Shared Custody Arrangements:
Pilot Interviews With Parents



1. Areas of Disagreement

Issues that reflect parenting values

  • Spouse gives too freely—doesn’t teach them about earning and responsibility.
  • There is a disparity in the standard of living in the two homes; father feels children don’t need to have the best of everything.
  • General education issues (2 cases).
  • Child has problems at school, but mother doesn’t want to address them.

Disagreement related to rules of conduct for the children

  • Father gives daughter too much freedom—but he isn’t willing to discuss the issue.
  • Differences in household rules.
  • Child rides on father’s motorcycle; mother doesn’t like it.
  • At mother’s home children ride trail bikes, but father feels they are too young. Daughter broke her arm the first time she rode the trail bike.
  • Rules in the household—respondent wants the same rules in each house—bedtime; manners; teeth brushing; seatbelts.
  • Disagree over amount of time spent on sports and how it affects school.
  • Discipline (2 cases).
  • Basic parenting—bedtime, meals—former partner doesn’t do these things, or have a routine for them.

Disagreement about time spent with children

  • Kids want to stay in town to be with friends, but weekend is the only time father sees the children.
  • Leaving daughter with mother’s boyfriend—respondent would like to have first rights of refusal.
  • Father will get babysitter when he has child, or send child over to friends—mother thinks he should spend all his time with child, or at least let her have the child instead of paying a babysitter.
  • Support for extra-curricular events.

Disagreement about religion

  • Children have to attend Catholic school.
  • Respondent exposes daughter to different religions, but the father doesn’t like it.

Disagreement related to general complaints about the former partner

  • Father trying to build a new home for children by severing links with mother and extended family (in this case the parents are in contact only in court, and there is a mutual restraining order in place).
  • Former husband is selfish—if something interferes with his plans, he won’t do it.

2. Reasons For Ability to Avoid Disagreement

For the 19 respondents who reported no current areas of disagreement with their former partner, we asked how they thought they were able to avoid disagreements. The main theme emerging from those responses was that the parents put the interests of the children first, and therefore avoided any regular disagreement. Fourteen of the 19 respondents mentioned this as a motivation. For some it was the only explanation, and for others it was one of several. Other explanations were:

  • Parents never discuss child rearing, the mother is disengaged from the child.
  • Mutual respect for each other.
  • Don’t discuss money.
  • Approach subjects from a neutral perspective (not offensive or defensive).
  • Always discussing parenting issues.
  • Both open to discussing honestly.
  • Negotiation in all situations.
  • Avoid personality conflicts, former relationship does not come into play.
  • Parents work on communicating.
  • Respondent is very easy going.
  • Not that many issues to address, status quo being maintained.
  • Respondent doesn’t get excited or let himself/herself be drawn into arguments.
  • Both have a brain, maturity to realize that shared parenting has to work.
  • Parents see eye-to-eye on key issues.
  • Parents willing to work together, no bitterness or vindictiveness.
  • Both professionals; know what the other side is; sought professional help re: communication.
  • Both reasonably mature.

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