Particularly in Australian law, there have been changes to the Family Law Act to ensure that shared care is considered as an option when parents are fighting over who the children will live with. Fathers want to have a meaningful relationship with their children, which is not possible if they only get to see them every other weekend.
Meaningful Time With Children
To have a meaningful relationship with their child, both parents need to be involved in day to day activity of the child’s life. Helping with homework, reading them a bed time story and just being around after school is just as much meaningful time as weekend time. Children miss not having both parents around.
Mostly shared parenting means that the child or children will live with mum one week and dad the next week. Of course there can be other shared parenting arrangements, such as four days with mum and then four days with dad. What arrangement is put in place really depends on the individual family. Generally though, children find a weekly arrangement about best, as they have a routine in place and they know which week they will be where.
Difficulties With Children Spending Alternate Weeks With Each Parent
To make alternate weeks with each parent work takes effort on both parents part. Both have to make sure that changeover is smooth with no arguments in front of the children. This is not the time to run the other parent down or undermine him or her in front of the children. Any issues that one parent feels need to be addressed should be done at another time.
If clothes or homework have been left at the other parent’s place, a strategy should be used to make sure the situation is rectified with little or no fuss. Most importantly, the child should not be blamed for the mishap.
And most importantly, shared care can only work if both parents live reasonably close together. At the end of the day, children will be going to school and have friends in the area and cannot be expected to have to travel for a long time in the car when they live with the other parent who does not live close by.
Conflict is Not Good for Children
If parents find themselves arguing in court over who their child should live with, they should bear in mind that judges are not likely to give parents shared care if there is high level of conflict between them. Children should not be drawn into their parents’ separation, and if at every changeover there is a scene between the parents, then this is involving them in the dispute.
If one parent cannot demonstrate to the court that he does not undermine the other parent, shared care is also unlikely to be given to that parent.
Shared care arrangements can be great if both parents put their mind to making it work. Children benefit from having a meaningful relationship with both parents and spending quality time with them goes a long way toward that.