How Does Equal Shared Parenting Work?

Equal Shared Parenting

Parenting has never been a walk in the park, especially where a couple is going through a rough patch in their relationship.

In most cases, women tend to carry the heavier burden emotionally and physically. The assumption that women should take care of household tasks while men foot the bills is skewed.

Equal shared parenting solves most of these family issues that parents struggle with.

What is equal shared parenting?

It’s a way of sharing the responsibility for raising children. It means that both parents have an equal say in how their children are raised and educated.

Both parents participate equally in paying bills, doing household chores, bonding with the kids, etc.

The couple prepares workable parenting schedules so that each spends maximum time with the children. In this parenting arrangement, the mother isn’t necessarily the primary caregiver.

Also, the father participates in all parenting tasks, including those traditionally considered the mother’s responsibility.

When is equitable parenting necessary?

The following situations necessitate equal shared parenting:

Domestic violence and child neglect

If one parent is abusive ad neglectful towards the children, then equitable parenting becomes necessary.

Both parents may decide to separate as they solve their issues, but that doesn’t warrant neglect to the children. 

The other parent may provide more stability than the first-time parent because they already know how raising a child feels like. This arrangement can help prevent future abuse from occurring.

Equal shared parenting also helps avoid situations where the noncustodial parent doesn’t know what to do with the child after visitation ends.


Divorced parents go through a lot concerning child custody, especially if one party is uncooperative.

Regular child custody arrangements either give one of the parents sole custody or the primary custody of the children.

These decisions rarely go unopposed by the losing party and may cause unending struggles.

In this parenting arrangement, each parent has equal rights over the upbringing of the children. Equal shared parenting solves most custody issues for divorcing or divorced parents.

The court will not favor one parent over another when making these decisions.

If there is no agreement between the two parties regarding custody, the judge decides who gets custody. The judge’s decision is based upon which parent provides better care for the children.

Joint custody is close to equal shared parenting but doesn’t ensure a 50/50 situation in raising the children.

Most of the time, one party takes care of most of the children’s needs while the other only participate over the weekend or any other agreed time.

An equitable parenting custody decision saves the day for the divorced parents and the children involved.

Advantages of equal shared parenting

The main pros of equal sherd parenting are:

  • Both parents participate equally in building the family. Unlike the traditional arrangements, equitable parenting causes each parent to own all the responsibilities. Bills are equally split; each parent builds a relationship with the children and takes care of household tasks. 
  • Careers are preserved for both parents. In most cases, women sacrifice their careers to take care of children and do household chores. Equal shared parenting ensures parenting tasks are equally shared between the two parents who also value their parenting time. 
  • Children get adequate emotional security. In this arrangement, both parents spend equal time with the children. The kids enjoy the presence and involvement of each parent hence a sense of security and care. In the case of divorced parents, both homes become safe havens for the children.
  • It encourages parents to embrace teamwork. When both parents work together on childcare duties, they learn how to cooperate and communicate effectively. They also develop skills such as problem solving and negotiation.
  • It eliminates most challenges posed by sole custody in case of a divorce. Each parent feels free to participate fully in their child’s life. 

Disadvantages of equal shared parenting

Some disadvantages associated with equal shared parenting include:

  • Parents have less control over their children. Parents cannot dictate every aspect of their children’s lives. Instead, they must rely on the courts to make decisions about the children.
  • Parental conflict increases. Parental responsibility becomes more difficult. Both parents share the same parental duty; therefore, it becomes harder to distinguish what belongs to whom. This arrangement can confuse the children.
  • Income inequality occurs. Since both parents contribute towards child-rearing, income inequality may arise if one partner earns significantly higher than the other.
  • Child custody battles increase. In case of a divorce, it’ll not be easy to reach a custody agreement. The reason is neither parent wants to give up their right to be the primary caregiver. 
  • If the children prefer being with one parent, this arrangement makes the situation worse. The parent-child relationship will be strained further since the children feel obliged to be with the ‘bad parent.’ Also, children do not know which rules to follow, especially if the parents have conflicting values and house rules. 

Some examples of equal shared parenting schedules

  1. One parent has physical custody. The other parent visits the children at least once per week. Both parents contribute to the physical and emotional well-being of the children.
  2. Each parent shares joint legal and physical custody. However, there is no visitation schedule set by court order. The parents decide on a favorable parenting schedule. 
  3. Joint legal and physical custody where the father gets to spends more time with the children. He works from home so he can spend quality time with them. The mother visits enough times to bond with the kids, and she also makes equal financial contributions for their upkeep.
  4. The primary residential custodian stays with the children full-time. The nonresidential custodian sees the children only when necessary. This arrangement is more like a default parenting plan but with equal sharing of financial and emotional responsibilities. It reduces the back and forth movements for the kids.
  5. Split legal and physical custody where each parent gets half of the time with the children.
  6. No contact between the parents. However, the children get equal attention and provision from each parent independently. 

Some equal shared parenting laws in the US

Over the years, US legislators have passed several parenting bills in favor of equal shared parenting. 


In Arizona, the legislature enacted SB 1127 in 2012. According to the bill, the court would eliminate the parents’ wishes or the wishes of children under the recommended age.

The bill also encouraged the court to design parenting schedules that would bring maximum parenting outcomes.


In Kentucky, a Joint Custody/equal shared parenting bill was passed in 2018. One of the factors considered was if either of the parents committed domestic violence.

The gender of the parents wouldn’t be considered in formulating the parenting plan.

Factors considered in equal share custody implementation

  • Age of the child
  • The health of the child
  • Educational needs of the child
  • Financial resources available to the parents
  • Relationship between the parents
  • Custodial arrangements preferred by the child
  • Other relevant circumstances

Bottom Line

Equal shared parenting has its ups and downs. Some people think it’s unfair because they feel one parent will always win over another.

On the other hand, some believe this type of parenting gives the best results.

In any case, you need to make sure your state recognizes equal shared parenting as well as how much time you want to share with your kid.

All the same, you will need to consult a family law attorney before you settle for this arrangement.

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