Agreeing to share custody of your children is a positive step towards co-parenting and is often better for children than sole custody is.

When parents agree to share joint custody, it does not automatically mean that they must share their child’s time equally. Some parents and children do well on a 50/50 custody schedule, but this child custody agreement may not be right for everyone. Joint custody typically equates to a child spending at least 30% of the time with each parent. Different states have various regulations to define joint custody so you should become familiar with the legal definition of joint custody where you live.

If you are going to share joint custody with the other parent, you may not know where to start. The best thing to do is to figure out when each parent is available to spend quality time with the child. It does not make any sense to schedule parenting time when your child is going to have to sit in daycare and the other parent is available.

Once you have determined the availability of the parents, you will need to consider the availability of your child. What impact will your child’s school and extracurricular responsibilities have on the schedule? If parents live in close proximity to each other and the child’s school, it would be feasible to create a schedule that gives the child overnight visits with each parent during the week. If school week overnights would be inconvenient and burdensome on the child, the child might spend a few hours before bedtime with the other parent in lieu of overnight visits.

Review and consider various scenarios as you create your custody agreement until you are able to determine which schedule will be best for your child. An effective joint custody agreement will allow your child to have frequent and ongoing contact with each of you. Your joint agreement will provide your child with the opportunity to be nurtured and raised by both parents and will allow each parent to fulfill the parental obligations and responsibilities of having a child. A child should never have to feel as if she lives with one parent and “visits” the other.

Your custody agreement should include all of the rules and provisions both of you agree to abide by as you raise your child apart. Try to be proactive and include provisions for how you will handle various situations in the future.

For example, who will be responsible for optional expenses, such as orthodontics, summer camp, or prom dresses? Simply agreeing to pay for half of the child’s expenses is vague and can lead to future disputes. What happens when one parent continually signs the child up for extracurricular activities and you are just expected to pay for half of them?

When you include the right rules in your parenting plan, you can eliminate the cause of future arguments since you will have already agreed to the rules you both shall follow.
Agreeing to share joint custody is a tremendous step in co-parenting. Many parents are unable to reach an agreement and they spend months and even years battling for custody in court. Good parents are able to set their differences aside a work together to create a parenting plan that is beneficial to their children.

Author's Bio: 

Christal Stephens is an advocate for children's custody rights. Christal has written extensively on the topics of parenting and child custody. She lives on a small farm in rural Utah with her husband and four children and is a freelance writer.