A divorced family has unique dynamics. When child custody is part of the divorce, the child’s best interests must be a consideration. There is no one-size-fits-all child custody solution. 

From a legal perspective, there are two basic categories of joint custody. Mutually agreeable variations that fit individual lifestyles are valid options for success. 

Sole physical and joint legal custody 

This arrangement places a child in one primary residence. This is a custody option that works when both parents remain active in a child’s upbringing. Major life decisions, such as changing schools, remain a mutual decision. In some instances, one parent may have more authority. The open-door approach to parenting is always best in this arrangement. 

Joint physical and joint legal custody 

As the title implies, this arrangement provides a child with two residences. For this arrangement to be successful, parents must live within a close distance. Fluid, non-emotional communication is a key component in joint physical custody. This includes working with established schedules and remaining flexible when required. Mutual joint custody presents challenges to a child’s routine. Unity in basic rules, such as bedtime and study habits, provide a solid foundation for a child. 

Key points to consider 

Adjusting to life after divorce is usually the most difficult for a child. Children rarely see divorce as a solution and are often unaware that it is a consideration. Successful co-parenting relies on common sense and unity, including: 

  • Predetermine schedules with mutual commitment to adherence.  
  • Remain flexible to fill in gaps for the other parent when needed. 
  • Keep open communication without emotional drama. 
  • Accept the other parent’s influence on a child. 
  • Defer major decisions for open discussion. 
  • Avoid arguing in front of a child. 

Children are most vulnerable after a divorce. Working together to make key decisions offers a child positive reassurance. A custody decision that keeps both parents involved in a child’s life after divorce is best. There are lifelong benefits to gain from a stable living arrangement that exists well after the ink is dry on the divorce decree.