The Divorcerer Speaks: Working the “Split Shift” in the world of modern parenting and divorcing
Many clients have unique work schedules, but a shift over the past few years includes more and more parents trying to squeeze in every bit of extra time with their children, however, it has become even more noticeable in the midst of a divorce. I find that parents are even more driven to stay connected to their children in any way possible during such a tumultuous time, with good reason.
These unique work schedules aren’t that uncommon these days. In fact, a little research led me down the path of a work-trend called “Split Shift,” wherein the definition was fittingly a “working shift divided into two or more periods of time, such as morning and evening, with a break of several hours in between them.” This Split Shift allows parents to step away from their jobs for a few hours to participate in their child’s medical appointment, play date, school meeting, swim lesson or simply have quality time with their child; these precious few hours then tack on at the end of the day (or second shift of the Split Shift of work). While many parents do not have the generosity or flexibility of employers that will allow these split-shift schedules, I realized that more and more of my clients are doing just that.
What does this all mean in the realm of modern parenting and divorcing? It means that many families and parents are attempting to balance their children and work in a way that their parents never did. They want it all – they want to keep the job and they want to see their kids, whether or not they are divorcing. But if you do add a divorce into the mix, I understand the parent’s need to stay connected to their children in any way that they can in order to create stability and provide emotional support during such a difficult time for the entire family; working the Split Shift is just one way to do that.
With the recent changes in Illinois law in 2016, the law seems to be catching up to the direction of parenting in the modern era; there is no longer custody or visitation, rather there is allocation of parental responsibility that sets forth decision making responsibility and parenting time in a way that was not done previously. So, whether you are the 9-5 shift, the 18 hour workday, the work commuter, the travelling consultant, the homemaker or the Split Shifter, you are working for your family and the new laws seems to be catching up to the modern parenting, modern work shifts and modern divorces.
Jennifer R. Ward has exclusively practiced in the matrimonial and family law field for nearly 20 years. Furthermore, Ms. Ward is Adjunct Faculty at the John Marshall Law School teaching family law legal drafting to law students and has done so since 2005.