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Shared Parenting Laws

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What Is Shared Parenting?

Shared Parenting is a type of custody arrangement wherein each parent spends a relatively equal amount of time with the child. Shared parenting, or “shared custody” is different from joint custody in that joint custody often results in one parent spending much more time with the child. The idea behind shared parenting is to allow the child to have an opportunity to spend an equal amount of time with each parent.

Shared parenting can also refer to a relatively new approach to parenting planning wherein both the father and mother receive an equal share of responsibility and duties. In the past, the mother was often granted physical custody of the child after divorce, with the father contributing financial support. 

Thus, shared parenting laws aim to provide the child or children with a balanced upbringing. As with any child custody arrangement, it is the “best interests of the child” that are given priority.

How Is a Shared Parenting Order Obtained?

Court orders addressing child custody, child support, and visitation rights are typically issued simultaneously with a divorce ruling.

A couple that is not married can also file for a hearing in court to determine whether shared parenting options are available. Custody orders issued by a court are enforceable under state laws. Violations shared parenting orders can result in legal consequences, including a loss of parenting privileges or monetary fines.

A typical shared parenting order will include such aspects of child-raising as:

  • Visitation and custody schedules for each parent
  • Child support calculations and figures
  • Distribution of duties and responsibilities for each parent
  • Instructions regarding any special needs of the child or children

Can a Shared Parenting Order Be Modified?

Shared parenting orders can usually be modified with the approval of a judge. Generally speaking, shared parenting implies that the parents will be working in a cooperative manner, especially regarding schedules and responsibilities. It is assumed that the parents can work together in a mutually cooperative manner.

Thus, the parents may need to engage in negotiations where they can discuss modifications to the parenting order. Each parent may be represented by a lawyer during negotiations and during the modification hearings in court. 

The parties may need to present evidence that would support any changes to a shared parenting modification. For example, if a parent has moved, they may request that the visitation schedule be modified to accommodate the new changes. Or if one parent is in need of additional financial assistance, they can request for a change in monthly child support payments.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Shared Parenting Issues?

Shared parenting can be an ideal arrangement for some parents, but it may not be available in all cases. You may wish to contact a family lawyer if you would like to learn whether shared parenting is right for your situation. Also, a lawyer can help represent your interest if you have any disputes over a shared parenting arrangement.   

Photo of page author Peter Clarke

, LegalMatch Content Manager

Last Modified: 10-13-2014 04:00 PM PDT

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