As our custody lawyer has witnessed firsthand, child custody arrangements can be a difficult time for families, often a source of stress and uncertainty, especially when parents are likely to also be in the process of divorce or separation. Understanding the various types of child custody arrangements can help parents navigate this challenging process. Our team from Robinson & Hadeed offers five of the most common child custody arrangements couples may consider.
One of the most recognized types of custody is sole custody, where one parent has legal and physical custody of the child. The child primarily lives with this parent, who has the exclusive right to make all critical decisions related to the child’s upbringing, including education, health care, and religious upbringing. The other parent might still have visitation rights, but the custodial parent holds all decision-making power.
Joint Legal Custody
Joint legal custody is an arrangement where both parents share the right and responsibility to make decisions about their child’s upbringing. This includes decisions about education, health care, and religious instruction. However, physical custody might still belong to one parent, meaning the child may live with one parent more than the other. Joint legal custody necessitates open communication and cooperation between the parents for the child’s best interest.
Joint Physical Custody
The child splits their time living with both parents in a joint physical custody arrangement. The split does not have to be 50/50; it could be any split that works best for the family’s situation, such as 60/40 or 70/30. This arrangement allows the child to maintain a strong relationship with both parents. Still, parents must live relatively close to each other and maintain a stable and cooperative co-parenting environment.
Bird’s Nest Custody
Bird’s nest custody is a less traditional but increasingly popular custody arrangement. In this setup, the children remain in the family home while the parents take turns living there. This arrangement puts the least stress on the child, as their living situation remains consistent. However, the parents must maintain three separate living areas: the family home and a separate living space for each parent when they are not in the ‘nest.’
In split custody arrangements, each parent gets full custody of one or more children. This type of custody is relatively rare and is usually only implemented when it’s determined to be in the children’s best interest. A typical scenario might involve older children deciding to live with one parent over the other while younger children stay with the other parent. This arrangement can be complex and may sometimes result in siblings being separated; hence, it is generally less favored unless in specific circumstances.
Remember, the goal of any custody arrangement should be to ensure the child’s best interest. It is beneficial to maintain open and honest communication with the other parent and involve a family law professional to help navigate the complexities of custody arrangements.