Over the years, joint custody – also called shared custody, joint parenting or co-parenting – garnered a reputation for serving as a major benefit to children of divorce.
But do these benefits extend equally to everyone? In reality, some people cannot reap these benefits in the first place.
What you need to make it work
Talking Parents discusses what may prevent co-parenting. First, parents need to have the ability to put their children before their own feelings toward one another. Co-parents do not need to be friends or even get on friendly terms. However, they need the mutual respect and maturity to treat one another kindly in front of their child, and to not drag their child into the dispute. Unfortunately, some parents cannot manage this.
Next, both parents should have a level of physical availability. This is not always possible, such as with parents serving as active duty service members. People facing a period of incarceration cannot physically share custody, either.
Valuing a child’s best interest
If one parent currently faces allegations of abuse, neglect or violent crime, even if it is not toward a family member, they should also be kept away from their child until the court matter settles. This falls under the important category of honoring the child’s best interest. Similarly, a parent with no interest in maintaining a presence in their child’s life should not get forced into it, as they will add nothing of value to the child’s life.
Fortunately, there are other options available to these people when joint custody does not serve as a benefit. Anyone who does not qualify for joint custody should look into such options instead.