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Shared parenting

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shared parenting, shared residence, joint residence, shared custody, joint physical custody, equal parenting time (EPT) is a child custody arrangement after divorce or separation, in which both parents share the responsibility of raising their child(ren), with equal or close to equal parenting time.[1] A regime of shared parenting is based on the idea that children have the right to and benefit from a close relationship with both their parents, and that no child should be separated from a parent.

The term Shared Parenting is applied in cases of divorce, separation or when parents do not live together; in contrast, a shared earning/shared parenting marriage is a marriage where the partners choose to share the work of child-raising, earning money, house chores and recreation time in nearly equal fashion across all four domains. Shared parenting is different from split custody, where some children live primarily with their mother while one or more of their siblings live primarily with their father.

Bird's nest custody is an unusual but increasingly common form of shared parenting where the child always lives in the same home, while the two parents take turns living with the child in that home.[2] Its long term use can be expensive as it requires three residences, and it is most commonly used as a temporary shared parenting arrangement until one parent has found a suitable home elsewhere.[3]


The popularity of shared parenting, or equal parenting time (EPT), has increasead greatly in the past ten years. In Spain in 2022, for instance, 'Due to legal reforms, equal parenting time (EPT) laws in Spain now apply to approximately 40% of all divorces.'[4] The frequency of shared parenting versus sole custody varies across countries, being most common in Scandinavia.[5][6][7]

In a comparative survey of 34 western countries conducted in 2005/06, the proportion of 11-15-year-old children living in a shared parenting arrangement versus sole custody was highest in Sweden (17%), followed by Iceland (11%), Belgium (11%), Denmark (10%), Italy (9%) and Norway (9%). Ukraine, Poland, Croatia, Turkey, the Netherlands and Romania all had 2% or less. Among the English speaking countries, Canada and the United Kingdom had 7% while the United States and Ireland had 5%.[8]

Shared parenting is increasing in popularity and it is particularly common in Scandinavia.[5][6][7] By 2016/17, the percentage in Sweden had increased to 28%; with 26% for children age 0–5 years, 34% among the 6-12 year old age group, and 23% among the oldest children ages 13–18.[9]

Scientific research[edit]

Epidemiological studies on the effect of shared parenting on children has been conducted using both cross-sectional and longitudinal study designs. Their conclusions are that children with a shared parenting arrangement have better physical, mental, social and academic outcomes compared to children in a primary parenting arrangement. These finding holds for all age groups, whether the parents have an amicable or high-conflict relationship, and after adjusting for socio-economic variables.[6][7][10]

With its early adoption of shared parenting and excellent health data, the largest studies on shared parenting have been conducted in Sweden. In a large cross-sectional study comparing over 50,000 children, ages 12 and 15, living in either a shared or sole custody arrangement, Dr. Malin Bergström found that children with shared parenting had better outcomes for physical health, psychological well-being, moods and emotions, self-perception, autonomy, parental relations, material outcomes, peer relations, school satisfaction and social acceptance.[11] Using data from the same cross-sectional survey, Bergström did a follow-up study focusing on psychosomatic problems of concentration, sleeping, headaches, stomach aches, tenseness, lack of appetite, sadness and dizziness. They found that both boys and girls did better living in a shared parenting versus sole custody arrangement. Both studies adjusted for selected socio-economic variables.[12]

A review of 60 quantitative research studies found that in 34 of the studies, children in a shared parenting arrangement had better outcomes on all measured variables for well-being, most notably for their family relationships, physical health, adolescent behavior and mental health. In 14 studies, they had better or equal outcomes on all measures, in 6 studies that had equal outcomes on all measures, and in 6 studies that had worse outcomes on one measure and equal or better outcomes on the remaining measures. The results were similar for the subset of studies that adjusted for socio-economic variables and the level of conflict between parents. The variable with the smallest difference was academic achievement, for which only 3 out 10 studies showed an advantage for shared parenting.[7] Studies indicate that children fare better in joint custody arrangements, or where they have good access to both parents, as compared to sole custody arrangements.[13]

