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Should divorcing parents in Washington choose joint custody?

Ending a marriage never should mean that parents' relationships with children should be compromised. In fact, most divorcing parents in Washington want to continue being good parents even if they divorce. For this reason, parents going through child custody negotiations typically seek the best possible arrangement for their children. Joint custody is often the end result. What is joint custody and what advantages does it provide for divorcing parents and their children?

Joint custody, which is also called joint legal custody, provides both parents legal authority to make major life decisions for their children. These decisions include religious affiliation, education and health care. Joint custody, however, does not necessarily mean actual physical custody. Parents can share in decision making, but only one will be the custodial parent.

So what are the advantages of joint custody? One advantage is that co-parents communicate and compromise with each other to reach a joint decision; neither parent will have a monopoly on decision making. Another is that divorced parents will learn to effectively co-parent. Children will also benefit by seeing their parents compromising and cooperating.

Despite its advantages, joint custody is not for everyone. Washington couples who have acrimonious divorces often find compromise extremely hard. There are also situations when it is impractical to consult with a co-parent, especially when a decision needs to be immediate and definitive.

Should Washington state parents take the joint custody route? Advice from an experienced family law professional can help divorcing parents determine whether joint custody is an avenue that will suit their particular living arrangements. Legal guidance can also introduce parents to a collaborative way to end their marriage as well as settle child-custody issues. While this may seem like an issue between parents, the whole point of joint custody is to promote a child's best interests.

Source: Singleparents.about.com,"Explanation of Joint Legal Custody," Jennifer Wolf, Accessed on Oct. 22, 2014

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