Joint Child Custody: Do the Advantages Outweigh the Disadvantages?

Is it always better for both parents to have custody of the children after a divorce?

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An important part of divorce is determining who gets what and how much. Couples seeking divorce often hire lawyers because they cannot come to an agreement of how to split their possessions and assets equally or fairly. If many couples seeking divorce have a hard time coming up with an agreement on how to split assets, you can imagine how much harder it is to come up with an agreement on how to determine what is best regarding custody of a child/children.

Splitting financial assets is one thing, but determining child custody rights is another. For divorce cases involving children, child custody rights are of great importance. Few states prefer to grant sole custody, while most states prefer to grant joint custody. Some divorce lawyers and courts believe that it is best for the child to grow up with the presence of both parents. However, just how beneficial is joint custody for both the child and the parents?

Pros of Joint Custody

  • The child/children are able to grow up with the influence of both parents. Parents with joint legal custody are both able to make legal decisions for the child. Parents with joint physical custody both have legal rights to live with the child.
  • The child may serve as a beneficial and friendly common ground for the two divorced parents. Divorced couples must work together if they have joint custody of their child. With the child in mind, both parents may have more reason to be friendly, if not cordial to each other.
  • Both parents have less stress and responsibility with shared custody. Raising a child physically and making important decisions for a child can be taxing on just one parent. Joint custody splits up the responsibility.

Cons of Joint Child Custody

  • Physical joint custody allows both parents the ability to live with their child. It can be stressful for children to be constantly moving from home to home on a weekly basis. The child might have a hard time adjusting from one home to another, back and forth. It can be especially hard on small children who prefer stability.
  • Joint child custody does not work for every divorced couple. Some are able to make the best out of it, while others make the worst out of it. For some, joint custody equates to more fights and quarrels in regards to making important or even daily decisions for the child.
  • Sometimes with joint child custody, the needs of a child may go unnoticed. Joint custody means joint responsibility. However in some parents, it means the ability to evade responsibilities.

Over many years and through many divorce cases, attorneys dealing with child custody cases have noted that joint custody is not the right option for all divorcing couples. Theoretically, having both parents is very beneficial for a child. In reality, if the parents are not able to work together in a cooperative and friendly manner, joint child custody may be harmful to children in the long run. Joint child custody is not one size fits all. Children will benefit from joint custody if both parents are willing to put aside their differences.  Having a good child custody attorney to help you weigh the pros and cons is important as you move towards your decision.

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