Parental benefits[edit]

While the primary arguments for shared parenting is based on the child's best interest of having close contact with both parents in their daily life, there are also important advantages to the parents. Most parents enjoy spending time with their children, and with shared parenting, both parents have that joy in their life. Both parents also get child-free time to work or play without having to hire a baby sitter, which a sole custodial parent must do. Moreover, both parents get the same opportunity for career development and advancement. In fact, some argue that shared parenting is one critical component in the efforts to reduce the gender pay gap.[14][15][16][17]


Early criticism of shared parenting was based upon the assumptions (i) that children need one single primary attachment figure to bond with, (ii) that child development suffer from frequent moves back and forth between two households, and (iii) that one should not disrupt the status quo.[18] Scientific research finds support for and against these assumptions. It is important that child-specific factors like parental temperament, environmental factors, and genetic factors are considered before attempting to determine how a specific parenting style will affect a child's Attachment Theory.

A second wave of criticism argued that shared parenting increases parental conflict and that shared parenting is only suitable for parents who get along well as co-parents.[19] Once more, research has found support for and against this criticism. The science suggests the appropriateness of any parenting style must be decided on a case-by-case basis. Parents with mental illness, personality disorder, history of abuse, or history of substance abuse may make shared parenting a poor choice. Couples at high risk for interpersonal violence also do not make good shared parenting candidates.[20]

A third wave of criticism acknowledges that shared parenting could be an appropriate custodial arrangement but argued that there should be no presumptions in family law, with each custody decision made based upon a judge's assessment of the best interest of a child.[18] Critics also suggest that shared parenting requires more logistical coordination.[19][21]


Some legislatures have established a legal rebuttable presumption for shared parenting which favors shared parenting in most custody cases while allowing the court to order alternative arrangements based upon evidence that shared parenting would not be in the best interest of the children, such as in cases of parental child abuse or neglect. Bills promoting shared parenting have been introduced in Canada[22][23] and the United States.


In 2006, Italy passed a law that made joint custody the default arrangement for separating couples.[24] A study of the effect of the law suggested that the joint custody presumption increased the duration and complexity of custody litigation, but that it did not find evidence that parents were making concessions on the division of assets to "buy back" custody from the other parent.[25]

United States[edit]

In 2018, Kentucky became the first jurisdiction to establish a legal presumption for shared parenting, after the house voted 81-2 and the senate voted 38–0 in favor, and after the bill was signed by governor Matt Bevin.[26][27] Similar laws were passed by both chambers in Minnesota and Florida, but vetoed by the governors.[28][29][30][31][32]

Some family lawyers and state bar associations have argued against a presumption of joint parenting.[33] For example, concerns have been expressed that a presumption for joint custody might get in the way of negotiated custody outcomes that are better suited to the children, and joint custody might be inappropriately imposed upon couples who suffer unnecessary financial burdens or conflict as a result.[34][35]


The advocacy for shared parenting is a world-wide movement. It is unified in its belief that shared parenting is in the best interest of children, and that it is a children's right issue. The gender perspective, however, varies greatly across nations. In Scandinavian countries, such as Iceland, it is commonly viewed as a gender equity issue with strong support from women's organizations. As a contrast, in North America, several organizations see it as a father's rights issue, and some women's organizations work against shared parenting, while other women are among the strongest advocates. As yet another contrast, in countries like Turkey and Iran, it is often seen as a women's right issue, as sole custody is commonly awarded to the father.[36]

There are a number of organizations that advocate for shared parenting as being in the best interest of children:

