Child custody disputes can be an emotional. People who are ending their marriage often think about how much time they will spend with their children while wanting them to live in a stable and nurturing environment with as little disruption as possible. Although the law requires family law courts to issue child custody orders based on the best interests of the child involved, during a divorce lingering issues between a child’s parents can make it difficult to come to an acceptable resolution to a child custody dispute.
In many cases, rather than award custody to one parent or another, a better solution is joint legal custody. Understanding what state law says about what is considered when making this order is key. When the decision is made as to whether there should be joint legal custody, the best interests of the child are paramount. Also, the parties who are set to have joint legal custody are generally encouraged to agree to it on their own.
Other considerations regarding joint legal custody include how suitable and fit the parties are; if those who have been given joint custody can communicate and show cooperation to benefit the child; if the child has any preferences and is at least 14-years-old to express those preferences; if the child has forged a relationship with those who are seeking joint custody; if those who are receiving joint custody live near one another and will continue to do so; and the emotional and physical environment of both locations where those granted joint custody live.
In a best-case scenario, parents agree that the child will benefit from a safe and loving environment and the person who provides that stability will have child custody. In some cases, joint child custody is the preferable solution. If the circumstances are in place for this to succeed, it is something to explore. Still, those who are in the middle of a divorce and/or a child custody dispute should have legal assistance for the duration of the matter to ensure their rights, and their child’s best interests, are as fully protected as possible.