Separated parents may find themselves in a custody battle striving to win joint custody. In a joint custody arrangement, parents share custody of their child, as opposed to sole custody, where one parent has full custody. However, there are two different kinds of joint custody: joint legal custody and joint physical custody. Parents may also request a combination of both joint physical and joint legal custody. Parents should consider each option carefully as they prepare for child custody proceedings.
Win Joint Legal Custody
Joint legal custody allows both parents to make legal decisions for a child such as choosing schools and doctors. Parents interested in a joint legal custody arrangement should first consider the level of communication between themselves and the child's other parent. Because legal decisions will be made jointly, parents who win joint legal custody need to discuss important issues affecting their child's well-being on a regular basis.
Win Joint Physical Custody
Joint physical custody refers to where the children reside on a daily basis. In a joint custody arrangement, the children reside with both parents. Parents who are interested in winning joint physical custody should be clear about what kind of joint physical custody arrangement is requested. Some examples of joint physical custody arrangements are:
- Alternate weekends
- Days during the week
- Summer vacations
A family court will expect the arrangement to work for both parents as well as the child, considering such things as sporting activities and after-school programs.
Considerations in Winning Joint Custody
For parents who want to win joint custody, consider the following:
- Communication - If possible, attempt to talk custody arrangements through with the co-parent. It's best to have good communication as it will provide for a better transition for the child.
- Best interests of the child - A parent should be prepared to determine how a joint custody arrangement will serve the child's best interests.
- Dress appropriately for court hearings - A dark suit is preferable for a court hearing, but consider the season and determine what's appropriate.
- Obtain the services of an attorney - An attorney is a parent's best resource in winning joint custody. Some parents may qualify for a court-appointed attorney based on state guidelines.
- Ask questions - If something is unclear during the court hearing, a parent should ask questions. A parent's attorney is the best person to answer any initial questions.
For more information about how to win joint custody, speak with a qualified attorney in your state or refer to other references about strategies to help win child custody.