National and International Shared Parenting Advocacy Organizations
Name Geography Founded Motto Website
Americans for Equal Shared Parenting USA between the parents - about the child afesp.com
Canadian Children's Rights Council Canada 1991 canadiancrc.com
Canadian Equal Parenting Council Canada 2002 kids need both parents! equal-parenting.org
Children's Rights Council USA 1985 the best parent is both parents crckids.org
Children's Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting India crisp-india.org
Families Need Fathers United Kingdom 1974 because both parents matter fnf.org.uk
Family Reunion USA familyreunionusa.org
International Council on Shared Parenting International 2013 at home at mum's and at home at dad's TwoHomes.org
Leading Women for Shared Parenting International 2013 lw4sp.org
National Parents Organization USA 1998 preserving the bond between parents and children sharedparenting.org
Pappa Barn Sweden 2006 förening för mammor, pappor och anhöriga pappabarn.se Archived 2019-01-24 at the Wayback Machine
Platform for European Fathers Europe 2011 europeanfathers.wordpress.com
Shared Parenting Council of Australia Australia 2002 flwg.com.au/guide/pg/spca/
Shared Parenting Information Group United Kingdom 1996 promoting responsible shared parenting after separation and divorce spig.clara.net
Shared Parenting Northern Ireland Northern Ireland helping parents maintain contact with children post relationship breakdown familiesinneedoffathers.info Archived 2017-10-03 at the Wayback Machine
The Father's Rights Movement USA fathersrightsmovement.us Archived 2019-01-30 at the Wayback Machine
Time to Put Kids First USA 2014 timetoputkidsfirst.org
Väter für Kinder Germany 1988 ich brauche beide (I need both) vaeterfuerkinder.de
Verein für elterliche Verantwortung Switzerland 1992 vev.ch
Georgia Parents for Kids' Rights, Inc. USA Advocating for the rights of Georgia's children to have equal access to both of their parents gpkr.org

