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Pros and Cons of Joint Child Custody

Mom and dad on couch, frustrated. Little girl holding bear looks in the distance.

Going through a divorce can bring its own set of challenges, but if the soon-to-be-former couple also has a child or children, extra measures need to be taken to determine who will be responsible for the minors. In some cases, sole custody is granted to one parent while in other cases, joint custody is granted.

Types of Joint Custody

There are two types of joint custody — legal and physical. Joint legal custody means that both parents have the right to make decisions about the children’s upbringing and education. Joint physical custody means that both parents have the right to have their children live with them.

Pros of Joint Custody

For many parents, joint custody is a great option for them as well as their children.

  • Seeing both parents frequently: usually with joint custody, the children will get to see both parents frequently. Some parents choose to have their children on certain days or certain weeks. No matter how the time is split up, parents will do their best to make sure that they are each getting time with their children.
  • Parents sharing responsibilities: rather than one parent having to face a majority of tasks such as taking children to practices or working on homework, with joint custody, parents are expected to divide their time with these responsibilities.
  • Children have the opportunity for close relationships with all family members: if children and parents want to have relationships with close and extended family members then there is that opportunity with a joint custody arrangement. By being with both parents, children may have the opportunity to see other family members more.
  • Parents aren’t alone: with parents splitting custody, this usually opens lines of communication so parents can work together on issues or struggles their children may be facing.

Cons of Joint Custody

Joint custody isn’t the best option for some parents, though, for many reasons.

  • Lack of trust: if parents don’t trust each other, having joint custody can be difficult. One parent has to be able to trust the other parent for the care, safety, and wellbeing of their children when they are not around.
  • Instability for children: for some children, it can be difficult traveling back and forth between both parents’ homes. Some children may also favor one parent over the other which can cause frustration for all involved.
  • Children’s mental stability: if parents argue every time they’re in front of their children, or simply can’t get along, it could be damaging to their children’s mental health. It’s not harmful for children to be exposed to arguing if there is a peaceful resolution. However, showing an argument without a resolution could lead children to have the wrong idea about how disagreements are resolved.
  • Putting children in the middle: sometimes children can feel like they’re a “middle man” having to deliver messages to the other parent if there is no or little communication between parents. This is taxing for a child and can put them in an uncomfortable position with both parents.

Which Plan is Best for Me?

It can be difficult to know which custody agreement may be best for you. At Peterson White, LLP our experienced attorneys have handled a wide range of custody agreements. We can evaluate your situation and suggest a plan that will best fit your situation. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation — (855) 919-4124.