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What is Joint Custody?

One form of child custody arrangement, that has become very popular since the 1980s, is joint custody of.

Earlier, an overwhelming majority of child custody cases were decided based on the sole custody principle in which one person, usually the mother, gained sole or primary custody of the child. The mother, in these cases, was responsible for making most of the decisions for the child.

In a joint custody arrangement, both parents will have custody of the child. That custody could include either only legal custody of the child, or both physical and legal custody of the child.

When a joint custody arrangement involves only legal custody of the child, both of the parents will have equal decision-making authority when it comes to making decisions for the child. For instance, the parents will mutually decide to make decisions about the child’s education, extracurricular activities, health, and other aspects of his care.

However, when the joint custody arrangement involves both physical and legal custody of the child, the parents will share the actual physical upbringing of the child as well. In an arrangement like this, both parents will share custody of the child, and will have the child living with them for an equal amount of time.

For practical reasons, joint physical and legal custody is a difficult arrangement. It can help if both parents live close to each other, so that it is made easier for the child to shift between homes. The most common type of joint custody arrangement, is joint legal custody in with the child will live with just one parent, but both parents will jointly make decisions for the child.