Okay, so you are separating. Now, how are you going to take care of the kids between you as separated parents?
There are multiple terms and concepts which, depending on whether or not the separated parents ascribe to the same terms and concept, can create all sorts of conflict.
The terms below don’t really speak to decision-making responsibility, although some parents may believe so. With the exception of “parallel parenting”, the terms speak more to how time with the kids is divvied up between the parents.
This term speaks to the fact that regardless of decision-making authority, and regardless of the amount of time the kids spend with either parent, if both parents spend time with the kids, then they are co-parents. While some folks don’t want to see their ex as “co” anything, the truth of the matter is, while you can separate and divorce as intimate partners, you can never separate or divorce from being parents to your children. You are co-parenting.
This term implies that both parents have a near equal amount of time to care for the kids, but not necessarily equal. Historically, or at least since the 1950’s, when parents separated, mothers had the greater responsibility for the care of the kids and fathers would see their children for the somewhat traditional alternate weekends, and perhaps mid-week visits. That would amount to anywhere from 12% to %28 per cent of the time (approximately) with dad on a monthly basis. In a shared parenting arrangement, the time that the children are with their parents is distributed anywhere from a 70/30 basis, to 51/49 basis.
Like the name implies, this time-sharing arrangement has the kids cared for by both parents on an equal basis. However, be forewarned because as soon as you try to determine what equal means to both parents, there can be considerable conflict. For instance, does equal mean the time in each parent’s home, or face-to-face time with the kids? What if the kids are babysat? Will that time be placed into the equalizing blender too? Usually, people seem to take it to mean time in each parent’s home, regardless of who actually cares for the kids in the home, or on behalf of that parent elsewhere during that parent’s time.
This term has no connection to the amount of time the kids spend with either parent. It infers that each parent manages the kids and can involve the kids in any activity on their own time, as they see fit. This approach is often suggested for separated parents who find themselves in ongoing conflict, and who need a strategy to help disengage from that conflict.