Posted by familylaw on 20th December 2011

One of the most difficult decisions facing parents with children is the division of responsibility and time with their children.

Mothers and fathers may be worried that the separation will have a negative impact on their parent-child relationship, and be eager to retain a strong positive parenting role in their children’s life.

What is Shared Parenting?

The term ‘shared parenting’ (formerly joint custody) refers to a family arrangement following divorce or separation where both parents share responsibility for their child’s upbringing. Children spend substantial amounts of time living with each parent and child maintenance payments are reduced for each night of the week that the child stays with the non-resident parent. Putting together a shared parenting plan is an ideal way to agree arrangements between yourselves.

What are the Advantages of Shared Parenting (joint custody)?

  • Children may be reluctant to ‘choose’ which parent to live with after family breakdown, and research shows that the children who best survive their parent’s break-up are those maintaining significant and positive relationships with both parents.
  • Children do best when both parents have a stable and meaningful involvement in their children’s lives.
  • Each parent has, and respects, that the other parent has different and valuable contributions to make to their children’s development.
  • Although parents live in separate places, children feel reassured that they have a home with each of them.
  • Children need to be reassured that each parent has somewhere to live and to actually see that
  • It ensures continuation of family life for the child, building lasting relationships with both parents rather than just one.
  • Children have structured, routine time as well as unstructured time with each parent.
  • Consistent rules and values in both households create a sense of security for children of any age.
  • Children don’t need to “have permission” from each parent to enjoy the time that they spend with the other parent.

Research consistently finds that children are harmed when exposed to conflict between parents. For the benefit of your children and yourselves, it is important to maintain an amicable relationship with the other parent if possible, and not to argue or fight when picking up or dropping off your children. This can affect your children’s behaviour later on in life when they form their own, adult relationships.

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