Joint custody

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Joint custody is a form of child custody pursuant to which custody rights are awarded to both parents.[1][2] Joint custody has two main forms:[3]

  • joint physical custody: the child's legal place of residence is recognized as the homes of both parents.
  • joint legal custody: both parents share decision-making rights for important decisions affecting their child; and

In joint custody both parents are custodial parents and neither parent is a non-custodial parent, or, in other words, the child has two custodial parents.[2]

History of joint custody[edit]

In England, prior to the nineteenth century, common law considered children to be the property of their father.[4][5] However, the economic and social changes that occurred during the nineteenth century led to a shift in ideas about the dynamics of the family.[4] Industrialization separated the home and the workplace, keeping fathers away from their children in order to earn wages and provide for their family.[4] Conversely, mothers were expected to stay in the home and care for the household and the children.[4] Important social changes such as women's suffrage and child development theories allowed for ideas surrounding the importance of maternal care.[4]


Joint custody is not legally recognized in Japan.[6] Japanese courts favor granting custody to a primary caregiver,[7] and nearly always award custody to the parent who is in possession of the children, even in the aftermath of parental kidnapping.[8] Many Japanese parents believe that recognition of joint custody rights will reduce the problem of parental kidnapping and improve parent-child relationships following a custody case.[8]

United States[edit]

In the United States, many states recognize two forms of joint custody, which include joint physical custody and joint legal custody.[2]

In joint physical custody, the child's legal residence is with both parents.[9] As with other custody cases, the custody court issues a parenting time schedule that defines the time the parent will spend with each child.[10] Joint physical custody does not necessarily result in an equal division of parenting time.[3]

In joint legal custody, both parents share decision-making rights with regard to matters that may have a significant impact on their children's lives, such as where a child should attend school, the choice of a primary care physician or therapist for the child, and non-emergency medical treatment.[11] Both parents also have the ability right access to their children's records, such as educational records, health records, and other records.[12]


  1. ^ See, e.g., Arizona State Legislature (2011). "25-402". Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b c See, e.g., "Georgia Code Title 19. Domestic Relations § 19-9-6". Findlaw. Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b Larson, Aaron (11 October 2016). "What is Child Custody". ExpertLaw. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e Jay Folberg (23 August 1991). Joint Custody and Shared Parenting. Guilford Press. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-0-89862-481-6. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  5. ^ Margorie Louise Engel; Diana Delhi Gould (1 January 1992). Divorce Decisions Workbook: A Planning and Action Guide to the Practical Side of Divorce. McGraw-Hill Professional. pp. 107–108. ISBN 978-0-07-019571-4. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  6. ^ "As Japan moves toward recognizing joint custody, a father nourishes hope for reunion". Japan Subculture Research Center. 8 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  7. ^ Matsutani, Minoru (10 October 2009). "Custody laws force parents to extremes". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  8. ^ a b Kikuchi, Daisuke (5 May 2017). "Parental abduction victims hold rally to push for joint custody rights". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  9. ^ Kaplan PMBR (7 July 2009). Kaplan PMBR FINALS: Family Law: Core Concepts and Key Questions. Kaplan Publishing. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-1-60714-098-6. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  10. ^ See, e.g., Oregon State Legislature (1997). "ORS 107.102 Parenting plan". Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  11. ^ See, e.g., "Basics of Custody & Visitation Orders". California Courts. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  12. ^ Robert E. Emery (1999). Marriage, Divorce, and Children's Adjustment. SAGE. pp. 79–124. ISBN 978-0-7619-0252-2. Retrieved 2 November 2011.

See also[edit]