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Shared Care of a Child

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 24 Oct 2018 |
 
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'm the father of my 4 year old daughter who lives with her mum and her mum has moved away to Essex from Northumberland where I live. The CSA have put my weekly payments up as they think I don't qualify for shared care but in our court order I get my sought to stop with me all of october hols 7 nights , 1 week at Christmas 7 nights , all February 7 nights , Easter 7 nights , may bank holiday weekend 3 nights , summer hols for 3 weeks 21 nights so that's 52 nights a year I would love to increase this but have no chance in her mum agreeing so could you tell me please if I qualify for shared care Thanks Stevie
Stevie - 24-Oct-18 @ 8:10 PM
Hello, My ex and i have 2 children. He does take them on holidays (max 10 days in summer) but during the year his work is more a priority than his children. He does take them 1 night/wk but not every weekend. If these days don't add up to 52 nights/yr is it still shared? He's only disputing it to get a 1/7th discount on his already arranged maintenance.
Alli - 7-Oct-18 @ 4:02 PM
Hi Me and my husband have recent separated, I have a 13yr old and a 5yr old. If they were to stay with me for 4 nights and with ex for 3 nights a week. I’m currently in a private rented property and receive benefits. He’s looking for a place but can’t afford anymore than a studio, which isn’t practical for the kids to stay. How would that work my universal credits payments? Also would my ex receive help as well?Thanks
Lemonmum - 23-Aug-18 @ 8:43 PM
T - Your Question:
Hi, I have 2 children with my ex-wife the eldest being 16 at the end of August and the youngest is 12. My ex-wife recently moved away and my youngest child had to move too as she got him into a new school. My eldest child stays with me 90% of the time as he still goes to the same school he went to before his mother moved away. My youngest child, due to school, stays with my ex-wife 80% of the time as he stays with me on my weekends off which is only 2weekends out of 5 and stays with me more regularly on school holidays. My eldest child has informed his mother that when he turns 16 he will officially move in with me. My ex-wife earns more money than I do and still demands child maintenance. Do I still have to pay child maintenance or could this be considered shared child care.

Our Response:
If your eldest child stays with you currently and goes to the same school, you can claim child maintenance for your child, if you have your child the majority of the time. You can also ask your ex to transfer child benefit to you for your resident child. You can either come to a mutual financial agreement between you, through mediation, or via court if your ex will not agree to the change in residency of your eldest, please see link here . It's worth also speaking directly to CMS to ask what your options are under the circumstances.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Jul-18 @ 11:35 AM
Hi, I have 2 children with my ex-wife the eldest being 16 at the end of August and the youngest is 12.My ex-wife recently moved away and my youngest child had to move too as she got him into a new school.My eldest child stays with me 90% of the time as he still goes to the same school he went to before his mother moved away. My youngest child, due to school, stays with my ex-wife 80% of the time as he stays with me on my weekends off which is only 2weekends out of 5 and stays with me more regularly on school holidays.My eldest child has informed his mother that when he turns 16 he will officially move in with me. My ex-wife earns more money than I do and still demands child maintenance. Do I still have to pay child maintenance or could this be considered shared child care.
T - 9-Jul-18 @ 2:57 PM
@Panda - much of the time it's based on if the other person claiming child benefit is not earning regarding who can claim child maintenance. But you are right, this silly law needs changing and if both parents have shared-care then child benefit should be split and not just paid to one person which makes the whole system bias towards the parent who rushes to claim child benefit first. If you are joint parents, then child benefit should be paid jointly as it also means PR isn't equally distributed between parents. Best of luck!
Ramsey - 18-Jun-18 @ 1:48 PM
My partner has his daughter 50% of the time. The appeal and mandatory consideration were in favour of his ex for the simple reason she gets the child benefit and is named at the Drs and Dentist...thats it. My partner can take his daughter to either of those any time. We are currently waiting for a first tier tribunal date. The 1991 act states that if care is proved to be equal then the case should be closed under the special consideration part of the act. No-one seems to know about this clause including the CMS! Surely if it's equal shared care and one parent is still having to pay this would make them the main parent so they should claim child benefit.
Panda - 17-Jun-18 @ 7:42 AM
Ad - Your Question:
Myself and my child's mother have 50/50 care. We don't just have him over night we also carry out the day to day care. On my days we do the school drop off and pick ups.We also pay for my child's after school clubs, uniform hair cuts ect. I don't understand why she should be claiming foe my child from the government when she can easily work full time and yet I also have to pay her maintainace when my child is with me equal. Surely this isn't right?

