There are thousands and thousands of court cases and billions of dollars spent every year on divorce. It can lead to decades of bitterness between families due to separation. A major point of contention in divorce is custody, and shared parenting rights.
Whilst some parents can be against shared custody, and in some circumstances it is not appropriate, shared parenting can have some awesome benefits for both children and parents – leading to calmer parents, happier kids, healthier relationships and better childhoods.
Shared parenting means both parents get to spend equal time with their children. Both parents get equal rights over children and they are brought up with both of their guidance and love.
I will say that whilst not always the situation, in the majority of family court cases a children’s Mother is awarded sole or priority custody over the Father. This is a generalisation and not always the case, since The Family Court always rules in the best interests of the child.
It is a type of parenting in which both parents get to spend equal time with their kids after divorce. Both parents get equal rights over children and they are brought up with their guidance and love.
After their relationship breakdown, separation or divorce, both parents still have complete involvement in the lives of their kids. The purpose of this type of parenting is to raise good kids and never let their kids feel like they are raised by a single parent.
It gives both parents a chance to play their role. It has long term objectives that are beneficial for everyone. Parents decide an equal schedule which suits their lifestyles.
We all know that it’s easy for Mothers to think of themselves as Mothers first. In such cases, mothers often ignore themselves as citizens, professionals, lovers, artists, or partners. Their whole lives and identity becomes about motherhood, and nurturing and protecting their children.
Mothers can sometimes be against extra visitation hours because they don’t want to be separated from their children, especially so with younger children or infants. Mothers have an incredibly close and strong bond with their children, and only want whats best for them.
As their relationship with other parent has ended, it can be difficult for them to trust or respect the other parent with their children. They may also not consider the inherent rights a father has over his children. As such, some Mothers are against shared parenting despite how beneficial it could be for them and the children.
Shared parenting is beneficial for both parents and kids. Here are some of the hidden benefits of shared parenting for families that you should consider.
Benefits for kids
Firstly, shared parenting has lots of direct benefits for children; getting love, attention, security and freedoms from both parents have some unique advantages over single custody parenting:
Love from both parents
When kids are living with a single parent, they often miss the other one. In situations where the Mother has sole custody, kids often miss their fathers. However, shared parenting can resolve this issue. It will allow both parents to play their equal role in the lives of their kids and for kids to get love and affection from both of their parents.
The silver lining here is that the love and affection both parents show to their children when they are with them will often increase as a result of the time spent apart – ‘Absence does makes the heart grow fonder’ after all!
More attention and quality parent-child time
The best thing about equal parenting is that parents actually get to spend more quality time with their kids. Otherwise, Parents without sole custody might only get to see their children during visits or weekends.
This can often result in kids not really getting to know their Dad well. However, shared parenting can resolve this issue because of the improved quality of time that both parents will spend with kids. Parents are refreshed, motivated and will try to give their best every time.
Benefits of having two homes
Kids crave security; whilst having two homes can initially feel like one is less of a safe space or less of a ‘home’, as they grow and get used to the arrangement they will enjoy having more personal space and options.
- Children can have more opportunities for freedom and independence from each parent whilst still in a secure environment with the other.
- It means they will get to décor 2 rooms.
- There will be more and different options for playing and recreation at each homes
- They have different types of clothing and possessions at each home.
- They may have access to different nearby friends, facilities, parks or attractions.
Independent and strong kids
Studies show that instead of single parenting, equal parenting raises strong, happy, and good kids. The reason is that single parenting often creates issues and feelings of hate towards one of the parents. Due to which kids often have to deal with mental health problems. However, with equal parenting, such issues will not happen because kids spend equal time with both parents.
Benefits for parents
Shared parenting is not only just about the kids – it also helps parents manage their lives, time, households, finances and career.
Freedom to develop a career
A common cause of divorce is that one parent has to devote all of their time to parenting, due to which he or she cannot focus on their business or career. With equal parenting, this can be resolved with formalised agreements and an official structure. Both parents will get equal time away from kids that will allow them to focus on their business, job, dating, or any other activities they like.
No gender inequality
After a divorce, the child’s mother often gets custody and the father has to pay child support. It shows that mothers are always caregivers and fathers have to be breadwinners. It reinforces a sense of gender inequality and patriarchy. With equal parenting, both parents have to take care of kids as well as earn money to give children a secure future. It allows both parents to respect each other.
Reduce financial issues
After separation or divorce, sometimes one parent might not pay child support and leaving the parent with custody have to become a caregiver and breadwinner. These situations can create serious financial problems. Therefore, equal parenting can be a better solution where both parents equally support their children financially. This will reduce the chances of financial issues or stress with any one parent, and end up with a happier home life for the child.
Fathers play role in the development of children
Often fathers do not get custody of their children. With equal parenting, fathers get a chance to spend more time with their kids as well as kids to get to know their Father better. We all know fathers and male role models are important for the good mental development of children. So after separation, shared parenting is something both parents can look forward to for the development of their children.
If you are not able to reach an agreement privately or through mediation, once you plan to file for divorce or separation the court may decide whether shared parenting will be the right choice for your family or not. There are many relevant factors on which the decision will depend. Some of them are the following.
- The ability of parents to make many joint decisions, cooperate and respect each other and their kids.
- If the child has Guardian ad litem it will depend on recommendations given by the guardian.
- The best interests of both parents are an important consideration.
- The ability of both parents to share time and love their children equally.
- Contact and affection of kids with both parents.
- The geographic proximity of both parents because it will decide whether shared parenting is possible and what will be the schedule.
- Any history of spousal, child, domestic abuse, or kidnapping by either parent.
Shared parenting and custody over children can be a difficult situation to manage between biological parents, but it can be particularly challenging for Step parents. Step parents who have significant relationships with their step children over long periods may not delineate between their biological and non-biological children, but unfortunately family courts or biological parents may not feel the same way.
Ultimately a family court will always rule in the best interests of the child, but it is common for step parents to receive unfavorable custody rulings when compared to a child’s biological parents. This is because step parents do not get automatic legal rights of guardianship over a child.
Ways to overcome this and get parental responsibility is through official adoption or obtaining a parenting order through your family court or government.
Shared parenting may come with many challenges but it will be the best decision for the future of your child. It will not only help you manage to raise good kids, but also give the satisfaction that your child is getting love from both parents. It may be tough in the beginning but the benefits you get will outweigh this and allow you to enjoy the entire parenting process.