Joint vs. Sole Custody in a Parenting Plan
Key Points
  • If at all possible parents should strive for joint legal custody. Children are more emotionally stable when parents are both involved in decision making.
  • Joint custody allows for both mom and dad to be active in the child’s life. A joint custody schedule often maximizes time the child spends with both parents.

Joint child custody is the alternative to sole custody. Joint custody allows both parents to share legal custody (the authority to make decisions) and physical custody (sharing time) of their children after a divorce.

This type of parenting grants children of divorced couples the opportunity for the maximum continuing physical and emotional contact with both parents. Children grow emotionally more stable when both parents participate in their lives, and joint custody is endorsed by many behavioral researchers. This regime has become so popular that it has become the first choice of custody laws in the majority of the states.

For most of the twentieth century, courts routinely granted sole physical custody to the mother and visitation rights to the father. Psychologists argued, however, that children benefited by having the father actively involved in their children's live. Fathers now take a more active role in their children's lives, leaving behind the traditional view of fathers as simply "providers." Several sociological factors intervened in making joint custody the court's favorite choice when deciding on custody and visitation issues. Changes in the traditional marital roles and the rising number of working mothers are two of them.

Judges decide in favor of a shared parenting plan when both parents are equally competent. Joint custody is presumed as a matter of law that this is in the child's best interest, the standard upon which all divorce matters relating to children are decided.

No parent should be denied child custody, unless there are reasons to believe that his or her parental relationship will negatively affect the child. Courts typically favor sole custody today when domestic violence, child neglect, or abuse is present.

Joint custody works best when parents live near each other and can be civil to one another, when their schedules are stable but flexible enough to be changed when necessary, and when they can afford two full residences. Parents must put the children and their needs first and cooperate with each other.

Joint custody presents certain disadvantages. The biggest complaint is about the moving of the children from one home to another. However, this can be easily solved with a fair and practical parenting plan. If parents agree to longer time-share periods, the frequency of these moves can be reduced, thus providing more stability for the children.

Useful Online Tools

Suggested Reading
Creating a Successful Parenting Plan Creating a Successful Parenting Plan
This extraordinary book and computer disk offers separating or divorcing parents a sure-fire way to create a workable, practical parenting plan/agreement that is in the best interest of their children.

Author: Jayne A. Major, Ph.D.

Recent Related Blog Posts
    All Parenting Blog Posts

Related Article Archives
Custody & Visitation
Parental Alienation
    All Article Archives

Related Categories
Children & Divorce
Child Relocation
Collect & Paying Child Support
    All Categories
Related Forums
Child Custody
Child Removal
Child Support
Helping Children
Stepfamily Issues
    All Forums

Resources & Tools

Bookstore Promotion Discount

Start Your Divorce Online Start Your Divorce
Several Options to Get Started Today.
Divorce Tools Online Divorce Tools
Keeping it Simple to Get the Job Done.
Divorce Downloads Download Center
Instantly Download Books, Guides & Forms.
Divorce and Custody Books Discount Books
Over 100 of the Best Divorce & Custody Books.
Negotiate Online Negotiate Online
Settle your Divorce and Save.
Custody and Support Tracking Custody Scheduling
Make Sure You Document Everything.
LOVE BY THE ENTIRETY – Divorced parents must remember that their children love them both by entirety.
Custody Scheduling and Tracking

Children In Between - Online Parenting Class

Easily Connect With a Lawyer or Mediator
Have Divorce Professionals from Your Area Contact You!
Enter Your Zip Code:


Online Parenting Plans

Online Parenting Plans

3StepParentingPlanTM uses cutting-edge online software to create your Parenting Plan. Using a smart question-and-answer application, 3StepParentingPlanTM gets you a fully customized Parenting Plan in a little more than half of a lawyerÕs billable hour.

Guarantee Official PayPal Seal Facebook Twitter Versign Secure Site