Shared Custody vs Joint Custody

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What Is the Difference Between Shared Custody and Joint Custody?

A court may prescribe one of several different custody arrangements when determining child custody issues. Child custody is based on the needs of the child and the capabilities of each parent.

The term "shared custody" is often used as a synonym for joint custody, but shared custody and joint custody are two different types of custody. Both shared custody and joint custody fall into the category of “shared parenting.”

In child custody cases, the needs of the child always take priority over the desires of the parents. Courts will use the “best interest of the child” standard to determine which type of custody would be appropriate for the child. Shared custody may not be available in all jurisdictions.

What Does Shared Custody Involve?

In a shared custody arrangement, each parent has about equal custody of the child. For this type of child custody arrangement to work, each of the parents should live in near one another.  With shared custody, both parents have legal and physical custody of the child as a single unit, collaborating on the child-raising effort instead of having responsibilities strictly divided by the court. Both parents make decisions about the child's health care, religious upbringing and education, and both parents are responsible for taking physical care of the children. Mediation is usually ordered by the courts, giving parents the opportunity to sit with a mediator to work out the details of their parenting plan, which includes information such as where the child will spend summers, holidays, and weekends.

The goal of shared custody is for a more equal distribution of time between the child and the parents. The focus of shared custody is on the time spent together, rather than the duties and responsibilities of each individual parent.

Shared custody is ideal when the parents are able to cooperate and agree on basic decisions without confrontations. It may also provide the child with a more stable environment, since time spent with each parent is about the same.

How Does Shared Custody Visitation Work?

The judge determines shared custody visitation schedules and arrangements. Most of the time, the parents come to an agreement on their own and the judge does not have to make the agreement. However, if both parents are fighting for physical custody, the judge decides with whom the children will reside primarily based on which parent would be the best interest for the child. The judge can also arrange visitation if the parents cannot reach an agreement.

What Does Joint Custody Involve?

Joint custody is a more general term that refers to a basic division of child-rearing tasks between the parents because focuses more on the tasks and duties that are distributed to each parent. When parents have joint custody, they usually agree upon a physical custody schedule according to their work requirements, housing arrangements, and the children’s needs while acting as a single parent when in physical possession of the child. If the parents cannot agree upon a schedule, the court will then provide a schedule for the parents.

Most joint custody arrangements involve an alternating schedule between each parent. However, one parent may have a much greater amount of physical custody time than the other parent. Also, one parent may have more parenting responsibilities than the other.

Joint custody arrangements may be ideal when one parent is in a better position to care for the child than the other. Joint custody allows a child to receive the care of one parent while still being able to interact with the other parent on a regular basis.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Shared Custody or Joint Custody Arrangement?

child custody lawyer can assist you in custody arrangements for your child or children. They can explain to you what the child custody laws are in your state and help you obtain the kind of custody arrangement that you want.

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Last Modified: 09-11-2015 11:10 AM PDT

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