In many typical parenting arrangements, the mother retains child custody, while the father gets visitation rights on weekends.  However, a new study finds that the pattern could be shifting.

Australian researchers found that a number of diverse parenting arrangements are now in operation.  The researchers analyzed parental custody sharing arrangements based on a sample of 408 parents who were separated.  They found that children in these homes generally moved between homes at least 2 to 4 times in a single week.

The researchers found that there was a much wider sharing of parental responsibilities and a much higher level of parental involvement.  The analysis also focused on the success of “50/50” parenting arrangements.  A “50/50” arrangement is one where the child spends half of his time with each parent.  The child may spend one week with one parent, and the 2nd week with the other parent.

These arrangements have typically been criticized, and have been controversial, because they are believed to lead to a ping-pong situation in which the child is frequently passed back and forth between parents.  However, in most of the cases that the researchers studied, there were plenty of compromises made by the parents.  For instance, parents took care to care to avoid long absences from one parent, while also trying to incorporate fewer transitions for the child.  Fewer transitions between parents also meant less exposure to parental hostility during handovers.

What the study ultimately does show is that parents can be very creative about the way that they handle child custody and parenting arrangements.  What parents need is to be flexible, try to get along, and make the needs of the child a top priority.

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