When parents separate one of the most difficult challenges they face is how to “share” time with their children.
Often with younger children one parent has taken on the role of working to support the family and the other has worked less in order to care for the children. When they separate each parent wants equal time with their children and this often means that one parent will have to work less and one will work more because their parenting responsibilities have decreased.
This sounds reasonable but changing to a new regime is extremely difficult particularly if young children are involved.
The parent who is now free to work more may be reluctant to give up their daily parenting responsibilities. They are suddenly faced with the often difficult task of finding more work especially if they have put their career on hold to raise the children. The other parent is faced with finding a way to work fewer hours and with finding childcare for when they have to be at work. Neither parent has an easy task and this all comes at a time when both parents are stressed because of the separation.
If the parents are unable to work out a new schedule for parenting time, their time with the children will be decided by a judge. Pursuant to the new Family Law Act the only criteria a judge may consider is what is in the best interests of the children, not what is in the best interests of the parents. Determining what is in the best interests of the children however is never an easy task. Is it in the children’s best interest to have one parent continue to forgo career opportunities to be with the children whenever possible or is it in the children’s best interests that each parent establish themselves in their careers and find good childcare for their children? It’s the age old debate that every family wrestles with even when they are not separating and there is no “right” answer.