Understanding Joint Custody


Determining custody arrangements is normally the most important part of the Pasadena divorce process when a couple has young children together. Joint custody, while once fairly rare, is becoming more and more common as growing numbers of fathers have expressed the desire to maintain an active role in raising their children.

What the general public refers to as joint custody is legally known as joint physical custody or joint physical care. This is the court's determination of who will be physically responsible for the daily care of the children after a divorce.

California does not require joint physical custody to mean that both parents share equal amounts of parenting time, although this arrangement is encouraged if possible. The exact schedule for a joint physical custody arrangement will vary depending upon the schedules and living arrangements of the parents, but common methods of handling this type of parenting plan include:

  • Alternating between each parent's home on a weekly or biweekly basis.
  • Having the children spend a longer period, such as several months or even one year, with one parent before moving to live with the other parent.
  • Spending weekends and holidays with one parent and spending weekdays with the other parent.

A less common form of joint physical custody is the bird's nest arrangement in which the children stay in the marital home and the parents take turns moving in and out as necessary. This plan is said to provide a sense of stability for the children, but can be hard for the parents to manage.

Joint physical custody is normally accompanied by joint legal custody. This means that both parents have equal say in major decisions relating to the upbringing of the children, such as choosing what school the children will attend or planning for medical care after an illness or injury. It is possible for the court to award sole physical custody to one parent and have the parents share joint legal custody, however.

How Can We Help?

If you are in need of assistance with a child custody issue, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com. Our team of skilled Pasadena family law lawyers is eager to help you come to a custody arrangement that will best serve the needs of your children.