There are two types of custody, legal and physical. The norm for parents who are not able to do a 50/50 split or something close to it is that one parent will get primary physical custody and the parties will share legal custody. The split you are contemplating now would be the scenario I just mentioned. What you might want to focus most of your time on in the proposed judgement is the parenting plan. You should carefully lay out when you would like to spend time with your son, including, weekends/week day visits, holidays, school vacations, summer vacation and any travel you would like to do with him.
Any custody arrangement entered into now will likely be the basis for any custody decisions in the future. If you were to get joint custody now, and it was in name only, the court would look at the actual arrangements if there were any disputes in the future, and base any request for modification/removal on that arrangement. Best of luck!
Karla Mansur, Esq.
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I agree with my colleague's description of the types of custody. I would add that shared custody doesn't always mean 50% custody. For example if a parent lived in a distant state I have seen the Court award shared custody with that parent seeing the child only during school vacations and most of the summer. Calling it shared custody will impact how child support is calculated. You can reciew the Child Support Guidelines to see how that is done, if you haven't already done so. Fightin for custody (and losing) isn't the critical factor in being able to modify later - it is whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the decree that would justify shared custody. The Court, at a later time, might wonder why you fought for shared and didn;t take advantage of it. Also, if the Court ordered shared with a specified schedule that you did not comply with, your wife could return and request a modification to sole custody - again - impacting child support. Good luck.
If you are unable to spend equal amounts of time with your child, it is likely that the court will grant joint legal custody (meaning both parents have equal say in making major decisions regarding the child) and award sole physical custody to one parent with the other receiving visitation. You should focus on creating a parenting plan that clearly lays out the times you will have you child - weekends, weekdays, holidays, school vacations, etc. Make it as specific as possible.
The court will base any future modifications or contempts on what was actually occurring rather than what was written on paper. However, if your work schedule changes in the future, permitting you to spend more time with your son, you may request additional time with him. Make sure you emphasize the fact that you are not seeking joint physical custody at this time due to your work obligations. Thus, if your work obligations change in the future, it may be used as a basis to request a modification.
I commend you for wanting to remain an active part of you child's life and wish you and your family all the best.
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The proposed judgment and parenting plan is such an important document that I would highly recommend that you find an attorney who would write it for you. I assume the Judge gave you a deadline. Best wishes.
This is not legal advice until I am retained and have reviewed all facts about your situation.
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