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What factors should be considered for joint custody?

Divorce hits children very hard. While their parents look forward to a better life ahead apart, the children are often gripped by insecurity about their life and they may wonder who will support them and where they will live. Hence, in the best interest of the child, U.S. courts, including those in Minnesota, typically award child custody to one parent and order the other to pay child support.

If at all possible, parents should collaborate and enter into a child custody agreement, which will then be validated by the court. Parents typically ask for joint custody so that they can make all decisions about the child together. There are two types of joint custody-joint legal custody and joint physical custody. With joint physical custody, the child spends equal time with both the parents. The court is typically amenable to this unless there have been instances of child abuse.

There are also certain factors that the judge will consider before awarding joint custody. First, are the parents able to coordinate when it comes to the decision about child rearing? In the event of a dispute regarding the child, the parents must be willing to cooperate and come to a decision.

The court will also take into consideration instances of domestic abuse when deciding on joint custody. If both parents have requested joint custody, the court will consider if that is in the best interest of the child. If the parents disagree on joint custody, the court will investigate and subsequently award sole custody or joint custody, depending on the factors involved.

Source: Minnesota Statutes, "518.17 Custody and support of children on judgment, Accessed on July 26, 2015

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