How did you reach your shared parenting arrangements? It was a pretty long process. A combination of mediation and solicitors was needed over several years to come to an agreement. In the end we used a Minute of Agreement to come to our arrangement.
What are/were the practicalities of your arrangements? Our split was exactly 50/50, I felt it was important for my son to continue having a relationship with both of his parents. We also split school holidays in half. It was also decided that it would give my son the most stability and security if I was responsible for paying for nursey and school expenses.
What arrangements did you make in relation to holidays and special days (such as birthdays, Christmas, religious holidays)? At Christmas, he would spend Christmas Eve with one of us and Christmas Day with the other. We also did the same for Hogmanay. On my son's birthday if my son was not staying with me, I'd see him for two hours, similarly for his mum.
How far is it between your house and your ex-partner's house? For most of the time we only lived about a mile or so away but later I moved further away (about 30 minutes on the train), which made things a bit trickier.
Were/are your arrangements flexible and adaptable to changes in your child’s life? Yes but we tended to find that it was easier and caused less friction if we stuck to the schedule wherever possible.
"I felt it was important for my son to continue having a relationship with both of his parents."
How were arrangements altered as the children grew up? It got easier to give him the freedom to make his own decisions about where to be. I didn’t feel like I needed to protect him anymore.
3. Looking Ahead
Would you recommend shared parenting as a policy objective of the Scottish Government? Yes, I would say that everyone should have the opportunity to be as involved in the child’s life as possible, but it’s not for everybody. Parents need to be able to adapt: you need to have a flexible work environment and have the right priorities to be able to focus on the child. I feel it was the right choice for my son. It seems that fathers are being sidelined at the moment and I would like to see that changed.
What advice and recommendation would you give to other separating families who are considering using shared parenting? Both parents need to be able to focus on the child. You also need to accept that it’s not going to be perfect I would also say that if there is disagreement, you need to have a serious commitment to mediation.
How has shared parenting affected the relationship between you and your children? Although it was difficult at first, it made it easier to support him. I could help with things like checking his homework and I felt I was there for him if he ever needed me. It’s not a simple solution but at the time we were one of the only families to achieve 50/50 care. Hearing other people’s stories made me realise how lucky I was.
How do you feel the environment of two homes affects the activities/hobbies your child is involved in? I would say it did create some inconsistencies in the kind of things that he could get involved in – especially when I moved further away. It was difficult to attend things like scouts which happened every week.
"[School performance] is an area I was aware was a risk for children of separated couples. So I was proactive in supporting my son. He worked really hard and got excellent grades... So with the right support you can help kids beat the odds!"
Do you think shared parenting influenced your child’s social skills and friendships? On the whole I think there was a lot of continuity in his social life, it was really important to me that my son would be able to stay in the same friendship groups which I think worked really well.
How has shared parenting affected your child’s independence and autonomy – feeling good about him/herself? I think separation can be very hard on a child. He seemed to become less chatty and outgoing which at times made communication between us much more difficult.
Do you feel shared parenting influenced your child’s education or school life? This is an area I was aware was a risk for children of separated couples. So I was proactive in supporting my son. He worked really hard and got excellent grades, he has just completed his first year at university. So with the right support you can help kids beat the odds!