Children are the most important part of a family, even one that is changing form. Offspring may feel powerless when their parents are getting a divorce, because their lives are changing forever and there is not much they can do about it.

Judges who make decisions about child care in divorce cases may consider the wishes of children in their determinations, but it is often the parents who have the effective claims to custody. Parents often share custody in some important ways, in an arrangement known as joint custody.

Joint custody is not necessarily an even split of privileges and responsibilities. It can refer to physical custody, such as where a child lives, or legal custody, like who makes decisions about the child’s welfare.

Schedules that handle joint physical custody can include alternating weeks between parents’ homes, occasionally with a midweek visit or overnight stay at the other so children can maintain bonds with both parents and households. If schedules allow and homes are close together enough, alternating two or three days in each home may work better.

The important factor of these schedules is that children are comfortable with a new lifestyle. Parents need to work together to make life better for their children, even after they are no longer dedicated to each other.

An attorney can help guide parents through divorce proceedings involving child custody agreements. A lawyer can represent a parent’s interests in negotiations, settlements and civil court actions. This is often comforting to people making decisions during a difficult time and trying to care for their children.

Source: Verywell Family, “Samples of Joint Custody Schedules,” Jennifer Wolf, accessed June 15, 2018