For the sake of the children, the goals of divorcing parents should be the same: involvement of both parents in the lives of the children and mitigation of conflict between the parents. These two factors should dominate all others when thinking about custody.
A joint-custody solution gives a psychological boost to the parent who would otherwise be the noncustodial parent. But, even in a sole-custody situation, generous time-sharing (combined with open communication between parents) can create an environment where a noncustodial parent is significantly involved in the children's lives.
Is joint custody right for you? That depends a great deal on the ability of you and your spouse to get along. If you are to share decision-making, you must be able to sit down with your former spouse in a non-combative atmosphere and make decisions together. Shared values and parenting styles make this custody style more viable.
Here's what psychologists have found after long-term studies of families in joint-custody and sole-custody arrangements:
Joint custody is a viable option only if the parents have an amicable relationship with each other, communicate well, and understand the nuances of their kids' day-to-day routines. Parents in this situation feel more involved in their children's lives than the noncustodial parent in the sole-custody arrangement. On the other hand, in a family where one parent says "black" and the other parent says "white," the children are better off with a sole-custody arrangement to reduce the possibility that their parents will fight over every decision that must be made on their behalf.
For parents not on friendly terms, joint legal custody (that is to say, joint decision-making) means more room for disagreement and continuation of conflict. These parents are more likely to return to court than parents who have one decision-maker (sole custody).
By Pamela Weintraub
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For more information, contact the Family Law Offices of Renee M. Marcelle at (415) 456-4444, or online at http://www.familylawmarin.com/--