When a couple makes the decision to end their marriage, it may be the end to long-standing problems but the beginning of all new ones. Though divorce is generally the low point of a relationship, it is also the baseline from which the couple will need to make some of the most consequential decisions they’ve ever made together, with decisions about custody being the most challenging of all. In most cases, both parents want what is best for their children, but each will have their own interpretation of what that actually is. One of the first questions they will have to determine is whether the children will live with just one parent or split their time between two homes. The latter is known as joint physical custody, and most experts believe that it is the best possible answer for all, but especially for the children.

The advantage of a successful joint physical custody arrangement is that it gives kids the opportunity to spend time with both of their parents in their own separate worlds. The parents are each able to have their own physical space and home and provide both a home for their children and to build memories together.

Unfortunately, joint physical custody does have its downsides. Some parents will fight for more custody than what they can provide well in order to either lower their child support payments or simply to punish their ex-spouse. Even in the best of circumstances, it represents an unstable situation that requires a significant amount of organization, communication and coordination between the parents, as well as involved outsiders including teachers, grandparents and others. As a result, despite the best efforts of many co-parents, joint physical custody often does not work.

Joint physical custody requires figuring out how to split their children’s time between two separate households. In most cases, joint physical custody is accompanied by joint legal custody, in which both parents have a say in important decisions including education and medical care. More parents share legal custody than physical custody, although there are situations where even that cannot be agreed to or is not in the children’s best interest.

The most important reason to try to make joint physical custody work is that it allows children to establish a relationship with each of their parents. In most cases, this is in everybody’s best interest. If you’d like help negotiating the terms of a divorce that works for everybody, contact us today to set up a time for us to meet.

 

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