A writer asks, "My husband and I are currently separated and planning to file for divorce. We have a 3 year old daughter and he comes to pick her up every Thursday and brings her back on Saturday afternoon. I am happy with this arrangement but he says he wants to have more time with our daughter. I think he may file for joint custody and am worried that the judge will order us to a 50/50 split. Is there a way to keep the schedule as is?"
Many people confuse joint custody with parenting time. They are different.
Here are the terms you need to know:
- Joint custody – refers to both physical and legal
- Joint legal custody – the right and responsibility for making decisions concerning education, health, and other significant factors of the child's welfare belongs to each parent equally.
- Joint physical custody – time spent with the child will be divided in a manner that ensures that each parent has frequent contact with and custody of a child.
In California, the "norm" is that joint custody is preferred. Family Code Section 3080 states: "There is a presumption, affecting the burden of proof, that joint custody is in the best interest of a minor child..."
Parenting time is different. If mom and dad can't agree, the courts, with the help of trained mediators or evaluators will determine a parenting time schedule taking into account the best interest of your daughter. In making this decision the court will be guided by Family Code 3040-3049. You can see these code sections at
One resource that many of my clients find helpful is the Model Parenting
Time Handbook which can be found online at:
It is always best if mom and dad can work out a solution without the courts. Remember both you and dad love your daughter and both of you want whats best for her. The two of you should be able to craft a better solution than judges and evaluators who do not know you or know your child.