It is up to the two parents to agree any arrangements for the children, including where they live, how often they see each parent and where they go to school etc. The court will not get involved in the arrangements for the children’s care unless there is a risk of harm or the parents cannot sort things out between themselves.
Although cohabitees cannot claim maintenance for themselves when the relationship breaks down, they can claim maintenance for children. If the children spend the majority of the week with one parent, the other person will have a responsibility to pay child maintenance. This can be agreed by the parents or, in default of agreement, the starting point in most cases is a claim to the Child Maintenance Service or CMS (previously called the Child Support Agency). They will work out how much maintenance is payable, based on a standard formula, taking into account among other things the number of children, the payer’s income and the amount of overnight stays the children have with the payer.
In addition to child maintenance through the CMS, the court can make additional financial orders for children including extra maintenance by way of a carer’s allowance where the payer earns more than £156,000 per year, lump sum orders (eg, to purchase a car or the cost of a computer for the benefit of the children) and a housing fund to enable the main carer to provide a house for the children whilst they are still minors or in full time education.