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What does joint custody involve following a marital breakup?

The dissolution of your marriage can understandably take an emotional toll on you and your spouse. However, if you share children, it can affect them just as much.

One of the biggest questions you may have is how you will handle child custody following your marital breakup. Here is a glimpse at what joint custody in particular involves in Pennsylvania.

What is joint custody?

Two forms of joint custody exist: joint physical custody and joint legal custody. Therefore, in a true joint custody arrangement, you and your future ex-spouse would share equal physical custody and legal custody rights. In other words, you would equally take part in arriving at decisions regarding your children's welfare and upbringing (legal custody). In addition, you would split your time evenly when it comes to meeting your children's daily care needs.

For example, your child would spend a month at your home and then spend the next month at the other party's home. A true joint custody arrangement is rare since it can cause practical problems related to scheduling or the costs associated with maintaining two homes for the children. It can also cause personal difficulties, as it may disrupt the children's routines and cause the family stress.

Joint legal custody

Joint legal custody is a lot more common when compared with true joint physical custody. With joint legal custody, both you and the other parent would be entitled to make decisions concerning how to raise your children, as well as important aspects of their welfare. However, only you or the other party would have primary physical custody of the children. Meanwhile, the other party would still get visitation opportunities with the children.

Your rights in a child custody case

If you and your future ex-spouse can produce your own parenting agreement through mediation or informal negotiations, you can avoid allowing the court to make these important decisions on behalf of your family. Producing your own agreement is the ideal situation when dealing with child custody, as it tends to promote less conflict and thus be beneficial for the entire family.

However, if you must go to court, you have the right to fight for the child custody outcome you desire. The judge overseeing your child custody case will look at several factors in making a legal and physical custody determination, most importantly focusing on what is ultimately in your children's best interests following your marital breakup.

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