What is Shared Custody of a Child? 

Shared custody is a form of child custody in which one or both parents shares physical and legal custody of the child. It can be also referred to as joint physical custody, joint residence, or equal parenting time. In some cases, one parent will have more time with the child than the other. 

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Joint legal custody 

The parents who have joint legal custody of their child will have to make decisions together about the upbringing of their child. Sometimes they may have different opinions about how to raise their child, or they may not be able to agree on certain things. In this case, the parents should communicate and try to come to a consensus. 

Joint legal custody is an arrangement where both parents share the responsibility for a child after a divorce. It means that both parents will have the legal authority to make major decisions about the child, such as religion, health care, and education. The parents can choose to share joint custody or separate physical custody. This type of custody is presumed to be in the best interest of the child. 

Joint legal custody is a good choice for many parents. It gives both parents a say in the child’s upbringing and is preferred by courts in most states. However, if one parent is unfit to raise the child, the court may award sole legal custody. 

Supervised or no visitation 

When sharing custody of a child, it is important to consider the best parenting method for the child’s best interests. There are two basic methods: supervised visitation and unsupervised exchanges. Supervised visitation involves having a third-party adult monitor interactions with the child. In case of conflict, the third party can stop the visit. Unsupervised exchanges involve a parent not supervised by the court. 

Supervised visitation means that a social worker or another professional monitor will accompany the child to the noncustodial parent’s home or another designated location. The child will be accompanied by the designated monitor, who will remain with the child for the duration of the visit and return the child to the custodial parent. In some cases, a relative or friend can be designated as a monitor. However, the parents must agree on who the monitor will be and whether they trust that person. They should also be sure to use very specific language to ensure that the child is protected. 

Although a judge will make decisions regarding visitation, parents should work together to make a reasonable schedule. Generally, one parent will have the primary residence of the child, while the other will have parenting time with the child. If parents are unable to agree on a reasonable visitation schedule, supervised visitation may be the best option for the child. 

Costs of shared custody 

The costs of shared custody of a child vary depending on the circumstances. Parents should be prepared to discuss expenses with the judge and provide documentation. The parent with less income might have to pay more than the other parent. In this case, it’s important to provide actual receipts, which the judge can use to calculate credit. Both parents should also be prepared to discuss the costs associated with childcare and extracurricular activities. 

Whether the parents can divide these expenses depends on the state’s child support guidelines. For example, Massachusetts law requires the custodial parent to cover the first $250 of child care costs per year. However, parents can suggest apportioning the cost according to their income.