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Shared Parenting

Shared Parenting

After Divorce or separation of couples with children, there is a lot of thought that needs to go into the care of the children. In some cases, the father just takes on the role of a very part time father who sees his children every other weekend. This is a fairly easy pattern to work out and if both parents are in agreement then the arrangements can be very simple.

However, if both parents would like to split their time more evenly with their children and work commitments allow them to do this then the splitting of the time can be a little more complicated. The children effectively have two homes and their routines will need to be organised more intricately.

What is Shared Care?

There are two types of shared care families: parents who voluntarily choose to pursue shared care arrangements post-separation and those who arrive at shared care through litigation. The characteristics of each are very different and usually parents who have arrived at the decision to co-parent themselves are good communicators and very focused on the children’s needs.

Shared Care or co-parenting of children doesn’t necessarily mean an equal 50/50 split of time between the parents. But is where both parents share the day to day routine and also the leisure times. The children then feel they have two properly involved parents. If one parent only does weekends for example then the perception of that parent is that they only do the fun things and provide the treats.

Communication between the parents is the most important thing to make these shared care arrangements successful for everyone. The parents need to have a united approach to the parenting even if it is from different houses. Neither parent should be alienated from any aspect of the child’s upbringing.

Shared Care of Pre School Aged Children

For shared care of babies, toddlers and pre-school children there is not necessarily the routine of school to adhere to but if both parents work then there will be nursery pickups and drop offs to work around. Flexible or family friendly working environments will enable the shared care to work more effectively. If one parent has a strict 9-5 job with no flexibility, it will be harder for that parent to be as actively involved in the day to day routine for the child.

Shared Care of School Aged children

If the children are school age, then close communication between the parents about homework, after school clubs and trips will need to be very good. A shared online calendar (google calendar) has worked very well for busy couples with 2 or more children. Parties, playdates etc can also be put on the shared calendar so that both parents will instantly see if something is coming up on a day that they have the children.

It is important that the school holidays are also shared as equally as possible but this will also depend on work commitments and flexibility of the parents. Arrangements for Christmas and Birthdays will also need to be carefully worked out so that both parents are involved and can see the children on these special occasions.

How can Mediation Help?

Even if a divorce or separation between parents is amicable there are so many factors to take into account when settling on arrangements that it can be hard to come to agreement. In these cases a focused environment with the listening ear of a mediator can mean the plans are agreed much quicker.

If a couple have arrived at shared parenting through litigation then it is likely the relationship is less amicable in which case mediation is very helpful.  Discussions on neutral territory with an experienced mediator can mean resolution is reached in the calmest way. As mediators we have vast experience of many separation cases and can offer solutions to problems or issues that may not have been thought of.

We have written a blog post with some example calendars of different ways the schedules can be worked out – read it here. If you would like to discuss with us how mediation can help you and your situation then please call us on 0117 924 3880 for no obligation chat.

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