Charlie's Story

 

1. Practicalities

How did you reach your shared parenting arrangements? We didn’t agree on how to do parenting at first, my partner was hoping to get sole custody so I ended up getting a solicitor involved. But we managed to come to a voluntary agreement eventually.

What are the practicalities of your arrangements?  We have almost entirely 50/50 parenting; we split the week in half so we change on Sundays and Wednesdays.

What arrangements did you make in relation to holidays and special days (such as birthdays, Christmas, religious holidays)? We make it so that we swap Christmas and New Years every year. So one year the children will be with me for Christmas and the next year at New Years.

How far is it between your house and your ex-partner's house? About a mile or so.

"It was important for us as parents to remember that the flexibility of shared parenting was useful for both us and hostility just made that more difficult."

How will arrangements alter as the children grew up? I think the main thing for the future will be to allow them more flexibility to choose their own arrangements as they get older. It’s really important that children are always asked about their own wishes.

If you have a new partner, how does your shared parenting affect them? There was some hostility to my new partner at first which made things quite difficult but things have improved. It was important for us as parents to remember that the flexibility of shared parenting was useful for both us and hostility just made that more difficult.

3. Looking Ahead

Would you recommend shared parenting as a policy objective of the Scottish Government? Yes, I think it’s better for children and better for parents. I think times are changing and we should expect both fathers and mothers to be involved in bringing up children, especially if they have the flexibility at work to do so. Without the flexibility of being able to choose when I work, I think it would have been really hard to share parenting.

What advice and recommendation would you give to other separating families who are considering using shared parenting? I would say the most important thing is to be able to swallow the hurt and anger when a relationship fails, which can be really difficult. It’s important to focus on what is best for the children. Accepting compromise and learning to clearly communicate is also important.

"I think times are changing and we should expect both fathers and mothers to be involved in bringing up children, especially if they have the flexibility at work to do so."

2. Outcomes

How has shared parenting affected the relationship between you and your children? I think my relationship has improved with my children, we seem to be closer. It’s easier for us to have more quality time together because they can focus on one parent and I can put all my attention on them when they are here. It’s can be a bit easier putting all your energy into having a close relationship when you also have time off. We’re more likely to spend our time playing a board game or something like that now. The down side of that is that they are maybe a bit more spoilt; they expect you to be able to put 100% attention on them all the time. They also get two holidays and two sets of presents at Christmas.

Do you feel shared-parenting allows your children to feel connected to both their parents? Yes, I would imagine it allows them to feel closer to both of us.

Do you feel shared parenting changed the amount of support and encouragement your children receives from each of you? Yes, it has allowed me to put more effort into parenting and I have more appreciation for them now. The arrangement has made me go the extra mile. I was in a damaging relationship before and I’m a lot happier now, which is also a lot better for my children.

Do you think it helped to diminish conflict/increase communication between you? I would say we do have better communication. I also would say that my children have a bit more respect for my authority as a parent now.

How do you feel the environment of two homes affects the activities/hobbies your child is involved in? My children have always been busy with a lot of activities, maybe two or three a week. Me and my ex-partner share the costs between us which makes that easier.

"It’s easier for us to have more quality time together because they can focus on one parent and I can put all my attention on them when they are here."

Do you think shared parenting influenced your child’s social skills and friendships? There doesn’t seem to have been many differences.

How has shared parenting affected your child’s independence and autonomy – feeling good about him/herself? My children seem pretty happy and fulfilled. They seem a lot closer to each other and more reliant on each other now. I haven’t noticed any other changes.

Do you feel shared parenting influenced your child’s education or school life? They both are performing really well at school, hard to say how things would have been if the arrangement had been different.  I think it’s really helped that that they’ve been able to stay close to their school, so there’s been continuity.