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

Shared Care of a Child

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 17 Feb 2017 |
 
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/ CMS's Decision

The CSA/CMS 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/CMS, 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 Child Maintenance Service (CMS). 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/CMS 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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Hi I split up from my ex husband over a year ago. I left our seven year old son with him in the marital home as I felt this was best for continuity and his well being. i moved into my mums which is not very far away - practical for school, etc. I tried to discuss finances before I left but he was having none of it. We ended up at mediation but it failed so we ended up in court and finally agreed shared care. My ex has my son 4 nights a week, I have him 3 nights a week and we split the holidays in half. My ex approached the CMS and I pay based on this arrangement but as he would never discuss money I feel this was a bullying tatic using the services to gain financial benefit. I signed over the child benefit willingly but then realised I can't claim the working tax credits because he immediatley puta stop on the joint claim and put his own claim in without prior discussion. I'm entitled to nothing because he has our son one more night a week than me. It just seem right that I'm paying out twice... working two jobs to make ends meet but if i do over time will I end up paying my ex more in CMS payments?
Moonbeam77 - 17-Feb-17 @ 2:21 PM
I have shared care of my son, 3 nights one week and 4 nights the following week.I would like to know what I have to pay his mum each week as we are miles away in agreement
Bluie - 17-Feb-17 @ 12:11 PM
Anon123 - Your Question:
I have 2 children, I receive the benefits and so am the main carer. Their dad has them 3 nights a week and so pays the lowest amount of maintenence. He has them from Wednesday at 6pm - Saturday at 4pm. However I pay for our youngest's childcare on those days and look after them after school until he picks them up at 5/6pm. Also, if one of them is ill, or its a school holiday, I take the day off work or pay for them to go to childcare. Does this sound fair?My understanding was that he pays lower maintenence as he incurs more costs from having them more. However, he's not spending any extra for childcare, sports clubs, clothing or anything on those days. Just dinner and a bed to sleep in over night on 3 nights and a daytime on the Saturday.

Our Response:
This is an issue you would have to resolve between yourselves. As there is no particular law regarding such disputes, if you cannot come to an agreement between you, your only recourse would be to suggest mediation.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Feb-17 @ 1:41 PM
I have 2 children, I receive the benefits and so am the main carer. Their dad has them 3 nights a week and so pays the lowest amount of maintenence. He has them from Wednesday at 6pm - Saturday at 4pm. However I pay for our youngest's childcare on those days and look after them after school until he picks them up at 5/6pm. Also, if one of them is ill, or its a school holiday, I take the day off work or pay for them to go to childcare. Does this sound fair? My understanding was that he pays lower maintenence as he incurs more costs from having them more. However, he's not spending any extra for childcare, sports clubs, clothing or anything on those days. Just dinner and a bed to sleep in over night on 3 nights and a daytime on the Saturday.
Anon123 - 13-Feb-17 @ 10:46 PM
Confused Mama - Your Question:
Yesterday I received the annual review letter and I got a little confused.Yes my son daddy does have him 52 night of the year. Underneath this I read Local Aithority Care for (child) is 1 night per week.I have read it Over and over and it still says the same thing.My son is not and has never been in LA care.Can anyone please tell me why it's on paper and where CMS might have got this information from?Any replies would be much appreciated.Thanks A confused Mam

Our Response:
You would have to speak to the CMS directly regarding this matter.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Feb-17 @ 10:00 AM
Yesterday i received the annual review letter and I got a little confused. Yes my son daddy does have him 52 night of the year. Underneath this I read Local Aithority Care for (child) is 1 night per week. I have read it Over and over and it still says the same thing. My son is not and has never been in LA care. Can anyone please tell me why it's on paper and where CMS might have got this information from? Any replies would be much appreciated. Thanks A confused Mam
Confused Mama - 9-Feb-17 @ 3:23 AM
Hi I left my husband 5 days ago as it was unbearable to live with him anymore unfortunately I left my 2 children with him.I am trying to find out what my rights are and how I can get 50/50 shared care of my children My husband is telling me I have no rights at all to see the children as I was the one that walked out and that I need to pay him £250 per month and I need to sign over child benrfit and he will allow me to see my kids we'd night and stay and Friday night and stay and sat this is the first week ad he's already changed it and said kids can't stay he's also quizing me about my money I have been back to the house and he's hidden the kids passports and birth certificates and demanded the child benefit What can I do and is he right
Batgirl78 - 4-Feb-17 @ 12:57 PM
"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." The CMS says no! I am trying to find it in the 2012 and 1991 act
Drahcir - 27-Jan-17 @ 4:24 PM
Dugsta - Your Question:
I have my daughter 3 sometimes 4 nights at my house or grandma house does this mean shared care and don't have to pay maintenance although willing to do so.

Our Response:
If you have agreed with your ex that you have shared care and you don't have to pay child maintenance then theoretically yes. However, in a practical sense, the parent who is in receipt of child benefit etc is considered the primary carer, while the other other parent the NRP (non-reisdent parent) who is also classed as the 'paying' parent. This means if you both disagreed over your current agreement, then you 'may' be liable to pay child maintenance if the matter went to court. However, if you currently have a shared care arrangement, the chances are a court would rule to continue this in which case your 'shared-care' status would then become 'official'. I hope this makes sense.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-Jan-17 @ 2:54 PM
I have my daughter 3 sometimes 4 nights at my house or grandma house does this mean shared care and don't have to pay maintenance although willing to do so.
Dugsta - 25-Jan-17 @ 12:40 PM
Danielle - Your Question:
Hi all, looking for some help and advice my son is 13 years old and has been staying between me and his dad now for a few years one week here one week there his dad claims all entitlements for our son has done always we set up an arrangement where he would give me £50 a month more than fair considering I have him the same amount of time over 2 years ago this stopped and has put it off coming up with excuses I dont no what to do I'm currently on maternity so don't have a big income paying bills and feeding 3 kids is a huge stretch recently.Thankyou in advance

Our Response:
If your ex is considered to be the resident parent/primary carer, then he will receive the benefits directly, meaning what he gives you is discretionary. It means there is little you can do here to make a claim. You may wish to speak to CMS directly here to see whether you may be entitled to child maintenance if he is working and you are not.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Jan-17 @ 11:04 AM
Hi all, looking for some help and advice my sonis 13 years old and has been staying between me and his dad now for a few years one week here one week there his dad claims all entitlements for our son has done always we set up an arrangement where he would give me £50 a month more than fair considering I have him the same amount of time over 2 years ago this stopped and has put it off coming up with excuses i dont no what to do I'm currently on maternity so don't have a big income paying bills and feeding 3 kids is a huge stretch recently. Thankyou in advance
Danielle - 23-Jan-17 @ 1:11 PM
My 15 year old daughter stays with me three nights a week Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday but her mum keeps changing nights or adding extra nights without any notice. Is it possible to have something formally drawn up that dictates what the nights are and don't change. I don't mind the odd time with notice as everybody has to make changes but my ex abuses our agreement. Also she goes away on holiday 3 separate weeks in the year and generally never says but expects me to have our daughter on those occasions. Any help or advice appreciated Thanks
Grumpy - 1-Jan-17 @ 6:40 PM
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
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