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Joint Custody Work Explained 

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Joint Custody Work Explained

In many jurisdictions, courts prefer to settle on joint custody agreements because it helps children foster good relationships with their parents. When each parent gets actively involved in a child’s upbringing, that child tends to thrive physically, socially, and emotionally. Yet, what is a joint custody arrangement? While many people think the term is straightforward, there are specific legal distinctions to how joint custody works.

At Marshall & Taylor PLLC, our compassionate family law attorneys want to help you understand what it means to draft a joint custody arrangement and how it works.

What Is Joint Custody?

Joint custody agreements are legal arrangements giving both parents equal access and decision-making power over their child, depending on the agreement. There are two separate categories of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and which parent is responsible for caring for the child’s daily needs. Legal custody is separate. Legal custody refers to the responsibility for making decisions on the child’s behalf concerning long-term child-raising needs like education, medical decisions, religious upbringing, and recreational activities.

Unless there is active abuse, drug use, or a history of violence in a home, the courts prefer joint custody arrangements because it helps a child develop and maintain a bond with both of their parents. Many families find joint physical and joint legal custody arrangements ideal because each parent has decision-making power and gets to see their child regularly. However, other joint custody arrangements may fit a family’s needs. Some parents prefer a joint legal custody and sole physical custody agreement. Both parents have the legal right to make vital decisions for the child, but the child primarily resides with one parent over the other.

What Happens If the Custodial Parent Doesn’t Show Up to Court?

Child custody arrangements are often settled in court. If the court must intervene and handle a child custody case, both parents must present themselves to argue their case. Seldom is avoiding a court date in your best interest. When one parent, especially the custodial parent, fails to attend a scheduled court hearing, the court can move forward with making decisions based on the child’s best interests without that parent’s input. The other parent’s position can be taken as fact since no one is there to dispute it, which can result in an automatic judgment against the other parent.

Working with a knowledgeable family law attorney is crucial because your attorney can help manage legal deadlines and prepare you for what’s ahead. They can also advocate for you and your family, ensuring the court hears your side of the story and addresses your family’s needs.   

How to Get Joint Custody Without Going to Court

Joint Custody Work ExplainedSometimes, going to court to determine child custody is the only reasonable way to reach an agreement with an ex-partner. However, if you and your ex-spouse are on the same page about most childcare decisions and need help getting over the finish line, mediation may be a viable way to resolve your issues and avoid heading to court.

Mediation is an out-of-court alternative dispute resolution process. A neutral third party attempts to foster communication between two parties to help them arrive at a mutually beneficial custody agreement that meets everyone’s needs. During mediation, the mediator works with both sides to find common ground and address the concerns and goals of each parent. They do not offer advice, and they do not pick sides. A mediator encourages communication and compromise so couples can resolve minor differences or disagreements.

Going to court can be a costly and time-consuming process. Mediation can be much less frightening and stressful. It is also a cheaper and more cost-effective way to settle minor differences in opinion. However, having an attorney with you during mediation is still in your family’s best interest. An attorney can help you through the process and address your needs and concerns.

How a Family Law Attorney Can Help

Joint custody arrangements can benefit you and your child. However, reaching an amicable joint custody agreement can be challenging. Working with an experienced family law attorney means you have an advocate on your side, someone willing to fight for your family. At Marshall & Taylor PLLC, our family law team wants to help you find the right custody balance for you and your child.

Contact us today at (919) 833-1040 to request your confidential legal consultation. We care about happy, healthy families.