Joint Custody: Options And Rules To Make It Work

Written by Ria Saha • 
Image: IStock

Divorce can have a long-lasting and a rather chaotic impact on a married couple’s life. Whatever the reasons for divorce, the bitterness of legal battles and the myriad of procedures takes a toll, on you, your children, and your soon-to-be-ex-partner, as well. And, one of the many painful decisions you need to make is who will get custody of the kids. It is not doubt, a traumatizing experience for the kids, and many separated parents thus opt for joint custody to provide some semblance of normalcy in the child’s life.

So, here MomJunction has compiled some crucial information on joint custody. So, read on to learn more.

What Is Joint Custody?

Joint custody is an order passed by the court, where both parents get custody of their child. Both parents get to take legal and practical guardianship roles for their kids, and both need to provide support to the child.

[ Read: Co-Parenting ]

Different Joint Custody Options:

In general, there are two main types of joint custody such as:

1. Joint Physical Custody:

In this situation, you share the responsibilities of providing food and accommodation to your child. The court decides the schedule and the child gets to stay with you for a significant period and in this way, the connection and relation between you and your child are not hampered.

2. Joint Legal Custody:

In this mode of arrangement, you need to share both the physical and legal custody of your child i.e. only either of the parents gets the physical custody of the kid, and that person can consult with the partner to take all the decisions related to the child’s future and welfare. The various records of your kids like the education, medical records can be accessed by both the parents.

3. Joint Custody Arrangements:

If the physical custody is shared by both the parents, you can come up with some joint custody arrangements based on you and your partner’s working schedules, the timing of your children’s school and any other factors involved. It needs to be approved by the judge. Some arrangements are as follows:

  • 50-50 joint custody: Your child stays for one week with you and one week with your partner.
  • Midweek visit: It’s an improvisation over the 50-50 arrangement where your child gets to visit the other parent at midweek evening so that the child never spends a full week without being in touch one of the parents.
  • Midweek overnight: It’s the same as the previous, but a whole overnight stay is mandatory in this case.
  • 2-2-3 rotation: In this arrangement, the child stays with one parent for two days, with the next parent for another two days and then spends the long 3-day weekend with the former parent and this routine changes over the next week.
  • 3-3-4-4 rotation: This is the same kind of arrangement as the former one but the residing over the week is divided in 3 and 4 days segments.
  • 2-2-5-5 rotation: Similar kind of arrangement with the stay varying from 2days at one parent’s place and 5 days at another parent’s place.

[ Read: Relationships After Divorce With Kids ]

Pros And Cons Of Joint Custody Arrangements:


  • Your child gets to live with both the parents and the connection between you two is never lost.
  • The burdens of raising a child get shared by both the parents.


  • The continuous to and fro movement of your kid has an ill-effect on his mental growth.
  • If one of the parents has wicked ideas for the children, it might prove dangerous.
  • Maintaining two different houses can become expensive.

How Does Child Support Work With Joint Custody?

The judge decides the total amount of money that the parents need to bear for joint custody. The amount of time your child spends with either of the parents and the income of the parents. The income tax return filed by the parents give a clear idea about his/her income. In the case of joint custody, none of the parents need to pay money to the other. What some of the judges do is divide the responsibilities equally to both the parents and thus both get to spend more or less equally. Whoever is the supporting parent, the other parent needs to pay the amount that he/she is allotted to pay.

Rules To Make Joint Child Custody Work:

So, now all said and done, you need to make sure that the joint custody works fine. How can you do so, confused about that? Well, here go some tips to make it work successfully.

  • No foul speaking: You should never say any nasty word about your partner. It will have a very adverse effect on the bringing up of your child. Your child will internalize those words, and a sense of hostility may grow in your child against your partner.
  • Forget your ego: Ok, so you had a problem with your partner, and you’ve got the divorce. Joint custody is about your child and never about the parents. So, forget your ego and make sure that your child is taken care properly.

[ Read: Effects Of Parents Fighting Infront Of Children ]

  • Be convincing: When you’re going for joint custody, you should never make any claims which are unrealistic. You anxiety or uncertainty should never cloud your judgment about the raising of your child.
  • Be a good judge of character: It should never be a criterion to decide whether your ex will be a good parent or not. Often we have seen in the past that divorced couples can still be great parents.
  • Means of communication: Communication is undoubtedly one of the key means to mobilize the proposal of joint custody. You should always communicate with your former partner about the future of your child. There should be a comfort zone between you two so that you can discuss the vital issues with your kids.
  • Let your child speak: You should always make your child understand that you’ve got divorced, and things are not like the same as it used to be in the past. Give your child ample space and time to express the concerns and apprehensions he’s going through. If you’re open to your child about the same, it’s better for his mental growth.

Have you gone through the stressful phase of marital separation? Did you opt for joint custody arrangements for your little one? Share your complete story here!

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