What Does Joint Custody Mean in Washington, DC?
Even though there is a presumption of joint custody in Washington, DC this does not mean that joint custody is automatic.
1. There are two types of joint custody: joint physical custody and joint legal custody.
- Physical Custody refers to which parent the children are with and which home the children will be sleeping in at night.
- Legal Custody refers to decision-making about major issues in your child’s life, such as, education; non-emergency medical decisions; vaccinations; mental health choices; right to relocate; and religion.
There is no guarantee that the division of time will be 50-50 between you and the other parent.
2. Your child’s best interests are the primary considerations in determining whether there should be joint custody in DC.
There are many factors that are considered in determining what is in the best interests of a child for both physical and legal custody.
A few of the factors that are considered are:
- the prior involvement of each parent in a child’s life
- employment schedules and demands
- the child’s adjustment to his or her current home, school, or community and the potential disruption to the child’s life that a custody arrangement may cause
- how close the parents live to each other as it relates to a child’s schedule and transportation to school
- the ability of the parents to communicate and reach shared decisions about the child
3. Custody arrangements can always be modified.
Any schedule or other agreements related to custody in DC are modifiable if you both agree or if there is a substantial change in circumstances that warrants a change.
It is best to discuss with a family law attorney in Washington, D.C., so you understand what constitutes such a change.
4. Reaching an out-of-court settlement is in everyone’s best interest.
It is always better to reach an out-of-court settlement with the other parent rather than having a judge determine what is best for your family.
It is important to keep in mind that you will be co-parenting with the other parent for your child’s life. It is in your child’s best interest to see that his or her parents are able to get along and have an amicable relationship. You will both be attending the same activities and life events that your child participates in. It is much better for your child’s mental health to see that there is no obvious hostility between his or her parents and that you still remain a family even though you are no longer living together.