Sole versus Joint CustodyAs a parent, divorce introduces an additional worry relevant to child custody. Traditionally, the female parent was awarded sole custody and the male parent was entitled to visitation. These days, many fathers are not content to spend a few hours on weekends with their children. They want to share custody equally with their former spouses. When getting joint custody is the goal, parents should follow several guidelines.

Parents who want to share custody following their divorce should understand the importance of communication and compromise. Sharing physical custody requires collaborating to create a schedule that works for each adult and the children. Splitting legal custody means that parents must discuss and agree upon important childrearing decisions such as education, school, social activities, and religion.

Contemporary courts are on the side of parents who want joint custody in divorce as long as this arrangement is in the best interests of the children. Psychologists have realized that children develop in the healthiest way when they maintain relationships with both parents. Courts understand this but also ensure that each parent is a mentally, emotionally, and physically capable caregiver.

Many parents are able to finalize joint custody arrangements with help from their attorneys and a mediator. This helps them keep legal fees affordable and avoid time in court. Family law attorneys specialize in custody cases and serve as objective third parties while promoting the interests of their clients as custodial parents. They step in when parents are at an impasse, helping to resolve custody issues and move the discussion along.

If parents are not able to work out joint custody even with help from their attorneys, they must turn the case over to the court. A judge then reviews the situation, evaluates the parents, and may ask the children about their wishes. After careful consideration, the judge hands down a custody decision that is subsequently formalized in writing. Failure to adhere to this decree subjects the parents to legal action.

In a joint custody situation, each parent is considered a winner because each retains influence over the lives of the children. Arranging joint custody in divorce may be easy or it may require intervention by a legal expert. In either situation, it is useful to retain an attorney to provide child custody help and support. Family lawyers help parents avoid custody battles, streamlining the divorce process and the transition to the new family structure.

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