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What is joint custody and how can it help me?

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Oftentimes when parents split one of the most hotly contested issues is child custody. There are many ways to approach the matter, including seeking sole custody. Yet, many parents choose to opt for joint custody, which, in many instances, supports the best interests of all parties involved. But what, exactly is joint custody and how can it be beneficial to you and your child? Hopefully this article will help answer that question.

Legal custody and physical custody are the two types of joint custody. In a true joint custody arrangement, parents share equal in a child's legal and physical custody. This means that each parent participates equally in making life-decisions for the child and they also share equally in physical time spent with the child. However, not every joint custody arrangement will be mirror this setup. In fact, pure joint custody may be detrimental to a child's routine and emotional well-being, as well as raise scheduling problems.

Instead, many parents may be left with only joint physical custody or joint legal custody. Joint legal is when each parent shares equally in a child's long-term life decisions. This can include education and healthcare decisions. A parent can share legal custody of a child and not have physical custody at all. On the flip side, physical custody is when a parent has the child living with him or her. Again, a parent can have joint physical custody, but maybe not joint legal custody.

Depending on the circumstances, any joint custody arrangement can be beneficial to both a child and his or her parents. Having joint legal custody but sole physical custody, for example, allows a child to remain in a stable household while allowing both parents to remain active in his or her upbringing. Since each scenario is unique, it may be a good idea to consider speaking with an experienced Tucson family law attorney to determine which child custody arrangement may be best for you and your child.

Source: FindLaw, "Joint Custody," accessed on Oct. 20, 2014

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