When parents are separated there needs to be an agreement as to who cares for the child or children day to day. Traditionally, the child would stay mainly with one parent and then would have contact with the other. Although there is no rigid rule as to when contact takes place, it is often over alternate weekends from Friday or Saturday until Sunday or Monday morning. Sometimes there are also other evenings of contact during the week.
However, over the last few years the Courts have started to consider the prospect of some kind of “shared care” arrangement. With shared care, usually both parents share a more equal role in the care of a child. This doesn't mean that they look after the child together but that, instead, the child's time is divided between them. Sometimes this means that one week is spent with one parent and the next with the other or alternatively sometimes a week can be split between both with, perhaps alternating weekends.
Shared care is sometimes not practical – particularly when parents live far away from each other and a child is at school or nursery. In other situations, a shared arrangement is too disruptive for a child and they find it too unsettling. Any arrangement must be made with the child's welfare at the forefront of everyone's mind so that, if possible, the child is able to spend as much time as possible with each parent.