After a divorce, the parents may find it is in the child’s best interest to be legally and physically active in their child’s life. Legal custody gives a parent the authority over significant decisions for the child. If both parents have legal custody, they must communicate and negotiate the decisions together. Similarly, one parent can oversee health and medical care while the other makes decisions concerning education and religion. It depends on your joint custody agreement.
On the other hand, the child will be physically residing with the parent who has physical custody. If both parents have joint physical custody, the child could be moving from home-to-home contingent on the schedule in the parental responsibility plan.
What is a parental responsibility plan?
When you and your former spouse have agreed on maintaining joint custody, you must collaborate and create a proposed parenting plan. It becomes your child custody contract. The parenting plan will detail how the parents will share custody of the child. It should include:
- The specific major decisions each parent has authority over
- The parental obligations of each parent to cooperate and collaborate effectively for their child’s best interests
- A schedule of physical residence of the child, including visitation and custody schedules
- A dispute resolution provision
- A provision that addresses a parent’s failure to fulfill parental obligations
- A provision that deals with accommodating the child’s changing needs as the child matures
- A provision that aims to minimize the child’s exposure to parental conflict
Obtaining joint custody does not mean you have equal parenting time with your child. What matters to the court is that the child has regular and continuing contact with each parent. The Connecticut Family Court must approve the plan before it can be legally enforceable.
What if I want more time with my child?
You can request a modification if you already have a parenting plan but want to revise the schedule. It would help if you communicated your intentions to the other parent first so you can both negotiate on the most favorable terms. You can discuss your concerns with your spouse with the assistance of a mediator or facilitator to help minimize conflict.