Peaceful Divorce

I am curious to know what the peaceful divorce community thinks about the trend towards rotating and alternating parenting time. I have seen some examples in the real world where it seemed to work fairly well; and many others where it seemed like a disaster. I am especially interested in knowing what everyone thinks about it in the context of babies, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, etc. There are a number of situations that I have observed (outside of my practice) where it was agreed to, but where I suspected that there was an imbalance of power, a lack of information or other factors that led one parent to agree despite having an instinct that it was wrong, bad, inappropriate for the particular family, or otherwise not a good idea. Some of these situations seemed to be driven by one parent's interest in a reduced child support obligation. I would also like to know if anyone is familiar with any long term research on the results of these kinds of parenting arrangements.

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This is a great question, and an important one!

My perspective on this issue of rotating or equal custody is from the litigator turned mediator's perspective.

I tried many, many custody cases during my 14 years as a divorce litigator (that was before I saw the light!), and I found that the greatest damage done to the children around this issue was the custody fight itself, as it ripped to shreds the already fragile fabric of the co-parenting relationship, and the children always knew that they were at the center of the battle.

While it may not be a panacea, rotating custody seemed to me to always beat the alternative of endless custody courtroom battles between the parents. Custody is always subject to modification, and those parties who litigate custody in the divorce are at high risk of going back to court over it, sometimes again and again. This never gives the family a chance to heal!

I'm not saying that this is sound psychology, but it is my experience in over 26 years as a divorce attorney/mediator!

And I have actually found it to work in many cases, even those where there was a lot of work to be done on the relationship between the exes.

Of course, there is the issue of reduced child support, and the question of motivation on the part of the person required to pay. But that is something that can be worked out as well, I believe. Infants and babies? I'm not sure, but I suspect what a lot of Moms would say, and what a lot of Dads would say about that!

Nonetheless, I am an incurable optomist, and I believe that all situations can be worked out with our help!
I know many friends and colleagues who have had very positive experiences in shared parenting -- and set it up that way from the start. Obviously, if parents have other priorities then there are myriad ways things can go wrong which makes me sad to learn about.

In my own divorce we we co-parented from age eleven on, living about a mile apart from one another with my son moving from home to home every few days, without a tight schedule. We were very flexible to accommodate our active schedules but always put my son's well-being first. It worked smoothly because we worked at it. My son remained a straight A student, kept his friends and social life, and thrived overall because he was very close to both Mom and Dad.

I don't have stats or long-term research on co-parenting this way, but I know it's all about the parent's intentions from the start. If the kid's well-being is top priority, and not child-support, ego and power-plays, chances are things will work out well. I'm certainly interested in your feedback and other people's experiences.


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