For parents in California and throughout the country, child custody arrangements are changing from the traditional model in which the mother usually got custody of the child and the father got limited visitation time, often a few hours with the child on a weeknight and alternate weekends. The model is shifting toward one that focuses on the child, and what many people believe is better for the child is spending significant time with each parent.
Couples may employ creative solutions toward this end. Some keep a home that the children live in while the parents take turns alternating in and out. However, this has its challenges. One couples bought a home with two master suites, and the woman says when she is not there, she keeps hers locked. Another found they had too much conflict about issues such as the condition the house was left in. They changed to an arrangement in which their child spent some nights during the week and every other weekend with each of them.
One couple managed to continue living together after their split. Although they moved into separate bedrooms, they had meals together with their child. Another couple had their child alternate weeks with them. Studies back these efforts to keep both parents involved, finding that even if shared parenting means children have to move around often, they still benefit.
While couples may not have the high levels of cooperation needed to parent in a shared home, they may still be able to negotiate a functional co-parenting relationship that will benefit both them and their children. They might be able to use mediation or another alternate dispute resolution method to reduce conflict and help them reach an agreement. They may want to put together an agreement that addresses their expectations around various aspects of co-parenting.