Joint custody is an increasingly popular option for divorcing parents. This reviews the advantages and disadvantages of co-parenting.
Because divorce can be stressful for both parents and children, raising children after
a divorce can be challenging. Joint custody is one alternative that divorcing parents can pursue so that both parents can stay involved in their children’s lives. There
are two forms of shared custody, joint physical custody and joint legal custody.
Physical joint custody is an agreement between two parents who live apart to share jointly in the best interests of their children by establishing two homes for the children and consulting with one another about decisions affecting their children, such as
discipline, education, health care, and religious upbringing.
Joint physical custody can take varied forms. It can be summers with the father and school year with the mother, to having the children switch between their parent’s homes every other day. Shared custody precisely means that children will have two primary residences, even if the time spent in each is not equal.
Joint legal custody means that the divorced parents share all of the rights and
responsibilities for decisions affecting the children’s welfare, even if the parents
haven’t established two primary residences for the children.
Some children in physical joint custody arrangements may feel as though they are
never really settled in one place. This problem is more apparent if there are not
consistent schedules planned ahead of time and maintained effectively. Without
consistent effective schedules agreed upon by both parents and children, some children may find shared custody chaotic.
Maintaining two households is more expensive than maintaining one primary
household. There is often need for duplication of clothing, furniture and other items needed by the children in both households. The divorced parents should not have to share the child’s belongings. It is up to each parent to provide what the child needs when he/she is at the other household.
Some parents may resist shared parenting because they differ with the other parent on child-rearing or lifestyle issues.
There could be an increase in ugly attempts to declare one parent unfit for the
purpose of circumventing shared parenting laws.
While the opportunity to spend equal amounts of time with each parent is valuable, the actual shuttling back-and-forth between two homes can be difficult for children.
Mandating shared parenting across the board may avoid a bitter, destructive child custody battles, which put intense emotional strain on children following a divorce or separation. It also does not take into account the consideration of the varying needs of individual children and families.
Here a few of the factors that have to be considered.
The child’s opinion and wishes if the child is old enough to express them. Usually, children over 12 are given the opportunity to speak up about custody issues if they choose to.
The relationship of the child with each parent. Usually, the court will look at whether there is a primary caregiver when evaluating the parent/child relationship. If one parent has provided the bulk of care during the child’s life, allowing that child to continue to spend the majority of his time with that parent will often be less upsetting to the child.
Note: Should take into account how much the other parent put into the up bring of the child before the divorce. This may seem unimportant to some but if the other parent never supplied any financial help to the child or the household.
A case study showed a father that never had a job and the mother had a trust fund. The mother used that trust to support the child and the father. I know you are all saying that money isn’t everything.
Another case: Parents that are in jail or prison. Do we feel that we should have to take the child there to see that parent?
The willingness of each parent to facilitate a continued relationship with the other parent. In other words, if one parent is engaging in parental alienation (badmouthing the other parent) the court will consider that as a strike against that parent.
The ability of each parent to provide the best, most stable, supportive and loving home.
Keeping the child life style is also important.
If your former spouse or partner is not taking your child to school, there could be severe consequences in store for them. This is less true if your former spouse or partner is allowing your child to make extremely slow academic progress. It is typically harder to determine who is at fault if your child is doing badly in school. Typically, academic performance issues are resolved through parent-teacher conferences rather than court cases. Judges often disapprove of cutting a badly-behaving parent out of a custody arrangement altogether. Although you may be able to argue successfully that you should get more or full custody of your child.
I believe that there should not be a mandated law across the board. Each case needs to be heard separately. Can not lump everyone together.
I’m in favor of shared parenting in situations where both parents are equipped, willing, and able to care for their children. I also encourage parents to look for creative ways to increase the active involvement of both parents, whether custody is shared or not.