Divorce is difficult, especially when there is a custody component. Cases with children are much more likely to become volatile.
You may incorrectly assume that joint custody means you share the children equally with the other parent. However, this is not always the case. There are two elements to child custody, and understanding the difference may help you get a better idea of what your post-divorce life will look like.
When a Missouri court looks at custody cases, it considers many factors. First and foremost, judges want to do what is in the best interests of the children. Unless there are mitigating circumstances, in the eyes of the law, that means that both parents remain involved. Judges typically award joint legal custody. This gives both parents the right to make decisions and have an equal share in their children’s lives. It does not mean the parents share physical custody equally.
Physical custody addresses the parent with whom the children reside. It is typical for a couple to have joint custody, but for one of them to have the children more than the other. During the divorce, the parents create a parenting plan. This required document sets out the day-to-day arrangements for physical custody of the children. Some parents may not have a work schedule that facilitates an actual 50/50 physical custody split. If it is not in the best interests of the children, the parents should not try to force it.
Putting your children first is crucial to their success both during and after your divorce. Creating a schedule that encourages time with you and your ex is something you can do to set them up for a happy and healthy relationship with both parents.