What Is The Difference Between Split Parenting And Shared Parenting?

parents, grandparents, children, family, kids, children, parenting, divorce, split parenting, shared parenting

Split Parenting And Shared Parenting Explained

When parents separate, one of the biggest challenges they often face is establishing a parenting arrangement that works for everyone and is in the child’s best interests. What is “best” depends on many factors, and each family is unique. For some families, shared parenting or split parenting may be good options.

Now that we have mentioned the terms “shared parenting” and “split parenting”, what do they mean, and how can you know which parenting arrangement is best for you and your child?

What Is Shared Parenting?

Shared parenting is where the child lives with one parent for around half of the time. Logically, the child then spends their time with the other parent the rest of the time. This can take any shape you can think of, but the most common is some variation of the “week-on/week-off” schedule. In this scenario, one parent has the child for a week. Then, the other parent has the child for the next week. Exchanges are usually on the same day at the same time each week. This creates a regular and predictable schedule for everyone.

What Is Split Parenting?

Split parenting is where there is 2 children (or more), and 1 child spends the majority of their time with one parent, and the other child spends the majority of their time with the other parent.

How Can You Know Which Is Best For You?

Shared parenting is ideal when the parents have good communication and can put aside their differences in order to work together in parenting their child. A number of items (electronics, sports equipment, some clothing) will likely have to travel with the child and the parents are expected to be able to work together to help the child with issues at school and other activities. This can all add stressors and strain to the parents’ relationship if they are constantly in conflict.

An obvious con to split parenting is that the children do not spend time with both parents – 1 child is always with one parent, and the other child is always with the other. It also normally not good to split children up. However, split parenting may work very well in high conflict situations. In that case, each child may be sheltered from their parents’ ongoing conflicts.

What Are The Best Interests Of My Child?

The Divorce Act lists a number of factors to consider when determining the “best interests” of a child. For example, these factors include:

  1. the child’s needs, given the child’s age and stage of development, such as the child’s need for stability;
  2. the nature and strength of the child’s relationship with each spouse, each of the child’s siblings and grandparents and any other person who plays an important role in the child’s life;
  3. each spouse’s willingness to support the development and maintenance of the child’s relationship with the other spouse;
  4. the history of care of the child;
  5. the child’s views and preferences, giving due weight to the child’s age and maturity, unless they cannot be ascertained;
  6. the child’s cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual upbringing and heritage, including Indigenous upbringing and heritage;
  7. any plans for the child’s care;
  8. the ability and willingness of each person in respect of whom the order would apply to care for and meet the needs of the child;
  9. the ability and willingness of each person in respect of whom the order would apply to communicate and cooperate, in particular with one another, on matters affecting the child;
  10. any family violence and its impact on, among other things,
    1. the ability and willingness of any person who engaged in the family violence to care for and meet the needs of the child, and
    2. the appropriateness of making an order that would require persons in respect of whom the order would apply to cooperate on issues affecting the child; and
  11. any civil or criminal proceeding, order, condition, or measure that is relevant to the safety, security and well-being of the child.

Any decision about parenting time must consider these factors.

How To Calculate Child Support For Shared Parenting?

For child support purposes, the Federal Child Support Guidelines (s.9) defines shared parenting. The definition is in situations where each spouse has at least 40% of parenting time with the child over a year. This varies form split parenting. When parents meet that threshold, they must take into account:

  1. the amount of child support payable by each parent according to the guideline tables;
  2. the increased costs of shared parenting time arrangements; and
  3. the conditions, means, needs and other circumstances of each parent and the child.

Often, but not always, it is appropriate to use a “set-off” approach. This means that you figure out how much child support each parent would have to pay the other, based on their income. Next, the higher income-earner would simply pay the difference to the lower income earner.

This is not always the best approach. To find out if it is right for you, book an initial consultation with one of our family law lawyers today.

How Do You Calculate Child Support For Split Parenting?

Split parenting time is covered in s.8 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Section 8 states that “the amount of a child support order is the difference between the amount that each” parent would normally pay if the other parent had the child most of the time.

In other words, the “set-off” approach.

For split parenting the “set-off” approach is the rule. For shared parenting, the “set-off” approach may be appropriate and tends to be the norm (but not always!).

Shared Parenting And Split Parenting Lawyers In Alberta

If you need legal help with shared parenting or split parenting in Alberta, Kahane Law Office can help. Our experienced family law lawyers in Calgary and Edmonton help you no matter where you are located in the province.

Learn More

With family law matters a good place to start is with an initial consultation. Click here or call us at 780-571-8463 to learn more about initial consultation options with our Edmonton office, or, for our Calgary Office call 403-225-8810 or email us directly here. to book an initial consultation with a family law parenting lawyer.