The way that people look at parenting after divorce has evolved over the years. It used to be primarily assumed that the mother would get custody of the children and that she should be the main caretaker. Slowly, courts began giving fathers more time with their children and understanding how important that time is. This became known as shared parenting.

That said, it’s worth noting that shared parenting can still skew in favor of one parent or the other. Say the children live with the mother all the time, but they go see the father every other weekend. Technically, that is shared parenting, but it still means the father sees them far less often and may have a far weaker relationship with his children.

Experts now say that the optimal solution, from the perspective of the kids, is to use equal parenting. As the name implies, this means that time is not just divided, but divided equally between the mother and father. Perhaps the simplest example of this in action is a schedule that puts the children with the opposite parent every other week. They can maintain this schedule indefinitely, though they may want to make up special arrangements for the summer or the holidays, when the kids aren’t in school. Even then, though, they can use a plan that gives the children equal time in both homes.

One thing that is clear is that this shift in mindset means it is more important than ever for both parents to be well aware of all of their legal rights when getting divorced and discussing the custody of their children and the parenting plan they want to use.