“An arrangement whereby children freely enjoy the love and nurture of both parents and their wider family following separation or divorce …it does mean that sufficient time is spent with each parent for the child to view each parent as a parent rather than an aunty or uncle.”
(ASP definition of Shared Parenting as adopted by CAFCASS in 2004)
Shared parenting is an arrangement after divorce wherein both parents continue to have a strong positive presence in their children’s lives. Shared parenting entails that a child spend equal or significant amounts of time with each parent.
As a divorce and family law attorney I see a huge shift towards a more collaborative approach between parents to share equal time with their children after divorce.
Shared parenting arrangements may differ to suit various situations. Time between each parent may be split 50/50 or the children may live with one parent for example, four days every week and the rest of the week with another parent.
After divorce, shared parenting is a preferred alternative to asking the children to choose where they want to live. Many children prefer shared parenting rather than the traditional arrangements. With shared parenting, the children still has the chance to have a meaningful relationship with both of their parents.
There are many benefits to shared parenting. It allows a child to have both his/her parents present in his/her life and although the child has to switch between two homes, shared parenting reassures the child that both parents care for them. This arrangement is more beneficial to a child than when they live with only one parent because often the latter creates a distance both physical and emotional between the child and the “absent” parent.
Studies show that children of divorced couples who retain meaningful relationships with each parent are the ones who find it easier to deal with the breakup of their parents. Research also shows shared parenting is possible despite intense conflict between parents if the parents focus on what is best for their children.
Almost half of the children in the U.S. are deprived of the lifelong benefits of two parents who share the parenting throughout the first 18 years of their children’s lives.
The Benefits of Shared Residence and Shared Parenting
- Removes the need for a child to choose between the parents
- Allows both parents to love and nurture the child in much the same way as they did prior to parental separation and therefore promotes the continuation of family life
- The child does not feel rejected by the non-resident parent and does not blame himself
- Confirms to the child that he still has two parents who love and wish to care for him
- The child derives emotional and psychological security from having two fully engaged parents
- The child is no longer brought up to believe that the resident parent is the real, better or main parent and that the non-resident parent is a lesser parent or to be rejected
- Re-affirms the responsibility of each parent to care and provide for the child
- Sends a clear message to the resident parent, schools, doctors and the courts that both parents are equal and that all decisions relating to the child should be based on this principle
- The child is more likely to grow up in a well-adjusted manner
- Reduces parental hostility as it requires both parents to negotiate and make joint decisions
Bertus Preller is a Divorce and Family Law Attorney in Cape Town and has more than 20 years experience in most sectors of the law and 13 years as a practicing attorney. He specializes in Family law and Divorce Law at Abrahams and Gross Attorneys Inc. in Cape Town. Bertus is also the Family Law expert on Health24.com and on the expert panel of Law24.com and is frequently quoted on Family Law issues in newspapers such as the Sunday Times and Business Times. His areas of expertise are Divorce Law, Family Law, Divorce Mediation, Parenting Plans, Parental Responsibilities and Rights, Custody (care and contact) of children, same sex marriages, unmarried fathers rights, domestic violence matters, international divorce law, digital rights, media law and criminal law.
B.Proc; AD Dip L Law
Family Law Attorney
A:1st Floor, 56 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town, 8000
O: +27 (0) 21 422 1323
F: 086 572 8373
C: +27 (0) 83 443 9838
Facebook: www.facebook.com/divorceattorneys; Skype: divorceattorney