When you were married, you and your spouse likely shared in many childrearing decisions. Divorce complicates this parental arrangement. Parents are unlikely to discuss their children’s faltering grades or brilliant oboe performances over a leisurely family dinner or a Sunday drive to the hardware store. In fact, ex-spouses may prefer as little contact as possible. Courts know this and so typically grant the authority to make parental decisions to one parent. The parent with legal custody has the right to decide such major issues as education, medical care and religious upbringing. Typically, the parent with residential — or physical — custody also has legal custody. As an alternative, parents who are able to cooperate and communicate may consider continuing to share in the decision-making process in a joint custody arrangement.
A shared custody arrangement gives your children the opportunity to develop close relationships with both parents, while you and the other parent are able to remain more actively involved in the day-to-day events in your children’s lives. The arrangement works well for parents who share the same belief systems and ideas about raising children, as well as flexible schedules to accommodate the alternating weekly physical custody arrangement.
The joint custody arrangement doesn’t always work, or it might have worked for a while, but then a change in circumstance or belief can make it impractical to maintain. Your ex-spouse might adopt a philosophy about which you disagree, for example. Perhaps you decide to relocate. You might change your position on how to treat your child’s illness or whether to vaccinate against disease. When the joint custody arrangement sours, it is time to seek sole custody.
Our child custody lawyers at Bryan Salamone & Associates, P.C. can help you develop a successful joint custody parenting plan and if the need arises, assist you in obtaining sole custody.