Shared parenting is not about the amount of time each child spends with each parent. The amount of time spent should allow the relationship to be meaningful. Children should see each parent as important in their lives even if they do different activities with each.
You will need to agree on the periods children will spend with each parent. Children’s ages and school situations, and parents’ employment are considerations in your decision-making. The law says that it is in the best interests of a child for parents to have equal shared parental responsibility unless there is violence or abuse.
Consider equal time if it works for both parents. If the equal time between parents doesn’t work, try an arrangement that allows each parent to spend a good amount of time with the child. This means a child spending time with each parent over a mix of weekends, holidays and regular days and nights. This way both parents are involved in the child’s daily routine, as well as sharing special events and other events of significance.
Transport and children’s activities
Children lead busy lives and parents need to make arrangements to support their activities. Keeping up with their sporting and other activities is important for child development. This can involve transport and supervision for such events as sleepovers. If they are travelling on holidays or camps, parents should make arrangements to collect and return them.
It is important for children that changeovers go well. Kids will notice any problems between parents. Parents should find ways to make it easier, like arranging to meet each other at a location away from home.
Some people may find it useful to use a Children’s Contact Service.
Child care and supervision of the children
If the child goes to child care or needs babysitting, parents should arrange this. Parents can discuss child care and if the other parent would be the first choice to look after the children when they need babysitting.
If children are spending time in different homes, parents should organise housekeeping arrangements. Parents should consider who is washing clothes, food and sharing belongings between two houses.
Make arrangements for children to spend time with their parents and relatives, on special days. This could be:
- days of religious significance, eg Christmas
- parents’ birthdays
- child’s birthday
- Father’s Day and Mother’s Day
- other important days in the family