For many individuals, the idea of a divorce can be devastating. It becomes even more difficult to endure knowing that you may be without your children for some period of time. However, one of the most important things you can do after a divorce is work to establish joint custody so your children have the opportunity to bond with both parents equally.
Joint custody allows for this to happen, and both parents can share in the decision making and potentially where the children live. There are several benefits to joint custody. It's vital for both parents to recognize the benefits for the best interests of the children involved, as well as situations in which joint custody works best.
What is Joint Custody?
First, you must understand what joint custody is and how the judge can determine when it's most applicable. Joint custody may be granted to parents in a divorce, but the judge must also make a decision regarding legal and physical custody. These terms refer to who can make important decisions regarding the child's life (legal custody) and where the child will live (physical custody).
If the parents have joint legal custody of the children, they will both have a say in life decisions. For instance, the two parties must work together to determine the children's education, religion, healthcare, and more. One parent may have the final decision-making ability, but both parents have rights and responsibilities with joint legal custody.
With joint physical custody, the courts will work to determine a fair arrangement. This means they'll consider occupation, travel, and other situations and determine when a child lives with one parent and with the other. Joint physical custody means the child lives with both parents for a fairly even amount of time. This usually works best when both parents are in the same area and can maintain the children's lives.
Benefits of Joint Custody
While many parents try to obtain sole custody in an effort to hurt the other parent, if there is a healthy relationship between both parents and the children, joint custody brings with it the most benefits. There are several ways joint custody helps children:
- Parent-Child Bonding: Having a solid relationship with both parents give children a developmental and emotional advantage. They are not forced to choose and harbor resentment after the divorce is final. Each parent can provide different bonding experiences and life lessons, giving the children the most beneficial advantages.
- Education:Typically, children in joint custody agreements do much better in school because they are not dealing with the stress of a sole custody arrangement. They know that they are in a good place with both parents and can focus more on what's important.
- Psychological and Social: If you've ever heard the term broken home, it's usually in reference to a difficult situation in which children grow up. However, if both parents can work together and share custody, it allows for better social and psychological development in the children.
Joint custody also has significant benefits for the parents after a divorce. Single parenting can be very difficult as many mothers and fathers struggle with finances, social issues, and even gender issues. It may be more difficult for a father to relate to the struggles his daughter encounters if the mother doesn't share custody. Similarly, it can be challenging for a single mother to relate to her son in terms of gender-specific developments.
The parents in a joint custody agreement can rely on each other to be there for the children, even though they are no longer married. They can see their children potentially happier and striving. It's not impossible to be a single parent, but there are statistics that show children who are raised by single parents make up a large percentage of children who struggle with behavior, education, and more.
Requesting Joint Custody After an Initial Sole Custody Order
You can request joint custody in a modification order following your divorce if you believe—and can prove—that the adjustment is in your children's best interests. For instance, if you believe your children are struggling socially because they solely live with your ex-spouse, you can request a modification of custody orders. However, you must show that the change will benefit the well-being of your children.
At Atlanta Family Law Group LLC, we'll work to help you build a case to pursue joint custody. Our Atlanta child custody lawyers know that the main priority should be the children's best interests every step of the way. During contentious family law cases, we show the care and empathy our clients need to get through emotional times.