What Is Joint Custody?

One of the most complicated aspects of divorce, emotionally, mentally, and logistically, is the issue of child custody. Custody will significantly contribute to defining your post-divorce family time and structure. The laws surrounding child custody can be complex and confusing, but understanding them can be critical to helping you understand this part of divorce and what your rights are during the process and beyond.

Overview of Joint Custody

Child custody actually refers to both legal and physical custody, which are two different, but related things. Legal custody is that authority granted by the court for a parent to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, including decisions pertaining to the child’s health and education. Legal custody can also involve the right to determine what religion the child will be raised under in addition to what schools he or she will attend and what medical treatment he or she will receive or not receive.

Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the right granted by the court for a parent to have his or her child live in his or her home. In other words, it is the right of a parent to have the child stay with him or her as well as including visitation rights. Physical and legal custody are both addressed by the court. In Florida, the courts tend to significantly favor joint custody, in the absence of extenuating circumstances such as a history of abuse, so that the child can benefit from both parents playing an active role in his or her life and upbringing.

Joint custody, in the legal custody sense, will mean that both parents will have the right to input regarding decisions impacting the child’s development. In other words, joint custody will essentially mean that the parents will have to cooperate and work together in order to make choices regarding decisions impacting the child’s development. It is in the interest of both spouses to try and make this collaboration successful. If one parent should violate joint legal custody by circumventing the other parent and making a decision without his or her input, the other parent may take the problem to court, which could be time consuming as well as expensive.

With regard to joint physical custody, physical parenting time with the child will be determined by the court depending on a number of different factors. At the center of joint physical custody is the parenting schedule which will set forth when each parent will have the child with him or her. The parenting schedule will develop based on factors such as the child’s school and activity schedule as well as the work schedules of both parents. With joint physical custody, both parents will have a significant amount of in-person parenting time. Commonly, a court will have a child split the week in half between the households of the two parents.

It is important to note that in Florida, the Court no longer generally refers to these types of issues with the terms legal or physical custody. Instead, over time, legal custody has now developed into what the courts now refer to as Parental Responsibility and physical custody is now referred to as timesharing. This is an important distinction to understand when going through a “custody” case.

Orlando Child Custody Attorney

Do you have questions about child custody? Talk to the knowledgeable attorneys at Orlando Family Team. Contact us today.

About the Author
Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew and his partner, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S., joined forces in March 2016 to form the unique and boutique husband and wife family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. Together, Andrew and Ophelia take a practical and team-based approach to all of their cases and clients to deliver the highest quality experience and representation.
Andrew Nickolaou

Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew also handles record expungements and sealings. If you have questions about this article, contact Andrew today by clicking here.