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Shared Custody - advice please

(26 Posts)
willow3006 Tue 27-Aug-13 14:28:28


I might have put this on the wrong thread but any advice is appreciated!

My Husband and I have decided to divorce. We have 2 year old twin boys and have decided on shared custody but can't work out how to share the custody.

We both work full time and the twins have had a nanny up until now but as it won't be practical to have a nanny at 2 houses they have started this week at a childminders. My Husband has bought a place near the childminders and I have bought a place 30 mins drive away but I work near the childminders so can go there every day.

One of my twins already has very severe separation anxiety (he's had it for months) and is a bit worse now he has started the childminders as it is a new place for him to get used to. Every time either me or my Husband leaves a room he screams until the other parent can distract him with something else.

What we were going to do is one parent have them Monday, Wednesday Friday and the other Tuesday, Thursday and the weekend and then swap the next week but I'm worried about how this will affect them being shuttled to a different house every night, on top of having to get used to two new houses and a childminder.

Does anyone else do shared custody and how do you do it? We are pretty amicable so communication works fine between us. My Husband is a teacher so he already has the twins every school holiday.

The main issue is we'd like to do 3 days then 4 days as blocks as neither of us wants to be away from the kids for more than 4 days at a time but it doesn't really work as it means the same parent has them every weekend. We'd like ideally alternate weekends (whole weekends rather than saturday with one and sunday with the other).

What do other people do? any suggestions?


Snorbs Tue 27-Aug-13 15:05:00

As your twins are so young it will be tricky to strike the right balance between minimising disruption while not having long periods where they don't see one parent or other.

I have done 50:50 shared care on a week-on, week-off schedule and my children seemed to be ok with that (they were about 6 and 9 at the time) but I think that might be too long for 2yos.

On the other hand though I tend to think that swapping every day would be too unsettling. There are some ideas here which may be worth a look. The 2-2-3 plan might fit well for you.

Good luck and well done on keeping the communication going - it's never easy when a relationship breaks down but being able to sort this kind of thing out amicably will reap huge benefits in the long run.

mabeg3 Sat 31-Aug-13 17:29:27

Hi there, I really feel that they are too young to have 2 homes - I know its hard but they need to be going to sleep in the same bed every night, not matter how tricky for you as parents. They need to live with one parent full time. i'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but in my own personal experience children this young will not cope with this level of change - two yr olds cannot plan! Is this really the only way for you guys to share? One of you needs to take the bulk with the other doing the weekends.....just my view and I wish you all the very best. Maeve

Spottypurse Sat 31-Aug-13 17:33:51

I disagree with Maeve. They will get used to it. I've done nearly 50/50 with my ex for the care of DD for 6 years and it works well. We are reasonably close though, so it's not an issue if stuff gets left in the wrong house.

My ex-husband is every bit as much of a parent as I am and despite how I feel about him has as much right to parent DD as I do.

mabeg3 Sun 01-Sep-13 10:11:09

Hi there, fair point Spottypurse. Brill that you have got this sorted - I really struggled with the shared care - more about the emotional fallout i had to deal with after a visit to dad's....eventually sorted itself out. My son used to call me dad for the three days after each weekend he's stayed with his dad! He was only 3 though. My older daughter who was 8 when her dad left was much more tricky.....but 12 years down the line all is (fairly ) smooth....x

willow3006 Thu 05-Sep-13 15:21:03

There's no choice really. It just isn't fair for one of us to only see them at weekends especially as we both work full time. The one who doesn't get weekends won't get any quality time with them.

There are quite a lot of people who do 50/50 shared custody - I just need to think about the best way of going about it. I'm thinking 2-2-3 schedule at the moment.

nooka Thu 05-Sep-13 15:44:03

We did a split week, with three and a half days each, changing over on Wednesday after school (our children were 4 and 5) and on Saturday night/Sunday morning alternately. Worked pretty well, with not too long a gap for any of us.

We kept our nanny for the first year or so which helped with continuity and then moved to a childminder once dd was at school.

Being amicable makes the biggest difference as it's then possible to be flexible, and of course the children aren't exposed to so much stress. It does sound as if at least one of your twins is going to find it hard whatever you do really. The only plus I think is that the amount of attention you are both able to give to your children may well go up on the days that you have them. I found I tended to do all the boring stuff when the children weren't on the scene plus I flexed my hours a bit too, so child time was more for fun.

