First of all, what is the difference between joint physical custody and sole physical custody. Charles E. Sherman, author of “How to Do Your Own Divorce in California” explains it simply like this:

  1. “Joint custody” means both joint physical and joint legal custody.
  2. “Joint physical custody” that each parent shall have significant periods of physical custody to be arranged to assure the child of frequent and continuing contact with both parents.
  3. “Joint legal custody” means that both parents shall share the right to responsibility of making decisions relating to the child’s health, education, and welfare. (Non-custodial parent does not have to locate custodial party to obtain medical attention for child).
  4. “Sole physical custody” means that the child will live with and be under the supervision of one parent.
  5. “Sole legal custody” means that one parent shall have the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the child’s health, education, and welfare.”

The goal of the court is to order what’s in the children’s best interest, meaning who is best able to provide a stable environment where the children will thrive.

Most states do not default to joint physical custody. Many argue that our courts are biased, favoring mothers in custody hearings. There is a growing movement to pressure the system to favor joint physical custody. Because of this, Missouri and Utah have recently passed laws to make joint physical custody the default rule. Efforts in other states have failed. In California, joint physical custody is routinely ordered, but only when both parents agree. Otherwise, it commonly defaults to one parent as primary caretaker, usually the mother. An 80/20 timeshare is common. This means that 80% of the child’s time is with the primary caretaker and 20% with the other parent. 20% is equal to 6 days a month, or 3 days every two weeks. Just Doc Prep prepares marital settlement agreements.

In most circumstances, psychologists and other experts are finally changing their viewpoint as to what is in the children’s best interest. Michael Lamb, professor of psychology at the University of Cambridge says that children are happier and healthier when they can “maintain and build on meaningful relationships with both of their parents”. The results of a study in 2007 showed that parents with joint physical custody had children who were less depressed and had fewer health issues and stress-related illnesses compared to children who lived with one parent only. Unfortunately, many parents are unable to co-parent in a joint physical arrangement.

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