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Confusing Terms: Shared Custody And Joint Custody

Of all divorce issues, from the division of debt and property to custody issues, anything that involves minor children are among the most contentious and emotional to resolve. You and your soon-to-be ex can have a major influence on how smoothly your divorce proceeds by understanding custody issues and making decisions in advance, before a family court judge has to decide for you. Two often-heard child custody terms are "shared custody" and "joint custody," and they both, confusingly, sound like the same thing. To gain a greater understanding of these terms before you plan your divorce agreement, read on.

Joint Custody

This is a common method for custody arrangements and involves one parent being chosen to be the sole physical custodial parent. While this may seem unfair, sometimes one parent in particular is better suited to that role, and assigning one parent as primary custodian of a child does not mean that the other parent is left completely "out of the loop." Especially for younger children, staying in the same family home in the same neighborhood is beneficial and comforting, especially when you consider how traumatic a divorce can be for those children.

While one parent has primary physical custody, both parents are held equally responsible for any major decisions involving the minor child, such as where they go to school, what religion they are brought up in, and more. The parents should get along well enough to work together, even if one parent spends more time with the child than the other. Often, if the parents live far away from each other, this form of custody works best.

Shared Custody

This form of custody depends on each parent participating in the raising of the child equally. Naturally, both parents must be able to work closely together to accomplish this feat, and they must also live close by each other. Often seen as the most "fair" form of custody (and is sometimes referred to as 50/50 custody), it is also the most challenging to successfully navigate. Undoubtedly, the child benefits greatly by having a great deal of contact with both parents, but the logistics of day-to-day life can become a nightmare if both parents aren't organized and prepared.

The time spent with each parent often involves a detailed schedule, so a shared calendaring system and open communication is key. After all, the parents need to not only follow the custody schedule, but to follow the sometimes-complicated school, extra-curricular, and social schedules of the child.

To learn more about the "ins and outs" of these custody types, talk to your divorce attorney like Gilbert P Kaback.