Heath-Newton LLP Counselors at Law

Bay Area Family Law Blog


How a Joint Custody Agreement Helps Your Children

We can bottom line this one for you quickly:  A written joint custody agreement helps your children because they know what to expect.

  • Separation and divorce turn children’s lives topsy-turvy and knowing when they’re going to spend time with Mom and Dad is key to their peace of mind.
  • If an agreement has been reached, this means the parents have discussed the matter and are on the same page.

Two Types of Joint Custody:  Legal and Physical

In each and every custody situation, there are really two types of custody.  You and your child’s other parent are free to reach an agreement as to both legal and physical custody.

  • Legal custody refers to the parent(s) who is legally permitted to make decisions for their children.  Legal matters include:  health care, lifestyle, religious, educational, social, living arrangements, and general welfare decisions.
  • Physical custody refers to with whom the child lives during particular days and times and is commonly referred to as “time sharing” or “parenting time” (aka “custody”).

How a Custody Agreement Helps Parents

If you and your child’s other parent can work out your own joint custody agreement – as opposed to having an order imposed upon you by the court – you get to create your own terms.  In other words, you get to be in control and have a meeting of the minds.

Many folks call their joint custody agreement, a “parenting plan”, recognizing that there is no winner and no loser; instead, there is a family, now in a different form, and that children benefit from continuous and frequent contact with both parents.

How a Court Can Help

If you and your children’s other parent are not able to reach a joint custody agreement (aka “parenting plan”) on your own, you can ask the court to help you.  Though in most situations, families benefit from creating their own plan, in others, court intervention is necessary.

For example, if there is a history of abuse and disrespect, or if both parties don’t totally buy into the parenting agreement, court intervention may be necessary.  The court will review the facts and make an order.  Parents are often unhappy with court orders, and so we encourage parents to work out a co-parenting plan with the help of their attorneys rather than resorting to court.

Where to Get Help with Joint Custody Agreements and Parenting Plans

Our family law attorneys are available to help you and your child’s other parent develop your own individualized joint custody agreement or parenting plan.  After all, you know your children’s needs and schedule better than anyone.

However, if it’s in your family’s best interests to request court intervention for a custody ruling, we can help you with that as well.

For all joint custody agreement, parenting plan, and timesharing matters, you are welcome to contact our family law attorneys at info@heathnewton.com or call 415.398.1290.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Child Custody in California: A Guide for Parents ebook Download

Categories: Custody

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