Cookies on The Parent Connection: The couple connection uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use the couple connection, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies from this site.

Is Shared Care for You?

Tags: working out shared care, arranging shared care guidance, is shared care for you, shared care, sharing parental responsibility, arranging childcare responsibilities
Content Types: Children In the Middle
Categories: After Separation

Dads are more ‘hands on’ than ever before but the fact remains that in the UK, children are mostly cared for by mums. Most people’s work commitments are the big barrier to a more equal sharing of time with children. Although there are parents with flexible or shift work that allows them a more equal role in bringing up the children, for most of us families follow the traditional model of dad being the bread winner and mum looking after the children.

 Many parents are forced to question this arrangement when they separate. If they have shared the upbringing of the children before the separation what’s to stop them carrying on this arrangement? If they didn’t share care equally before, what’s to stop them starting now? These are tough questions –

 Mums will often ask why change what the children are used to, especially if they’re already coping with lots of changes around the separation. They often feel it’s best for the children to have a main home with mum and see dad mostly at the weekends.

Dads will often question whether this is really fair and if they only see the children at weekends worry they will become less important in their lives?

There really are no easy answers to these questions other than to remind parents that whatever arrangements parents come up with for their children, the children’s needs are more important than the parents needs.

Research has also found out that if parents are to share the care of the children, it only works well for children if parents can communicate about them and generally get along. A shared care arrangement for parents who are in conflict won’t work for the children even if it suits the parents.

So how will you know if it will work for you? Try and answer yes or no to the following questions:

  • Can you communicate and negotiate fairly well about the children?
  • Do you basically respect your ex as a parent despite your relationship disappointments and personal differences?


  • Can you put your personal disagreements and conflicts to one side and focus on what the children need in a given situation?


  • Is there compromise and give and take when there are disagreements?


  • Can you share control and respect the autonomy of the other parent’s household?


  • Are your fundamental child rearing values and practicalities similar?


  • Can you tolerate your differences without seeing them as detrimental to the children, and can you distinguish between the important and unimportant differences?


  • Do you value what the other parent has to offer your child?


  • Are you willing to tolerate the personal inconvenience and extra work in coordinating schedules?


  • Is your child able to handle transitions?


  • In the married family were the child rearing tasks shared (not necessarily equally) if not, is there a commitment to increase sharing now?


This is just a guideline but if you answer ‘yes’ to most of them then shared care may work for you. If there are some important no's then it might be better to think about another type of arrangement that would suit your children better. Or, you could work on the problem areas with your ex.  Using Family mediation may be helpful.

Follow this link for further information on children in the middle after separation

Or read about shared care disputes in mediation. This article was originally published in the Family Law Journal, December 201. It was written by Bernadette Davis, one of our forum's resident moderators, who explains some of the emotional and practical complexities of shared parenting.

  This was of help to 100% of people  


  • User-anonymous canvine Flag

    I have read all the comments and it is clear that separation/childcare splits are very challenging. I think communication and compromise with the ex partner is key and for those who are struggling with that, I find the best thing to do is focus on the kids. Really hit it home to the ex that you need to set aside your differences and come to an agreement based on the needs of the kids. If this is impossible, then maybe try mediation like the article suggests. Everything I have read has focused on the importance of getting on with the ex for the sake of the kids. If they are decent people they will know that the right thing is to focus on the children, but that can be really tough when there are other issues between you. Good luck to everyone who posted.

    This is my story...Myself and my partner split up fairly recently, around 9 months ago. I work 12 hour shifts, 4 on, 4 off, both nights and days, so we agreed to split the childcare 50/50, with my ex having the kids on the 4 days I work. It has been really difficult for the children during this time, they were 5 and 3 when we separated and have just turned 4 and 6. They struggle not seeing me for 4 days and it tears me apart because I don't have any way of having them more due to my work. I gave my ex all the benefits as he works part time and that was the only way he could afford to house them and look after them. My shifts enable me to afford to house and look after them, so changing my job to normal hours is not really an option unless I take more of the childcare, benefits, etc, which means my ex won't be able to care for them.

