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Where does shared parenting fit into child custody orders?

Divorce proceedings are emotional affairs for most couples. When there are children involved, each parent typically has his or her own concerns. Shared parenting is professed to be the ideal situation in most cases, especially if there are low levels of contention. While most parents know about the options between sole and joint child custody, many may be uncertain of exactly what constitutes shared parenting in a specific situation.

If both parents agree, and the court is satisfied, California family laws allow for shared parenting. Sole child custody is often sought in cases in which parents live long distances apart, there is a complete breakdown in communication or one of the parents is judged unfit. The sole custodian will make all important decisions related to the child's upbringing and welfare, and a visitation plan will be established to allow the other parent time with the children.

Shared parenting is more easily achieved when joint child custody is ordered. While the terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between joint child custody and shared parenting. In true joint custody, parents are allocated equal time with their children. The dynamics of every family are different, and equal sharing may prove to be impractical in some cases. With shared parenting, parents have equal decision-making powers, and they typically work out parenting plans that suit all parties.

Families with children of different ages who have varying interests and activities may find it difficult to work to a plan where equal sharing is maintained, and parents with joint child custody may ask the court to order shared parenting. It may not be possible for a baby or toddler to stay with the non-residential parent as often and for as long as for older children and teenagers. Parents can, therefore, agree on visitation for each child according to what is in the best interest of that child, while other arrangements may be made for an older or younger sibling. Any person who is considering divorce may find comfort in knowing that an experienced  California family law attorney will provide guidance regarding the different child custody and parenting options, providing the opportunity to make informed decisions.

Source: Findlaw, "Shared Parenting vs. Sole Custody", Accessed on March 22, 2015

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Phone: 916-905-4805
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