For many parents, taking care of their children’s emotional and physical health is a top priority during and after a divorce. The law in North Carolina also favors divorce arrangements that keep the children’s best interests in mind. Although many parents favor joint physical custody, this custody arrangement offers both pros and cons.
Physical custody differs from legal custody
In every state, two types of custody exist: legal and physical. Legal custody provides parents with the ability to make decisions for children’s medical, religious, and school issues. Physical custody refers to the place where the child will live. It is common for parents to share legal custody, with only one parent retaining physical custody. It is also possible to share both legal and physical custody.
The benefits of shared physical custody
Physical custody agreements after a divorce allow for these benefits:
• Children are reassured that both parents love them.
• Children can talk to both parents regularly.
• Parents share the emotional and physical stress of raising children.
• Both parents are able to be a part of the child’s daily experiences.
Shared physical custody can create disadvantages, however
Shared physical custody does not always result in benefits for the parents or the child. Disadvantages of shared physical custody include:
• Constantly moving from one house to another can make the child feel unstable.
• Power struggles between unhappy parents affect the child’s mental health.
• Parents may unwillingly make their child feel like a referee.
• Important documents such as school papers may get lost in the constant back-and-forth between houses.
• Planning schedules can be traumatic for parents who are unable to get along.
Other arrangements may work better
In most cases, having both parents in the child’s life is beneficial. However, parents and the courts do not have to agree on shared physical custody in order to provide a stable, healthy environment that benefits the child and the parents.