Joint physical custody: is it right for your family?

Previously, we began speaking about current Missouri law, which does not provide that joint physical custody involves equal time with each parent. As we pointed out, the statutory language only guarantees “significant” time with each parent, which can obviously be up to the interpretation of the judge assigned to the case.

Lawmakers in both houses of Missouri congress have proposed changes to the law which would change the statutory language to ensure that parents with joint physical custody have basically equal time with the child. This would ensure greater fairness in the way judges assign parenting time in cases involving joint physical custody.

Joint physical custody, of course, is not going to be the best solution for every family, despite the fact that it may be the ideal arrangement. Joint physical custody requires significant cooperation between both parents and a willingness to make the arrangement work for the good of the children. Not every couple is going to be able to do this.

One situation where joint physical custody would not work well is where there is a high degree of conflict between the parents. Whether the conflict arises from poor communication, unhappiness with the arrangement, or plain old spite, high conflict can destroy any benefits children might have from a joint custody arrangement. Another situation which may not lend itself well to joint physical custody is when couples have complicated living arrangements. The parents may be living a significant distance from one another, working in jobs which make equally shared parenting time difficult, or have otherwise complicated living arrangements which make it difficult for children to live with one of the parents.

Joint physical custody can certainly be good for families, but it isn’t always the best solution. Each couple needs to work through the custody process to determine what is best for them and their children. Doing so with the help of an experienced attorney ensures that the court has all the information necessarily to make the best possible decision.

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