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How to Navigate Life with Joint Custody

After a divorce or separation, parents often struggle with sharing custody with their ex. However, through co-parenting, it is possible to get through this difficult time. Below, our San Fransisco child custody lawyers explain joint custody as well as share a few tips to help make the transition to co-parenting easier while giving your children the stability, security, and love they need.

What is Joint Custody?

In California, either parent can have custody. If both parents agree on custody, they can choose their parenting plan as long as the court approves it. However, if they disagree, the court will then decide at a court hearing.

There are two kinds of child custody in California — legal custody and physical custody.

Legal Custody

Legal custody gives the parent the right to make crucial decisions for their children, including health care, education, and welfare. This type of custody can be joint, which means both parents share the right to make important decisions for their child. Legal custody can also be sole, which means that only one parent has the right to make decisions about their child’s wellbeing.

Physical Custody

Physical custody, on the other hand, determines where the child will reside. Parents can share joint physical custody, which means the child lives with both parents based on their parenting plan schedule. Physical custody can also be sole, which means the child lives with one parent for a majority of the time, and typically the other parent will have visitation rights.

Co-Parenting 101

Regardless of whether you share joint physical custody or joint legal custody, knowing how to co-parent with your ex effectively is crucial. Co-parenting allows both parents to have an active role in their child’s lives. Courts almost always prefer joint custody unless it will put the child in danger or negatively impact their wellbeing. This is because the court’s main priority is the child’s best interests.

Co-parenting helps children retain a close relationship with both of their parents following a divorce — something that can be difficult to do when divorced or separated parents don’t get along. The quality of the relationship between co-parents can have a direct impact on the child’s mental and emotional well-being. However, putting aside past issues while sharing custody with an ex is easier said than done.

How to be an Effective Co-Parent

The key to successful co-parenting is to separate your personal relationship with your ex from your new co-parenting relationship. It can be helpful to start thinking of this new relationship as a completely new one. Remember, your children’s wellbeing is the most important thing here — not you and your ex’s issues.

Here are a few tips to help you become a mature, responsible co-parent:

  • Always act in what is your children’s best interest.
  • Be consistent by following similar routines, rules, and disciplining between households.
  • Set hurt and anger aside.
  • Get your feelings out somewhere else, like therapy, exercising, or healthy methods of coping.
  • Never put your children in the middle.
  • Improve communication with your co-parent.
  • Work together as a team with your co-parent to provide a united front to your children.
  • Be willing to compromise.

Contact Our Compassionate Family Law Team Today

Going through a divorce is difficult. Child custody matters only make the process that much more complicated. At Fenchel Family Law PC, our team is here to take on the legal complexities of divorce so that you can focus on what’s important — you and your children’s wellbeing. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our compassionate family law professionals if you need assistance with your divorce or child custody case.

Call our San Francisco child custody attorneys today at (415) 805-9069 if you have any questions or concerns about your case.