As the biological parents of your child, both parents have legal authority over their child. Once the parents separate, the question becomes: is continued joint custody in the child’s best interests? In most cases, the answer is yes. In other cases where there is high conflict between the parents or the parents have substantially different beliefs regarding the educational, religious and/or health care needs of the child, joint custody may not be appropriate and one parent will be granted sole custody.
Custody does not speak to the issue of how much time the child spends with each parent. It is limited to the issue of legal authority in dealing with schools, health care providers and religious officials. How much time the child spends with each parent is an issue of access. There is no best pre-determined arrangement, as each family is unique. The specific needs of the child (which can vary with age), the roles adopted prior to separation, the employment obligations of the parents and other factors all influence the determination of the parenting plan. Ultimately, the question is what parenting plan maximizes the child’s time with each parent, consistent with the child’s best interests.