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What is Joint Custody?

— November 2, 2022

Working together on significant decisions can be challenging. There isn’t a blueprint for what it should look like or what success entails.

When parents divorce or separate, they may encounter new legal jargon such as “joint custody.” But what does that mean in a legal and practical sense? Joint custody involves sharing parental responsibilities regarding children. It involves both parents actively participating in the child’s upbringing, as opposed to sole custody, where one parent has complete control. 

According to Child custody lawyers in Phoenix – Cosmas Onyia, one of the most challenging issues to resolve is the child custody arrangement. When parents separate or get divorced, they prefer joint custody (or residency), which gives the child equal time with both parents. It is more common to use the term “residency” instead of “custody,” which means that there must be agreement regarding the child’s primary residence in the event of parental divorce. When parents have joint custody, they acknowledge they both have the right to make choices that could impact their child.

What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Joint Custody?

Children usually benefit from watching their parents’ amicable interactions with one another, ideally showing how to compromise and resolve conflicts courteously. A certain level of effectiveness can be attained regarding rules, consequences, meals, bedtimes, and many other aspects of child-rearing with time and as parents learn to co-parent cooperatively.

The process of parenting is volatile. There probably will be ups and downs in the future. Every family experiences this, and when it does, co-parents may not only be helpful but also appreciated. This is especially true for important decisions involving healthcare and education.

Working together on significant decisions can be challenging. There isn’t a blueprint for what it should look like or what success entails, and there might be situations where it is unrealistic to consult one another before making a choice.

Many parents lament the system’s potential for manipulation. For instance, if one parent claims they have joint legal custody, the other “must” comply with their demands.

Forcing two parents to work together does not ensure they get along or have effective communication. In fact, 20% of parents say they constantly argue with their children, leading to high tension levels, an inability to solve issues, blaming, and occasionally even verbal or physical assaults.

Angry woman at laptop; image by Elisa Ventur, via

What Happens When a Dispute Can’t Be Resolved?

Before it is decided who should have custody of the child(ren) in contentious situations, each parent is evaluated. Going to court may be the best option when parents cannot agree on joint custody. Still, it’s crucial to know that most court cases involving parents end politely with agreed residency or joint residency as a result. 

Any visitation rights and maintenance payments from the “non-resident parent” are also considered. It is essential to know that not all custody battles involve the mother and the father. For instance, a third party (like an aunt, uncle, or grandparent) may ask for custody in some circumstances.

For parents who’re already willing to cooperate when making important decisions for their children, joint legal custody is the best option. It’s also ideal if neither parent harbors resentment toward the other or refuses to communicate, which regrettably doesn’t always happen.

On the other hand, when one parent is unreliable or has a history of “checking out” and disappearing for extended periods of time, courts will grant joint legal custody more carefully.

This kind of child custody arrangement requires good communication, and if neither parent is on board, things can quickly go south. That is why the court will hold the child’s best interest at heart.

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