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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34235
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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i want to have joint custody of my 12 year old son. I divorced

Customer Question

i want to have joint custody of my 12 year old son. I divorced from his mother 10 years ago and he visits me at weekends but is difficult if I ask for any more days. I am able to get him to and from school and look after him
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question
I shall do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
Exactly how is the child's time shared between you at the moment?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Fri 7.45 pm to Sat 5pm most weeks. I ask for holidays and its up to his mum if she agrees or not. I have had him for 1 week for the school holidays this time. I asked for a second week which she agreed to but now she says he cant stay the full week and that's it!

Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
Without asking him directly - do you think your son would like to spend more time with you?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

yes I think so, bit he may feel worried about hurting his mum, she puts a lot of pressure on him

Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
Would you be open to having him full weekends - Friday to Monday on alternate weeks?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I want him more than that

Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
I fully appreciate that but the starting point is always to be realistic in what you are asking the court to do.
The current pattern for your son is that he lives with his mum and spends one night a week with you - the court is not going to totally disrupt the child's life after 10 years and share the time equally between you.
So you need to approach it much much more slowly.
There is no reason at all why he should not have a full weekend with you - but the court will also expect him to have a full weekend with mum - hence alternate weekends - but in fact you are still having him more than before.
Equally there is no reason why he should not spend one midweek night a week with you - so you would go from 2 night out of 14 to 5 nights out of 14 in what will seem to the court to be very reasonable and workable proposals.
Couple this with half of every school holiday and you will have a much more balanced share of his time which can be increased in the future if he wants it.
To start this process you should first try and negotiate with your ex using Family Mediation and a Mediator trained to work with children ( so that your sons wishes can be heard within the process
If that fails then you can apply to the court using a Form C100 available here
and paying the fee of £215.
I would suggest that you ask for a shared Residence Order - with the time share broken down as outlined above
However do be aware that your son's wishes will be of great importance in this process
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I have not felt strong enough to ask for joint custody before. My ex makes arrangements to prevent me from having him above 1 day a week. Why should this track record prevent a more balanced access in the future?

Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
I understand that but this is not about you or your ex - it is about the needs of the child - and the primary need is for stability and security and routine
To go from one day a week to 50/50 is simply not going to happen - and if you ask for it it will allow your ex to point out that you are not putting the child first - so dress it up in a way the court will see as reasonable - enjoy all the extra time with your son (remember holidays are 50/50 anyway so that it is only in the school term that you are actually "short")