TMZ, People magazine and several other tabloids reported last week that Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson were gearing up for a custody battle over toddler son Bronx. Their evidence for said nastiness? Wentz’s simple responsive filing to Simpson’s divorce petition.
Despite the overreaction of the media, the legal paperwork does not necessarily indicate that there is any major issue between the estranged couple with regard to custody. Simpson, in her divorce petition, requested that the parties be granted joint legal custody of Bronx with Simpson getting primary physical custody and Wentz getting visitation.
Wentz’s docs request both joint legal custody and joint physical custody. While this certainly could signal a stumbling block to amicable settlement, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is so.
First, these initial filings are very bare-bones in terms of real content – they generally include only the information absolutely required by statute and local court rules.
Second, the documents are generally filed with the filing party’s “best case scenario” reflected in the requests. So, Simpson would prefer primary physical custody but there is no indication in the paperwork that she is unwilling to negotiate that position.
Third, the concepts of joint physical custody and visitation do sometimes come very close to overlapping. Joint physical custody should come close to equal time between both parents but does not require an exact 50/50 split. Visitation does not necessarily mean every other weekend and one night a week, a typical visitation arrangement. Visitation could be established as every other weekend and one night a week with an extra overnight on weeks in which the child isn’t with that parent on the weekend (confusing, right?). Such an arrangement might be technically considered visitation but comes closer to an equal split.
Wentz and Simpson maintain that their split is amicable and there has been nothing displayed yet that would convince me that their statement is untrue.
Library Topics: joint legal custody, primary physical custody, visitation, joint physical custody