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Is shared parenting suitable for your family ?

10 guidelines to help you determine if shared parenting is suitable for your family

Shared Parenting Arrangement - guidelines for parents

By David Cannon

27 January 1997

Parents need to reflect carefully on the respective needs of their children and their own parenting resources, as Shared Parenting may not work for everyone.

The following guidelines can be used to determine whether or not Shared Parenting is suitable for your family.

Divorce often involves hurt and angry feelings. Sometimes these feelings can make it difficult to work together as parents. Professional counselling may be necessary to assist you in resolving these feelings. Hopefully the hurts and angers of the divorce will not last for ever and the two of you will be able to find a new way of working together and a 'new way of being related'.

1. The family does not end with a divorce, and its functions, such as parenting, continue. Shared Parenting allows for the responsibility of parenting to be shared.

2. The end of marriage does not mean the end of the parental relationship. An unworkable marriage does not necessarily result in an unworkable parenting relationship.

3. The best interests of children are met when parents can work together in carrying out their responsibilities of raising the children together.

4. Children need a relationship with both parents. Shared Parenting sets the stage for the parents to be involved in the lives of their children.

5. Raising children is a full time responsibility. Shared Parenting allows for that responsibility to be shared without over burdening one parent, as often happens in sole custody, or by not giving enough responsibility, as may occur with the visiting parent.

6. Parents have different assets that are important to their children. Shared Parenting can allow parents to combine their child rearing skills and more completely meet the needs of their children.

7. Shared Parenting requires a plan for day to day care that fosters stability. Some children can handle equal times with each parent; other children need a more central residence.

8. Both parents have a right and a responsibility to make decisions affecting their children. Parenthood is a privilege that involves responsibility. It is that sense of responsibility that strengthens the ongoing attachment between parents and children.

9. Shared Parenting is not for parents who are enmeshed in marital battles and who are unable to find a reasonable way of working together. Counselling may be necessary to develop a co-operative relationship.

10. Shared Parenting is not workable when parents are using it to meet their own needs and are unwilling to consider the children's needs.

(Adapted from the leaflet 'Joint Custody' published by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.)
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