Child custody is one of the most commonly contested issues in a divorce. Parents do not ever want to feel like they are giving up their relationship with their kids, and this desire can lead to lengthy court battles and costly litigation. However, for some Maryland families, there may be a better way to approach child custody.
With a joint custody agreement, parents can share both parenting time and legal responsibility of their children. This type of arrangement can allow children to have a strong relationship with both of their parents, even after a divorce is final, which is certainly in the best interests of the youngest members of your family.
Sharing parenting time after divorce
There are various types of options for your joint custody agreement. Many parents choose to share joint physical custody, while one parent retains decision-making authority for the kids. With joint physical custody, both parents will share:
- Parenting time
- Holiday visitation
- Vacation time
- An active role in school and extracurricular activities
With this type of custody plan, parents can be active in the lives of their kids and maintain a strong role in important areas of their lives.
Legal custody: who gets it?
With some joint custody arrangements, parents will jointly share both parenting time and legal custody, which is decision-making authority for the children. Legal custody involves a parent's right to make decisions involving the following:
- Religious upbringing
- Health care
- Other special needs
Not every joint custody agreement will result in both parents having an equal say in important decisions involving their child. In some situations, just one parent has that right. However, if you and your spouse may be able to share this responsibility in a peaceful, sustainable manner, it could work for you.
Is joint custody right for us?
Joint custody is not the best choice in every situation. However, it may be the best way for you to offer your children stability and strong relationships with both parents during and after divorce. If you are unsure of the right choice for your unique family, you would be wise to seek a complete case evaluation with an experienced family law attorney.
You have the right to know your options regarding custody, visitation and your parental rights. It is smart to take steps to protect your entitlements by reaching out for qualified legal assistance as soon as possible, even before filing divorce papers.