Children don't ask for divorce but they must still go through it just like their parents. As a parent, you have the opportunity to ensure that your adult decisions don't impact your child negatively. There is much you and your soon-to-be ex can do when it comes to dealing with child-centered issues like child support, visitation and custody. You two alone may know what is best, so read on to learn what your choices might be when it comes to child custody.
Legal custody: This common form of custody is not a divided between the parents but is given to both parents. Both parents remain legally responsible for making important decisions about things like education, discipline, religion and more. The phrasing in the order might read " joint legal custody" unless only one parent has custody but that situation is not as common. Since parenting decisions are made by both divorced parents it might mean conflicts will arise if they hold different opinions on important issues. Legal custody is often paired with physical custody or joint custody and where the child actually resides is decided separately.
Physical custody: Also known as shared or 50/50 custody, this form of custody places the child physically in each parent's home. The division doesn't necessarily have to be strictly 50/50, but the idea is to allow the child to spend roughly equal amounts of time with each parent. While this form of custody is undoubtedly good for the child, it can be difficult for the parents. Parents must live near one another and be willing to communicate freely with the other parent. Organizational abilities will become a key attribute as the child grows and becomes involved in sports, classes, and social occasions.
Sole custody: The title is instructive; only one parent gets physical custody of the child. This form of custody has lost favor over the years with fathers being more involved in their child's upbringing, but it may still be necessary in cases of abuse, illness, incapacity or incarceration. In some cases, visitation is ordered for the non-custodial parent.
Joint custody: This is the way most parents chose to deal with custody. In most cases, the child will live primarily with one parent and the other parent will be given visitation. Both parents, however, have legal custody of the child, so the "joint" part of the term is primarily concerned with the legal aspect.
Birds nest custody: The newest form of custody is rarely used due to the expense and logistical concerns. Here, the it is the parents who move around while the child stays put. It may sound unusual but for some families it works better than other forms of custody. The child remains in one place and thus benefits from the security and familiarity of the family home. At the same time, they get to experience equal amounts of time with each parent. Of course, the parents must have somewhere else to go when they are not with the child.
The legal aspects of custody may not be as important to you as the emotional ones, but divorce and custody are based on the law. Speak to an attorney who can help bridge the gap between the two to help you make a good decision. Contact a firm, like Hertz & Kearns, for help.