What Does Shared Custody of a Child Mean? 

Shared custody is a parenting plan that is based on the idea that children benefit from being closely involved with both parents. It is designed to avoid the emotional toll of divorce and separation. A child may spend alternating months with each parent, or the child may stay with the custodial parent during the school year, and then live with the non-custodial parent for a summer vacation. 

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The key to shared parenting is to work together. If one or both parents is not on board, the arrangement can quickly go south. Even amiable parents will have disagreements, and putting differences aside for the sake of the child isn’t always easy. In many cases, the best way to resolve disputes is to seek family mediation. This can help save both parties time and money. 

One of the most important elements of shared parenting is a well-detailed parenting plan. This document will spell out the details of the parents’ plans, including how much time each parent will spend with their children. Detailed information is necessary to avoid conflict and minimize misunderstandings. Parents should also spell out how much transportation will be required. 

As the title suggests, shared custody involves sharing the legal and physical rights of a child between two parents. Both parents have the legal right to make decisions about the child, such as where they will live. However, the court will also consider the child’s best interest. For example, the parent with the child’s primary residence will usually be the one who is responsible for the child’s health care. Also, the parent who picks up the child from school will typically be the parent who is responsible for the child for the entire day. 

Typically, the terms shared parenting and joint custody are used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing. Usually, a parenting plan will include both parental powers of attorney, allowing one or both parents to make major decisions on behalf of the child. Similarly, a parenting plan will include visitation schedules. While each parent will have the right to visit the child, some states require a parent to obtain a court order before a child can be seen by a parent. 

Regardless of the legal rights of the parents, the child’s best interests must always come first. A parent who has limited parenting time cannot effectively participate in important decisions that affect the child’s life. To help with this, a judge will usually award the more stable parent greater parental rights. Similarly, the court will decide on a visitation schedule that allows both parents to visit their children, or to make a joint decision. 

The key to successful shared custody is to communicate openly and respectfully. Over time, parents will become more tolerant of each other, and will be less likely to stifle their feelings. They will be more likely to cooperate on the best possible parenting plan. 

Ideally, the plan should be detailed enough to provide for both parents. For instance, the plan should spell out the costs of arranging for a driver to transport the child to and from both homes. Furthermore, the plan should also detail how the parents will coordinate their parenting and decision-making efforts.