When two parents divorce or decide to end their relationship, they face the difficult task of working out a parenting agreement and custody plan. In most cases, courts prefer to award joint custody to both parents rather than only to one parent, as long as both parents demonstrate that they can work together to provide a good life for their child.
Custody issues generally revolve around what a court believes is best for the child. If one parent or the other poses some threat to safety or well-being of the child, or if only one parent has the resources to raise the child, then the court may award primary or even sole custody to one parent. Still, in most cases, the court prefers to award a form of joint custody to keep both parents involved in the life of the child.
If you believe joint custody is likely in your case, it is useful to understand the variations you may encounter so that you can protect your rights and create the best life you can for the child you love. An experienced attorney can help you explore these issues and build a strong legal case to achieve your custody goals.
Joint legal custody
Joint legal custody does not mean that both parents share the same amount of time physically with the child. Rather, joint legal custody gives parents equal say in decisions about the child's upbringing. This may include:
- medical care decisions for the child
- education opportunities
- bringing the child up in a certain religious practice
- extracurricular activities
Joint legal custody is more common than true joint custody, which includes equal divisions of authority over the child as well as equal divisions of time physically with the child.
Joint physical custody
While some parents may work out ways to share physical custody of a child equally, this is impractical for most parents, even if the division of custody is relatively even. In most cases, one parent naturally provides a primary home for the child and the other parent maintains regular access or physical custody of the child.
Which kind of custody is a good fit for your family?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to child custody. Some parents work together easily while others experience ongoing conflict that complicates custody. In some cases, one parent may pose a threat to the safety of the child or the other parent, which can seriously affect custody decisions.
No matter what kind of custody is a good fit for your family, be sure that you seek out all the help you need to create the best life you can give to your child and protect your rights and privileges as a parent.