Joint custody is a type of custody arrangement that may allow two spouses to provide their children a strong relationship with both parents while still clearly outlining their individual parental rights and responsibilities.
Joint custody plans can be uniquely suited to the individual needs of the children and the family, but this type of custody arrangement is not ideal for every situation. Before you make any important decisions regarding custody or visitation, you would be wise to discuss all of the possible parenting options and your legal options with a seasoned family law attorney.
Parental rights and responsibilities
Joint custody typically means that parents will share an equitable amount of physical access to the children. Even in arrangements where physical custody is mostly equal, one parent can still retain legal custody. The terms physical and legal custody are no longer in use in Illinois, but custody terminology now includes the following:
- Allocation of parental responsibilities: In lieu of the term legal custody, which refers to the legal rights of the parent to make important decisions on behalf of the child, this current phrase refers to how parents share time and decision-making authority. Even with these recent changes, one parent may retain this right, or both parents may share the right to make decisions for the kids.
- Parenting time: This new terminology is now in use instead of visitation. Parenting time encompasses all issues related to the time that a kid spends with one parent, including vacation, holidays, summer break, weekend visitation and more.
The intent of a joint custody arrangement is to provide children with regular access to both parents, even after a divorce or separation. Children thrive when allowed to have good relationships with both of their parents, and a joint custody plan can provide a clear blueprint for two parents who wish to provide stability and security for the kids, even after a difficult divorce.
Should you consider joint custody?
It is complicated to make important decisions regarding custody and visitation as these issues will impact you and your kids for years to come. Making joint custody work does not require that you get along with the other parent, but it will be a smoother, more peaceful process when there is a general attitude of cooperation from both parties.
If you believe that this could be the right choice for you, you would first be wise to speak with a lawyer regarding the protection of your parental rights and how you can protect the best interests of your children above all else.