When a couple getting a divorce has children under the age of 18, the Court must make orders regarding which parent has custody of the children. The traditional arrangement for many decades is for one parent to have the primary custody and the other parent to have specific times for visitation with the kids.
This custody arrangement worked fine in the past when typically one parent worked and the other parent stayed home to be a full time parent. The Courts would tend to order that the parent who stayed at home with the children would be given custody in order to minimize any disruption in their lives.
The traditional family arrangement is no longer common in a large number of families today. More often than not, both parents work full time jobs.
This economic reality has resulted in a significant increase in the number of cases where the parents share equal custody of the children. The Court will often set up a custody schedule where the parents will frequently exchange the children between their homes.
The best way to obtain a joint custody order is to go to court with a fully thought out custody proposal for either the custody mediator or the Judge. This proposal should take into account each parent's work schedule, where the children go to school and how far each parent's home is from the other parent's home.
The best proposals will be crafted so that the transfer of the children is a convenient as possible for both parents. One common plan is for one parent to drop the kids off at school in the morning and the other begins their parenting time after school. This is especially helpful for older kids who may have a lot of home work or after school sports. A Judge is likely to be
agreeable to this proposal if it results in the children spending as little time as possible in cars during exchanges.
The ideal situation would be for each parent to attempt to reside as close as possible to each others home after the divorce. While this is not always realistic, it will make the exchanges much easier. Older children may even want to ride their bikes between each parent's house.
More parents than ever are able to spend equal amounts of time with their children after a divorce. A little common sense planning and negotiating between parents will only continue this excellent trend.