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What is shared parenting, and is it right for me?

Shared parenting is pretty much what it sounds like: after a divorce, both parents continue to share the decision-making and responsibilities that go into raising their child. This means discussions about schooling, healthcare and even things like religion and extracurricular activities are decided on as a team. It also means the child gets to spend more equal amounts of time with each parent, which typically makes for happier children and happier parents.

What are some of the possible advantages for my children?

After a divorce, your son or daughter might be feeling confused, sad, angry or scared. Shared parenting helps you show your child that you are willing to make an effort to work with your ex because you love your child, and even though mom and dad are living at two different houses now, your child isn't losing a parent. Studies show your child will likely have:

  • Higher self-esteem
  • Better emotional security
  • Less confusion about the new circumstances
  • Better financial support, which in turn can lead to better schooling and more opportunities

What are some of the possible advantages for me as a parent?

Yes, your child's mental and emotional well-being is probably one of your top concerns. But the shared parenting approach can offer a lot of benefits for you as a parent, including the following:

  • Less burnout since handling all parenting responsibilities alone can be mentally taxing
  • Less conflict due to a commitment to cooperate between you and your ex, which should result in less arguing and bitterness, and thus less stress
  • A better relationship with your child since your child will sees how hard you are working to put his or her emotional needs first
  • More steady child-support payments, when applicable

When might shared parenting not work as well for me?

In cases of domestic violence or abuse, the safety of each parent and the child comes first. Another example of a situation in which the shared parenting approach might not work would be if you were considering relocating out of California or even just a few hours away, as this would obviously affect the living situation and physical custody.

What now?

Shared parenting is a lot of work, there is no doubt about it. It can mean setting aside feelings of grief, anger, betrayal or resentment and finding ways to cooperate with someone to whom you no longer wish to be married. But as this article and many studies have tried to demonstrate, the rewards may far outweigh the drawbacks.

If you are considering a divorce but are worried about how it might affect your child, or if you and your spouse have decided that the shared parenting approach is best in your divorce, an experienced family law attorney can help you navigate through these challenging times. An attorney can help guide you through the ins and outs of child custody and parenting plan agreements, answering any questions along the way, which will allow you to comfortably transition toward a brighter future.

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