When should children live in a shared care arrangement?

By September 9, 2022No Comments

Every child is different with their own unique needs. Some children will do well in a shared care arrangement. Other children do not cope with it at all. As a very general rule of thumb, the older the child, the more likely they are to cope with a shared care/equal time arrangement. Again very generally, the thinking is that children under school age
would not cope well with shared care/equal time as it is difficult for them to transition between households.

As a child gets older, it is easier for them to adapt to a different household moving back and forwards between households, juggling school commitments, remembering what clothes and equipment to bring to each house and so on. If parents want shared care arrangements to work they must be able to co-parent and communicate effectively and the most important thing is that there must not be any conflict between the parents to that the children are exposed. Parents also need to have a consistent and united approach in relation to the core values of parenting; and a consistent approach in relation to things like homework, chores, after-school activities, time on devices, etc.

Also, be aware that a shared care arrangement does not necessarily have to be weak. It could take the following pattern:

Each week – Monday Tuesday with parent 1, Wed Thursday with Parent 2; then in week one of a fortnight – Friday to Monday with Parent 1; and in week 2 of the fortnight, Friday to Monday with Parent 2. ( In other words – 2/2/5/5 nights over a fortnight).

Or it could be 3 to 4 nights with each parent swapping to 3 to 4 nights with the next parent and so on.

What factors will determine what’s appropriate, is the age of the child, the living circumstances of the parents (for example how far apart they live from each other), the after-school activities a child has and most importantly the ability of the child to spend up to a week away from each parent or whether the child copes better with shorter periods of time.