Joint Custody

The term “custody” means that a parent has the right to make the important decisions in a child’s life. Important decisions are things like choosing where a child goes to school, selecting proper medical treatment and religious guidance. “Joint custody” means that both parents have the right to make these decisions for their children. This is as opposed to sole custody, which is where one parent has the right to make the important decisions for the children involved.

While joint custody gives both parents the right to make decisions for their children, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the children spend equal amounts of time with each parent. The time that children share with each parent is an issue that is separate from the issue of custody, and is known as “access.” When parents have joint custody and they spend approximately equal amounts of time with each parent, this is known as shared custody.

Even happily married couples have disagreements about decisions regarding their children. So, it is important in a joint custody regime that there be a process for resolving these disagreements. In a separation agreement or court order for joint custody, there is normally a dispute resolution clause setting this out.

Ultimately, if there is a dispute and no resolution can be reached, the parents must return to court and have the court decide the issue. It’s rare that things go this far, but when there are major issues, such as whether a child should go to a French or English school, or whether a child should go to a public or private school, it can be difficult for either parent to compromise.

Serious disputes over custodial types of issues aren’t as common as you may think. The bottom line is that most of decisions have long been made by the parents prior to separation, such as the religion the child will practice, the child’s religious upbringing, the doctors the child will see when he or she is ill, and what sports or activities they’ll be involved in. So, in practical terms, the “custody” label is not as meaningful as it may sound, and there has been a push to drop this term altogether from the legislation as it creates a great amount of acrimony between divorcing parents, which harms the children.

Other Articles about Child Custody

  • Common Child Custody Concerns – Perhaps the biggest thing that parents fear with regard to the issue of child custody is the possibility of having their children testifying in court.
  • Child Custody Assessments – A child custody assessment is an investigation by a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker.
  • Age of Child and Custody – One of the most common questions parents ask is at what age can their children choose the custody and access arrangements.
  • Making Visitation Easier On the Children – Here are some ways to try and ease the visitation process and make it a little less painful for the kids.
  • Divorce and Relocating Children – Even if you have sole custody of your children you still must obtain the permission of the other parent before moving.
  • Joint Custody – “Joint custody” means that both parents have the right to make these decisions for their children.
  • Avoiding Summer Visitation Problems – When summer is coming, divorced and separated parents frequently run into problems with their custody and visitation situations during vacation periods.
  • Relocation Issues – What happens when one parent wants to move away with the children?

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