The decision to divorce is one that will certainly impact the youngest members of the family. While the end of a marriage will affect the children, it is possible to provide them with an environment and schedule that allows for emotional security and continuity of lifestyle, even long after a divorce is final.
One of the ways that some Pennsylvania families do this is by choosing shared custody. Custody arrangements do not have to be contentious, but it is possible for you and the other parent to find a way to share custody and allow your children to have a strong relationship with both biological parents. Shared or joint custody may be the right choice for your family.
What does shared or joint custody involve?
Shared or joint custody may mean that two parents share both legal and physical custody of the children, but not always. In order to better understand how joint custody could work for your family, it may be beneficial to know the difference between these two terms:
- Physical custody: Physical custody refers to the amount of time that a child will spend with one parent. When addressing physical custody, parents must consider things such as summer vacations, weekend visitation, holiday schedules and more.
- Legal custody: Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions on behalf of the child. Some parents may be able to share this responsibility, but in other families, one parent may retain legal custody even while sharing physical custody.
While a true shared or joint custody arrangement would have parents sharing both physical and legal custody, it does not necessarily have to work like that for your family. Whether it is through negotiations or in court, you have the right to pursue an outcome that protects the best interests of your children and your rights as a parent.
Protecting your child
The purpose of any custody arrangement is to protect the best interests of the children above all else. For your family, this could mean sharing custody. Your arrangement should meet your unique needs and be particularly suited to the needs of your family.
Before you make any major decisions that will affect the future of your family, you would be wise to first understand all of the options available to you. With joint custody, you may be able to peacefully share parenting privileges and duties with your ex while providing a nurturing environment and consistency for your children.