In our weekly legal column, the Leader, with the expert advice of the team at GHP Legal, sets out to answer some of your problems. Today's question is answered by solicitor Sean Rolinson...

As a dad, can I apply for shared custody of my children?

Q: My wife and I have grown apart and are living separate lives outside of things we do with the kids.

We agreed we would stay together until after Christmas, then tell the kids, and I would move out.

As my dad died last year, I plan to live in his house which I inherited, and which is nearby.

I work from home and have flexibility with my job, so I have always played an active part in the kids' daily lives.

I want them to live between the two houses so that I can continue to share their care.

However, my wife's friend told her that shared care will reduce what she gets in a financial settlement and maintenance, and she should get sole custody. Can I apply for shared custody?

A: The first consideration in any divorce is the welfare of the children, and decisions about their care arrangements must come before any financial settlement. The law in England and Wales says a child has the right to have access to both parents, and generally acknowledges that this is preferable for their wellbeing.

Further, shared care arrangements are becoming increasingly commonplace, though the arrangements do not have to be an exact division of time on a 50\50 basis.

Joint or shared care arrangements means both parents are involved in a child's life and making decisions about what happens to them, for example regarding their education. Shared care arrangements allow both parents to play an active role in the child's life, which provides the child with a sense of security.

In respect of maintenance, if both parents equally share the care of their children, then neither parent will make child maintenance payments or be responsible for child support arrangements.

If shared care is not equal, however, maintenance payments may be apportioned accordingly. You should seek advice from a family solicitor as soon as possible.

This question has been answered by Sean Rolinson, a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. In accordance with government guidelines, some of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.

Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry, please use the 'Contact us' form on the website or call 01978 291456. As a firm, you will appreciate that we are still extremely busy, and due to current circumstances work may be interrupted – however cases are still ongoing and will be prioritised by urgency and need. Stay safe and thank you for your support.