After Heidi Klum filed for divorce last week, Seal has reportedly today filed his own court papers seeking joint physical custody of the couple’s four children. It appears Heidi Klum agrees there should be joint legal custody but she is asking that she have primary physical custody. Seal’s application would mean that the children would divide their time between their parent’s homes. How common are shared custody agreements and what exactly does it mean?
The term “custody” is an American phrase. English courts talk about the concepts of “residence” and “contact”. Traditionally, if there is a dispute between parents, a residence order would be made to one party and the other would receive a contact order. Although these orders continue to be made in a lot of cases, shared residence is becoming more and more common in England.
Shared residence means that a child will live with both of their parents but it does not necessarily mean that a child will split their time equally between them. Shared residence reflects the reality of a lot of modern post-separation families where the children have a good relationship with both parents and spend time with each of them. It is important to remember though that if there is an agreement about arrangements for the children, there may not be a need to involve the courts or for any orders to be made – if in doubt, seek advice from a family law solicitor.
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