Rainscourt Family Law Solicitors

Shared Parenting and Child Arrangements

Shared parenting, also known as joint custody or co-parenting, is an arrangement in which both parents actively participate in raising their child after separation or divorce. This approach aims to foster a healthy and supportive environment for the child, ensuring that both parents remain involved in their life. In this blog, we will discuss the legal framework surrounding shared parenting, parental rights and responsibilities, and provide practical advice for families navigating child arrangements.

Legal Framework

In England and Wales, the legal framework for shared parenting is based on the Children Act 1989, which emphasises the importance of the child’s welfare as the paramount consideration. This legislation supports the idea that, in most cases, it is in the best interest of the child to maintain a strong relationship with both parents.

When parents separate, they are encouraged to agree on arrangements for their child. If they cannot reach an agreement, either parent can apply to the court for a Child Arrangements Order (CAO). A CAO sets out the arrangements for where the child will live and how they will spend time with each parent. The court will consider several factors when determining the best arrangements for the child, including their wishes and feelings, their physical, emotional and educational needs, and the potential effect of any change in circumstances.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities

Both parents have legal rights and responsibilities concerning their child, known as parental responsibility. Parental responsibility includes making decisions about the child’s upbringing, education, medical care, and other essential aspects of their life. Even when parents separate, they both retain parental responsibility and should cooperate in making decisions in the best interest of the child.

In shared parenting arrangements, parents need to communicate effectively and work together to create a stable and nurturing environment for their child. This may include setting consistent routines, attending school events, coordinating medical appointments, and making joint decisions about the child’s upbringing.

Practical Advice for Navigating Child Arrangements

  • Communication: Effective communication is vital in a shared parenting arrangement. Keep lines of positive communication open, and be respectful and honest when discussing your child’s needs and any potential challenges.
  • Focus on the child’s best interests: Make decisions based on what is best for your child, rather than personal preferences or animosity towards the other parent.
  • Create a detailed parenting plan: Outline the specifics of your child arrangements, living arrangements, visitation schedules of time spent with the other parent, holidays, and other important details. This plan will serve as a helpful reference for both parents.
  • Be flexible: Life can be unpredictable, and situations may change. Be open to adjusting your parenting plan as needed, always keeping your child’s best interests in mind. Accept that the parenting style of each co-parent may not be the same, and learn to accept this.
  • Seek professional support: If you are struggling to reach an agreement or manage your shared parenting arrangement, consider seeking guidance from a qualified family law professional or mediator. They can help you navigate the complexities of child arrangements and provide the support you need.

In Conclusion

Shared parenting can be a positive and beneficial arrangement for both children and parents, but it requires cooperation, positive communication, and a genuine focus on the child’s best interests. By understanding the legal framework and applying practical strategies, families can work together to create a nurturing and supportive environment for their child.

Shared Parenting
Children at school by Lucélia Ribeiro
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