Equal shared care
What a brilliant site / forum this is.
I'm seeking a variation of the current "lives with, lives with" CAO in the form of a small extension to a completely equal shared of my daughter's care.
The existing CAO is only 6 months old but essentially made the pre-existing arrangements we've had for 6 years "official".
My daughter is about to turn 11 and is very vocal that she wants to live with both parents for equal time.
Mum is not open to this and had declined mediation, even though she has attended on two occasions in the past without issue.
I will self represent in Court.
I am looking for the following if you guys can help please....
1. Success stories in relation to equal shared care applications.
2. Any case law in relation to this.
3. Information about what the Court would "look for" in deciding whether to grant such an application.
4. Good arguments that can be put forward for and against such an arrangement.
What is the arrangement at the moment, and what is the reason you want to change it if it's been working for 6 years. Also, why did you go to court to get the CAO?
I currently have her 6 days/nights in every 14. We had had this arrangement for 6 years under a private agreement.
Last year, I applied for 7 in 14 but some personal issues (not related to child / family in any way) cropped up and I didnt have the emotional resilience to deal with the proceedings. Given this, I "folded" and just accepted a firming up of the existing arrangement.
I now want to go back for the 7 in 14 as I'm in a much better place. Hence my queries.
I'm not expert on this, so this is my own opinion only. I would expect normally that a court would see that the existing arrangement is pretty good, and has been working for the last 6 years, so might be reluctant to make an order, and possibly tell you both to go away and work it out by yourselves (which is a ridiculous thing for courts to do as, if you could do this, you wouldn't be there in the first place). The one positive I can see is that your daughter is vocal about this, and at age 11, the court are going to start to take her wishes into account, and what she is asking for is perfectly reasonable (and quite mature). In my opinion, that is your best argument in this.
50/50 shared care is becoming more common particularly in the London courts but spreading out from there as well. It's usually a 5,2,2,5 kind of arrangement so that weekends/weekdays are shared. There needs to be flexibly for longer holidays but this can be built in to the agreement. At 11, children will start to vote with their feet so hopefully you will be able to work together on this as she approaches her teens. The court will need to know that your work commitments give you enough time to care for your daughter.
Thanks for your replies so far.
To add a bit more information we always keep the exact same pattern in school holidays as we do in term time.
This effectively means that of the 65 holiday days per year my daughter is with Mum for 47 and me for only 18. This is very one-sided in my opinion and doesn't enable a reasonable sharing of her "free time" away from school routines.
In terms of my availability I am self-employed and can take time off whenever I need to. This means my availability is not an issue.
I live within 2 minutes of her school and her mum's.
Could you help me with some pointers to case law, success stories, what the Court "looks for" in equal arrangements etc?
I have found this on line. There may be more. I only have limited experience with child arrangement orders. Also Families Need Fathers website may be helpful for you
A ‘shared care arrangement’ that seeks a 50/50 division of time between the parents is unusual but is becoming more common. The court will always come from the starting point that it is in the child’s best interests to have the active involvement of both parents in their life. But part of the wider assessment has to be how that arrangement will work in practice. In order for an equal division of time to work in practice, and for the child to move seamlessly between their parents, good communication is required between the parents. For a child to live their life between two homes, organisation and a willingness on both parent’s part to make it work is required. There will be the forgotten books at the other’s home and the friend’s birthday party that means the normal arrangement has to be rejigged. These everyday issues will require constant communication, and careful consideration has to be given to the impact on the child if there is a poor relationship between the parents. This issue was considered by Russell J in F v L (Permission to Relocate: Appeal)  EWHC 1377 (Fam) in hearing the mother’s appeal against a decision refusing her application for leave to remove and granting the father a child arrangements order for shared care. Russell J found that the trial judge’s approach to the splitting of the child’s time was ‘unsophisticated, over-simplistic’ and that decisions for shared care were too often taken in an attempt to adhere to the presumption of parental involvement. Russell J went as far as to say that the splitting of a child’s time between two homes that were antagonistic and unsupportive of each other was inconsistent with the best interests and welfare of the child. One may, therefore, have the ‘right’ to an equal shared care arrangement. However, that has to sit alongside the ‘responsibility’ to balance the time the child spends with one parent with the quality of such time taking into account everything else that comes with a shared care arrangement.