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Posted by on in Children & Child Custody
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Report on shared care arrangements

A recently published report on shared care arrangements has revealed that while sharing the care of children can work well for some separated families, for others it can be the cause of additional problems, especially families on modest or low incomes.


In the report, the term shared care refers to arrangements where each parent has the child for at least three days and three nights a week. According to the study, this arrangement currently exists in around 9% of separated families in the UK.


Launching the report, Gingerbread Chief Executive, Fiona Weir said:


“The government should be doing far more to support shared care when parents are together as well as when they separate. Better flexible working policies, paid parental leave and affordable childcare are all vital if shared care is to be a realistic option for families after separation, particularly for parents on low incomes.”


Whilst there are positive steps the government could take towards enabling shared care, the report argues against a legal presumption of shared care. Such a presumption would focus on parental entitlement rather than what is in the best interests of children, undermining the crucial legal principle that the child’s welfare is paramount.


The report calls on the Government to remove the obstacles that make it harder for low-income couples to share post-separation care, including:


  • Allowing both parents sharing care to be entitled to take advantage of the flexibilities available to single parents on Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Halting proposed housing benefit changes to the age limit for the shared room rate which would mean any single person under 35 would only be able to claim a lower rate intended for a room in shared accommodation, as these would hit the parent in a shared care arrangement not deemed the main carer.
  • Amending regulations to extend the right to request flexible working to all parents at the point of a job offer  and introducing a set number of paid dependency days a year.
  • Investing in a range of services, including advice and mediation, to support those parents who can reach agreement on post-separation arrangements to do so.