Legal Questions about Joint Custody


  • Author Meghan Jones
  • Published October 1, 2011
  • Word count 499

Most courts rule in the best interest of a child in matters concerning child custody. As a parent, these laws and their implications can be difficult to understand and appreciate, especially since there are many diverse issues related to child custody.

During separation or divorce, the court either grants custody of the child / children to one parent or gives shared custody rights to both parents. Many times, joint custody can result in doubts, disagreements, and questions regarding child custody laws. Below are some of the questions most commonly asked to Experts on question-and-answer sites like JustAnswer.

What is the meaning of joint custody?

Joint custody is when both parents share equal rights to make decisions that affect their child. These decisions can be about health insurance, residence, school, religion and other things that affect a child. The principal behind this type of custody is the recognition of the importance of the role each parent plays in a child’s life.

How to Modify Joint Custody if the Agreement is Broken?

Modification of a custody decree is not simple and can be a lengthy process. The first step is filing a motion with the court that explains the grounds for modification. If the agreement has been broken by a parent, this needs to be explained in the motion. The parent filing the motion should be able to prove that the other parent has broken the agreement. Only when the court is convinced can there be a modification of the custody agreement.

What is the difference between custody and guardianship?

Under most circumstances, parents are the legal guardians of a child till 18 years of age. Guardianship usually comes into the picture when the child is a minor or when a person is incapable or incompetent to take care of his or her best interests.

On the other hand, custody normally refers to physical control granted to one or both parents during a separation or divorce.

Can grandparents get legal joint custody?

Normally, grandparents can file for joint custody only when the actual parents no longer care for the children or are incapable of caring for them. The most common grounds for filing such a motion are child abandonment by the patents, abuse or neglect of a child. Under such circumstances, grandparents have to file a motion to take custody of the children. Specific procedures and steps need to be followed depending on the state of residence before grandparents can be awarded custody of a child.

Impact of joint custody on tax returns

When parents share custody, there can be confusion at the time of filing Federal and State Income Tax as to which parent can claim the children. This can especially be the case if the issue is not resolved at the time of divorce or separation or if there is a verbal agreement between parents about who is financially responsible for the children. When faced with child custody issues, you can ask legal experts on JustAnswer before taking any action.

The author is a staff writer at, a site that lets you ask experts and get answers quickly, easily and affordably. Ask your child custody questions and get answers A.S.A.P when you Ask Experts on JustAnswer.

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