Shared care – how if af­fects your chil­dren


Le­gal Mat­ters Keep in mind that while your re­la­tion­ship with your part­ner may be chang­ing, your role as a par­ent is for life.

If par­ents sep­a­rate they have to sort out the care ar­range­ments for their non-adult chil­dren. If they can sort that out in the best in­ter­ests of the chil­dren, that is the ideal out­come.

The older the child, the more the child’s views on the ar­range­ments will be im­por­tant.

One op­tion is to share the care of the chil­dren be­tween the par­ents. Though an in­creas­ing num­ber of sep­a­rated fam­i­lies are opt­ing for shared care ar­range­ments, what works best for some chil­dren may not work for oth­ers.

There is no pre­sump­tion un­der New Zealand law that chil­dren will be bet­ter off liv­ing with­Mum or Dad or one part­ner or the other. What is clear from the re­search in this area is that chil­dren do best when they have a good re­la­tion­ship with both par­ents.

The abil­ity of the par­ents to be the adult and sort out mat­ters in the best in­ter­ests of the chil­dren is also very im­por­tant.

You and the other par­ent need to con­sider what is in the best in­ter­ests of your child/chil­dren and try to es­tab­lish and main­tain a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship with each other.

So, what is in the best in­ter­ests of your child? There are no set rules about that but here are some fac­tors to con­sider: Their age(s). Their tem­per­a­ment – are they a child who strug­gles with change?

Your child/chil­dren’s weekly ac­tiv­i­ties.

How close to each other do you and your ex-part­ner live – how much travel is in­volved for the chil­dren?

Is there con­flict be­tween you and the other par­ent? If so, how much? That is rel­e­vant if changeovers are fre­quent and the chil­dren are be­ing ex­posed to it.

Each par­ent’s abil­ity to pro­vide good qual­ity care.

It is worth remembering that what­ever care ar­range­ments you agree on for your chil­dren, they may need to change over time as your chil­dren’s needs and ac­tiv­i­ties change.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween par­ents is there­fore very im­por­tant. Keep in mind that while your re­la­tion­ship with your part­ner may be chang­ing, your role as a par­ent is for life.

Some par­ents are able to agree eas­ily on the best ar­range­ments for their chil­dren and oth­ers need some help.

The Min­istry of Jus­tice pro­vides a free in­for­ma­tion pro­gramme called Par­ent­ing Through Sep­a­ra­tion.

This pro­gramme cov­ers how sep­a­ra­tion af­fects chil­dren, what chil­dren need through sep­a­ra­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion with chil­dren and former part­ners and keep­ing chil­dren away from ar­gu­ments.

The pro­gramme is run in small groups and you at­tend a sep­a­rate group to your ex-part­ner.

The care ar­range­ments you agree on for your chil­dren do not have to be for­malised by a lawyer or through the court, although in some cir­cum­stances it may be ad­vis­able to do so.

Some par­ents are un­able to agree upon care ar­range­ments and if that is you, or if you are un­sure about the ar­range­ments be­ing pro­posed, it may be a good idea to ob­tain le­gal ad­vice.

Col­umn cour­tesy of Rainey Collins Lawyers, phone 0800 733 484 or rain­ey­ If you have a le­gal in­quiry you would like dis­cussed in this col­umn, email aknowsley@rain­ey­

Our next free public sem­i­nar, deal­ing with em­ploy­ment dis­ci­pline and per­for­mance is­sues, will be on June 2, from 12.15pm till 1.15pm. See our web­site.


Char­lie Sheen and Denise Richards had two daugh­ters dur­ing their brief mar­riage, and strug­gled to deal with many is­sues – in­clud­ing cus­tody – after they broke up.

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