Shared Custody Arrangements:
Pilot Interviews With Parents
To pursue what factors might be influencing the children’s happiness, we asked respondents to comment on what, if anything, contributed to their children being happy with the current arrangements, and what, if anything, contributed to their being unhappy. Three respondents had only negative responses, 14 had both positive and negative responses, and 13 had only positive comments. One respondent had no comments in either direction. The comments are provided below, with numbers in brackets indicating how many respondents provided each type of comment.
Reasons for the children being happy with the arrangement
- Parents get along—there is no tension between them; they have a good (i.e. open and flexible) working relationship (15).
- The children appreciate having influences and relationships from both parents; get to be with both parents on a regular basis (11).
- Because parents are mature and put the children first; parents work problems out (3).
- The children know both parents love them (3).
- School, friends, neighbourhood and extracurricular activities have all remained the same (4).
- Spends more time with father than before (2).
- Has a home in each place (3).
- Child has a lot of control; parents include children in decision-making (2).
- Children understand that their parents’ relationship is no reflection on them.
- We don’t speak badly of one another.
- Parents support one another’s decisions; are respectful of one another.
- There is consistency in terms of where they are going to be on a certain day.
- Consistency in rules between houses.
- They have "two" of a lot of things.
- The children appreciate a change of surroundings.
- Excuse for missing homework and lost clothing.
- Financially well off—less strain.
- Stable atmosphere at the respondent’s house (father).
Reasons for the children being unhappy with the arrangement
- Moving back and forth between parents (6).
- Would like parents to get back together/wish they were still together (3).
- Differences of rules between houses or a perceived lack of rules at one house (3).
- Sometimes children want to be at one home when it is the other parent’s turn to have them (3).
- Parents’ new relationships; stepmother/stepfamily is sometimes cause of unhappiness (3).
- The quality of time spent with one parent is poor/not enjoying time at one parent’s house (2).
- Having to explain family structure to people—why he has two fathers.
- One parent’s home is restrictive.
- Missing clothing/toys when children want them.
- Two children. Daughter tried to commit suicide, can’t live with mother despite counselling. Father abusive of daughter and favoured son before suicide attempt; now lets her do as she pleases. Son is manipulative of father, especially concerning money.
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