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How To Negotiate Joint Child Custody

Divorce is difficult on children. Learn how to make this transition less disruptive with these tips.


  • Step 1: Negotiate who will pay what. Determine the financial obligations of a parent who doesn't have joint physical custody of the child.
  • Step 2: Determine each parent's role and responsibility in the child's education, healthcare, and other interests.
  • Step 3: Remember that the no. 1 priority is to raise a healthy and happy child, not to compete with your former spouse.
  • FACT: In most states, courts can order "shared parental responsibility," which means both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their child.
  • Step 4: Determine when and how often the child will visit a parent who doesn't share joint physical custody.
  • Step 5: Resolve legal and physical custody issues. Parents can share joint legal custody, which gives both parents legal authority to make decisions for the child, or they can share joint physical custody, which means the child spends significant amounts of their time living with each parent.
  • Step 6: Seek legal assistance because child custody disputes require an understanding of child custody law, as well as parental rights and obligations.
  • TIP: Work out an arrangement with your attorney for periodic updates about current and total expected costs.
  • Step 7: Resolve the central issue in most child custody cases: who will the child live with and where? All other custody issues arise from the answer to this question.
  • Step 8: Stay calm. Getting angry will only make the dispute worse. Children need their parents to continue parenting as a team, even after a divorce.

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