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Joint Custody Agreements: How They Are Becoming The Norm

Joint custody is quickly becoming the preferred option of courts for divorcing or separating parents, as the legal system becomes more aware of the benefits of having two active and involved parents in a child’s life.
Joint custody is a court order whereby custody of a child is given to both mother and father. Most states recognize two forms of joint custody: joint physical custody, and joint legal custody.
In joint physical custody, also known as joint physical care, a court-ordered joint custody schedule mandates when each parent has care of the child. Joint physical custody, which has become the default joint custody arrangement in many states, is when children split their time between each parent’s residence.
.In joint legal custody, both parents will have access to educational, health, and other records, and share equal decision making status concerning the child’s upbringing. It is important to note that joint physical custody and joint legal custody are different aspects of joint custody, and determination of each aspect of joint custody is often made separately in family court.
In general, joint legal custody situations where both parents share decision-making power but the child primarily resides with just one parent are more common than combinations of joint legal and physical custody because of practical reasons such as school schedules and financial affairs.
Joint custody situations work best when:
- Parents can maintain a civil, business like relationship.
- Joint custody arrangements are planned around the children's needs and developmental requirements.
- Financial resources are available to maintain two full residences.
- Schedules in joint custody are predictable and stable but flexible enough to change when circumstances dictate it.
- Parents live in physical proximity to make joint custody workable.
- Parents are careful to support and not undermine each other, regardless of their own feelings.
If parents are unable to agree on major issues regarding joint custody arrangements for the children after a divorce or separation, a court-appointed mediator can help resolve differences.
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