Joint custody is an agreement made between parents as to who has decision-making authority of the minor children. It is not necessarily 50:50 timesharing with the children. This type of custody provides for both of the parents to continue supporting and caring for their children. Joint custody can mean legal custody, physical custody, or both. It will also be necessary to decide what arrangement is best concerning holidays. School vacations may also be an issue. A well thought out joint custody agreement can make the best of a bad situation by limiting the amount of disruption the child(ren) must suffer in the separation of their parents.
Parental timesharing is often a tough issue to negotiate. Sometimes both parents feel they are the better parent and deserve to be with their children more than the other is. Even though these feelings may or may not be true, the key thing each parent must keep in mind is that the children usually expect to see both parents. But if there is disagreement, the court may decide the fate of the child. The judge may take into account the age and gender of the child, the continuity of the environment, the ability of each parent to provide for the physical and emotional needs of the child, and the physical and mental condition of the parent.
If the child is age 14 or older, the court may consider the child’s preference. This does not mean that the court will do what the child wants. As circumstances change, the timesharing agreement may be changed. Grandparents normally see their grandchildren during the parent’s timesharing. Under very limited circumstances, grandparents may have a standing to seek visitation rights in their own capacity.
Relocation of Child(ren)
The main concern of the judicial system, when it comes to child custody, is the best interest of the child. Changing residences is generally considered stressful for a child. If the move takes them from their friends, family, and community ties, it may trigger a custody battle. If the non-relocating parent is opposed to the relocation and that parent is a fit parent, they may be able to change the custody arrangements. A move across town will probably not be enough to challenge custody, unless some form of detriment can be shown. If the child wishes to stay with the other parent instead of moving, the court may examine the child’s request. All aspects for each environment may be examined.
The Family Court Clinic is located on the second floor of the Second Judicial District Courthouse. All clients are seen by court order only, meaning you have to be referred by the judge in your case. Clinic services include mediation, advisory consultation, and risk assessments for cases involving custody or time-sharing disputes of minor children. The primary function of the clinic is to help reduce the level of conflict between the parties in order to meet the best interest of the child(ren). The clinic is staffed by psychologists, social workers, and family therapists who have an expertise in mediation, evaluation, and child development.