If you and your spouse are the parents of a child under the age of 18, the issue of child custody will be a major part of your divorce agreement. Often, couples already know how they want to proceed with child custody and have already made that decision ahead of time. Others, however, are still unsure of what their choices are when it comes to custody. It doesn't help that the two main types of child custody, joint and shared, sound and seem so similar. Read on for a quick review of these two main kinds of child custody choices to help you understand what will work best for you and your children.
The name of this type of custody is a little misleading, since it actually directs that only one parent hold primary physical custody of the child. The joint reference becomes more understandable, however, when you look more closely at this form of custody. While the child may reside with one parent only or primarily, nearly everything else about this situation calls for both parents to work together. Major decisions concerning the child, such as education, religion, health and medical issues, and more are considered both parents' responsibilities.
It's important that both parents get along well enough to make decisions about the child, but that is the case regardless of the type of custody awarded. Often, couples with babies and younger children choose this type of custody, since it is the least disruptive. It can lead to a more secure living situation if the child is able to remain in the same home, same neighborhood, same school, etc. This type of custody is almost inevitable if the parents live far apart from each other. There will be an accompanying visitation agreement when this type of custody is in place.
Also frequently referred to as 50/50 custody, this allows the child to spend equal amounts of time with each parent, which can be advantageous for the child. On the negative side, however, it requires careful planning to ensure that the child does not suffer from being shuttled back and forth from one parent to the other. This type of custody usually means a very detailed schedule of custody, with one parent or the other having the child during certain days and hours.
Needless to say, parents must be able to get along and work well together to make this type of custody successful. Children, even young ones, can be busy with a variety of activities, and parents need to be able to share calendars and have open communication to keep things from digressing into chaos.
For more information about these two custody types, talk to a custody lawyer at an organization such as Father's Rights for Equality in Divorce.