Shared Parenting (Co-Parenting) versus Custody

Excerpts from: Your Divorce Advisor
by Diana Mercer and Marsha Kline Pruett (Simon and Schuster, 2001).

The book may be purchased at most bookstores or on-line
Indented paragraphs are quotes from the book.
Italics (not indented) point to other parts of the book relevant to the quotes.

Shared Parenting (Co-Parenting) versus Custody
p. 199: Custody refers to a legal arrangement while shared parenting describes the actual activity between the adults. Often shared parenting, also called co-parenting, is interpreted to mean that parents are able to raise their children together, even if the parents are no longer marital partners. Cooperative and communicative parenting is optimal, but co-parenting can be effectively accomplished in less optimal circumstances, as long as parents can put aside their differences and stay focused on what their children need and deserve. This can take the form of parents discussing most aspects of child rearing. Or it can take the form of having each parent contribute primary decision making and authority in certain areas, with shared discussions when the parents are faced with complications or uncertainties.

This passage goes on with an example where one parent is primarily responsible for religious education whereas the other is primarily responsible for pre-schooling. Medical decisions would be handled jointly in the example.

p. 202: Although studies are sparse enough to be only suggestive rather than conclusive, there is some evidence that shared parenting arrangements benefit children in several ways. The children have fewer behavioural and emotional problems and report fewer negative experiences with the divorce. Boys derive special benefits from shared parenting, and the contact it affords them with their fathers. Adolescent boys, in particular, choose shared custody arrangements over more traditional ones. In addition, dual residence teens of both genders report less depression and better grades than their sole custody counterparts.

p. 203: Research points to the benefits of shared parenting defined as shared decision making, as well as shared time between two homes. A shared parenting label may denote and promote more contact with the less-seen parent. Parents who are sharing responsibility for child rearing enjoy having legal status that advertises their joint authority and equitable involvement. And they stay involved with their children. However, involvement does not refer primarily to the amount of time fathers or mothers spend with their children. Research on fathers as the noncustodial, or less-seen, parent shows that the amount of time fathers spend with their children is not the most important factor for a child’s healthy development.