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shared Custody Definition". Duhaime's Law Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2020-10-28. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  2. ^ "To Nest or Not to Nest in Custody Cases? That is the Question…". 21 February 2023.
  3. ^ Duhaime's Law Dictionary, Bird's Nest Custody Definition Archived 2021-04-20 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ DanielFernandez-Kranz and NataliaNollenberger, 'The impact of equal parenting time laws on family outcomes and risky behavior by teenagers: Evidence from Spain', Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 195, March 2022, pp. 303-325. [1]
  5. ^ a b Fransson, Emma; Sarkadi, Anna; Hjern, Anders; Bergström, Malin (2016-07-01). "Why should they live more with one of us when they are children to us both?: Parents' motives for practicing equal joint physical custody for children aged 0–4". Children and Youth Services Review. 66: 154–160. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2016.05.011.
  6. ^ a b c Lois M Collins (February 5, 2016). "What 'shared parenting' is and how it can affect kids after divorce". Deseret News.
  7. ^ a b c d Linda Nielsen (2018). "Joint Versus Sole Physical Custody: Children's Outcomes Independent of Parent–Child Relationships, Income, and Conflict in 60 Studies". Journal of Divorce & Remarriage. 59 (4): 247–281. doi:10.1080/10502556.2018.1454204. S2CID 149954035.
  8. ^ Bjarnason T, Arnarsson AA. Joint Physical Custody and Communication with Parents: A Cross-National Study of Children in 36 Western Countries Archived 2017-11-19 at the Wayback Machine, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 2011, 42:871-890.
  9. ^ Statistics Sweden, Barns boende (växelvis boende, hos mamma, hos pappa, etc.) 2012—2017, November 11, 2018.
  10. ^ Richard A. Warshak (May 26, 2017). "After divorce, shared parenting is best for children's health and development". STAT News.
  11. ^ Bergström M; Modin B; Fransson E; Rajmil L; Berlin M; Gustafsson P; Hjern A (2013). "Living in two homes: A Swedish national survey of wellbeing in 12 and 15 year olds with joint physical custody". BMC Public Health. 13: 868. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-868. PMC 3848933. PMID 24053116.
  12. ^ Bergström M; Fransson E; Modin B; Berlin M; Gustafsson P; Hjern A (2015). "Fifty moves a year: Is there an association between joint physical custody and psychosomatic problems in children?". Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 69 (8): 769–774. doi:10.1136/jech-2014-205058. PMC 4516006. PMID 25922471. S2CID 910426.
  13. ^ Baude, Amandine; Pearson, Jessica; Drapeau, Sylvie (27 June 2016). "Child Adjustment in Joint Physical Custody Versus Sole Custody: A Meta-Analytic Review". Journal of Divorce & Remarriage. 57 (5): 338–360. doi:10.1080/10502556.2016.1185203. S2CID 147782279.
  14. ^ Emma Johnson (May 23, 2018). "Close the pay gap? Get dads involved? Shared visitation, no child support". wealthysinglemommy.com.
  15. ^ Eillie Anzilotti (April 3, 2017). "Are Custody Laws Standing In The Way Of Gender Equity?". Fast Company.
  16. ^ "Equal Parenting and Caregiving". Women's Equality Party.
  17. ^ Shellie Karabell (October 30, 2016). "Want To Close The Pay Gap? Call On Dad!". Forbes Magazine.
  18. ^ a b Edward Kruk (October 10, 2018). "Countering Arguments Against Shared Parenting in Family Law: Have we reached a tipping point in the child custody debate?". Psychology Today.
  19. ^ a b Robert E. Emery (May 18, 2009). "Joint physical custody: Is joint physical custody best -- or worst -- for children?". Psychology Today.
  20. ^ Capaldi, Deborah M.; Knoble, Naomi B.; Shortt, Joann Wu; Kim, Hyoun K. (2012). "A Systematic Review of Risk Factors for Intimate Partner Violence". Partner Abuse. 3 (2): 231–280. doi:10.1891/1946-6560.3.2.231. PMC 3384540. PMID 22754606.
  21. ^ Dianne Post (December 1989). "Arguments against Joint Custody". Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law and Justice.
  22. ^ Barbara Kay, Scheer should ensure fathers have the same parenting rights as mothers in child custody disputes, National Post, May 31, 2017.
  23. ^ Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon—Wanuskewin), C-560, Parliament of Canada
  24. ^ De Blasio, Guido; Vuri, Daneila (2013). "Joint Custody in the Italian Courts, IZA Discussion Paper No. 7472". SSRN 2290470.
  25. ^ de Blasio, Guido; Vuri, Daniela (8 July 2019). "Effects of the Joint Custody Law in Italy" (PDF). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. 16 (3): 479–514. doi:10.1111/jels.12225. S2CID 158417533.
  26. ^ Jason Petrie (R), Kentucky House Bill 528, LegiScan
  27. ^ Matt Hancock, Kentucky takes a leading role with the nation's best joint-custody law, Courier Journal, June 15, 2018.
  28. ^ Minnesota Legislature, HF 322, Status in the House for the 87th Legislature (2011–2012)
  29. ^ Sasha Aslanian (May 24, 2012). "Dayton vetoes bill that would have given divorced parents more presumed custody". Minnesota Public Radio News.
  30. ^ Kelli Stargel (R), Florida Senate Bill 668, LegiScan
  31. ^ Paula Dockery (April 30, 2016). "Offering rare kudos to Governor Scott". Tallahassee Democrat.
  32. ^ "Governor Rick Scott Vetoes SB 668 – What Happens Now?". National Parents Organization of Florida. April 17, 2016. Archived from the original on March 13, 2019. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  33. ^ Ferreiro, Beverly Webster (October 1990). "Presumption of Joint Custody: A Family Policy Dilemma". Family Relations. 39 (4): 420–426. doi:10.2307/585222. JSTOR 585222.
  34. ^ Barry, Margaret M. (1997). "The District of Columbia's Joint CustodyPresumption: Misplaced Blame and Simplistic Solutions". Catholic University Law Review. 46 (3): 820.
  35. ^ Karmely, Maritza (2016). "Presumption Law in Action: Why States Should Not Be Sedfuced into Adopting a Joint Custody Presumption". Notre Dame Journal of Legal Ethics & Public Policy. 30: 321.
  36. ^ Kruk E, Collateral Damage: The Lived Experiences of Divorced Mothers Without Custody. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 2010:51,526-543.

External links[edit]