TwoStepsBeyond Thu 05-Sep-13 15:55:40

You could think about 3 days each, then the weekends would roll between you - might take a bit more planning, especially once they are at school, as you wouldn't have 'set days' each week, but that might also help so that one of you doesn't end up with all the swimming lessons or always getting them on a grumpy tired Friday night etc.

TwoStepsBeyond Thu 05-Sep-13 16:01:40

you MoTuWe
ex ThFrSa
you SuMoTu
ex WeThFr
you SatSuMo
ex TuWeTh
you FrSaSu
ex MoTuWe
you ThFrSa
ex SuMoTu and so on.

My ex has ours for just one or two nights a week on a rolling roster, so my day off is different every week, which means I can't commit to an evening class etc unless I can get a babysitter, but it means that I have a bit of variety and can generally fit in with other people's set schedules every now and then.

DP has his 50/50 every other Wednesday and then every ThFrSa, taking them back Sunday evening lunchtime. It means some weeks my day off falls on his free days, sometimes it doesn't and I go out with friends or get a night to myself, sometimes we all get together with both sets of kids, sometimes its just him at mine with my kids. Good for variety!

Goldmandra Thu 05-Sep-13 16:51:20

There's no choice really. It just isn't fair for one of us to only see them at weekends especially as we both work full time. The one who doesn't get weekends won't get any quality time with them.

I think you need to change your focus. The contact arrangement should be made for the benefit of your DC not to be fair to you or your ex.

You need to look at what is best for the children then work out how you can arrange it between you. If that means their stability comes at the expense of an adult feeling hard done by or missing them that is tough.

Swapping house and care-giver every night of the week bar one sounds like a very unsettling and stressful and, although it is probably manageable, isn't a recipe for a good quality of life long term. It isn't ever the same nights two weeks running.

Sorry if this sounds harsh but your arrangement sounds very like it's been designed by someone taking turns with a toy. You need to put your children first and the adults' feelings to one side.

TwoStepsBeyond Thu 05-Sep-13 16:56:37

I agree to a certain extent about the parents' needs not being foremost here. My DCs did find it hard initially knowing where they were on which days and remembering to take the right stuff for the following day's lessons and the right clothes, plus arranging play dates after school etc. It can be quite fraught even when its only one or two days a week. I really think that solid blocks of time are the way forward, not swapping every day.

It will also help if your boys have clothes and toys at each house so they don't need to bring anything with them. My ex lives in a tiny house and doesn't have much room to store their stuff, so my DCs have to take a bag with toys/clothes/laptops etc back and forth as well as their school stuff, it isn't easy, but once or twice a week its manageable. I wouldn't want them to be living like that every day.

willow3006 Thu 05-Sep-13 20:46:05

That's why I said we're doing 2-2-3. If you read my original post my whole focus is on not wanting to do one night here then another night there which is why I'm asking for other schedules (rather than being told we're focusing too much on ourselves for wanting to see our children as much as possible!)

We both have seperate houses and the boys have their own rooms with seperate toys in each and their own wardrobes etc so we won't have to take anything with us each time.

When researching most of the articles online say that both parents need to see the child at least once every 3 days at the age of 3 or under for attachment purposes and that's a huge reason why I'm not going to say one if us will only see the children at weekends.

Thanks to those that let me know how you do the shared custody. It has really helped me see the best way forward and how 2-2-3 would work well for us.

Goldmandra Thu 05-Sep-13 23:12:28

Fair enough but your posts are very focused on what you want as parents.

Children can benefit from seeing a non-resident parent for an evening during the week. They don't have to be with them overnight to maintain attachment.

They may not need to carry things between houses at the moment but things will get much more complicated as they get older.

willow3006 Fri 06-Sep-13 14:10:28

I'm afraid research suggests that it is not beneficial at all for an under 3 to see a parent once a week for an evening. They view this parent as an 'uncle' or 'aunt'.

Goldmandra Fri 06-Sep-13 14:31:55

Sorry my post may not have been very clear.

both parents need to see the child at least once every 3 days

I was simply pointing out that 'seeing' doesn't need to include sleeping overnight. I have several friends whose children see their non-resident parent for one or two evenings during the week but come home to go to bed. They also have weekend contact which includes staying overnight.

So the children can see both parents once every three days without having to sleep in different places every night/two nights/three nights.

It's clearly up to you. I was just concerned that the focus of your posts and others was so much on what was fair in the parents, who got the nicest time with them, etc whereas the focus should be on what best suits the children, not the parents.

laeiou Fri 06-Sep-13 14:50:06

Willow- can you give a link or details of the research?

