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Shared parenting vs. sole custody: decide which works for you

During divorce, your mind may be swimming with all sorts of questions and concerns about matters such as property division and spousal support. However, one of the biggest areas of contention during a marital split-up is child custody.

Oftentimes, conflict over child custody and visitation is the result of one party's or both parties' lack of understanding of these legal terms and the ways in which they impact parental responsibilities and rights. Two kinds of child custody that are important to consider in the state of Ohio are shared parenting and sole custody.

Shared parenting and sole custody

Shared parenting is also known as joint custody. With this arrangement, both you and your future ex-spouse are your shared children's legal custodians. Therefore, you are obligated to jointly make decisions with your spouse regarding your children's upbringing and care.

Meanwhile, with sole custody, either you or your former spouse are your children's sole legal custodian. The parent with sole custody can legally make all decisions concerning the children's upbringing, health and education. Sole custody may be appropriate if your spouse has an alcohol, drug or financial problem, for example.

The most important consideration in deciding which kind of custody is best for your family is how fit you both are to be parents as well as you and your spouse's ability to work together and communicate for your children's benefit.

Visitation

Visitation is also known as parenting time. Traditionally, children lived mostly with one parent while visiting the other one every couple of weekends as well as during a portion of the summer and on some holidays. This schedule is frequently used in both shared parenting and sole custody arrangements.

These days, many parents are working out more equal and flexible parenting schedules so that both parents can maximize the time they have with the children. For instance, in some cases, the parents may strive to allow the children to spend equal amounts of time with both parties.

Where to turn for support

If you and your spouse are able to find common ground, you can simply work together during informal negotiations, collaborative divorce or divorce mediation, to come up with a parenting plan that is mutually beneficial and satisfactory. The most important consideration when deciding on shared parenting or sole custody, however, is that the decision you make is ultimately in the best interests of the children. An experienced lawyer can guide you through this process to increase your odds of achieving the best possible outcome for you and your children.

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