Joint custody is beneficial for the divorced or estranged parents as well as the kids. Here is a brief overview about the concept.
There are numerous legal proceedings, which involve decisions regarding child custody. They include divorce cases, litigation regarding child abuse, guardianship and termination of parental rights, etc. However, the rising number of divorces makes it one of the leading causes for child custody litigation. A divorce necessitates restructuring of parental rights and responsibilities, with regard to children.
In most of the divorce custody cases, both parents formulate a restructuring arrangement by themselves, as far as child custody is concerned. However, in some cases, the parents fight with each other for child custody, and fail to reach an agreement. In such cases, the decision is taken by the court, after studying each and every factor in relation to the rights and responsibilities of the child/children. The decision is based on the ‘best interest of the child’.
Joint Child Custody
There are two types of child custody – sole custody and joint custody. In sole custody, only one parent is assigned with the physical and legal custody of children. This can happen when the other parent is found to be incompetent to take care of children in a proper way. Joint custody, which is also known as shared custody or shared parenting, denotes an arrangement wherein both the parents share the decision-making responsibilities with regard to the child, and/or physical custody.
Joint custody of children consists of joint legal custody and joint physical custody. Joint legal custody implies that both parents have the rights and obligations to make important decisions regarding the upbringing of the child. It can be about schooling, religion, medical care, etc. In case of joint physical custody, both parents share the custody of the children. That means the children have to spend significant amounts of time with both parents.
Joint custody of children after divorce and separation has become a popular concept; as it is claimed by psychologists that this type of arrangement is best for children, who exhibit less emotional and behavior problems than kids in sole custody. Such joint custody can be a joint legal custody or a joint physical custody or both.
It has been observed that separated couples who have joint physical custody also share the legal custody of children. However, it is not necessary that those who share legal custody must have physical custody too. Usually, joint custody is awarded in case of divorces and legal separations. It can also be awarded in case of couples who are no longer cohabiting.
How to Get Joint Custody
There are two methods for obtaining joint custody of children. In the first case, the parties to the divorce case can either agree between themselves for a joint custody, and the court will issue an order for the same. They can also apply to the court for a joint custody. In the second option, it is the discretion of the court to decide. The first method is simpler and hassle-free, and the couple can also seek the help of divorce mediators to work out the details of the joint custody arrangements. If they fail to reach an agreement, the court will decide according to the best interest of the child.
Hence, it is always better to work out a joint custody plan, which is convenient to both the parents; and then file a ‘statement of arrangements’ with details regarding the joint custody for the kids. The form for this purpose can be obtained from the court. You can fill it by yourself or with the help of an attorney, and sign it before filing. If you cannot reach an agreement, make an application to the court for resolving the issue.
Joint Custody Arrangement
As mentioned above, the parents can work out an arrangement as per their requirements and the children’s needs. If the parents fail to reach an agreement, the court will work out an arrangement. Generally, the children have to split weeks between each parent’s house. It can also be alternating months or years. In some cases, the kids have to spend weekends and holidays with one parent, and weekdays with the other. In another type of arrangement, called ‘bird’s nest custody’, the children will continue to live in the family home, but the parents have to take turns to stay with the kids.
In short, joint custody arrangements help the children to stay in touch with both parents. Such arrangements are also beneficial for the parents, as they can share the responsibilities of the kids, even after divorce or separation. In case of a joint custody, it will be better for both partners to maintain the records of their expenses and other important things, so that one of them cannot make wrong claims regarding the finances in future.