Our Response:
The only recourse you have to resolve such issues is via mediation, as there is no cut-and-dry rules or laws. However, if one parent is working and the other not, then the parent who is not working is eligible to receive extra financial help from the parent who is.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Jun-18 @ 3:26 PM
Myself and my child's mother have 50/50 care. We don't just have him over night we also carry out the day to day care. On my days we do the school drop off and pick ups .We also pay for my child's after school clubs, uniform hair cuts ect. I don't understand why she should be claiming foe my child from the government when she can easily work full time and yet I also have to pay her maintainace when my child is with me equal. Surely this isn't right?
Ad - 5-Jun-18 @ 9:09 AM
Hi. Based on your article it seems like even if there is a court order in place which clearly shows equal shared care ‘lives’ (overnight & daytime) and both parents have been sharing this routine for 3 years that just because one of the parents is in receipt of child benefit that they then become default primary resident parent and will automatically be entitled to child maintenance? Is that your advice? Regards Josh
Joshua72 - 6-May-18 @ 4:54 PM
Hi my partner has been paying child support for past 3 years. He has the children (now aged 15) twice a week or whenever they ask to come. His ex is saying because he doesn’t take them on set days she’s not agreeing he has them to CMS and he doesn’t get a discount for the days he has them! The CMS say they have to take the mother’s word and not his? Can’t they ask the children. She is trying to fleece him for everything and gets away with it. Free legal aid etc. He’s paying half the mortgage as well and now they say he has arrears and due over 2k so his weekly payments will be £119 a week plus £60 mortgage as she refuses to sell the house and he can’t afford a court order to force the sale. He earns just under £300 a week! Any help would be appreciated
ezzmo - 24-Apr-18 @ 4:13 PM
Jayne14 - Your Question:
Hi, im after some advice pls.i want to go through the CSA for my ex to pay support for his 2 children. He says that he would try and pay the minimum he would say that he could have them 3 nights but would arrange for them to stop at his parents if he was wrking. Does the nights have to be set/arranged nights as he wrks shifts and also if he has them overnight he will literally have them frm 8pm n then drop them at mine at 8 in the morning so he has them JUST whilst they sleep? Is there a time scale (eg 24 hrs) for it to comply? Many thanks

Our Response:
There is no time-scale, he would just have to have them overnight, regardless of where they stayed. However, if you wish to decide between you what the best arrangement might be, then making an arrangement via mediation may work.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Apr-18 @ 12:13 PM
J - Your Question:
Hi I have a 6 year old son, his fathr has had little contact for the first 2 years of his life and then he moved abroad for 2 years with no contact with my son, I then made arrangements for my son to see him which we got back into a relationship for 5 months , I soon learned id made a mistake and split up as my son witnessed domestic abuse. He has had no contact for another 12moths since we split. I am now wanting to move aborad with my new partner to NZ. I put an order into court for permission to leave with my child and now My ex has no put an order in for my son for full custody to try stop me moving to NZ. With him having so little contact with my son so far and any contact he has had has been violent towards me which is on police records. Can the court stop us from moving on with out life NZ is an amazing country for my son to be brought up in ?

Our Response:
It is highly unlikely a court will award your ex residency of your child if he has had only limited contact with his son. A court will not attempt to stop you getting on with your life, which includes moving away. Only if the court sees that you are deliberately moving away to get away from your ex would the court ty to prevent the move. If you are still willing to allow your ex contact with his child, then the court is likely rule in your favour. However, it is always impossible to predict what a court may decide, so you may wish to seek legal advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Apr-18 @ 1:52 PM
hi i have a 6 year old son, his fathr has had little contact for the first 2 years of his life and then he moved abroad for 2 years with no contact with my son, I then made arrangements for my son to see him which we got back into a relationship for 5 months , I soon learned id made a mistake and split up as my son witnessed domestic abuse. He has had no contact for another 12moths since we split. I am now wanting to move aborad with my new partner to NZ. I put an order into court for permission to leave with my child and now My ex has no put an order in for my son for full custody to try stop me moving to NZ. With him having so little contact with my son so far and any contact he has had has been violent towards me which is on police records. Can the court stop us from moving on with out life NZ is an amazing country for my son to be brought up in ?
J - 10-Apr-18 @ 10:46 PM
Sophie - Your Question:
HiI separated from my ex husband 4 years ago and the legallly drawn up separation order agreed 75% custody to me. We divorced a year ago and again 75% was stated in all documentation and again on the clean split order. He applied via CMA to pay minimal child maintenance allowed. For the last few months he has struggled to pay on time and I keep having to wait. He has introduced ten women to my kids in one year and in 4 years has rented 5 different properties and 3 different jobs. Doesn’t wash their clothes can’t get them from school as he doesn’t get home till 7 and leaves at 7.30 in the morning. I have bought my own home, have had the same relationship for 3 years and am now getting married. My children are happy safe and secure and I have opted to work from home for 4 years and continue to do so in order that I can take them to school and pick up. He is now manipulating the kids to try and get them to change to 50% of the time with him and says if they yes he can just do it? Please can you advise what my legal situation is. I am opposed to 50% for the reasons mentioned plus much more. Thank you

