As Philadelphia divorce lawyers we meet with a lot of clients who have a very narrow idea about what it means to seek custody of the kids. Various media sources encourage parents to think of custody as a zero-sum game, where one parent will spend 99% of their time raising their child alone while the other parent must content himself or herself with a handful of weekends, if that.
However, there are multiple forms of custody. Some parents take an equal role in their child’s lives. Some children spend something close to 50% of their time with both parents, and both parents have equal say in major decisions made on behalf of the child. This form of custody
Joint custody reduces child support burdens.
Though it’s hardly the reason you should seek joint custody of your children it’s still worth knowing in Philadelphia spending 30% of the year or more with your kids can qualify you for significant child support reductions. The theory is you’re spending your money on your kids while they’re with you.
Some parents like to play games with child support, either to lower what they owe or to raise what they’re owed. Remember the best interests of your children should be your primary concern.
There are things you can do to make joint custody work.
Some parents are afraid of joint custody because they fear the children will face more upheaval. But typically, the amount of upheaval children do, or do not, experience is well within the control of their parents. Here are some tips which could make it work.
- Consider an agreement which places both parents within a reasonable driving distance of the child’s school, so their education is not disrupted as they pass from house to house.
- Honor the other parent’s rules. Remain businesslike and civil in your interactions. Don’t badmouth the other parent.
- Make sure your child is clean, packed, and ready to go. Be on time for all transfers.
You may not be spouses any more, but you’ll both be your child’s parents for life. Nothing will change that.
Typically, joint custody is better for the kids.
Studies show kids who spend roughly the same amount of time with each parent after a divorce experience fewer problems than kids who rarely have contact with the other parent.
“The researchers wanted to see if kids who lived part time with both parents were more stressed than those who lived with just one parent. They looked at national data from almost 150,000 12-and 15-year-old students—each in either 6th grade or 9th grade—and studied their psychosomatic health problems, including sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, headaches, stomachaches, and feeling tense, sad, or dizzy. They found that 69% of them lived in nuclear families, while 19% spent time living with both parents and about 13% lived with only one parent.”
“Kids in nuclear families reported the fewest psychosomatic problems, but the more interesting finding was that students who lived with both of their separated parents reported significantly fewer problems than kids who lived with only one parent.” –Time
Joint custody is not the right solution for everyone.
Obviously, there are some pressing reasons why some families should not opt for a joint custody arrangement. Sometimes the issues are a matter of logistics; other times they are a matter of health and safety. Every family is different, and another custody arrangement may be necessary.
For example, a high-conflict divorce may indicate a joint physical custody arrangement could backfire.
You need solid guidance to help you make the right decisions. The family law team at Sadek and Cooper is ready to help. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss whether attempting to work out a joint custody agreement with your ex is the right move for you.