Divorce is undeniably challenging; many divorced people say it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever gone through. When you add children into the equation, a divorce is significantly more difficult. Naturally, neither parent wants to lose time with their children. To prevent this, many couples agree on joint custody. This might sound fine, but there are some additional things to know. We’ve compiled a list of what you should know about joint custody, so be sure to read on.
There Are Different Types of Joint Custody
Child custody rulings are rarely split 50–50. You have to remember that custody has two major factors: legal and physical custody. Legal custody indicates who has the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child. These decisions could be related to health, education, and religion. Most custody rulings result in shared legal custody; that is, both parents have a say in major decisions. Alternatively, physical custody deems which parent the child will primarily live with. The court may decide one parent can provide a better standard of living for the child and give that parent sole physical custody. The court can also rule shared physical custody.
Joint Custody Isn’t Necessarily Permanent
Some people make the mistake of believing the custody ruling is final—it’s rarely final. Custody is always negotiable. You may want to renegotiate the custody agreement for a number of reasons. You may find your ex has a negative lifestyle that creates a bad environment for your child. Alternatively, one of the parents may move to a different state, in which case you couldn’t share physical custody.
Child Support Payments Are Still Required
A lot of parents think they won’t have to pay child support if they work out a joint custody agreement—wrong. Understanding child support in the context of joint custody can quickly get complicated. In general, child support is required because the child’s standard of living should remain the same from parent to parent. Each state and court will determine the child’s standard of living and child support amounts differently—you’ll have to work with your attorney to get that information.
Before entering any kind of legal agreement, you need to do your homework. By reading about what you should know about joint custody, you should be able to make a better decision regarding custody.