Joint Custody in Divorce
Determining custody of the children can often be one of the most difficult situations facing divorcing partners. In most States, the judicial system makes the determination based on what is in the best interest of the minor child. Many different factors can be involved in this determination though. Factors can include everything from the ages of the children, the relationship between parent and child to parental behaviors such as addiction and lack of employment. For these reasons there are no hard and fast rules that govern all custody decisions.
The most common type of custody is Joint Legal Custody. In this situation, the child lives with one parent and the other parent has visitation rights. In this case, both parents have equal say in decisions regarding health, education and general welfare of the child. This is different from Joint Physical Custody where the child splits time between the two parent’s different residences. This set up obviously requires cooperation between parents. Joint physical custody was once more popular in the courts but is not used as much today because in many cases, joint physical custody proved hard on the kids and was not always in the child’s best interest. Sole Custody is when one parent has total control over all legal decisions regarding the child’s welfare including religion, education and health care decisions.
In the past, it was very common for custody of children to be awarded to their mother, especially when very young children were involved. This is not always the case in modern proceedings. Today, more mothers work out of the home and it is not uncommon for a father to have residential custody of the children and the mother to have visitation rights. The factors involved in custody decisions often include the employment status of the parents. Emotional stability of the parents will also be taken into consideration. Parents with a history of substance abuse may not be the best candidate for residential custody. This does not mean that these parents will be denied parental rights, only that the court may require a modification to visitation orders. Courts may also look at the support system of a potential residential single parent, especially if the parent has a time consuming career. A strong family willing to assist in parental duties can be a great asset in such cases.
Even if both spouses are in agreement concerning their custody arrangements, the courts may not always agree depending on what is best for the children. It is best if both parties can reach an agreement between themselves though. It will also make the court’s job easier if there are fewer spousal disputes to be resolved before the child custody issues can be approached.