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What are the pros and cons of joint custody?
Joint custody offers a number of advantages for parents and children. Sharing responsibility for childcare helps alleviate the burden on each parent and assures that children have continued contact with both parents. Most courts consider this best for children’s well-being and will default to awarding some form of joint custody. In many ways, children with multiple homes has become the “new normal” in modern society.
However, there are a number of disadvantages to joint arrangements. They don’t work well in situations where parents display significant animosity towards one another. Making important decisions about childcare, which is a shared task under joint legal custody, is difficult for parents who get along well. Divorce rarely makes this easier. There is a burden to shuttling children about for joint physical custody arrangements even when parents cooperate well. Of course, animosity exacerbates this as well. Joint physical custody can also be expensive, as it generally involves maintaining two homes for children.
What is “Bird’s Nest Custody”?
“Nesting” or “Bird’s Nest Custody” is a term for a joint custody arrangement where parents alternate living in a family home and caring for their children. While one parent stays in the family home the other will spend their time in alternate housing.
What is joint custody?
There are as many different joint custody arrangements as there are families living with them, but they do share certain similarities. Parents usually work out a schedule that best fits their circumstances. These arrangements have to consider the parents’ location, housing, and careers, in addition to the children’s unique needs. When parents voluntarily make these arrangements, they will often be specific in a Marital Settlement Agreement. When they are unable to agree, it is not unusual for the schedule to be imposed by a court.
Joint custody schedules can follow a variety of patterns. A common schedule involves spending weekdays with one parent and weekends with another. Other patterns may involve spending alternating months, half year periods, or whole years with each parent. It is common for these schedules to change as children get older and their need for stability and routine changes.
What is sole custody?
In some cases, one parent is granted sole physical and/or legal custody of children. This is particularly common when a court deems one parent to be unfit for reasons such as mental illness, substance abuse, or a history of violence. In other cases, one parent may waive the right to joint custody.
Outside of these cases, it is becoming less common for courts to award sole custody. The tendency toward granting joint custody serves to protect the best interests of the children affected by divorce. In many cases, sole physical custody may be granted along with joint legal custody. In these cases the noncustodial parent will usually have a generous visitation schedule and be actively involved in making decisions about the child’s upbringing. When parents sharing legal custody have difficulty agreeing on issues of importance to the child, a court may impose an agreement.
What is physical custody?
A parent with physical custody has the right to have a child live with him or her. Some jurisdictions grant joint physical custody, where children spend significant periods with both parents. This is usually reserved for situations where the parents live close to one another as it is otherwise difficult for children to maintain a regular schedule. More commonly, one parent is granted sole or primary physical custody. The other parent, generally referred to as the noncustodial parent, may have some sort of visitation rights.
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