Maryland parents who are in the middle of a custody dispute might question if joint physical custody is the best option for the family. Courts seem to generally prefer that parents share custody. However, in many cases, this might not be in the best interests of the child.
Joint and sole custody
Awarding joint physical custody ensures that the child spends a significant amount with each parent. Often, the breakdown is a 50-50 split of the child’s time with each parent. Sole physical custody, on the other hand, establishes one parent as the primary caretaker of the child. It might also include granting visitation rights to the other parent. However, the child will spend most of their time with the parent granted sole custody.
The pros and cons of joint custody
Joint custody has benefits for all the members of the family. These include:
- Ensuring that the child can continue their bond with each parent
- Making both parents responsible for the day-to-day decisions and costs of raising the child
- Providing both parents with individual time they can use to develop their own interests and pursue their goals
- Easing the guilt of the divorce and helping children feel more secure about their parent’s love for them
However, it can also have some drawbacks, particularly ones that can affect the child. Some of them are:
- Difficulty in the parents being able to collaborate successfully in their parenting
- Additional exposure to the contentious behavior between a child’s parents
- Experiencing opposing parenting styles that might clash
- Loss of routines and possibly stability for the child
While courts seem to prefer joint custody, some experts do believe that sole custody might be the best option, particularly for babies, toddlers and younger children. However, older children might benefit from sole custody, as long as their other parent remains present in their life and the custodial parent is focused on comforting and meeting their needs.