Shared care – will it work for your children?

by David Tyree - Rainey Collins

Whilst 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 with Mum or Dad. What is clear from the research in this area is that children do best when they have a good relationship with both parents.

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:
  1. Their age(s);
  2. Their temperament – are they a child who struggles with change or not;
  3. Your child/children’s weekly activities;
  4. How close to each other do you and your ex-partner live – how much travel is involved for the children;
  5. Is there conflict between you and the other parent? If so, how much? This is relevant if changeovers are frequent and the children are being exposed to this;
  6. Each parents ability to provide good quality care.

It is worth remembering that whatever care arrangements you do agree upon for your children, they may need to change over time as your children’s needs and activities change too. Communication between parents is therefore very important. It is worth remembering 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 ex-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 upon 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 this is you, or if you are unsure about the arrangements being proposed, you may wish to obtain legal advice.

You can also find out more information through the Family Justice website. If you would like further information about care arrangements, please contact us on 04 473 6850.

We welcome your feedback

Hi there! We want to make this site as good as it can for you, the user. Please tell us what you would like to do differently and we will do our best to accommodate!

We've updated our Privacy Statement, before you continue. please read our new Privacy Statement and familiarise yourself with the terms.