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When you’re going through a divorce, it can seem like there are endless details that need to be settled. One of the most important aspects of a divorce is child custody arrangements. This tends to be the most complex part of a divorce agreement, and it can sometimes cause friction between the spouses. Many people ask their divorce attorneys for information about different types of child custody. It’s important to understand your parental rights and options, as well as the legal rights of your ex-spouse.
Courts operate by a standard called the “Child’s Best Interest” standard. When a court listens to custody petitions, the number one priority is to choose whatever is best for the child. The best thing for the child will vary widely depending on the exact circumstances. Every case is unique. Since child custody doesn’t have a “one-size-fits-all” approach, it tends to be the most complex aspect of divorce negotiation.
There are a number of different factors the court will consider. They’ll take into account the past conduct of the parents, the desires of the child, the parental incomes, and the child’s emotional well-being. Ultimately, the goal is to find an arrangement that is safe and good for the child’s emotional health.
The Definition of Joint Custody
When parents separate or divorce, one of the most common custody arrangements is joint custody. The agreement has some elements in common with a shared custody arrangement, but there are also separate details that make it a unique arrangement.
The main difference between joint custody and shared custody is that joint custody focuses on the parents as individuals. With a shared custody arrangement, the parents work together to fulfill their obligations and responsibilities. With joint custody, both parents are delegated specific tasks on an individual basis.
Joint custody is most typically chosen when the households are close to each other. In addition, it’s helpful for ex-spouses who have trouble constructively reaching decisions. If you and your ex don’t get along, but you both want parental responsibility, joint custody may be the best solution.
Every joint custody arrangement allows both parents legal custody of the child. The exact terms will vary, though. Sometimes only one parent will have physical custody to prevent the child from suffering psychological harm due to constant moving. Regardless of whether this is an element in play, the goal of joint custody is to allow a child to have relationships with both of their parents. If you don’t have physical custody, you should have visitation rights. Your arrangement will include written expectations and boundaries to ensure all parties are respected.
There have been many instances where both parents have physical custody. Typically, this involves mapping a schedule for when the child will stay with each parent. It’s rare for a child’s time to be divided exactly 50/50. They’ll often spend the majority of their time with one parent so they can stay in the same school district. They may spend weekends or summers with the other parent.
Differences Between Joint and Shared Custody
With both joint custody and shared custody, both parents have legal custody rights. Some joint custody arrangements involve both parents having physical custody, while others do not. With shared custody, all guardians always have physical custody.
The main difference is that joint custody is issued by viewing each parent on an individual basis. Shared custody, on the other hand, is issued when the parents are working as a team. In a shared custody arrangement, parents share their decision making with each other. If the parents are still on amicable terms after their breakup, shared custody can be one of the smoothest ways to raise a child. Shared custody arrangements also don’t always require a judgment to be handed down in court.
There’s no definitive way to say whether joint or shared custody is better, though. In a shared custody arrangement, a child’s life may have increased stability. However, stability means nothing if it comes at the cost of the child’s emotional health. When parents can’t get along, being around that relationship strain will have psychological effects on the child. If the parents cannot work as a team, it may be better for the child if joint custody is used instead.
With a joint custody arrangement, both parents are given parental rights and responsibilities. The exact terms will vary depending on your court agreement. This option is great for ex-partners who both want to raise their children without working with each other.