"I'm afraid research suggests that it is not beneficial at all for an under 3 to see a parent once a week for an evening. They view this parent as an 'uncle' or 'aunt'."

nocoolusernameY0 Fri 06-Sep-13 15:31:42

Who is your sons principle care-giver? This person should look after them consistently (in the boys opinion, not yours), and the other person should visit in such a way that the lo's can still go back to their secure base if they need to. At least one of your boys is suffering from attachment anxiety already, so whoever is at the top of their attachment hierarchy has not been doing a convincing enough job up to now, they should step it up, not pull away and have less contact.

I'm sorry, I know I'm not going to win friends or influence people with my next question but: You're grown ups, can't you just suck it up until you've put your babies mind at rest and they both understand enough to know what day of the week it is?

nocoolusernameY0 Fri 06-Sep-13 15:33:57

^Based on the assumption that you are both reasonable people i.e. not in an abusive relationship.

willow3006 Fri 06-Sep-13 16:17:43

We're both main caregivers. We have always both shared responsibility for our children. It saddens me to think some people on here think this is somehow wrong?!

And no, I do not believe for a minute that 'sucking it up' or as some put it 'staying together for the sake of the children' is ever worthwhile! Happy parents = happy kids!

Laeiou - this information and research came from the shared parenting alliance.

Goldmandra Fri 06-Sep-13 19:50:54

It isn't wrong to share responsibility for your children or selfish to want to see them lots. It's perfectly understandable to feel concerned about missing them and to want to minimise your time apart.

However those feelings really need to be put on one side when deciding on contact arrangements. What works best for the children, supports their attachments while causing the least disruption to and stress in their lives, both now and in the future, is of paramount importance.

FWIW I wholeheartedly agree that staying together is not going to do them any favours. Two adults living together but wishing they didn't would not create a stable healthy home.

Happy parents + security + stability + the children's needs being the priority = happy children.

WithConfidence Fri 06-Sep-13 21:08:02

Wow I cannot believe some of the replies you have got here. Very sad that people cannot understand that both of these parents are equally important (and I say that as someone who is jealous, my ex only wants to see ds for a few hours a week).

OP, you might want to try Lone Parents or Step Parenting sections next time as there will be a higher proportion of people who have actually faced these kind of issues.

And my son is just three and understands days of the week, what is a daddy day and what is a mummy day. They will get it, just make sure you give them lots of reassurance and attention when you can. I have been meaning to make up a calender for him with coloured days for what he will be doing, with a little moving conter. But my ex changes so much it doesn't seem worth it - might work for you?

willow3006 Fri 06-Sep-13 22:10:20

Thanks so much - that's such a good idea! I'll post on a more appropriate forum next time for sure!

Fraxinus Fri 06-Sep-13 22:28:01

I am interested in the research too. My children do not see their father as an uncle or aunt, however there were periods of up to 8 months when they didn't see him at all from ages 1 til 7. I really think it depends on what relationships are already there. Perhaps what other people have been trying to get at is that the 3 day rule might not be the best thing to stick to if a child has a severe separation anxiety. Perhaps it would be worth considering adjusting the schedule to fit the 3 day rule after the anxiety has improved. good luck making it work!

TwoStepsBeyond Sat 07-Sep-13 09:29:01

I think many of us who have posted are lone parents who have dealt with this situation, but often it is not practical or reasonable to split things 50/50 exactly, so to suggest that only a totally even split is the way forward is a bit limiting. Different situations work for different families, I think it's fair to point out that the focus should always be on the children though, which wasn't evident from the start.

FWIW my DP, who until now has had every weekend + 1 or 2 other days is now looking at doing a 3 day swap as I suggested below, to vary things a bit. I will see how that would differ to 2, 2, 3.

Fizzyknickers Sat 07-Sep-13 16:29:54


I have shared residency of my 6 yo ds. It has been this way sice he was 2. I have him Saturday night 6pm until wed morn. I take him to school, and then his dad takes responsibility for collecting him and keeps him until Saturday. He also comes over on a Tuesday night and put him to bed here with me. We do days out as a family regularly and my ex has my dd (from current realtionship) overnight too.

I am aware this is a very unusual situ. and it wasn't always this simple. We did go thru the court system.

Looking back I wish we had done it earlier. Life is much simpler these days smile

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