Divorce is difficult, and the decision to end a marriage will affect every member of the family, especially the children. In order to minimize the negative impact of a divorce and provide more stability in the future, some Arizona parents choose to parent cooperatively after a divorce through a joint custody plan.
Joint custody offers many benefits for both the children and the parents, but it is not always the best choice for every family. Before you make any important decisions, you would be wise to discuss all custody options with an experienced family law attorney.
Joint legal and physical custody
When parents opt for a joint custody agreement, it often involves sharing both legal and physical custody. This means that the parents would share decision-making authority and parenting time. Both parents would work together or have a direct say in the following matters:
- Visitation schedule
- Religious upbringing
- Educational preferences
- Holiday schedules
- Discipline and rules
These are all complex issues, and it is not always easy to work together on these matters. Joint custody does not necessarily require that the former spouses like each other, but it works best when both parties are willing to put personal differences aside for the well-being of the children.
Other options for joint custody
Technically, parents can still share joint custody without sharing legal custody. This means that there would be relatively equal sharing of visitation and parenting time between the two parents, but one parent would retain complete authority regarding important decisions for the children.
In some cases, parents can share joint legal custody, working together to make important decisions for their children, while one parent retains primary physical custody. There are many ways that joint custody could work for your family, and you would be wise to find out if your family could benefit from cooperation between you and your co-parent.
Protecting the best interests of your children
The ultimate goal of any child custody arrangement is the full protection of the best interests of the kids. If joint custody is the best way to meet that objective for your family, you can work with an experienced attorney to develop a custody order that is workable, positive and sustainable long into the future.
There is no such thing as an easy divorce, but there are ways that two parents can work to make the process and post-divorce life easier and less complicated for their kids. For you, this may mean exploring the benefits of a joint custody arrangement.