When parents divorce or separate, they come across new legal jargon like “joint custody.” But what does that actually mean in a legal and practical sense?
In contrast to solo custody, where one parent has sole legal custody of their kid, joint custody involves both parents sharing these rights.
Depending on which parent has the child’s legal custody, either joint custody or solo custody may apply. Parents who share custody have equal say over important life choices for their children. Parents do not share these rights in single custody cases.
Joint custody arrangements and legal custody
It is crucial to mention legal custody in any conversation about child custody agreements. When a parent has legal custody, they are able to make important choices that will effect their child’s future. Major choices are frequently made in relation to extracurricular activities, health care, extracurricular schools, and religious instruction. However, other facets of your child’s life might also be considered to be such. When trying to ascertain the areas of your child’s life over which you possess decision-making authority in a joint custody arrangement, it is crucial to verify with your attorney regarding what technically qualifies as “major.”
Parents who share custody have an equal say in such important choices. You risk being found in contempt of court if you try to stop the other parent from taking part in this decision-making. Any custody agreement is joint only if there is an equal division of the legal authority to make such significant choices.
Every state has its own laws on the matter, and joint custody can take many different forms.
Official Language for Spending Time with Children
In the majority of states, time spent with your child when you share custody of them is formally known as “timesharing,” “parenting time,” or “visitation.” While many may refer to such a situation as having “joint physical custody,” the term is not legally recognized to describe features of visitation in custody situations where joint legal responsibility for important life decisions is allocated.
One Standard Arrangement for Custody
One popular form of joint custody is one in which both parents are entitled to an equal amount of time with their child while also sharing the responsibility for all significant life decisions for that child. In these arrangements, the child will live with each parent for a certain amount of time, and the parents will work together to make choices regarding the child’s welfare and upbringing in a manner akin to when they were married (legal custody).
Example: Mother and Father agree to jointly decide on all significant matters pertaining to the welfare and upbringing of the child (legal custody) and set up a timetable where the child spends one week at a time with each parent.
Additional Types of Joint Custody
There are further joint custody situations that parents can come upon. One involves equal physical contact with the child but unequal legal custody. This could imply that the child will only live with one parent while both parents agree to work together to make parenting decisions.
Example: Mother and Father agree to jointly resolve all significant matters pertaining to the welfare and raising of the child (legal custody), however the child will reside with Mother, with the Father being granted visitation rights. A parent who has visitation rights is allowed to spend a specific amount of time with their child.
There are several forms of joint custody. For instance, even though the child spends time with both parents on a rotating basis, one parent can be given the entire authority to decide on the child’s educational options.
Get Legal Assistance from a Professional in Your Child Custody Dispute
It can be advantageous to have a knowledgeable attorney defending and guiding you in a custody dispute. Whether you want shared custody or some other arrangement, a child custody lawyer can help you get the best outcome for you and your child. Get a jump start right now by getting in touch with a local child custody lawyer.