Joint shared custody: Were you the kid? How was it?

Usually when I hear about custody in divorces it’s some variation of: Kids live w/ mom and dad has them between one and all weekends a month, occasionally w/ mom and dad being reversed.

But every so often kids truly live with both parents, changing homes midweek, going to school from two different homes, etc. If this was you, how was it? Did you just get used to it? Did you wish you could just be in one place? Were you able to milk it for all it was worth?

Satisfy my nosy curiosity. What was it like to be you?

(Apologies if this is a double post. Didn’t seem to work on my first attempt. Mods please fix is necessary)

My parents split up when I was thirteen. Here’s how it went:

  1. First, we did the mid-week move. Sundays-Wednesdays was with my mom; Thursdays-Sundays was with my dad. Basically, all our posessions went into laundry baskets, and we put that laundry basket in the car on the day of the move. It was extremely disruptive. I hated it.
  2. At the insistence of us kids (myself, my nine-year-old brother, and my sixteen-year-old sister), we moved to a weekly transition: every week, we moved houses. Still very disruptive.
  3. Soon we moved to a biweekly transition.
  4. Then we moved to a monthly transition.
  5. Then I decided I was getting along much better with my dad than with my mom, so I told her that I was going to be staying with him exclusively. Her response was to accuse me of doing it in order to ruin her child support payments. We, um, had words, words that neither of us are proud of. I didn’t talk with her for a long time.

It may work for some people, but I really hated it.


My parents had joint custody but no schedules. It was a very amicable divorce, or I don’t think it’d have worked. We spent more time with our mom but could go to our dad’s pretty much whenever we wanted. I wish I’d spent more time with him, actually, but I’m glad I didn’t have to do the week one place and a week the other thing. I knew somebody who did that and the poor kid lived out of a suitcase, practically, because of all the back-and-forth.

I can’t post from the kid’s perspective, but that’s the arrangement I have with my ex. The kids switch off every other week, but they have complete sets of stuff at both houses, and they can take whatever they want to the other house. They don’t switch schools or anything; I drive them down to their school when I have them.

They seem to like it. They’re always ready to go to the other parent’s house when the week is coming to a close. They’re happy at least; I can’t say if they’d be happier with a different arrangement.

like Cowgirl Jules that is basically the arrangement my ex and i have with our almost 7yo son. well, we split the weeks pretty evenly but it is 50/50 throughout the week. our son knows he has a home at both places, he goes to one school, and we’ve patchworked it together pretty well over the past 5 years.

It sounds like you people do this better than my friend’s parents did. I suppose it’s a setup that can work fine if the parents involved want to make it work well.

Mine was sort of in between. Generally, I’d go to my dad’s on Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other weekend, but I’d usually spend weeknights (except for the occasional Thursday) at my mom’s house. It wasn’t the greatest arrangement - I had less free time and homework time than my friends with married parents - but, given the alternative (not seeing my dad as often), it was an easy decision. Also, my parents split when I was seven. Being younger probably made the transition easier.

Some friends of mine have this arrangement with their daughter. But as the father and mother live in adjoining houses, it’s not such a problem for the daughter to “move” from house to house.

My parents split up when I was six or seven. It was an amicable divorce, and they were both still in New York, so they set up a schedule. Over the years, the schedule was constanly changing to suit their work schedule and living arrangements, which probably sounds like more of a hassle (from my point of view) then it actually was. In general, I never stayed in one place for more than four days at a time. Our kind of arrangement might not have worked so well outside of a big city, where I was able to get to school or mom’s/dad’s house by bus and subway by myself if need be.

I didn’t mind it. My parents did a good job of making a potentially miserable situation very easy on me. I got along well with both, and wouldn’t have wanted to stay with just one of them if that meant hardly ever seeing the other.

In the sense of playing one of the other? Nah, their communication was good.

It was crap, and I hated it.

But probably a lot of that had to do with my parents’ extreme dislike of each other and constant battles over everything that had gone on.

My parents divorced when I was three years old, so I have no memory of them every getting along or of me ever living in the same house with all of them. At first, my Mom had full custody and my Dad had visitation rights. After my Dad remarried, he and my Stepmom went to court to get shared custody. From age 6 until 10 or 12, I switched houses each week. Around 12, it changed to a switch every two weeks, and at 16, I ran away from my Dad’s and lived with my Mom until I went to college.

I didn’t live out of a suitcase. I barely took anything back and forth. I had separate clothes and toys at each house. In many ways, I changed myself, too. I spoke and acted differently. My parents communicated through lawyers and police, so there were no consistent rules, and I could occasionally use that to my advantage, but it bit me in the ass just as often. I went to schools local to Mom’s house (and there were several court battles about that), and because Dad lived across town, that often meant that I had different sets of friends as well (It’s just not practical to cart a kid across town to play with the neighborhood kids every afternoon). That got better as I got older. By the time I was in junior high, I could ride my bike across town if I wanted to.

I’m not a parent, I’m a teacher. I sometimes see kids slip through the cracks with this system, because when they get behind or have problems at school, the parent I’m calling isn’t the one the child is with this week, or each parent blames the other one, or each parent approaches school stuff differently. I never seem to have the right contact information, and the kid is usually happy to encourage as much confusion as possible.

If you go this way, make sure you have a plan for making sure that the kid is on track at school, and decide who will be the liason to the school.

Yes, I’ve had that start to happen a time or two. Fortunately, ours was a fairly amicable divorce and we both go to all of the teacher conferences. My kids are among the few with three parents at everything (they have a stepmother now too.)

And the kids will try to play us off each other, but we have similar parenting styles and have been careful to keep the ground rules consistent. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best that I can do.

I have full custody of both my kids & like Jules my kids have 3 parents. Either the step mom or myself attends all parent/teacher conferences. They have a list of emergency numbers. When there is an issue at school they are aware they should call either myself or the step mother. Their father is a bit flakey at times.

The kids gave up trying to play us against each other because we have open communication. We may not like each other but we love our children. The kids at any time can go to their father’s house. Actually all 3 sets of grandparents live here as well & the kids can go to their houses.

We are all working together to raise our children. It’s rough situation, but we try hard to make it as painless as possible.

Mum had us most of the time, dad got us every second weekend. Two days a fortnight, sometimes three if there was a public holiday. I was eight when they divorced, my brother was four… ish.

Mum handled almost everything, school, clothes, toys and everything else we needed. For a lot of the time, dad was unemployed or working minimum-wage jobs. We’d take our stuff when we went to see him, we’d eat pizza and other crap all weekend then come home to mum again. This was the schedule up until I was around fifteen or so, and it was telling. I was having normal teenage angst, hated my mum and hated dad for being so wishy-washy and just not seeming to want us around.

Then my dad went to work overseas, and visitation stopped. He’d come and see us when he was back in Australia, but around the same time he started a relationship with his wife, and would spend a lot of time with her. I’d left home in 2001 so I didn’t really see him again until I moved back to Adelaide in 2004. By that time he’d married Karen, they were starting a family and I didn’t really spend much time with him at all.

I never found the custody terribly disruptive, because it was two weekends out of every four and it never impacted school or my friends or anything else.