Physical custody is the right and obligation of a parent to provide a home for his or her child and to make the day-to-day decisions required during the time the child is actually with the custodial parent. Joint physical custody implies that each parent will have a significant amount of contact with a child. Joint custody may not necessarily be a 50 percent split of time, but close enough to it. Joint physical custody its often encouraged as an alternative to a dual-family household.
Components of a Joint Physical Custody Arrangement
In joint physical custody, the child may reside with either parent:
- Every other weekend
- One to three days during the week
- Full summer vacations or an entire school year
Factors Considered in Awarding Joint Physical Custody
- Communication between parents in raising children (i.e. the ability to handle disputes and the ability to cooperate with each other.)
- The best interests of the child
- Incidents of domestic violence between the parents
Benefits of Joint Physical Custody
- The child resides with and has meaningful contact with both parents
- No need for a visitation schedule
Difficulties of Joint Physical Custody
- Joint custody may cause confusion or upset the balance of a child's life due to the constant changing of a child's physical environment
- It might be difficult to work with another adults when a single parent becomes more comfortable on his/her own (i.e. a parent might remarry or might make new friends.)
Relocation in Joint Physical Custody Situations
A parent who would like to relocate must prove that the relocation is in the best interest of the child. A court will be reluctant to upset the balance of a joint physical custody arrangement since a child will have relied on the balance between two homes, close in proximity.
A court may modify an order of joint physical custody. However, a court will use the "best interest of the child" standard to determine which parent should be granted primary physical custody for the future.