    I know that it is still early days and they are young, but it kills me when I speak to them and they cry cos they want a cuddle and want to see me. I was always a firm believer in equal rights for parents and that both parents are just as important, but I am now starting to the mum the one they need the most after all? Or is it just that I have a better bond/relationship with them? I have the benefit of not working the whole time I have them so I suppose I am there for them and they feel more stable with me. When my ex has them he works part time and so they are often picked up by one of their grandparents. So maybe it's the stability they need rather than the mother?
    My littlest starts school in September so will finish later and so it will be more often than not that their dad picks them both up from school. Perhaps then they will feel more stable there?
    I have been considering popping to see them when they are on "daddy days" now and again so they don't feel they are missing me so much, but we tried that before and it only seemed to make things worse as they wanted me for longer, but I couldn't due to work. It's ups and downs overall. Sometimes when I call they are fine, other times they are upset and want me. Sometimes I wonder if calling is a bad thing, but I want them to know I think about them and love them. It's really hard!
    Has anyone got any ideas/tips, etc?
    The good thing is, the ex and I communicate fairly well with no major disputes so these are things we can discuss. It's just knowing what is best and working out a solution
    If anyone has any advice they can give me, it would be much appreciated. We are all really struggling at the moment :-(

    Thu 15, May 2014 at 10:15am
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    comments show that there is no one rule for all as families are so unique. I think there are some very interesting and challenging questions in this article and I wonder how many parents can answer yes to the majority of them?

    Tue 31, Dec 2013 at 7:49pm
  • User-anonymous Grazz Flag

    I'm getting to my wits end regarding my children's access. My wife split from me nearly two years ago now and originally a formal arrangement was set up for two week nights and a weekend full day. Both myself and my girls want it to be fully equal (I've sat them down and spoken to them about and made it very clear that if they were happy as it was, I wouldn't take it further or be angry at them for it). I've still maintained these days throughout the time since we've split, and I know this isn't as bad as it is for some. Whenever I mention the subject of increasing the time to be 50/50, she refuses point blank and says it's staying as is! It really gets me down now as both girls are beginning to get upset with the matter, but they won't say anything to my ex, I think because they don't want to upset things further. I can't afford to go down the court route at the moment. But I'm sure that this is now my only option.

    Mon 30, Dec 2013 at 11:37pm
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    That sounds like a really hard situation to be in...probably made worse by being in the run up to Christmas. I wonder when it began to get difficult. From what you say it worked out fairly well to begin with. It may be that if you can get him to go to mediation with you it will give you the opportunity to have someone help him see that all you want is the best for your daughter. Have you found the link above helpful? Since you both have new partners it may be that your moving in with your partner in the next few months is making him fearful that he will be replaced. In his daughters eyes.. You don't say what the breakdown in communication with him is about. You might find it helpful to post on the forum with a bit more that responses can be better geared towards your situation. What do you think?

    Fri 6, Dec 2013 at 2:11pm
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    we have an informal shared care agreement - informal in that it is not down on paper but we have been doing it for the past 3.5 years ( it has gradually and naturally increased to 50/50) however..... I am really struggling at present. my ex and I are unable to communicate, any discussion becomes a big problem. We have both moved on. new partner for me who I am moving in with in coming months and he has a new partner and baby.

    I am at the point where I totally regret encouraging and supporting a shared care arrangement. I realise that this is a very selfish attitude and I struggle with these thoughts as shared care offers my daughter the best possible situation but I feel totally worn out by the "talking to a brick wall attitude" I am faced with. I have sought legal advice and know that what I am suggesting and offering in terms of shared care is accurate however it is never right and never enough.....


    Tue 3, Dec 2013 at 3:53pm