Our Response:
Any change to the order would have to be agreed mutually, or if not referred to court. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question. The court will always put the children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. Apologies, if this answer is a little vague. However, it is impossible to anticipate how a court will decide. Your ex wont be punished for renting different properties and having different jobs or girlfriends. However, if you can prove that your children are late into school when he drops them off etc, then you can use this evidence to build up your own case - should the matter go to court.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Apr-18 @ 12:10 PM
Hi I separated from my ex husband 4 years ago and the legallly drawn up separation order agreed 75% custody to me. We divorced a year ago and again 75% was stated in all documentation and again on the clean split order. He applied via CMA to pay minimal child maintenance allowed. For the last few months he has struggled to pay on time and I keep having to wait. He has introduced ten women to my kids in one year and in 4 years has rented 5 different properties and 3 different jobs. Doesn’t wash their clothes can’t get them from school as he doesn’t get home till 7 and leaves at 7.30 in the morning. I have bought my own home,have had the same relationship for 3 years and am now getting married. My children are happy safe and secure and I have opted to work from home for 4 years and continue to do so in order that I can take them to school and pick up. He is now manipulating the kids to try and get them to change to 50% of the time with him and says if they yes he can just do it? Please can you advise what my legal situation is. I am opposed to 50% for the reasons mentioned plus much more. Thank you
Sophie - 9-Apr-18 @ 7:57 PM
Hm - Your Question:
I need some advice. My ex partner is going to start having over night stays with my girl every other friends and sat and also some holidays. However he is going to be staying at a aunt and uncles house and not at his own address. Will this still count towards payments? Thanks

Our Response:
The fact he is having his daughter overnight counts, not where he his having her overnight.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Apr-18 @ 12:52 PM
Hi, im after some advice pls...i want to go through the CSA for my ex to pay support for his 2 children. He says that he would try and pay the minimum he would say that he could have them 3 nights but would arrange for them to stop at his parents if he was wrking. Does the nights have to be set/arranged nights as he wrks shifts and also if he has them overnight he will literally have them frm 8pm n then drop them at mine at 8 in the morning so he has them JUST whilst they sleep? Is there a time scale (eg 24 hrs) for it to comply? Many thanks
Jayne14 - 7-Apr-18 @ 5:03 PM
I need some advice. My ex partner is going to start having over night stays with my girl every other friends and sat and also some holidays. However he is going to be staying at a aunt and uncles house and not at his own address. Will this still count towards payments? Thanks
Hm - 7-Apr-18 @ 4:33 PM
stemar1 - Your Question:
Hi there. I was just wondering if I was entitled to any help. I have my son every friday to Sunday & 50/50 on school holidays. Would I be able to claim for anything?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, only the primary carer (the parent who has most of the day-to-day care and who is eligible to claim child benefit) can claim benefits associated with being a primary carer of a child.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Apr-18 @ 12:47 PM
Hi there. I was just wondering if I was entitled to any help. I have my son every friday to Sunday & 50/50 on school holidays. Would I be able to claim for anything?
stemar1 - 3-Apr-18 @ 11:20 PM
Confused- Your Question:
Hello, I am looking for advice in regards to custody rights. My brother has custody of his son and it was decided through court that his son would stay with him 4 nights a week and with his mother 3 nights a week. My brother has became critically ill and is currently in hospital his ex partner said she would not mind looking after their son whilst my brother is in hospital. But she is now saying that after 21 days she will have gained full custody of my nephew and that she wants all benefits to be given to her. She is also refusing visits for my mother with whom my brother and nephew live with and whom also cares for my nephew. I would like to understand better the legal stance on this situation and if my mother has any rights as she cares for my nephew jointly with my brother as he works.Many thanks

