Lawmakers generally agree that it is in the best interest of a child to have both parents involved in his or her life, both legally and physically. With this in mind, it is increasingly common for courts to award the parents joint custody of their children whenever possible. Parents who are going through divorce often ask “what does joint custody mean“? One of the most frequently asked question is whether or not joint custody means 50/50 time with the children?
To answer this question, it first important to establish the difference between joint “legal” custody and joint “physical” custody, which are both available in the state of Oklahoma.
Joint legal custody grants shared authority in making decisions regarding the welfare and upbringing of the children. While joint physical custody means that you share physical time spent with the children.
Under joint “legal” custody one parent may be given physical custody of the children, while the other only enjoys visitation rights. Both parent however have an equal
voice in the major decision affecting the children’s lives.
Under joint “physical” custody the children live part time with one parent and then with the other. This does not mean that the time spent between the parents is equal, but that both parent have frequent physical time with the children.
In Oklahoma, joint custody does not mean 50/50 physical time with the children. Rather, it means equal decision-making rights regarding the children welfare and upbringing. Joint custody has very little to do with how physical custody of the children is divided between the parents.
Normally, when joint custody is awarded, one parent receives physical custody of the children, while the other receives visitation rights. The non-custodial parent does not receive any extra or increased visitation rights by virtue of being awarded joint custody. However, he or she does received a few other rights that would not be available under a sole custody arrangement, namely:
- equal say in the choosing schools,
- religious training,
- and the health and medical needs of the children.
Joint custody requires the parents submit a “joint custody plan”, which details the rights and responsibilities that each parent has in raising the children together and addresses how disagreement are to be settled. Furthermore, though joint custodial parents enjoy equal voice in raising their children, it is still possible to completely assign all decision-making rights to one parent or the other within a Divorce settlement agreement, even if that parent does not enjoy joint custody.
Free Consultation: Oklahoma Child Custody
An experienced Tulsa divorce attorney can decide which approach to child custody will be in the best interest of you and your family. To find out more about joint custody in Oklahoma, contact the Tulsa child custody attorney at Divorce of Tulsa Law Office: 918-924-5526. We offer free, no obligation consultations. If you prefer you may send your question using the “Ask the Lawyer” form on the right side of this page.