child custody

Joint Custody and Shared Custody: What is the Difference?

There are several different ways that the custody of a child can be arranged following a divorce. In the most successful cases, both parents choose to agree on a visitation schedule. Most want to work together for the best interest of the child. The judge will often encourage both parents to be actively involved in their child’s life. If that is the case, shared custody or joint custody are the two best options for everyone involved. 

While shared and joint custody may sound similar, they are not the same thing. It is important that you are aware of the differences between the two if you are currently going through a divorce and have questions about these custody arrangements.

What is the Difference Between Joint Custody and Shared Custody?

Knowing the difference between joint and shared custody can help you be more prepared when your divorce is finalized. Here are some more details about the differences between the two popular forms of child custody arrangements and what you can expect from each one. 

What is Shared Custody?

With a shared custody agreement, both parents share the legal physical rights of the child. Both parents also have the same amount of time to care for their children in their own homes. This often works best when both parents agree on a predetermined schedule. If the parents are unable to come to an agreement, the judge will have to determine which parent should have primary custody and set up a visitation schedule for the other. 

Shared custody may be the best option when…

  • One of the parents travels often
  • One of the parents may be financially unstable
  • One parent is sick, injured or has other issues that may prevent them from providing the right amount of care for the child on their own

With this type of custody arrangement, the legal parental rights may not always be shared between both parents. If they are not shared, one parent may be solely responsible for making decisions regarding the child’s healthcare, education or religion. When the legal rights are shared, both parents have a say in these matters. 

What is Joint Custody?

With a joint custody arrangement, the physical rights for the child are shared by both parents and are typically equal. Both parents spend the same amount of time with the child in their own homes. There is usually a rotating schedule in place that is worked out between the parents. If the parents are unable to come to an agreement on the schedule, then the judge will have to determine one for them. 

Joint custody may be the best option when…

  • Both of the parents live in the same area
  • The child is school age or older
  • The parents are amicable and agree to work together

With a joint custody arrangement, both of the child’s parents are very involved and equally share the responsibility of raising the child. For that reason, the parents must agree to work together so that they can make decisions about the child’s overall wellbeing. This can include making decisions about their healthcare, religion, or education. 

Get in Touch with a Family Law Attorney for More Details about Child Custody Options 

If you need more details about joint legal custody or shared custody, get in touch with our legal team. When you are searching for a “family law attorney near me” you can give the experts at The Law Offices of Paul Bowen a call for more information and all the facts about the laws for child custody in your area. 

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