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When New Jersey parents divorced in the past, young children typically lived with mom and saw dad on the weekends and holidays. Times have changed, and joint custody seems to be the preferred arrangement of the courts and parents. However, this arrangement doesn’t work for everyone. It’s important to understand the pros and cons before agreeing to shared custody.

According to LiveAbout, children live with each parent approximately half the time in a shared parenting or dual residence custody arrangement. Keep in mind, that even though the physical custody is shared, legal custody does not need to be. Legal custody refers to who makes the big life decisions, such as where the children attend school, major medical decisions and which religion they will practice. Court documents may list physical and legal custody separately. It is essential that you review the entire agreement to ensure you understand the expectations and requirements of the arrangement.

There are many aspects of joint custody that are positive. Your children still get to live with both of their parents on a regular basis. Since you and your ex each see your little ones regularly, neither of you feels like a “visitor” in their lives. However, there are some downsides that can make it unrealistic.

Not only do the children have to adjust to living in a new location half the time but packing their belongings and switching homes on a regular basis can be stressful. Until the process becomes routine, there may be much running back and forth between houses for forgotten items. If there is a significant distance between the two locations, this can become a challenge.

Some children thrive in this arrangement while others have difficulty. Since you likely know their needs, personalities and challenges better than anyone else, it is vital that you consider their best interests before embarking on a shared parenting arrangement.