Shared Custody And Joint Custody: What Is The Difference?

If you and your spouse are getting divorced, child custody can be a major issue when it comes time to creating an agreement that you both can live with. You may have heard both the terms shared and joint custody used interchangeably, but they are actually two different concepts. Read on to learn the differences between these two potentially confusing terms so that you will be able to construct a child custody agreement that works best for you and your child.

Joint Custody

This concept focuses on a division of the tasks and responsibilities of each parent, with actual physical custody usually being given to only one parent. This type of custody is for parents who acknowledge that one parent should bear the responsibility of giving the child a home for the vast majority of time, with the other parent stepping in on alternating weekends or holidays.

In spite of the physical custody residing with one parent, the decision-making responsibilities lie jointly with each parent. This type of custody works best when parents live in different locations and are willing to arrange for travel so that the child can spend time with the other parent. The arrangements in joint custody are spelled out very specifically, so make sure that the physical custody schedule that you both agree to is one you can live with.

Shared Custody

This type of custody is more concerned with time than duties and responsibilities. The goal of shared custody is that the child spend the approximate same number of hours or days with each parent, so the parents need to live near each for this type of custody to work. This arrangement assumes that the parents can get along well enough to make the day-to-day decisions concerning the child without it being spelled out in a divorce decree. The child benefits by having both parents' attention equally, but the downside can be a chaotic mess of scheduling and two sets of belongings.

The type of custody you and your spouse agree upon can always be altered with a court order, which is fairly easy to do if you are both in agreement and, as always, if you have taken the best interest of the child into account. However, it's not as easy to change the arrangements if you are in conflict with your ex-spouse, since you will need to re-open your divorce decree and involve a judge in making the decision. It's vitally important to take the time, therefore, to create a workable child custody arrangement from the beginning with the help of your family law attorney. To learn more about family law, contact someone like Stephen J Weisbrod Esq Law.