District of Columbia law contains a “rebuttable presumption” that joint custody is in the best interests of the child. The term “rebuttable presumption” means that the judge will order joint physical custody and joint legal custody unless one of the parties presents evidence which shows that another arrangement will be better for the child. Joint physical custody means that each parent will have substantial time with the child (usually between 40% and 60%). Joint legal custody means that the parents will share responsibility for making important decisions about the child's life. To assist you in completing this parenting plan, a list of holidays and an example of a completed parenting pan are enclosed. (Actual introduction on the D.C. Parenting Plan form)
The court may award joint or sole custody according to the best interest of the child. In determining the care and custody of a minor child, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration. Unless the court determines that it is not in the best interest of the child, the court may issue an order that provides for frequent and continuing contact between each parent and the minor child or children and for the sharing of responsibilities of the child - rearing and encouraging the love, affection, and contact between the minor child or children and the parents regardless of marital status.
There shall be a rebuttable presumption that joint custody is in the best interest of the child or children, except in instances where a judicial officer has found by a preponderance of the evidence that an intrafamily offense…child abuse…child neglect…or parental kidnapping…has occurred.