Custody Arrangements: Understanding The Options

If you're a parent going through a divorce, the custody arrangement of your children is probably one of the most important matters on your mind. Understanding the different custody arrangements is very important when going through a divorce,and knowing the details can help you and your ex-spouse agree on a situation that is beneficial for all of your children. If you are not on good terms with your soon to be ex-spouse, the courts will decide the best custody arrangement for your kids.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to having the authority to make important decisions about how a child is raised. These decisions may include what type of school your child attends, the religion he or she is raised in, and the type of medical care he or she receives. The courts typically like to grant joint legal custody, but you can petition for sole legal custody if you have reasonable proof that your ex-spouse does not have your child's best interest in mind.

Physical Custody

Physical custody describes where a child will live; one parent can have sole physical custody, but in many cases parents split physical custody in a way that best benefits the child's interests. There are many popular custody arrangements, including:

​Weekends: One parent has physical custody during the weekdays, and the non-custodial parent has the child on the weekends.

Equal Joint Physical Custody: Parents share physical custody according to what is best for the child. This may include living with the mother for one week, and then living with the father for one week, or living with each parent for a month, and then changing households. Depending on the age of the children. it may be beneficial to consult your children to see which custody arrangement would suit them best, and make them most comfortable.

Bird's Nest Custody: As a relatively new type of custody arrangement, the actual studies on the benefits are still ongoing, but some parents are choosing to keep children living in the family home full time, while the parents are rotating in and out. With a bird's nest custody arrangement, the kids stay in their home, and parents take turns raising them according to the custody schedule. Some studies have show that kids do better when they don't have to move from home to home, but for a bird's nest custody arrangement to work, it is important for the parents to have a decent relationship, and to be able to communicate with each other.

Talk to family attorneys to figure out which arrangement will be right for your situation.