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Joint custody. Does it work?

(14 Posts)
tangomum Fri 15-Apr-05 20:23:05

H and I are divorcing. Will be moving out as soon as i can find somewhere i can afford. H wants the children (ages 14, 11 and 5) to spend their time split evenly between us. Feel this will be very difficult for the children who will feel like yo-yos. Want them to be mainly with me but see their father whenever they like. Am I being selfish? Don't want to fall out over this but it is so important. Does anyone have some experiences to share?

Fimbo Fri 15-Apr-05 20:26:33

Cant speak from personal experience, but my dh's boss has this arrangement in place with his ex w. The children spend 4 days a week at his and 3 days at hers then rotate. The children are 8 and 6, and my intital thoughts were "OMG how on earth is that going to work" but they have a bedroom in each house and clothes in each, and both houses are relatively close to one another, and it seems to work at the moment anyway for them.

NomDePlume Fri 15-Apr-05 20:34:58

it works for us. Dh and his 1st wife have joint custody of their 2 DSs (now almost 13 and 11.5).

It took us a long time to fight for 50/50 custody, but it works....

Ours runs on a 2 week rota, which looks like this

Week 1

Weds 3.30pm - Saturday 5pm

Week 2

Weds 3.30pm - Friday 9am
Sat 5.00pm - Monday 3.30pm

The boys have their own rooms, clothes and toys at each house. Each house is set up as a permanent home for them, there is no sense of 'staying with dad/mum'

SofiaAmes Fri 15-Apr-05 21:32:38

My boss has had shared custody of his kids (12,8,7ish) with his wife for over a year now and it has been working wonderfully. Their divorce was not a friendly one (she left him for someone she met on the internet), but they managed to put their differences aside for the children. It took a bit of setlling in to get used to the back and forth and what kinds of things they needed two of and what could be taken back and forth. I see the children periodically when the stop by the office and they seem enormously more happy than when their parents initially split up. My boss says they are settled and happy.

Shared custody has become increasingly standard in the usa over the last 20 or 30 years and I believe that there is lots of evidence that it is considered the best option for the children in the case of divorce.
Good luck.

Mowjo Fri 15-Apr-05 21:54:17

My parents split up when I was 9, brother 5, and we lived with my dad for reasons I've never quite believed but anyway...
My mother fought for joint custody. She says it was a nightmare because my dad would say 'It's inconvenient'; my dad says she would ring him randomly, out of the blue, and say 'I want to see the kids for an afternoon'. Anyway, my mother moved around a lot, and is a total flake, so it didn't work for us.

A schoolfriend had a wonderful set-up where she spent the school week with her mother and weekends in a nearby village with her father and his new family. Would echo previous post about having dedicated rooms so they 'live' with you, not having anyone squeezed in or indeed made to feel like a special guest.

My parents utterly ballsed it up!

tangomum Fri 15-Apr-05 21:59:53

I guess I am just feeling the most enormous wrench that they will spend so much time away from me. I have always been the primary carer and their father knows so little about their likes and dislikes etc. Also the 2 youngest have expressed a wish to be with me. (Quite unprompted). It is reassuring to know it can work but I have heard others say that it is more settling for the children to have a primary home?

Caligula Fri 15-Apr-05 22:08:34

I think it very much depends on how you organise it tangomum, and how much each parent is determined to make it work.

If both parties believe in it and want to make it work and will back each other up in parenting decisions, then I think it can work. If they don't, then i think it's probably disastrous for children. I knew a couple of kids years ago who went to their Dad's every weekend and they hated it - they had to miss out on all the birthday parties, and when they were older, social events etc. - all those teenage bonding things. That problem could have been solved by him living closer. However, because of his job, he didn't really have a choice.

I don't know of any comprehensive research that has been done on this. Perhaps you could call Gingerbread or One Parent Families, or The Children's Society, to see if they can direct you to some good research?

Mowjo Fri 15-Apr-05 22:14:13

IME the main thing is for the parents to live close enough to each other that the teenage years don't turn out as Caligula says.
Just remembered another friend who spent one year with her mother in the States, and the next with her father in Vancouver. One year she turned up at her dad's house and her bedroom was full of junk. He hadn't even bothered to make up a bed for her. They still have a somewhat strained relationship...

NomDePlume Fri 15-Apr-05 22:20:22

Yes, living close to each other is pretty essential. DH & I live 20 minutes from exW. Up til 2 years ago we lived 5 mins apart (she moved and then we moved). We are hoping to move again in the next couple of months but we will make sure that we are no more than 35 minutes drive from exW.

tangomum Sun 17-Apr-05 13:05:17

Thanks for your thoughts. h has just horrified me by suggesting that he has the children during the week and I have them at weekends. Am I over reacting? I have been the prime carer for 14 years. Do i just have to learn to let go or is that unreasonable?

WideWebWitch Sun 17-Apr-05 13:11:52

I think it's mad, the idea that children can be shunted around like possessions, and it's not best for them imo. Someone else asked about this a while back, I'll see if I can find it in a bit. I think you should stick with trying to agree that they live with you and he sees them if that's what you and the children want. I don't know what is reasonable but my ex dh sees our son every other weekend for the whole weekend and has him by arrangement in school holidays. Our divorce is v amicable though. I don't think you're over reacting by being horrified at the idea of only seeing them at weekends when you've been the primary carer for 14 years, of course you're not!

snafu Sun 17-Apr-05 13:57:08

I have to say I agree with www. I don't think you're being selfish at all in having serious doubts about this suggestion. Of course I appreciate that every family operates differently and perhaps it can work for some but genuine 50/50 custody does seem, to me at least, like a disruptive way of dealing with the situation.

My situation is that my ds goes over to his dad's on Sat and Sun afternoons and 2 or sometimes 3 evenings a week, when xh comes round to have dinner with him, do the evening routine etc. Therefore he sees ds at least 4 times a week. It works pretty well. Xh lives a short bus ride away and also works from home, so we can be very flexible. And as ds gets older (only 22 months atm), we'll probably move to a 'sleepover' arrangement for one or maybe two nights a week.

But ds's home, his consistent base, is here with me. I do think it's important, particularly when they're young, to maintain as much consistency as possible which is why I would have real problems with a 50/50 arrangement. But it's just my twopennorth and I do appreciate that it might work differently for other, perhaps older, children. Hope you can sort it out.

ggglimpopo Sun 17-Apr-05 14:09:01

Message withdrawn

tangomum Mon 18-Apr-05 19:34:59

I suppose it depends on the childs age but my 5 year old has never spent a night without me, let aknown a month. I think she would find it very traumatic. I suppose the lesson is that diffeent things suit different people. I feel that maybe I should spend less time try to appease h and think more of the children's needs. We are starting mediation on weds so maybe things will become clearer then.

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