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Divorce and making child custody decisions

When a couple with shared children divorces, there are many considerations with regard to child custody and child support that must be considered and decided. In the wake of a divorce, each parent would be wise to recognize that the failure of a marriage does not equate to failure as a parent. Yes, children may be angry, confused and resentful; but in many cases divorce is the best option for all involved parties.

Some of the most important and potentially contentious decisions divorced parents must make revolve around child custody. In a perfect world, both parents would be able to agree upon the terms of a child custody agreement and take equal interest and responsibility in a child's upbringing all while maintaining a respectful and amicable relationship with an ex-spouse. In many cases, however, lingering feelings of resentment and anger towards an ex-spouse tend to dominate disputes over child custody matters.

Regardless of whether parents are able to come to an agreement about child custody on their own or require the assistance of the court or a mediator, decisions related to joint, physical and primary custody must be made. Parents who share joint legal custody of a child share in making decisions related to a child's upbringing; however the child lives with the designated primary parent only. In child custody agreements in which parents share joint legal physical custody, in addition to sharing decision making responsibilities related to a child's upbringing, a child physically resides with both parents per the terms of the custody agreement.

While it can be difficult, parents going through a divorce would be wise to consider the child and what ultimately is in his or her best interest. When possible, the involvement of both parents is beneficial and many parents are able to set aside their differences and resolve child custody matters for the sake of a child. In cases where parents are unable to agree upon child custody, legal action may be necessary.

Source: American News Report, "Child Custody in a Divorce: Let the Fight Begin," Feb. 4, 2014

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