Equal Shared Care Parenting Arrangements, and is it a good idea for my Children?
It is common that parents who equally share the care of their children consider that the best way to do it is by alternating weeks, also known as “week about”. However, even though such a schedule is simple and easy to follow for the parents, it may not be the best choice for the children, particularly young children and especially during school periods.
The 5-2-2-5 schedule allows both parents to spend equal time with their children. In accordance with the schedule, one parent has the children on Mondays and Tuesdays overnight. The other parent has the children on Wednesdays and Thursdays overnight. Then the parents alternate the Friday-Saturday-Sunday overnights each week.
This schedule constitutes a two-week (fourteen-day) rotation. This means that if you are scheduled to be the ‘Wednesday-Thursday’ parent, you will have kids on Wednesday + Thursday + Friday + Saturday + Sunday the first week (the first 5 days), and on Wednesday + Thursday the second week (the second 2 days). The other parent will be the ‘Monday-Tuesday’ parent, and will have the children in their care on Monday + Tuesday the first week (the first 2 days) and then on Friday + Saturday + Sunday + Monday + Tuesday the second week (the second 5 days).
The 5-2-2-5 schedule provides for consistency (one parent will always have Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other Wednesdays and Fridays) therefore it may be easier for the parents, but more importantly, the schedule may be beneficial for the children, as it would be easier for them to understand exactly when they will be spending time with each parent.
A negative side of this arrangement may be the frequency of handovers, particularly if the parents are not particularly amicable with one another or have a conflictual relationship.
The 3-4-4-3 schedule is another 50/50 shared parenting schedule. In accordance with this schedule, the first parent has the children for 3 days of the week, and the second parent for the remaining 4 days. The following week, the schedule shifts, so the first parent has the children for 4 days, and the second for the remaining 3 days of the week.
Depending on which day the schedule starts, there are different variations. This schedule may actually take a form of a:
This arrangement allows the parents to have the children in their care on the same nights each week, save for the one night that shifts every week, therefore it also provides for consistency for the parents and the children. This arrangement can work well with parents who have different work schedules.
The negative side of this schedule is that it may function in a way that only one parent has the children every weekend.
We can assist you with choosing the schedule that would work best for you, your children, and the other parent. The schedules mentioned above are just some of the possibilities, but as experienced family law professionals we know that each family has its own needs and unique dynamic, and we are here to listen, consider all the factors you deem important and help you to achieve the best suitable arrangement for you and your children.
Is Equal Shared Care Appropriate?
It is also imperative to obtain independent family law advice from experienced family lawyers before agreeing to equal shared care.
It is not uncommon for parents to mistakenly believe that the Court will impose an equal shared care arrangement. This is not accurate. Equal shared care requires a high degree of mutual respect and cooperation and may not be suitable for families in high conflict, or where the children are young. Commonly, equal shared care of children seems to be more prevalent where children are older, the parents can effectively communicate in an amicable way, and there are no risk issues present for the children when in the care of either parent.
You can call us on (08) 9325 8675 to schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers, or visit our website www.perthfamilylawyers.com.