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Shared custody

Navigating Shared Custody: Tips for Australian Parents

When parents make the hard decision to separate, there are many things that they have to consider, especially when they have children together. Shared custody is a major step toward moving forward but it can be a bit difficult to navigate, which is why it is important to follow these tips to make the process of navigating shared custody easier for Australian parents.

What is Shared Custody?

Before we look at shared custody, it should be noted that under Australian law, it is referred to as shared parental responsibility to remove any negative connotations to the term custody, which implies ownership. Shared parental responsibility is when both parents share visitation rights, care, duties, powers, expenses, authority and responsibilities of their children; however, it should be noted that with Australian law, shared custody does not mean 50/50 rights, unless parents agree to it. In fact, parents can agree to a number of different arrangements for custody including:

  • 50/50: A straightforward way to do 50/50 is alternating weeks.
  • 60/40: 4 days with primary caregiver, 3 days with non-primary caregiver
  • 80/20: 5.5 days with the primary caregiver, 1.5 days with non-primary caregiver. This arrangement also works great with alternating weekends.
  • 2/2/3: 2 days with the start parent, 2 with the second parent, 3 with the start parent.
  • 3/4/4/3: This is similar to 2/2/3 except the schedule switches every week so week 1, one parent gets 4 days and week 2, the other parent gets 4 days. It’s an option to have that 50/50 split but the kids won’t be gone for an entire week.

In addition to these arrangements, in Australia, many courts place the mother as the primary caregiver. However, stepparents can apply for parental responsibility and parental rights as can same sex partners.

Now that we know the laws around shared custody, let’s look at ways that you can navigate it smoothly.

Tip Number One: Focus on the Needs of the Kids

One of the first tips that every parent should follow when they are separating is to put aside a lot of their own emotions and focus on the needs of the kids. It can be difficult but if you both make a mutual decision to do this, you can avoid a lot of the tension, arguments and fights that happen when you are focused on your own needs during this challenging time.

If possible, try to get a formal child custody agreement in place as quickly as possible. Once you have the agreement, you can set up a schedule that works to the agreement and use 2houses to keep the schedule working.

Be sure to discuss with kids if they are older what their own wants and needs are. You can also let them know that some things they cannot decide on, but other things they can help with the decision. If kids feel heard during the process, they are able to adjust to the changes easier.

While you may need some mediation to work through emotions, or to use an app like 2houses to communicate through, never work through this stuff with your kids present. Avoid saying negative things about the other parent or arguing together. If you are having a tough time doing so, agree to use the app for communication until you are able to work through the emotions around your separation.

Tip Number Two: Set Boundaries

Boundaries can be difficult when you are used to having constant access to your child and your ex partner but it is something that you should set for the entire family. This means that when you child is with the other parent, you do not contact the child or break into their visitation time. Another point is that you need to set boundaries on how your relationship will be with your ex partner. If you are at a place where you can start doing activities with the kids together, then discuss what will work better for all. If you aren’t, keep your interactions with your ex partner strictly about the kids. This means not discussing other life events happening in each others’ lives. In the future, you may get to that point, but, for now, keep it separate.

Finally, make sure that you set boundaries for your kids that happen in both homes. Rules, schedules and so on should be agreed upon by both parents and followed exactly the same in both households. Stability is important in providing your children with the best transition from one home to two.

Tip Number Three: Use a Mediation App or Platform

Choose a mediation app or platform for you and your ex partner to use. When you have a mediator, you can reduce a lot of the tension that comes with it. In addition, you can organize schedules, balance shared expenses and keep your ex partner involved with all aspects of their child’s life. When you use a mediation app, such as 2houses, you are able to really focus on what matters, which is making sure that your kids are thriving even when they are living in two separate houses.

In addition, you can focus on your own needs as you move through separation without your children experiencing as much turmoil as they would if you and your ex partner continue having to work through conflict topics and tension.

While it may not seem like a lot, following these three tips can help ensure the transition from a single household to two separate ones goes smoothly. It will take time, and patience, but you can move forward and your children will appreciate the efforts that you are making to ensure that their well-being and happiness comes first.

Navigating can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be when you follow these tips and when you take the step to use 2houses.

Why 2houses?

We are a co-parenting facilitator!


A calendar for everyone, getting organised when you’re divorced is a priority. 2houses provides you an online shared schedule, with many editing, adding, and sync features.


For us, as divorced parents, the financial topic is most of the time a conflict topic. Now, 2houses manages all expenses from each parent, keeps you informed on the situation, day after day, coins after coins.


Communication is key, this is why 2houses offers you an online messaging tool, simple, efficient and secure.


The journal is your quick family social network. You can easily share all information, news, photos, videos, and even your children’s funny quotes. The family is never far away, no matter where you are geographically located.

And many more features!

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