What is Joint Custody?

What is Joint Custody?

When couples that have child(ren) divorce or separate, they face new legal language like “joint custody.” But what is the meaning in legal and realistic terms? Joint custody is the involvement of splitting of parental responsibilities for the child(ren). Different than sole custody whereas one parent has the complete say, with joint custody each parent is actively involved in the child(ren)’s raising. Joint custody may be joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or the two.

Plenty of people comprehend that physical custody has a lot to do with where the child will be living. When one of the parents is awarded sole physical custody, the child is going to live with that parent. When the parents are both awarded joint physical custody, the child usually will move back and forth between the parent’s residences.

Lesser known is the notion of legal custody. It establishes who is going to make major decisions impacting the child, comprising of religious teaching, where they’ll attend school, additional activities, health care, etc. When you are given joint legal custody and aren’t allowing the other parent to be involved in the decision making process, you could face contempt of court.

Joint custody takes an assortment of forms, and the laws on it vary from state to state.

Joint Physical and Legal Custody

One general kind of joint custody is splitting both physical and legal custody. In these provisions, the child will spend some part of their time living with each parent “physical custody”, and the parents will in conjunction make decisions concerning the child’s raising and welfare, comparable to when they were still married “legal custody”.

For instance, the mother and father organize a schedule wherein the child will live with each parent for 1 month at a time “physical custody”, and they’re in agreement that they will determine together on all major matters concerning the child’s welfare and raising “legal custody”.

There are also other general joint-custody provisions. One is the involvement of splitting legal custody but not the physical custody. Meaning the child will live solely with one parent, but both parents are in agreement to cooperatively make vital decisions about bringing up the child.

For instance, the mother and the father determine that they will make decisions cooperatively on all major issues concerning the child’s welfare and raising “legal custody”, but  the child is going to live with the father, with the mother allowed visitation rights. Visitation is the court-ordered right to spend a specific amount of time with the child.

Other forms of joint custody are also available. For instance, one parent might be granted the sole right to make decisions concerning the child’s schooling, even though the child lives with each parent on an alternating plan. In this situation, physical custody is split but decisions that involve the child’s schooling (one attribute of legal custody) are not.

Receive Professional Legal Help with Your Child Custody Conflict

If you’re struggling with a legal case over child custody arrangements, it’s critical to have an experienced lawyer representing and advising you. A child custody lawyer can help you in acquiring the best possible outcome for you and your child, if it’s joint custody or another agreement. Get a helping hand today by getting in touch with a child custody attorney.


  1. Joint Custody. (2018, October 15). Retrieved November 16, 2020, from https://family.findlaw.com/child-custody/joint-custody.html

Speak With Our Child Custody Attorney In Scottsdale

Our child custody and guardianship attorney in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with concern and personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions.

An experienced family law attorney will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. We advocate for our clients, so they have the brightest future possible. Give us a call today at 480-999-0800 for a free consultation.


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