Parents not living together have joint or shared custody when they share the decision-making responsibilities for, and/or physical control and custody of, their children. Joint custody can be awarded if the parents are divorced, separated, or no longer cohabiting, or even if they never lived together.
Forms of Joint Custody
Joint custody can be in many forms:
1. joint legal custody
2. joint physical custody. This is where the children spend a significant portion of time with each parent separately
3. joint legal and physical custody.
It’s common that couples share physical custody also share legal custody. It is not necessarily the other way around.
Joint Custody Arrangements
Usually parents work out a schedule according to work requirements, housing arrangements, and the children’s needs when joint custody is shared. If parents are not able to agree on a schedule, the court arranges and imposes an arrangement. The most common pattern is for the child to split weeks between each parent’s home. Here are some other joint physical custody arrangements:
1.alternating months, years, or six-month periods
2.spending weekends and holidays with one parent, and then spending weekdays with the other.
“birds nest custody,” where the child remains in the family home while the parents take turns moving in and out. In this instance the parents each have their own separate housing.
Joint Custody – Advantages and Disadvantages
While joint custody assures the children have continued contact and involvement with both parents and alleviates some of the burdens of parenting for each parent, there are, some disadvantages. For example, children have to be shuttled around between parents, non-cooperative parents can have negative effects on children, and maintaining two homes for the children can be costly.
If you have a joint custody arrangement, it’s important to maintain detailed and organized financial records of all of your expenses such as groceries, school and after-school activities, clothing, and medical care. Because your ex may claim she or he has spent more money on the kids than you have it’s important to keep all records. A judge will appreciate your detailed records.