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What should I know about joint custody and sole custody?

When parents part ways as a couple and circumstances force them to come to grips with their new reality and deal with custody and support issues, it can be a tumultuous time. There are numerous factors that will go into the visitation schedule, allocation of parental responsibility and custody. Understanding the foundational aspects is the building block to a strong relationship with the children and an amicable, working relationship with the other parent.

First, it is wise to know what joint custody and sole custody mean. With joint custody, the parents will make all the decisions regarding the child together. That includes the child's health care, education protocol, and general welfare. There are instances in which a parent will ask for joint custody and there is a disagreement as to whether that is the preference of the other parent. The judge is not obligated to order joint custody.

For sole custody, the parent that has it will make all decisions about the child, except for visitation time with the other parent. If there is a request to change sole custody, it can only be made after two years have passed each time it is changed. Exceptions include: agreement from both parents; the child having moved in with the other parent at the parents' consent; or the child being in danger.

When parents are dealing with children and they are no longer in a relationship, it is important to put the child's best interests at the forefront. Knowing about joint custody and sole custody is part of that as are changes that the parents would like to make to an agreement. Having a lawyer who understands everything related to these circumstances from parental responsibility to custodial allocation to child support is critical not just for the parents, but for the best interests of the child.

Source: courts.state.co.us, "Connecting With Your Kids -- page 14," accessed on April 3, 2018

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Mary Kay Kramer, P.C.
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