Share Your Shared Parenting Stories Here

Testimony submitted to the "study" group from supporters of Joint Physical Custody is located here: __http://www.mncourts .gov/?page= NewsItemDisplay&item=43253__

Shared Parenting Works for Us

I am taking this opportunity to tell how shared parenting, after divorce, works for us. In 2002, I separated from my wife of nearly 10 years, and we began to practice shared parenting with our son, who was eight at the time. Our divorce proceedings took more than two years and were very expensive, bitter and stressful. Contentious issues during the divorce process included, child custody, child health care, child discipline and upbringing, religion, child support, and the division of marital and premarital assets.

Early on, I encouraged shared parenting, because I knew it was what my son wanted and needed. However, each of us considered going for sole custody at some point in the process. Ultimately we both realized that this was a waste of time and money, and that the sole custody determination process would do damage to both of us and our son. Looking back on it all, I only wish that there had been a presumption of shared parenting so we both could have avoided the stress and expense involved in considering sole custody.

It is unfortunate that the current system encourages sole custody and does so little to encourage shared parenting agreements. There are huge economic and social incentives for one parent to go for custody. Imagine that you can get the children and a financial payout that can last for the next 20 years. It’s hard for even the most principled person to resist this temptation. One parent can veto shared parenting under current law. And what lawyer would discourage his client from going for sole custody if there was a reasonable chance of getting it.

In spite of the incentives to go for sole custody, we chose to mediate and create a shared parenting plan, because it was the best option for all of us the long run. Most of the shared parenting plan is common sense, if your common sense puts the child first and is based on fairness to all. Many shared parenting plans can be found on the internet, but I’d like to share some of the components of ours.

Time Sharing
We chose every other week, with one day in the middle of the week with the other parent. As our son grew older, we now share a week at a time, at his request. Holidays are switched back and forth every year, unless you agree to always have a certain holidays. It’s up to you how to do this.

Medical Issues
Except for emergency situations, medical decisions are made together.

Health Insurance
One of us carries it, the other parent contributes half.

We chose to keep our son in the same school. We both live in the same school district. He gets to keep his school friends and familiar school.

Each parent maintains a household and covers all expenses while the child lives in the household. Anything that goes back and forth between houses is a shared expense. These include for example, musical instruments, clothing, sports expenses, community education classes, YMCA membership or school supplies. Parents keep track of expenses and equalize them every month or so.

Child Support
There is none. And there is no involvement or expense to the government.

The parent who has the child, delivers the child to the other parent when it is time to switch.

We use a step-by-step process that begins with discussion, goes through to mediation and the courts if necessary. Once our agreement was finalized, we have never even gone to the mediation step.

Again, there are many shared parenting plans available to look at and copy. They are mostly common sense once you agree to treat each other fairly.

In summary, our shared parenting plan has worked out well for all of us. My ex has used the extra time that she now has, to socialize more, get more education and work more at her business. She has become economically independent and is not burdened with child support. I’ve had more time to become an elected official, I’m not burdened by a huge child support expense, and I get to spend quality time with my son a week at a time. My son is now a freshman in high school. He has several friends, gets good grades, has a good (for a teenager) relationship with both parents and participates in several extra-curricular activities. There is no cost of involvement by the government in our families, just as it was before we were divorced.

Charlie Hurd

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