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Is Joint Custody a Workable Solution for San Diego Parents in 2012?

The parenting plan, for many San Diego parents in a paternity, divorce or legal separation case, is the most important issue. The initial order by the San Diego Superior Court Judge or by the parties may determine the course of the parenting plan for years to come. As such, it is very important to understand the criteria which San Diego Judge’s use for determination of custody.

Joint custody is commonly awarded in a divorce if in the opinion of the Judge it is in the best interests of the children or child. This analysis of best interests does give the Judge in San Diego discretion. The factors the Judge will consider include, but are not limited to, whether both parents demonstrate a maturity to make it work such as communicating with each other and which parent is more likely to share custody. Considerations also include health, welfare and safety considerations as well as stability and frequent and continuing contact. Whether one or both parents have other children living with them may also be considered. This is a very complicated analysis and many other factors are taken into account. As a San Diego parent, it is very important for you to know how the Judge would make a decision as to where your child or children will live.

Joint physical and legal custody, also known by some “shared” custody, is a status where both parents share the responsibility for decision-making and physical custody of the child/children. It can be more than a little frustrating in the wake of an acrimonious split. Joint custody is awarded if the parents are separated, divorced or no longer live together, and even if they have never ever lived together however it requires a filing in San Diego Superior Court and a court order or a written stipulation [legal agreement] filed with the Court for enforcability in the event of a dispute. Joint custody could mean:

  • Joint legal custody
  • Joint physical custody where the children are physically with each parent for a significant amount of time
  • Joint legal and physical custody or “shared” custody

However, according to one study, many couples seeking divorce are ill informed about joint custody and some are even vague about the responsibilities associated with sole custody. Common misconceptions exist about joint custody, but with a proper and mature approach it is arguably the best and fairest solution for all parties involved as there is not a feeling of being “disenfranchised” by either parent. It enables the children to have and continue a close relationship with both parents and provides them stability and allows for each parent to make all decisions and spend the most amount of time considering the parents no longer live together: 50% each. This is important because study after study shows that a child performs better in all aspects when raised by both a mother and a father. Although this relationship is not in the same household, at least they are around both the mother and the father when they are growing up and can maintain their bond with both parents. While the parents may “divorce” each other, this is not true with the children.


However and moreover, to make co-parenting work is a challenge which requires both parents to put stresses aside to develop a congenial working relationship. In addition, unfortunately, “divorce court” in San Diego can bring out the worst in parents and not the best. Feelings of anger and betrayal can get in the way of analyzing the parenting plan. The Judge’s are only concerned about the “best interests” of the children/child and this can be hard for either one parent or sometimes both parents to understand. Once a court case is filed, then the San Diego Court has jurisdiction and power and authority over the minor children and their parenting plan. As such, it is very important to understand the law and process so you can try and have the court order of a plan you seek.

Here are some tips to make joint custody a workable solution:

  • Put the children first. The needs of the children come first no matter how much both of you have to compromise. Adopt a flexible attitude with regard to visiting days or schedules in general. Both parents [mothers and fathers] should take an active role as a parent and not leave the other parent [fathers and mothers] to do the “hard” parenting.
  • Communication is the key. If you have to make a major decision keep you ex informed, or for that matter even in minor issues if everyone is in the loop it makes for a cordial working arrangement. Make sure both of you know what is going on in your children’s life. When disciplinary issues arise try to arrive at a joint decision. It is not advisable to use corporal punishment. If the children know that their parents are communicating effectively, you’re on the right track. Communicating by text and/or e mail may be preferable to a phone call and can reduce arguments and yelling
  • One of the main reasons why joint custody fails is if one parent loses respect for the other parent (every situation is different though). Always respect each other especially in the presence of the children and never be critical or speak ill of the other. Never encourage the children to take sides. Fighting in front of the child is not good and this is one reason why the separation might in some ways have occurred.
A Law Firm that Knows this Area

Family law attorney law firm Doppelt and Forney, APLC offer expertise in legal and paralegal services in divorce cases and other related issues like child custody, visitation rights, child and spousal support. The firm offers initial virtual consultation free of charge for up to 30 minutes during which time you can discuss various aspects of divorce and determine whether joint custody is a workable post-divorce solution for you and a realistic expectation.

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