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. If there is a court residency order then the police can intervene and return the child to the parent who the court has ordered to look after the child. Your brother does not have to sign any benefits over to his ex. If the police refuse to intervene, then it would be the remit of the courts. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. In most cases the child is returned to the parent who normally looks after the child. If your brother remains in hospital and his ex is refusing access, then your mother would have to apply to the court for rights. She may also wish to seek legal advice regarding this matter, as there is no guarantee she would be awarded access or temporary residency. Much depends upon the situation of those concerned.
ChildSupportLaws - 29-Mar-18 @ 2:48 PM
Hello, I am looking for advice in regards to custody rights. My brother has custody of his son and it was decided through court that his son would stay with him 4 nights a week and with his mother 3 nights a week. My brother has became critically ill and is currently in hospital his ex partner said she would not mind looking after their son whilst my brother is in hospital. But she is now saying that after 21 days she will have gained full custody of my nephew and that she wants all benefits to be given to her. She is also refusing visits for my mother with whom my brother and nephew live with and whom also cares for my nephew. I would like to understand better the legal stance on this situation and if my mother has any rights as she cares for my nephew jointly with my brother as he works. Many thanks
Confused - 27-Mar-18 @ 9:35 PM
I, My ex partner and I split due to domestic violence towards me, I was put into emergency temp accommodation whilst I was assessed for council housing, I was given a 2 bed flat, she made it as hard as possible for me to see my 2 children ages 2 and 4 and did not see them for 8 weeks, then we reconciled for 7 weeks until we split again and now I have to go to court to gain access to them which has now been 4 weeks since I have seen them. I am applying for 50/50 access with one week at mine and one week at hers. I am on ESA and PIP, can the child benefit and child tax credit be split or would the court sort that out. Thanks in advance
Dazmorg - 6-Mar-18 @ 4:43 PM
Jen - Your Question:
My ex partner has my daughter 2 nights a week and she is at home with me for 3 she stays with her grandmother for 2 as I work evenings. Am I still eligible for child maintenance off her father? He is refusing to pay as she is only at home for 3 nights the nights she is at my mum's I stay over after work. Please help as I'm a bit stuck.Thank you

Our Response:
Every biological non-resident parent is responsible for having to pay child maintenance regardless of the situation. If you are caring for your child on a day-to-day basis, then you are classed as the primary carer and therefore are entitled to claim.
ChildSupportLaws - 5-Mar-18 @ 3:14 PM
My ex partner has my daughter 2 nights a week and she is at home with me for 3 she stays with her grandmother for 2 as I work evenings. Am I still eligible for child maintenance off her father? He is refusing to pay as she is only at home for 3 nights the nights she is at my mum's I stay over after work. Please help as I'm a bit stuck. Thank you
Jen - 2-Mar-18 @ 11:42 PM
Marting123 - Your Question:
Me and my wife are currently not getting on. Whilst I want to sort it out she doesn't I want to cohabittate in the hope working it out or so we can both still help with the kids. She's not Will it to agree to this. In a custody battle if one of us left the family home would it go against us?

Our Response:
If you leave the family home, you then become the non-resident parent. This means your wife will become the primary carer of your kids, unless you decide to have shared-care of your children. You would also be responsible for paying child maintenance. In situation such as this, it is important to consider your kids first and what would be best for them should you separate. Trying to come to an agreement through mutual negotiation is always best, especially if you have to consider finances and where you both would live. You may wish to suggest mediation to your wife if you cannot agree between yourselves. Please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 2-Mar-18 @ 10:36 AM
Me and my wife are currently not getting on. Whilst I want to sort it out she doesn't I want to cohabittate in the hope working it out or so we can both still help with the kids. She's not Will it to agree to this. In a custody battle if one of us left the family home would it go against us?
Marting123 - 1-Mar-18 @ 5:26 PM
angelpie82 - Your Question:
My husband has been emotionally abusive for the last few years. He has locked me out of the house, taken my keys away, hidden my bank card and taken all of the money from the joint account. Last week I hit rock bottom and tried to harm myself to get away from the situation, in the process, I accidentally caught his finger with the knife and he started bleeding. As a result he called the police who insisted I went to hospital as I was so upset. He then took my children away and will now longer speak to me. I'm concerned for their welfare as I know they have been removed from school. I don't know what to do as he has informed social services I was violent to him. surely his actions of not making me aware of my children, their location and welfare this is also emotional/psychological abuse?

Our Response:
If both parents have Parental Responsibility then the police cannot intervene to take the child off one parent and give them to the other; the police cannot choose between parents, that is the remit of the courts. It means your only recourse would be to apply to the courts to have your children reinstated via a child arrangement order. Whilst the police cannot take a child away from a parent with PR, they are able to intervene and remove a child if there is a real risk to life. If you are concerned about a real and immediate threat to your children's safety, speak to your local police force and social services. If you are unsure about your rights, speak to a solicitor (there will be a cost attached) or local Citizens Advice Bureau who will be able to provide you with free assistance.
ChildSupportLaws - 6-Feb-18 @ 2:41 PM
My husband has been emotionally abusive for the last few years.He has locked me out of the house, taken my keys away, hidden my bank card and taken all of the money from the joint account. Last week I hit rock bottom and tried to harm myself to get away from the situation, in the process, I accidentally caught his finger with the knife and he started bleeding.As a result he called the police who insisted I went to hospital as I was so upset.He then took my children away and will now longer speak to me. I'm concerned for their welfare as I know they have been removed from school.I don't know what to do as he has informed social services I was violent to him.surely his actions of not making me aware of my children, their location and welfare this is also emotional/psychological abuse?
angelpie82 - 6-Feb-18 @ 1:35 PM
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