Family Matters.
When It Really Matters.

Joint custody is not always a good choice in California

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2023 | Child Custody and Visitation

Spending the same amount of time with both parents is the most recommended custody arrangement for children in California. This allows children to develop a relationship with each parent, benefiting the child’s mental, emotional and overall well-being. However, joint custody is not always the best choice for families. In certain circumstances, alternative arrangements may be more suitable for the child’s best interests.

When joint custody may not be a good choice

Joint child custody may not be viable when parents have unequal exposure to parenting ability. It is a fact that some parents are better than their partners in meeting their children’s needs. If one parent has been the primary caregiver for most of the child’s life while the other has little experience in parenting, it may not be in the child’s best interest to have equal time with both parents.

Also, joint custody may not be appropriate if one parent has a history of substance abuse or domestic violence. In such cases, the safety and well-being of the child must be the top priority, and a custody arrangement that allows for limited or supervised visitation may be necessary.

Last but not least, if there is a high level of conflict between the parents, joint custody wouldn’t work. Constant conflicts and disagreements can create a toxic environment for the child, affecting their emotional and mental health.

Possible alternative options

The first is sole custody, where one parent has full physical and legal custody of the child. This may be appropriate if there are concerns about one parent’s ability to provide the child with a safe and stable environment.

Another option is split custody, which entails each parent having sole physical custody of at least one child. This may be an ideal arrangement for siblings who have different relationships with their parents or for parents who live far apart from each other.

Parallel parenting may also be a great alternative, especially for high-conflict situations. It allows both parents equal decision-making power but minimizes direct contact and communication.

At the end of the day, the primary priority in any custody arrangement should be the welfare and best interests of the child. While joint custody is often beneficial, it’s crucial to recognize that it may not be the optimal solution in certain situations. Alternative custody arrangements can provide a safe and nurturing environment, ensuring the child’s well-being and continued growth.