i keel getting letters every few months telling me they are reducing the amount to when he used to have him two nights every week which he no longer does as he has supervised contact i have a contact order from court i have residencythe best hell will get is one night every fortnight with him supervised by grandparents can i use this court order as evidence not his word against mine
becky17 - 13-Aug-16 @ 12:22 AM
Walshy - Your Question:
Partner's 5 yr old son used to stay with us at weekends. 6 mths ago his mum decided she wanted to change to having him weekends, him living with us 5 days a week. We applied for tax credits / child benefit. Now she says she wants to revert as she misses the money. What are our rights? Can she keep changing arrangements to suit her? Oh, btw she lives in a mum & baby hostel, pregnant with another child.

Our Response:
In this instance I suggest you seek legal advice about taking the matter to court for a residence order, especially if the mother is living in a hostel. If you cannot afford legal advice the Citizens Advice may be able to help, as will the Corum Legal Centre free legal helpline, see link here. If you cannot afford the legal fees with regards to taking the matter to court, you can self-litigate, please see gov.uk link here. You may also be able to get a reduction in court fees. If you can afford some initial legal advice (some solicitors also offer the first 30 minutes free), then it will help you to explore your options fully.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Aug-16 @ 11:16 AM
Partner's 5 yr old son used to stay with us at weekends. 6 mths ago his mum decided she wanted to change to having him weekends, him living with us 5 days a week. We applied for tax credits / child benefit. Now she says she wants to revert as she misses the money. What are our rights? Can she keep changing arrangements to suit her? Oh, btw she lives in a mum & baby hostel, pregnant with another child.
Walshy - 7-Aug-16 @ 10:29 AM
Mm. why would the paying parent still contribute to the receiving parent for a roof over the childs head evening meals and breakfast and utilitys when they have them over night? If i was contributing to home and feed my child 7 nights a week why would i still pay for 7 nights a week if i had them for 1 of those nights?
Gilly - 29-Jun-16 @ 2:17 AM
I have a 13 week old son. His father has only seen him for 13 days. I was wondering what rights does he have to visitation as he doesn't do any day to day care, overnight stays, doesn't provide any money and has often declined to see him. His parents also want access but I live 2 hours away and can't always make the travel
Nicky2008 - 25-Jun-16 @ 7:51 PM
Can someone please tell me why the paying parent gets a reduction on child maintenance when he has them overnight? What is this for?
Mm - 23-Jun-16 @ 10:18 PM
marevag - Your Question:
Hi dear, on Monday 20th June 2016, I posted my comment on here and was hoping for some help. But it appears that my comment is not showing anymore :(would you please let me know why?Regards,

Our Response:
Comments are never deleted unless they are inappropriate or they may have been too long and the comment space ran out, or they are undecipherable. I suggest you post your comment again. However, while we try and answer as many comments as we can, we cannot get to them all as we have many sites to moderate.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Jun-16 @ 11:28 AM
Hi dear, on Monday 20th June 2016, I posted my comment on here and was hoping for some help. But it appears that my comment is not showing anymore :( would you please let me know why? Regards,
marevag - 22-Jun-16 @ 2:45 PM
I have twins and my ex pays for 1 of themnow (as the other one decided over a year ago didn't want to go anymore), I notified the csa who adjusted the case. He hasn't had him anywhere near the 52 nights in just over a year that he says he was. After all this time I contacted the csa to tell them of a change, which they always tell you to and was told they would check with him. They rang me back to tell me he said he does. Apparently all the records I kept in my diary are not acceptable proof, how come his word can just be taken over the phone and what can I do?
Cassie22 - 15-Jun-16 @ 3:22 PM
My ex has our two children one night of the week despite promising that this would increase to two nights when her and her partner moved out of flats and house shares into a big enough house. They moved into to a 3 bedhouse over a year ago but I was told that she would still be having them only one night a week. We agreed in mediation on 2 nights and a week in the summer yet this has never happened. Do I have any legal options? Thanks
Mojo - 10-Jun-16 @ 5:09 PM
chan - Your Question:
My ex has.my son stay over 3 nights a week and is trying to make a claim for csa against me he also wants to see if he can get some child tax credits, has he got the legal rights to do this and if so could my payments be reduced and if so by how much?

Our Response:
Child tax credits and child maintenance are always paid to the primary carer by the non-resident parent. It means the non-resident parent cannot claim for either. Your ex may be able to claim a reduction in the amount he pays, due to the amount he has your child overnight, please see CMS calculator here .
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Jun-16 @ 12:55 PM
My ex has.my son stay over 3 nights a week and is trying to make a claim for csa against me he also wants to see if he can get some child tax credits, has he got the legal rights to do this and if so could my payments be reduced and if so by how much?
chan - 9-Jun-16 @ 9:24 PM
My wife and I are getting divorced. We have two children aged 10 & 13. We have an equal care arrangement which sees us share child care 50:50, including overnight stays and holidays. We also share costs such as school uniform, activities and events. My wife and I agreed as part of our family arrangement for the finances that my wife would be the sole claimant for Child Benefit. On top of this I currently pay a fixed sum as "maintenance". I have been advised that due to that we share child care equally and share costs, I am not required to pay a monthly payment as well. Is this correct?
JJ - 28-May-16 @ 3:51 PM
Meme - Your Question:
We have my step daughter 4 nights a week 208 days a year where as her mother only has her 3 nights a week isn't it legally right my husband reviewed the child benefit ?

Our Response:
It depends on who is considered the primary carer as the benefit will be awarded to the 'resident parent', which is quite often the mother. If your husband is 'recognised' as having his child more, then he would have to take this up directly with his ex to re-negiotiate who is 'officially' considered the primary carer, then he may be able to claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-May-16 @ 12:32 PM
We have my step daughter 4 nights a week 208 days a year where as her mother only has her 3 nights a week isn't it legally right my husband reviewed the child benefit ?
Meme - 18-May-16 @ 6:25 PM
When we worked out our maintenance payments in summer 2013 I'm fairly sure that the wording was if the child stayed with his dad for 'more than 52 nights a year' (ie 53)there was a reduction in maintenance. Now it appears to say 52 nights or over. My ex has our son for 2 nights a fortnight the equivalent of 52 nights a year and pays me full maintenance with no reduction. Could you please advise if and when the wording changed. If this means he's been over paying since the wording changed? Not Am i required to pay 1/7th of the maintenance I have received back? Please reply I'm struggling to find any reference to this anywhere. Although the more than 52 nights quote seems to be a generally accepted truth. Thank you. Jmum - 3-May-16 @ 7:21 PM
Jmum - 14-May-16 @ 6:22 AM
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