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Can joint child custody ever be a bad thing?

Different trends seem to pass in and out of popularity when it comes to parenting and child-rearing. These trends can even influence how California parents believe their children's custody should be managed when those parents go through a divorce. Currently, some parents are major proponents of joint custody arrangements, which allow both parents to have physical and legal custody of their children.

Though joint child custody plans may seem to provide a good balance for children as they spend time with both of their parents, there are some reasons that joint custody might not be the best arrangement for a particular family. In a scholarly article written for the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, several arguments are made regarding potential drawbacks of using joint legal and physical child custody plans.

First, there is always the threat that joint custody is pursued not out of serving the best interests of the child, but rather to promote the rights of one parent, historically the father. As mothers have been the traditional caregivers to children through time, fathers have sometimes missed out on custodial opportunities after divorce. If joint custody is pursued, it should be because it serves the children and not just to make custody appear fair for the parents.

Second, joint custody can place children in the custody of a parent who may not be fit to make important decisions about their lives or supervise their physical care. In situations where abuse, neglect, or other domestic threats exist, children should not be subjected to the custodial power of parents who have or could do them harm.

In many divorces a joint custody plan can be very beneficial to children and parents. However, as with any family law-based scenario, joint custody should not be the default for every family that needs to settle custody matters. The best interests of the children subjected to the child custody decisions should be paramount as a court establishes a child custody order.

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