It's a good idea to understand how to get joint custody before going to court. One of the most important things to remember is custody decisions are meant to be based on the best interests of the child.
Divorce is the most common reason to file a joint custody case. But there are also other reasons, such as:
If one parent already has custody, you'll likely have to give the judge a good reason for changing the arrangement.
A judge will look at many different factors when deciding if joint custody is in the best interest of the child. Whether or not both parents want joint custody often plays a big role in that decision.
Other factors that may play a role can include:
If you're trying to modify an existing custody agreement, a judge may also look at things like prior visitation history. For example, did the custodial parent allow visitation as scheduled? Did the noncustodial parent take advantage of all visitation opportunities?
The goal of joint custody is to give your child stability and the love and care of two parents. Many courts agree joint custody is usually best for a child.
If both of you can show involvement in your child’s life, and are able to cooperate with each other, you have a good argument for joint custody.
You’ll also need to show the judge you are able to care for your child. Some of the evidence you can use to support this includes:
You may also want to include a statement saying that joint custody won’t change your child’s current schedule.
Since the factors courts consider can vary by state, you may want to learn which are most important in your state. You can usually find these by searching online for "best interest of the child" and your state. A child custody attorney can also help you put together a strong case.
Once you get joint custody, the best way to make it work is to remember that it’s about what’s best for your child. So keep communication open and civil, be realistic in setting schedules, and keep your promises.
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