By far, the most common child custody situation after a divorce is joint custody, also known as co-parenting. This is because children do best with both parents involved in their lives, even if the parents divorce.

However, it is not uncommon to hold negative feelings toward your ex-spouse. In many cases, parents wish to hold sole custody of children in order to avoid a co-parenting situation. However, in most cases it is not fruitful to pursue sole custody. According to FindLaw, sole custody is only for situations where one parent struggles with addiction or has a proven track record of abuse.

How are sole and joint custody different?

Child custody has two main components. The first is legal custody. Legal custody gives parents the right to make certain decisions on behalf of their child, such as religious upbringing and education options. With joint custody, both parents share these responsibilities. In sole custody, only one parent has the right to make these decisions.

The second component of child custody is physical custody. This refers to where the child lives. With joint custody, the child permanently lives with both parents and moves between the residences. With sole custody, the child lives with one parent and the non-custodial parent holds visitation rights.

Why is joint parenting so common?

Again, joint custody favors the interests of the child most of the time. However, this does not mean that you have to be on good terms with your ex to make co-parenting work. If you establish a professional relationship with your ex that only focuses on parenting your child and acting in his or her best interests, you may find co-parenting goes smoother.