Shared residence is an issue that is becoming more and more important, and which can cause considerable confusion. I have therefore been waiting for a report of Re K (Shared Residence Order), the judgment of which was given on the 4th April. I have now seen a short report (citation:  All ER (D) 55 (Apr)), and I think it is of interest, particularly regarding the relationship between shared residence and contact.
Briefly, the facts were that the child spent approximately 60% of his time with the mother and 40% with the father. The father applied for this to be increased to 50%, and sought a shared residence order. The district judge found that the slight benefit to the child of the increase in contact with his father was outweighed by the disruption to a regime that seemed to be working well, and therefore refused to increase the contact. He then went on to separately consider the issue of shared residence, and refused to make the order, after referring to the additional contact being 'required' to lead to a shared residence order. The father appealed unsuccessfully to a circuit judge, and then appealed to the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal found that the district judge should have heard both issues together, ruling first on the appropriate division of time, and then whether that division should be expressed in terms of a shared residence order or a contact order. The district judge's decision not to increase the contact was within his discretion, and therefore the contact would not be increased. However, he had erred in treating that issue and the question of a shared residence order as standing or falling together. A shared residence order was appropriate, and would therefore be made. The mother had argued that the father would use a shared residence order to interfere with her role in relation to the child, but no such 'malign intent' on the part of the father had been established.
Update: A full report of this case can now be found, here.