Shared Care: Ideal for whom?

The child A shall reside with the Applicant father as follows:

During term time:

Week one: From Tuesday (collect from school) to Friday (return to school).

Week two: From Friday (collect from school) to Tuesday (return to school).

During school holidays the above arrangement shall be suspended, and the following arrangements shall prevail:

The child A shall reside with the Applicant father as follows:

For the first half of the Easter holidays, father to facilitate delivery of the child to mother;

For the half term in February and October, collection and return of Child A to and from school;

For 3 weeks of the summer school holidays, with no more than 2 weeks to be taken as a block;

Christmas: Year 1 (and for the avoidance of doubt, 2012 shall be year 1):

From school on the last day of term until 1pm Christmas day. Father to facilitate return to mother;

Year 2:

From 1pm on Christmas day until term restarts. Mother to facilitate delivery of Child A to father. Father to return Child A to school.

At all other times the child A shall reside with the Respondent mother.

The above is an order for shared care, in this instance, one for 50:50 care, which is the ideal of many fathers’ groups – it being ‘fair’ apparently. I am not sure about for whom it is fair.

Imagine being child A. Really imagine it. Where is home? Do you have a home, or are you ferried between houses, with your favourite things constantly being packed up in the bag you seemingly always have to carry with you.

Separation isn’t easy on anyone. But in fighting for what might be perceived as fair for a grown-up, we might overlook what is often most important to a child post-separation, which is stability. I honestly fail to see how stability can come if you shuttle from one place to another every 3 or 4 days.

I have, I admit, no answers. However, I don’t think this is the answer we are looking for, however ‘fair’ it may be.


8 thoughts on “Shared Care: Ideal for whom?

  1. Years ago I was having a cigarette outside a motorway service station with my wife Anjee, (boy do I know how to spoil a girl eh).

    A car pulled up next to us. A few minutes later another car pulled up nearby. The adults in each got out and chatted a bit. Then the kids in car 1 got out and then got in to car 2. Both cars drove off.

    I looked at my wife (whose parents split up when she was young) and said in my sarcastic way “do you think they are trafficing kids?”

    “No Jon, that is a reality you have never had to deal with in your childhood.”

    Still being naive I said “What’s that?”

    Anjee replied, “It’s called divorce.”

  2. people complain a lot about the absent father, of which I am one. But yes after my wife and I split, ( 22 years ago) and she disappeared with my 2 boys I spent a long time wondering how those kids would grow up. Actually they were lucky and have both grown to 2 very well adjusted and clever men! Did i do the right thing by NOT chasing the half life with them .. i guess so, as they seem to have done exceptionally well without me! And to be fair I would rather that than have two very disturbed and confused kids who have spent their lives going on about their broken home life! Stabilty is the key even if it is only with one parent !

  3. When I started going out with my husband I found the arrangements of him getting access to his children difficult to handle, we live a long way from them so only get to see them during the holidays. The conversations between him and his ex used to go something like, “Well, I’d like them for the last week in July and the first week in August” and “it my turn to do Christmas this year but I can take them back on the 27th” I used to say “what are they, a timeshare?’ It’s a bit better now, probably as good as its going to be until they are adults. How any adult (let alone child) will be able to follow that court order is beyond me.

  4. I agree that the idea of splitting children literally down the middle works for very few, with most children I’ve seen opting to have an anchor, or one base they can settle into.

  5. Yup, the literal interpretation of 50/50 custody is strangely devoid of reference to what children need – which is both a secure home, and a close relationship to adult carers, which usually means both parents (assuming domestic violence or child abuse is not a factor). When a custody arrangement means ferrying a child between two addresses, it seems that the need for a relationship with parents is being fulfilled in such a way that it may interfere with the need for a home.

    The important thing is for parents to arrange their relationship with the child in a way that serves the child’s needs rather than the parents. Rather than focusing on joint residency, I’d like to see more emphasis on family mediation leading to custody settlements that emphasise a child’s needs, and perhaps encourage parents to see their relationship as a family continuing, even if their relationship as a couple has ended and they no longer live together.

  6. When my controlling and abusive husband announced two years ago that he was gay and promptly moved in with his boyfriend, we managed to forge an arrangement that keeps our kids largely anchored in one residence.

    They absolutely hate the few occasions when they are uprooted and forced to spend the night with dad. And not just because of the way he treats them that makes them feel worthless, inadequate, unfairly blamed, bullied, ignored, guilty, powerless, hopeless, and without any form of satisfaction, achievement or self determination.

    The cost to me is quite high as I bear nearly 100% of the burden of childminding, housework, emotional support (which is considerable as I need to support them to develop their self satisfaction and independence to compensate for the emotional abuse dished out by their father), and day to day administration, not to mention most of the expense. But at least I no longer have his poisonous presence filling me with dread at his very approach.

    Unfortunately this responsibility leaves me so depleted I often have no energy left to devote to my efforts to recover from the damage inflicted by my own abusive childhood and my abusive marriage. Far less even consider a social life.

    Nonetheless I would not do it differently.

    In fact we are moving soon to a more affordable residence, which has the added benefit of giving the kids their own space where they can have friends over, and where dad can stay the night with them (and I get a precious night off duty), rather than them having to pack up everything they need in a bag and squeeze into the inadequate space this wealthy man begrudgingly allocates them (a shared sofa bed in his media room, no wardrobe space, not even a bed each in a shared bedroom, let alone a bedroom each).

    Despite his appalling treatment of me for the last two decades, some of which would certainly be considered crimes, he has eventually learned from my confronting him about his behaviour, modified his behaviour somewhat and we are now able to operate as an almost functional family unit which puts the kids’ needs first. Certainly more functional than when we were all his prisoners subject to his every whim, with no voice and no rights whatsoever.

    I’m still working on his abusing the kids – he has transferred this undesirable attention from primarily me to them in a milder form, but is yet to recognise how damaging he is to them – abusers are by definition deluded and completely allergic to self awareness – and can only see that his terrifying tirades result in resentful but prompt obedience, and thus are an example of successful parenting, while my nurturing approach is frequently tested to the limits by our very determined younger son.

    My point? It is possible, even in otherwise completely undesirable circumstances, for two parents who are no longer a couple to decide to act as adults for the sake of the kids and put the kids’ needs first.

    Our arrangement does not meet the requirements of the men’s power lobbyists who object to any infringement of their rights to impose their will on their former wives and children.

    Instead it recognises that our kids are a precious resource it is our responsibility to nurture to well adjusted adulthood. Not possessions to be exploited while following our personal drives.

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