What does it mean to share joint custody?

| Feb 28, 2020 | Firm News

Parents want what is best for their kids after they divorce, which is why they often choose a joint custody plan. This type of custody order allows the kids to maintain strong relationships with both parents, but it requires a certain amount of mutual respect and cooperation to make this type of plan work well. If you are considering joint custody, you may want to learn as much as you can about this arrangement before moving forward. 

Every family is different, and every custody situation will be different as well. It may help to remember that you want to choose something that will work long-term, not just right now. Even if you opt for joint custody, you are able to make sure that the terms of your order suit your unique needs and the needs of your children, providing stability for every member of your Georgia family.

Two types of custody to consider

When you think about joint custody, you may think about equally sharing parenting time with the other parent. However, it’s possible your parenting time will not be exactly 50/50 due to job schedules, school schedules and other factors. In a true joint custody arrangement, parents will share equitable legal and physical custody of their children. The differences between these two types of custody are as follows: 

  • Legal custody — Legal custody refers to the parent’s right to make important decisions for a child. This includes decisions about education, religious upbringing, health care and more.
  • Physical custody — This refers to a parent’s time with his or her children. This includes school breaks, vacations, weekend visitation and much more.

It is possible in some joint custody arrangements that parents will share physical custody while one parent retains full legal custody. In other cases, parents may share legal custody, but one parent may have primary physical custody. Courts often look at the details of the individual situation to determine what is best for the children when making custody determinations. 

Your parental rights

Regardless of the type of custody plan you choose, you have the right to protect your parental rights. It is smart to work for ways to protect the relationship you have with your kids, starting by making sure your custody order is fair and reasonable. Before you agree to terms or make any important decisions that will affect your future, you may want to seek the guidance of an experienced family law attorney.