More commonly, one or both separating parents of children are reaching agreements since the introduction of the amendments to the Family Law Act, 1975 that provided a presumption of shared parental responsibility and allowed the court to consider the equal time between the parents or substantial and significant time for the parent the child doesn’t live with.
There are issues to consider prior to reaching this step, but presuming those have been adequately addressed, when should you seek an equal arrangement? Is it really in the best interests of your child?
Firstly, there are practical considerations:
This list is not exhaustive and the court will consider the child’s age, their wishes and other issues it considers relevant. However, even if it’s practical, is it in the child’s best interest?
It is accepted that children benefit from a loving and meaningful relationship with both parents. However, if the relationship between the parents is conflicting and there is open animosity, a shared care arrangement may not be appropriate or beneficial to the child. Research suggests that children respond to ongoing open conflict as well as tension and poorly concealed animosity and this includes denigration by one parent to another.
Research also suggests that it may be more appropriate for children aged over 10 years and less appropriate for small children aged under 3. In smaller children the attachment to one or two adults is considered important and less likely to occur effectively if the child is in constant transition between homes.
If this is an issue of relevance to you and your family, consider these matters: