In practice, the concept of shared custody permits both parents and the courts more flexibility when considering the post-divorce upbringing of their children. This may take the form of the children sleeping in one of their parent’s houses but being picked-up from school and having a meal each day with the other parent.
The system of shared custody is beneficial in that it is a move away from the strict application of custody being awarded to one parent who must then grant the other parent access to the children. That system has been criticised on the grounds of marginalising the other parent and generally depriving the children of having “both a mother and father”. At the moment it is the law in four autonomous communities but it seems to be on the radar of more and may well become the norm at some point in the future.
It should also be pointed out that shared custody may be agreed between the spouses and it is only a matter for the court to consider when agreement has not been reached. The spouses may agree on any arrangement between themselves that does not in any way harm the children.