Joint Custody

During a divorce or separation between two parents, often times there are children involved. And, when the relationship between parents ends, the parents often go their separate ways and end up living in separate houses. Because of this, the question arises as to who should have the responsibility of taking care of the children, where they should live, and which parent gets to make decisions about their life.

Because living situations change rapidly during a divorce, the courts have done their best to establish a determination regarding custody that keeps the welfare of the children in mind as best as possible. This determination is called joint custody.

What is joint custody?
Joint custody is a court order that awards custody of a child equally to both parents. Sometimes parents are able to work out the details of the child custody arrangements on their own or with a mediator, but when they cannot agree, it is the court’s responsibility to come to a decision.

There are two types of joint custody
It might surprise you to learn that there are two very different types of joint custody. First, there is joint legal custody. This is the most common type of joint custody. In this case, both parents have the legal right to make decisions together about how to raise their children, but physical custody is generally awarded to just one parent.

In other words, with joint physical custody, one parent becomes the main caregiver and the child lives primarily with them, while the other parent still has an equal say in how that child is raised.

Next, there is joint physical custody.

In the rare case of a true joint custody situation, both parents share the legal and physical custody of their children. In this case, both parents are legally able to have a say in how they bring up their children and are able to evenly split the daily care of the children. True joint custody is rare because it’s often too difficult and stressful for both the parents and their children to create and maintain two permanent living situations for their children.

A lawyer can help you with your joint custody arrangements

If you’re going through a divorce or separation and want to do what’s best for your children without the added stress of trying to do things on your own, it’s helpful to contact an experienced lawyer to help you. Since joint custody laws vary between states, a skilled attorney can help you navigate the often confusing process.