Child custody is one of the most contentious and complex issues a California couple will address in a divorce. It is never easy for two loving parents to decide how to share time with their kids, even if the two parties are amicable and have resolved to work together to create a meaningful and satisfactory custody arrangement. For many families, joint custody is the best option for the children.
Like the name suggests, joint custody allows both parents to have equitable time with their kids. It typically means parents will also share the right to make important decisions on behalf of their kids as well. Before making any final custody decisions, it may be helpful for one to learn how joint custody works and what it could look like for their family.
Legal and physical custody
Some people may think joint custody simply means parents will split time with the kids 50-50. This may work for some families, but it is possible this is not ideal for you. For you, joint custody could mean you and the other parent will have equitable parenting time, allowing each to have a meaningful relationship with your kids. Of course, this has to make sense with your work and school schedules. Physical custody refers to the amount of time each parent has with the kids.
Legal custody is the right each biological parent has to make important decisions for his or her kids. In many joint custody arrangements, parents will share legal custody. However, there are times when it is best for one parent to retain full legal custody even while sharing physical custody. This depends on the details of the individual situation and what will be in the best interests of the kids above everything else.
The intent of child custody
The focus of any good child custody arrangement should be focusing on the kids above all other factors, including how you and the other parent feel in the moment. It may be better for your kids if you choose a joint custody arrangement, even if that requires you to work cooperatively with the other parent. This is often the best way to provide the youngest members of the family with a sense of continuity of lifestyle and security after their parents go through a divorce.