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Divorced Edmonton couple splits family home

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Many divorced parents acknowledge that the end of a marriage isn't the end of a family, and have found unique ways to collaborate amicably even after they have split romantically. (iStock)

Monica McGrath and Kent Kirkland may have their differences, but the divorced Edmontonians still agree that their young children should live under one roof.

That conviction inspired the pair to construct a unique home: a duplex - which she designed and he built - with two separate sides joined by a hallway accessible to both. The kids' rooms are built into that connecting space, which they call the transporter.

The former couple has seen a lot of interest in their arrangement since the Edmonton Journal profiled them last week.

After living a few blocks apart for several years, rocketing the kids and their things back and forth between "mom's house" and "dad's house" every week, McGrath approached Kirkland with the idea for a "progressive home".

McGrath, a business manager, was interested in creating a situation that would not only afford the family more consistency and convenience, but also ease the financial burden of paying for two separate homes.

Kirkland, who owns a home building business, took care of the construction and dealing with the city building codes. Their collaboration seems to have paid off.

"The kids are very happy," McGrath said in a subsequent interview with CTV News. "When I asked them they said 'Mum, we like our things in one spot, we like living in this house. We like the house."

Their duplex has one front veranda - giving it the appearance of a detached, single-unit home - but both parents have their own entrance and interior d├ęcor.

During McGrath's week, the fire door to Kirkland's side of the house is locked, and vice-versa. The arrangement allows 10-year-old Sean and eight-year-old Audrey to have their own, permanent rooms, while also affording both parents privacy and the ability to date.

Staying close for the kids

For McGrath and Kirkland, building a home together after their divorce was the best solution - but it's far from the only compromise between formerly married parents.

In CBC Doc Zone's How to Divorce and Not Wreck the Kids, filmmakers follow three other Canadian couples who have come up with a unique solution.

"The "divorce from hell" stories grab headlines: couples who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars destroying each other and, incidentally, their children. But in this country, there is another reality.

Grassroots Canadians are at the heart of a quiet revolution - couples working on "good" divorces, which acknowledge that the end of a marriage isn't the end of a family. Because research says: separating parents who co-operate can raise children who are as emotionally healthy as kids from intact families."

You can watch the full documentary (runs 43:47) in the video player embedded below.

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Are you a divorced parent, or the child of divorced parents? What arrangements did your family make? Did the change work for everyone involved?

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