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Divorce represents one of the most difficult times in any parent’s life. If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, the biggest concern for both of you is likely how your divorce affects your children. Regardless of your children’s ages, the break-up of their nuclear family will cause a radical change in their lives.

Assuming that neither you nor your spouse has engaged in child or spousal abuse during the marriage, the Court will almost always award joint custody of the children absent exceptional circumstances.  “Joint custody” allows both parents to have a role in decisions affecting the health, education, and welfare of the children.  “Shared custody” is a term that refers to the parents exercising physical custody in equal proportions.

Benefits for children

Shared custody can benefit your kids in the following ways:

  • It can ensure they continue to have a meaningful relationship with both of you.
  • It can increase their likelihood of maintaining meaningful relationships with both sides of their extended family.
  • It can lessen the number of negative effects your divorce has on them.
  • It can increase the likelihood that their academic progress will not suffer.
  • It can increase the likelihood that they will continue to make and maintain good peer relationships.
  • It can lessen the likelihood that they use alcohol or drug consumption as a way of dealing with your divorce.

Benefits for parents

While you should definitely put your children’s best interests ahead of your own when divorcing, joint custody can likewise benefit you and your soon-to-be former spouse in the following ways:

  • It can increase the likelihood that you and your spouse will arrive at a mutually respectful post-divorce relationship.
  • It can increase the likelihood that you will cooperate with each other in times of emergency.

Probably the greatest parental benefit to joint custody with a shared physical custody schedule is that both of you will remain an integral part of your children’s lives and have the satisfaction of watching them grow.