Parents who divorce and have minor-aged children will need to make some important decisions, preferably on their own before their divorce is final. Any arrangements that can settled on outside of court will just naturally be quicker, easier, less stressful and less expensive, since litigation can send divorce costs skyrocketing. Many parent's decide to follow the joint custody model when deciding what is best for their child, so read on to learn more about what joint custody entails and how visitation is set up.
What is joint custody?
Be sure that you fully investigate the two main parenting plans available through divorce, since the names are somewhat confusing. You can usually choose between joint custody and shared custody (also known as 50/50 parenting). While these may sound like the same thing, they are quite different.
- Joint custody is when is it determined that one parent is the best one to take full physical custody of the child, while the two parents together take responsibility for the child's welfare and make decisions about the child together. With joint custody, a visitation schedule will be necessary to ensure that adequate time is spent with the non-custodial parent.
- Shared custody is when both parents share both physical custody and responsibility for the child, with the child living approximately half of the time with each parent. Visitation is not necessary for this plan.
Once a plan is set in place, it should be followed as closely as possible. The non-custodial parent should take care not to over schedule themselves and end up being unable to attend to the required visitations. When minor issues arise, the family law court system expects the parents to cope with those problems on their own. While any issue that concerns minor children remains open as far as the courts are concerned, try to resolve minor problems between the two of you without involving a hearing. For example, here are some relatively minor custody-related issues that should be worked out between the parents:
- Your ex has begun a relationship and you dislike the new love interest quite a bit. While it can be galling to see your ex in a new relationship, it is not a reason to deny visitation based on your distaste of the person alone. If you can prove drug use, criminal activity or other problems with the person, you might have reason to take it to court, but you cannot simply change the visitation schedule on a whim.
- Your ex seems to be trying to purposely irritate you by bringing the child home several minutes late, canceling at the last minute, allowing the child to eat unhealthy food, letting the child stay up too late, and more. While these definitely fall into the "annoying" category, none of them are grounds for denying or altering visitation.