contested custody

When to Fight for Joint Physical Custody by Cassandra Hearn

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Custody issues are often the most contentious in divorces. Stand-alone custody cases are no less bitterly fought. Parents want the best for their children and, naturally, will often use all the resources at their disposal in order to get a final order that best suits their children. Some parents firmly believe that an "every other weekend" schedule is best for the children while others favor an equal parenting time structure. In those cases, the parent is requesting "joint physical custody."  In such an order, the parents will have equal, or almost equal, time with the children. Joint physical custody can be beneficial to some children, and there are important issues to consider when trying to decide if you should fight for joint physical custody in your case.

Clearly the first consideration should be your child's needs. You know your child well, so you need to carefully and honestly think about whether your child is the type who would flourish with a schedule that required him or her to live equally in two separate homes. Some children simply do not do well with so much change. If your child is the type who really thrives with a "home base," then your case may not be ideally suited for joint physical custody.

Another important consideration is physical location. If you and your former partner reside close to each other, this will be beneficial for purposes of joint physical custody. Getting a child to and from school, as well as extra-curricular activities is obviously important. If you reside far enough away from your former partner that the amount of time the child will spend driving to and from school or activities will be substantially increased by spending half the child's time with you, then you may want to consider relocating closer before requesting joint physical custody. 

Finally, you will want to carefully consider your own schedule. If your work schedule consistently keeps you late or is unpredictable, having the child half the time could be difficult for both you and the child. If the child will be spending most of his of her parenting time with you in childcare because you will be working so late, joint physical custody may not be the best option for your family; however, each family is unique and so are the needs of each child.  Some factors outweigh others, and a passion for sharing your child equally could be the key to unlocking balanced custody and visitation.

Deciding on strategy and what is best for your child is a complicated inquiry. Contact us today at 619-800-0384 to talk about your custody case and your options.