What Are the Types of Child Custody Arrangements?


Ensuring Stability for Your Children

Child custody is one of the most emotional and sensitive steps in any divorce proceeding. Rightfully so, because it decides how your children will be raised and affected by your divorce. Through all the fighting and negotiating, parties often forget that children are also affected when parents separate. In order to ensure that the children are not an afterthought, courts use their powers to determine the "best interest of the children." Courts consider the factors listed in California Family Code Section 3011 in regard to determining the "best interest of the child." Although child custody is a complex and difficult legal issue, it is not a zero-sum game. There are solutions that benefit children and both parents.

The Two Types of Custody

Before you can understand the different custody arrangements, you have to understand the different forms of custody: physical custody and legal custody.Physical custody is also known as “residential” custody, as it chiefly determines which parent your children will live with. Physical custody makes a parent responsible for a child’s physical, emotional, and social needs. These needs include food, shelter, and transportation.

Legal custody is the power to make decisions regarding your children’s upbringing, including education and religious beliefs. While physical custody is naturally a little exclusive—as a child can only live in one place at a time—legal custody is often shared by both parents. In fact, whenever possible, courts would prefer parents to both have legal custody in order to raise their children cooperatively.

5 Kinds of Custody Arrangements

The different custody arrangements mix-and-match these two types of custody in 5 main ways:

  • Sole – One parent exclusively wields physical and legal custody
  • Joint – Both parents have simultaneous physical and legal custody
  • Shared – Both parents alternate physical custody, but have simultaneous legal custody
  • Alternating – One parent will wield sole custody, but will switch off with the other parent periodically
  • Split – Each parent will have sole, exclusive custody over different children (rather than share custody over the children as a whole)

As mentioned above, courts prefer to let parents cooperatively raise their children. The law recognizes that children need both parents in their lives to lead full and healthy lives unless one or both parents is a harmful influence. As a result, child custody hearings are about creating the best outcome for your children.

However, if you believe that your custody over your children is at stake, or your spouse is a potentially harmful influence, you need a child custody attorney to help you ensure the safety and well-being of your children. Contact our firm—Family Law Advocacy Group—in order to speak with me about your situation.

Contact us today for a free case consultation, or call our firm at (909) 344-5704.

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