Your spouse asks for a divorce. Your first instinct is simply to say that you want to get joint custody of the kids. After all, as a parent, you desperately do not want those relationships to fall apart, even if your marriage is over.
However, do you know exactly what you are asking for? Do not make the mistake of assuming that joint custody means the same thing to everyone.
After all, there are two main types. The first is joint physical custody. This may be what you meant, in many ways, because it dictates where the kids live. You do not want them to just go live with your ex so that you rarely see them. If you share the responsibility — perhaps the kids move back and forth every week — then that is joint custody. The exact schedule depends on your specific situation.
The second type of joint custody is joint legal custody. This means that you and your ex share the legal power to make decisions for your children. One decision may be where the children attend school, for instance. You may also need to talk about religion, health care and much more.
If that is not enough, you should know that these two types of custody do not always have to be divided up the same way. For instance, you could get joint legal custody without joint physical custody, and your children would then go live with your ex. You would get to make decisions, but the children would never live in your home.
As you can see, these situations sometimes get more complicated than people realize. Make sure you fully understand all of your legal rights.