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. 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, as joint custody is a more common.  

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. This simplifies the child’s interactions with school and friends.

The goal of shared custody is for a more equal distribution of time between the child and the parents. The focus 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.

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. Joint custody focuses more on the tasks and duties that are distributed to each parent.

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?

Yes. A child custody lawyer can assist you in obtaining the right custody arrangement for your child or children. Child custody laws vary by state, and your attorney can help explain your state’s rules to you.

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Last Modified: 10-13-2014 03:59 PM PDT

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