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Shared custody (also called joint custody) is when both parents share the rights and responsibilities of raising and caring for a child. Shared custody is one option in child custody cases after a divorce or separation. Shared custody will be awarded by a family court when it is determined to be in the best interest of the children. In fact, the family court will judge in favor of the children's best interests regarding all matters in a divorce. Shared custody is considered an option when both parents are found to be fit for parenting responsibilities and no violence or abuse occurred in the past.
Shared custody is awarded in approximately twenty percent of all divorce child custody cases. When shared custody is not awarded, the court will award one parent sole custody of the child. Seventy percent of all child custody cases name the mother as the custodial parent. The father is named the primary caregiver less than ten percent of the time.
Shared custody means that both parents share legal and physical custody of the child. Legal custody refers to the major decisions that affect and direct the child's life. Shared custody means that both parents have the right to make decisions about education, health care, day care, emergency care, extracurricular activities, religion and other issues that affect the child's life.
Physical custody refers to who the child will live and spend time with. In shared custody cases, a child may live primarily with one parent, but spend time with the other parent. In shared custody cases, arrangements will be made regarding who will be in charge of the child's activities, who the child will spend weekends, weekdays, holidays, summers, and other times with, and where the child will live.
In some shared custody cases, the court may decide to award child support payments to one parent. This is not always an element of shared custody cases, but will be ordered if it serves the best interests of the child. Adjustments can be made in child support payments when shared custody arrangements or other circumstances change.
In many shared custody cases, a professional mediator will assist the parents in coming up with a parenting plan. A parenting plan will detail all of the provisions regarding child custody. Mediations can be a very successful way to determine shared custody provisions. When mediations are not successful, the judge will determine shared custody terms. The family law judge will always have the final authority over shared custody arrangements. A parenting plan must be written and signed by both parents and the judge in order to become enforceable.
Legal counsel and representation can be very advantageous in shared custody cases. A legal divorce professional knows the laws and the family court system and can use this knowledge to maximize a person's legal rights and options.
If you would like to learn more about shared custody, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced attorney who can assess your case to determine the best way to protect and maximize your interests.
More information on custody:
Child custody rights may be shared by both parents or, primary child custody rights may be awarded to one parent or legal guardian. Since the 1970s the family court will award child custody rights contingent with the best interests of the child.
Child custody for fathers following a divorce is one of the most important aspects of a dissolving marriage. Throughout history the legal presumptions about child custody for fathers has changed significantly. Before the twentieth century children were regarded as the property of their father. Under common law, child custody for fathers was commonly awarded, as children were considered a father's rightful property. A major shift occurred after this period in history, as family courts came to favor mothers in child custody cases. It was presumed that under normal circumstances, children did better when placed in the sole custody of their mothers.