Although it might sound like a rather challenging prospect for you and your ex partner to commit to setting up a shared residency schedule for your child, this proposition actually has a whole lot of plus points. The benefits that this schedule brings specifically revolves around the happiness and wellbeing of your child, and the relationship that you both get to have with them into the future.
Organising a shared residency schedule for your child involves establishing a fixed, dependable routine with your partner regarding what days of the week your child will be spending with each of you. In addition to this, establishing your child’s care status as one of shared residency (also known as ‘joint custody’) means that the both of you will have shared responsibility for your child’s well being and any key decisions that need to be made concerning this.
In a previous article, we outlined the key details of what shared residency involves, how you and your partner can best go about discussing this concept, and then some advice to help you plan a new routine for you all to stick to.
In this article, we will focus on the implementation of this shared residency schedule into your lives, the benefits of this decision, and discuss how you and your ex can go about making this plan the best that it can possibly be for your child, to ultimately make their transition to life after the divorce as seamless and happy as possible.
While it may at first necessitate a fair bit of planning (and possibly bring about some stressful moments), working with your ex to establish a dependable shared residency plan is well worth the effort.
The notion of shared residency – and generally expecting equal responsibility from both parents – is very reflective of a modern society. It’s no longer automatically mum’s job to stay at home and look after the kids. The rising adoption of shared residency schedules after a divorce are indicative of an increasing consideration for the employment of mothers, as well as a respect for the role that fathers have in their child’s lives. With shared residency, both parents have an equal role to play in the care of their child, as well as a joint say in the legal rights and obligations due to their child, too.
Alongside these points, the various advantages of your child having shared residency between you and your ex includes:
While less important than those of your child’s wellbeing, of course, the benefits that it brings to you and your ex also include:
The final step to take, to ensure that your shared residency plan is the best that it can be, is ensuring that it is implemented in a way that makes your child feel comfortable, and that the transition does not make them feel on edge, tense or unsettled in either home.
In order to make your shared residency plan best suit your child’s needs, have a read of these key tips that you can use to implement this seamlessly into all of your lives:
Making the spaces comfortable: since your child is having to move repeatedly between two homes, it’s important that this does not leave them feeling unsettled and disjointed. The best way that you can help these ongoing transitions become a normal part of your child’s life is by ensuring that they are provided with a fully functional space in both homes.
They should have their own bedroom in each home – this will provide them with a comfortable space that they enjoy being in. Also, try your best to ensure that all key objects (such as bigger objects like desks for school work, or smaller things like a proper toothbrush) are available at both of their residencies, so that your child doesn’t feel like they’re having to constantly pack their bags and cart their belongings from one place to another.
You and your partner should work together to make your child feel like they have two homes where they belong, rather than none.
Communicating with each other: even after you’ve made the initial shared residency agreement, you and your partner should continue to communicate regularly with each other, to check that things are still working as well as possible for you all. By continuing to keep this line of communication open, you are keeping the arrangement flexible and one which you can effectively change over time should, for example, your child’s needs change as they get older, or one of you gets a new job.
Should you both want to make any changes to your child’s shared residency plan, the best thing to do would be to write down the details of this change in full, then add it to your parenting plan and both of you sign off the change. That way, you’ll effectively be able to limit any potential confusion or disagreements that could crop up further down the line.
One of the key parts of the new Children and Family Bill that was put into action in 2013 was the statement that “Ministers intend to strengthen the law to ensure children have a relationship with both their parents after family separation where that is safe and in the child’s best interests.”
This line provides us with a key insight into how shared residency is being viewed from an institutional perspective. The child’s wellbeing is, first and foremost, paramount, and shared residency is increasingly being viewed as one of the best ways to go about achieving this.
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