For divorcing parents, a confusing array of custody choices may be offered. Couples should realize that they can create a parenting plan that is just right for their situation. Most parents will choose from a few common ways to parent after a divorce. Read on to find out more about one of the most popular choices, shared custody.
Two Ways To Look At Custody
Divorce traditions dictate that parents view custody in two ways: legal and physical. You can have one without the other. In most cases, legal custody is shared. The only time you don't find a parent awarded legal custody is when they have been deemed to be unfit or are incarcerated. That means both parents will, in most cases, share legal custody. That also means parents make decisions about important matters together, even if they are divorced. That might include anything pertaining to education, health, religion, and more. Physical custody, on the other hand, may be awarded to both or with only one parent. It's not unusual for one parent to be awarded sole physical custody of a child. The other parent, in that case, will be awarded visitation. With shared physical custody, both parents share custody 50/50 (or thereabouts).
The Benefits of Shared Custody
Since the details of shared custody are worked out within the plan itself, there is no need for a visitation schedule. Usually, the plan attempts to evenly divide the time between both parents – give or take a few hours. Just as each parent has work and other obligations, each plan will be custom-made to accommodate and make the most of the time available with the child. Obviously, a child that is fortunate enough to spend almost equal amounts of time with both parents benefits greatly.
Things to Watch Out For With Shared Custody
When parents live in one location, sharing time with a child is a comparative breeze. With a divorce, however, the child may need to move back and forth throughout the week or month in order to spend time with both parents. For that reason, this custody choice might work better with younger children who tend to be more mobile and flexible. Teenagers – not so much. Imagine pulling a teen away from their friends to go to a parent's home for the weekend and you can see why this arraignment may need to be altered for older children.
Additionally, parents should be super-organized and communicate well with each other to keep chaos at bay. Finally, participating in shared custody is almost impossible for parents that don't live near each other. To find out more about shared custody, speak to a family law attorney in your area.