Shared Parenting vs. Sole Custody

The birth of a child—a beautiful testament to a marriage, often continues to unite parents even when their marital ties are severed. Navigating through post-divorce dynamics can be complex, and this is where child custody laws and orders step in to aid in decisions about a child’s upbringing. 

Different states approach child custody in various unique ways. For instance, in Ohio, parents might encounter terms such as ‘sole custody’ or ‘shared parenting.’ Such terminology may initially appear daunting, but fear not. 

This guide endeavors to highlight the core differences between them. So, let’s delve into understanding these concepts better.

Understanding Child Custody

Child custody falls into two primary categories: ‘legal’ and ‘physical’. Legal custody pertains to making significant decisions about the child’s life. These decisions might encompass education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. 

Physical custody, conversely, refers to the actual residence of the child, determining which parent’s home the child will live in. In practice, however, you may seldom hear these terms. Instead, you will likely encounter terms like ‘sole custody’ and ‘shared parenting’ or ‘shared custody.”

Understanding Sole Custody and Shared Parenting 

Sole Custody

Sole custody means that one parent, the custodial parent, has legal and physical custody. The custodial parent’s address becomes the child’s primary residence, and they hold the authority to make significant decisions on behalf of the child, be it education, healthcare, or religious practices. 

Sole custody may be ideal where parents live far apart or when one parent is deemed unfit to house the child. However, this does not completely exclude the non-custodial parent from the child’s life. 

They still hold visitation rights, and the court often regulates these with a provided schedule. This schedule would allow for alternating weekends or some days during the week. 

Shared Parenting

Shared parenting, referred to as joint custody in some states, advocates a model where both parents share legal and physical custody. Advocates for this arrangement base their preference for this model on the belief that children’s development benefits significantly when both parents play substantial roles in their lives. 

However, shared parenting doesn’t always imply an even time split between parents. For instance, if parents with shared parenting live in different cities, the child’s commute could affect stability and routine, potentially causing more harm than benefit. 

Shared parenting is typically applied in amicable divorces where parents reach a preliminary agreement about the child’s primary residence during the school year, holiday, and weekend arrangements. It’s crucial to remember that while shared parenting can provide a balanced family experience, the child’s best interest should always be the primary consideration.

Child Custody and Child Support

After divorce, parental obligations persist, irrespective of the custody arrangement. This is where child support comes into play. Child support is a regular payment made by one parent to the other to assist with the financial responsibilities of raising the child. 

Typically, the non-custodial parent makes these payments, which continue until the child reaches adulthood. “It’s important to understand that child support and custody arrangements adapt to the child’s best interests. As circumstances change, modifications can be made to ensure the child’s well-being remains the priority,” Divorce proceedings can be stressful for children as well so you must give them the proper attention. says family and divorce lawyer Attorney Tammy Begun of Capital Family & Divorce Law Group.

So, custody arrangements significantly impact child support payments. For example, when parents share legal and physical custody of a young child, and the mother is the primary caregiver, the father may be required to provide child support. 

However, the arrangement may need adjustment as the child ages and spends more time with the father.

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