Many parents worry that their divorce will harm their relationship with their children. Sharing legal and physical custody, as long as there is cooperation from both parents, may be the best way for parents to maintain strong relationships with their kids after the divorce is finalized.
Joint legal custody gives both parents equal authority to make decisions regarding the child’s healthcare, education, and other matters relating to the child.
Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with. If joint physical custody is awarded. Joint physical custody generally means that the child will split time between their parents equally.
If one parent has physical custody for more than half the time, the court will generally consider them the primary custodian and award visitation to the other parent.
What courts consider
Courts will consider several factors, including the following, when determining custody arrangements:
- Each parent’s age, health, income, work schedule, and parenting abilities.
- Each parent’s parenting responsibilities during the marriage.
- Each parent’s ability to encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent.
- Living environment provided by each parent.
- Child’s preferences (if child is old enough).
- Parents’ ability to cooperate with each other.
- Child’s relationships with other family members.
- History of domestic violence at home (if any).
If you are filing for divorce, you may discuss child custody arrangements with your spouse and try to agree on the terms in mediation. If you are unable to come to an understanding, the court will hear your case and decide for you. Even if you are able to reach an agreement, the court will still review your agreement to make sure that the agreement is in the best interest of the child.