We can explain what child custody is based on its differences from parental authority. The latter consists of the rights and duties every parent has in relation to their minor children and is intrinsic to their status as a father or mother. It can only be suspended or withdrawn by judges in exceptional situations.
Meanwhile, custody is a concept essentially linked to divorce or separation, since it determines responsibility for the care and daily upbringing of the children, as well as cohabitation in the home. In this regard, Spanish law currently considers the possibility of sole custody for one of the separated spouses, as well as joint custody, a concept introduced for the first time in 2005.
In the former case, one of the parents assumes responsibility for the minor children, usually with a visitation schedule established in order to share time with the other parent.
On the other hand, joint custody entails both parents sharing responsibility for the children’s upbringing by alternating custody, under conditions that must be customized for each case. Different periods can be established in order to alternate custody (weeks, months...), and there can be different forms of cohabitation: the child can move between their parents’ homes each period, or the parents can alternate use of the family home where the child will permanently reside (commonly known as “bird’s nest parenting”).
It’s possible to arrive at joint custody as a result of an agreement by both parents, or through a court ruling when there is a dispute over custody. It should be noted that in the specific case of Catalonia, regional legislation gives joint custody preference over sole custody. In fact, parents who divorce must submit proposals regarding distribution of their responsibilities in terms of their children’s upbringing (the so-called “parenting plan”).
There is no doubt that you’ll want to surround yourself with the best family lawyers in Barcelona if you find yourself faced with the prospect of determining the custody of your children or resolving a conflict in this regard. At ICN LEGAL, we provide specialized services in this field, with the ability to advise and represent you under the most specific circumstances.