Separation is a difficult time for children. When making plans on how you and your partner are going to share the care of your children there are practical things you need to think about such as:
· The age of your children.
· How long they are comfortable being away from one parent at a time; for example, the younger they are the harder it can be for them and you.
· Whether they have regular afterschool and weekend activities and who will be responsible for taking them to these.
· How many changeovers can be managed or preferred during the week?
· The distance to travel between houses.
· Whether it is important to have certainty around which days you or your co-parent have the children.
· Your own work commitments, hours and flexibility.
The primary focus must however be on the welfare and best interests of the children.
Here are some arrangements that are commonly used.
Children spend 2 nights with Parent A, the next 2 nights with Parent B, and the next 3 nights with Parent A and so on.
This equal sharing arrangement allows for the children to have more frequent contact with each parent, while ensuring the parents still both have weekday and weekend time. For example:
Children spend 3 nights with Parent A, the next 3 nights with Parent B, the next 4 nights with Parent A and the next 4 nights with Parent B and so on.
One of you will always have Sunday through to Tuesday, and the other will always have Wednesday through to Friday. Saturdays alternate.
This is a nice simple option as it gives everyone certainty knowing that what days of the week you have the children, and they know whose house they will be at on any given night. For example:
Children spend 2 nights with Parent A, the next 2 nights with Parent B, the next 5 nights with Parent A and the next 5 nights with Parent B. And so on.
This is another option that offers consistency week to week. With alternating weekends. For example:
This arrangement sees the children in your care overnight for 7 days. Ideally starting on a Sunday afternoon each week. The weeks alternating.
When you have care of the children you will be totally responsible for them for a whole week. Ideally you would both agree on and commit to taking them to things like after school activities, weekend sports etc on your week.
A variation on this arrangement is that the after-school activities and the parent responsible for the pickup and drops off for these activities remain the same. That allows both parents to have contact with the children in the ‘off’ week.
This is a good option if you wish to have time in the weekends as well as in the evenings every week however, it can be a big jump for children going a whole week without seeing one parent. Consider whether the children are comfortable being away from one parent for a whole week. This could be an arrangement you can build up to over time.
If you are going through a separation and are working through care options for your children, please get in touch with Emily Hamilton, Solicitor (DDI 03 3438452 / firstname.lastname@example.org), or another member of our experienced family law team, to discuss how we can assist you reach an agreement and tailor a plan to your needs.