Shared/joint custody

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
Shared or joint child custody occurs when both parents equally share the legal and physical custody of the child. When parents share legal custody of a child, they make important decisions together concerning the child. To achieve joint physical custody, the child must spend a significant portion of time with each parent. Parents may opt to have only shared physical custody, only shared legal custody, or both. Many judges like to award shared custody because the child can have continuing contact and involvement with both parents, and some of the burdens of parenting are alleviated for each parent. Parents who share custody of their child must abide by the rules of their custody agreement. If parents share legal custody, they must make important decisions together or risk losing visitation rights. If parents share physical custody, they must pick up and return their child at appointed times to avoid parental kidnapping charges. There are some disadvantages to shared custody, however, such as having to shuttle children back and forth, or the possibility of parents fighting when they come in contact with one another. A shared custody situation is usually granted only when both parents are able to resolve their personal differences and control their emotions for the sake of raising the child in a caring, nurturing environment.

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