Joint custody, also known as shared custody, is a situation where the parents are legally allowed to contribute to the decision-making duties for their child. This can include health care, education and religion choices, among the others. Joint custody can apply if the parents are separated, divorced, or no longer living under the same roof.
Kinds of joint custody
It should be noted that legal custody is not the same as physical custody. This means that parents may share legal custody over their child but not physical custody. In fact, joint custody may be classified into the following:
- Joint legal custody
- Joint physical custody (the child/children spend a considerable amount of time with each parent)
- Joint legal & physical custody
Hence, when the court rules joint legal custody, it does not automatically mean that they will permit joint physical custody. It is also possible for the parents to have both joint legal and physical custody over the child.
Pros and cons of joint custody
There are advantages and disadvantages that come with a joint custody. Some of the pros include:
- The children usually benefit when their parents are in good terms and having them closely work together and discuss any disagreements in a healthy way.
- Joint custody ensures that the child receives continuous interaction and participation from both the parents.
- Shared joint custody requires parents to be in constant communication with each other, improving the connection between them.
- The parents learn to co-parent collaboratively and effectively.
- Having joint custody helps ease the afflictions of parenting on each parent.
- Through trials and hardships, a co-parent’s input becomes valuable, especially when making major decisions about the child’s well-being.
Meanwhile, the cons of having joint custody include:
- Discord between the parents can lead to unhealthy co-parenting and may have a negative effect on the child.
- With no arranged method on how to co-parent, the parents might find it hard to team up when it comes to making key decisions for the child.
- There are some instances when consulting with the other parent before making a decision seems impractical.
- The child or children would have to be moved around from one home to another.
- Having different homes for the child or children can be costly.
- Lots of parents argue that the system can be manipulated. An example of this is when one parent complains that the other must give in to what they want because of the shared joint custody.
Joint custody arrangements
When sharing joint custody, the parents normally devise a schedule consistent with their housing and work arrangements as well as the needs of their children. If the parents are unable to settle on an arrangement, the court steps in and enforces a feasible schedule. A common system is to have the child divide weeks between the houses of each parent. Other usual patterns for splitting the child’s time include:
- Alternating months or years
- Six-month periods
- Spending weekdays with one parent while spending weekends and holidays with the other parent
In some cases, there is an arrangement wherein the parents take turns moving in and out of the home while the child remains in it. The parent with the out time lives in a separate place. This is known as “nesting” or “bird’s nest custody”.
Factors to consider in winning joint custody
In order to win joint custody, parents have to take into account the following elements:
- Child’s best interest– The topmost priority for any custody action is the best interest of the child. Parents must recognize how a joint custody will affect their child’s wellbeing.
- Communication– The best way is to try and discuss custody arrangements with the co-parent. Communication is key to effective co-parenting and will also help with the transition for the child.
- Legal services– An attorney plays a vital role in helping parents win a joint custody. Acquiring attorney services is a must. According to state guidelines, some parents are eligible for a court-appointed attorney. Parents are encouraged to communicate with the attorney and ask any questions about issues that are unclear to them.
- Appropriate attire– While seemingly unimportant, dressing fittingly for court hearings can have an impact on a parent’s image.
Whatever you or your ex-spouse do to get joint custody, always keep the welfare of your child in mind.