Between the financial years ending 2019 and 2020, 38% of separated families in the UK had a non-statutory arrangement such as a shared parenting agreement (gov.uk). A shared parenting agreement can help to make the arrangements of separated families work smoothly by outlining the responsibilities of each parent and how decisions about the child will be made.
What is a Shared Parenting Agreement?
A shared parenting agreement is an arrangement between two separated parents or legal guardians to co-parent children without needing the court to request a child arrangement order. The agreement outlines the responsibilities of each parent/legal guardian, including where the child will live and how decisions about the child will be made.
Why would I need a Shared Parenting Agreement?
People choose to write shared parenting agreements for many reasons, but the most common is to avoid going to court. Court proceedings can be lengthy, expensive and stressful, so many couples prefer to agree between themselves. A shared parenting agreement can also be a good way to set out your arrangements clearly from the outset so that there are no misunderstandings further down the line.
What are the benefits of making a Shared Parenting Agreement?
Shared parenting agreements can help to reduce conflict between parents and provide stability for children. When parents can agree on a shared parenting arrangement, it can be less disruptive for children than if one parent were to have primary custody and the other parent had visitation rights.
How is a Shared Parenting Agreement made?
Shared parenting agreements can be made through mediation and negotiation between the parents/legal guardians. However, you may also wish to seek legal advice from a qualified family law solicitor.
Once an agreement is reached, it should be put in writing and signed by both parties.
What should be included in a Shared Parenting Agreement?
A shared parenting agreement should include:
- The names and contact details of both parents/legal guardians;
- Where the child will live and how much time they will spend with each parent/legal guardian;
- If one or both parents/legal guardians will be responsible for making major decisions regarding the child, such as their education, medical care or religion;
- What will happen if one parent/legal guardian moves away;
- How financial responsibilities will be divided between the parents/legal guardians.
Is a Shared Parenting Agreement legally binding?
It is important to remember that a shared parenting agreement is not legally binding. However, if one parent/legal guardian breaches the agreement, the other parent/legal guardian may be to apply to Court for an order relating to the children and rely on the Agreement as evidence of the parties' intentions.
Is a Shared Parenting Agreement different to a Shared Parenting Plan or a Co-Parenting Agreement?
In the UK, a shared parenting agreement is also known as a co-parenting agreement or a shared parenting plan.
What if my ex-partner and I can’t agree?
If you are unable to agree on a shared parenting agreement, you may be able to reach an agreement through professional mediation. However, if mediation is unsuccessful, we encourage you to speak to Garratt's highly experienced family law solicitors by calling 0161 665 3502 or filling in our contact form.
How often does a Shared Parenting Plan need to be updated?
The agreement should be reviewed and updated as needed, especially if there are changes in the circumstances of either the parent/legal guardian or the child.
For example, if one parent/legal guardian moves to a new house or has a change in financial circumstances, the agreement may need to be updated to reflect these changes.