Joint custody means that both parents make the major decisions in a child’s life together, like the child’s education, religious upbringing, or major medical care. Daily decisions like bedtime or what the child will wear are usually made by the parent who is with the child at the time. Joint custody does not mean that the child must live half the time with one parent and half the time with the other.
Sole custody means that the child will live primarily with one parent. That parent has the final decision-making responsibility for the child and is called the custodial parent. The custodial parent may, however, consult with the noncustodial parent. Usually, the judge will make sure the child has ongoing contact, or visitation, with the noncustodial parent.
Visitation (Also called parenting time or access)
Reasonable visitation means you and your spouse want to arrange parenting time with your child yourselves. This works well when the parents and the child do not need a fixed schedule, and both parents are flexible and agreeable. Some judges may require you to prepare a written plan.
Fixed schedule visitation means setting definite hours during the week for the child to spend time with the noncustodial parent. Fixed schedules can include overnight visits, weekends, weekday evenings, and sharing holidays, school vacations, and summers.
Supervised visitation means that some responsible adult must be present when the child is visiting a parent. The judge may order supervised visitation if the safety of the child is a concern.
A no contact order means that the noncustodial parent may not see the child because the judge has decided contact with the parent is not in the child’s best interest.
TIP: Joint custody works best if both parents are able to discuss what is best for their child.