The choices for parents who are divorcing can be confusing. There are two overall categories of child custody to consider along with several custody arrangement choices. Shared or joint custody can provide a child with the best parenting plan, but it's not appropriate for all situations. Read on to find out if joint custody might be right for you.
Legal Custody and Physical Custody
If both of you are determined to remain present in your child's life, joint legal custody allows you to do that. Here, both parents are equally responsible for the children, just like when you were both still together. The only time when joint legal custody is not ordered is when one parent is not fit or available. Physical custody, however, is about where the child actually resides. You can have joint legal custody for both parents and sole physical custody for one parent only. You can also have joint legal and physical custody.
Shared Physical Custody and the Benefits
As long as the parents are dedicated to making it work, shared custody allows the child to spend as much time with both parents as possible. In opposition to a sole physical custody plan, shared custody has no need for visitation arrangements. Some people improperly refer to shared custody as 50/50, but true splits in time are seldom possible. It's far more important to make sure that the child gets to spend time with each parent as their schedule permits. For example, if one parent's work schedule allows them to be home during the daytime, the other parent should have a work schedule that leaves nights available. The plan can be as flexible as you wish and can be adjusted without the need for a court order. If you are sick, the other parent takes over the parenting duties for a while. If the other parent travels out of town, you are fully responsible for their care until they return
To Make Shared Custody Work
This plan requires parents who are organized and respect each other. Additionally, the parents should fit the following requirements:
1. Be fit — parents who have histories of abuse, criminal activity, or substance abuse are not likely to be good candidates for shared custody.
2. Live close to each other.
3. Get along and have open communication with each other.
4. Are willing to sit down and come up with a workable but flexible schedule that assigns a fair amount of time with the children for both parents.
While this form of custody is often the default choice for parents, if you would rather seek sole physical custody, you should make your wishes known to your family attorney as soon as possible.