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How do we work around rotating shifts?

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I have been separated from my ex since October last year.  We have two kids, 12 and 9.  Up until now, we've been 'winging it' with the parenting arrangements - basically I've been fitting in with his shifts, which change constantly. But he's really starting to push for all the school holiday time and doesn't seem to understand that I deserve to spend some leisure time with the kids as well, not just school days/homework etc.

I've been trying to research solutions to the problem, but I just can't find anything concrete.

We're seeing a mediator, but we've been concentrating on property settlement and I know the development of parenting plan will build resentment and therefore affect the property split.

I've been thinking about trying to demonstrate how a week about arrangement will affect his time with the kids - but I'm worried that if he accepts that, the kids will be left with friends/family neighbours most of the time, even overnight.  Of course I would rather care for them when he's not available.  But his pride and resentment will stand in the way of that being an option.

Now he's threatened court and we just can't afford it.

Please help me with some ideas….

Thanks - Ecca
Hi Ecca ,

Its great that you have been working in with his shifts , this must be a real juggling act at times . Does he get much notice to his roster changes . ie does he know what the shifts will be for the following month or do the just change from week to week ?

At a guess there is probably 12 weeks of school holidays , so I think 6 weeks off would be fair for both parties .

If you went for the week about arrangement , you could build something into the agreement/Consent orders that state "in the case of the other parenht  not being able to care for the children in their time for a period of 4 hours or more due to a  medical condition or work commitments etc then the other parent is first offered the opportunity to care for the children during that time ,before other arrangements are made " This would work both ways of course.
Thank you so much for your responses, Krystal and Phoenix.

His shift work is very unpredictable and he has 2 weeks of 'variable' shifts built into the 5 week cycle, 2 of which might be days off.

Of course if he's starting work at 7am or finishing work at 11pm, or doing night shift, on those days he can't have the kids overnight.  Those sort of shifts are the most common, and even an 8am shift means he'd have to leave home by 6am.  He is rarely available to pick up or drop off the kids at school.  So we've basically been working on the theory that if he has 2 or more days off, he has the kids.

If we ended up with the week-about arrangement, he would end up not seeing the kids for most of his week and leaving them with carers, and then he might end up with 5 days off in a row while I have the kids.  So it's not making the best use of his time off.

As for him giving me the first option of care when he's working, I seriously doubt he'd agreed to that.

I'm prepared for him to have a slightly larger portion of school holidays (i.e. 60/40) but he alsoe needs to realise that instead of booking all his 9 weeks of leave in school hols, he needs to book it to cover his share of hols and take the rest in school time.

I think if I put together a scenario for the amount of hours he'll actually see them in a 6 month period with the week about arrangement, he might realise than in fact working around his shifts is better for everyone.
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