If you're contemplating a divorce or beginning divorce proceedings, one of the chief concerns you're likely to have is who will have custody of the children. While joint custody may seem like the logical solution, and does offer many benefits for families, it's not the right choice for every couple. It's important to evaluate the pros and cons of such an arrangement carefully before you make this crucial decision.
Advantages of joint custody
1. Children have regular contact with both parents. Of course, the chief advantage to joint custody is that your children will continue to be influenced by and have a relationship with both of their parents.
2. You share not only custody, but responsibility. Being a single parent can be overwhelming. One person is responsible for all of the important decisions in a child's life. Joint custody allows you to share those important decisions, about things like health care and education, and not feel so overburdened.
3. Your children will learn about compromise and communication. Done well, joint custody can show your children by example that it's possible and desirable to work out your differences peacefully and work together through compromise and communication. That can be good for the parents, too. Shared custody has been shown to reduce that about of conflict in divorced families by up to 50 percent.
Reasons that joint custody may not be the best choice for your family
1. It can be disruptive for your children. While joint custody give children an opportunity to have a close relationship with both parents, it can also be disruptive to their lives. Children crave routine and living in two different places can upset that equilibrium.
2. You have to travel for business. If your job requires that you travel often, joint custody is probably not the best choice for your family since you won't be able to commit to a regular custody schedule.
3. You are limited to where you can live. To make shared custody work well, you need to live near your former spouse. This limits your options as to where you can relocate and/or where you can find a job.
While joint custody can be a great way for children of divorced parents to retain a close relationship with both their mother and father, such arrangements are not well-suited for every couple. It's important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages carefully before you make a decision that will affect your children's future.
For further assistance, contact a local divorce attorney.